More Truth about the Frugalwoods!

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/mar/08/how-to-retire-early-frugal-spending?CMP=fb_gu

I just thought I’d add this recent Guardian article on The Frugalwoods for your amusement. The truth is that they did not retire at 32, but they both still work (albeit mostly online from home). Sure, they may have abandoned the city for the countryside, but their so-called ‘Living the simple life’ would not be possible without a high-speed internet connection. So please don’t believe the hype.

Oh, it also helps that they both earn ridiculous amounts of money from their jobs (upcoming blog post giving more detail on that). I don’t disagree that they may have decided to stop embracing consumer culture, like many of us have. But once again I just want to warn people who might think they can emulate them.

They may think that they are only spending money on the very ‘basest’ of items. But I love this from the comments section:

       “Food, our mortgage, gas for the car, electricity, an internet connection, toilet paper. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, 2018”.

Whilst I’m glad that only spending on these things helped them to realise their mindless consumption. I think plenty of people in the World would consider the essentials to be food, water, shelter, warmth and rest. They probably don’t realise how Westernised their basics are.

Obviously you can read the article, but I think the comments are hilarious and really call out the truth behind some of the lies! But most of all, I’m still curious as to how they can claim not to be reliant on a salary from a job. Anyway, here’s a selection of my favourites and it’s nice to see I’m not the only one thinking this way:

“Reading the comments has saved me from reading the article. Thank you one and all”.

“Such a small, modest house they have too! I think the book should be called the The Smugwoods: Our transformational journey from city work slaves to rural phoneys who live very far away from everyone, only because we are so annoying”.

“I’m staggered by the fact that you think that living frugally in this way is exceptional. Having to make many of the ‘savings’ you describe in this article is just normal life for many people – and many are worse off than that…”

“I’m too frugalized to buy this ridiculous book”.

“And according to the article it only took them three years. 2014: decided to be frugal. 2018: Retired (!), own 66 acres and a house, book published”.

“Dear Liz (frugalized your name), Will you accept my well thumbed copy of The Bonfire of the Vanities in exchange for Meet the Frugalwoods?”

 

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Tutorial – How to Make Reusable Baby Wipes

I thought I’d write a quick tutorial on how to make homemade reusable baby wipes. I basically cut up 4-5 old hand towels and edged them with bias binding. Plus, I made some zipped pouches from leftover material scraps and a few pence for zips – have some unlined for clean wipes and some with waterproof lining for dirties. Let’s hope they work! I will report back in a few months.

  1. Cut up your old hand towels. I based my sizing roughly on commercially available microfibre, reusable, towelling wipes. I figured I’d make mine slightly larger, so as not to waste any material and it also meant less cutting! So, as my towels were folded in half, then into quarters and then again into eighths – I went with that and cut each towel into 8 pieces, rectangular in shape.
  2. I purchased a roll of white 25mm bias binding from my local fabric shop and pinned this around the raw edges (half each side of the edge, if you’re new to this). I didn’t need to bind every edge because the towels were already bound when whole.
  3. Then I stitched this in place using my sewing machine. You will need to use a heavy duty or jeans needle for this thickness of fabric. And that’s it – you have your wipes! They will be machine washable and tumble dryable at 60 degrees C, just like they were as towels. I plan on just chucking mine in with the reusable nappies.
  4. I decided to make these fabric cases to put mine in and they should also be very portable, when out and about or travelling. The design comes from a Cath Kidston sewing book (which I was very kindly given for Christmas). I have just made some unlined and some with a waterproof layer of PUL. I will see if I can get a tutorial up for those soon. I used fabric and ribbon scraps that I had leftover from other projects. The only items I had to purchase was a few zips for pence and the PUL fabric. I’ll report back on how they do – I may need to waterproof the seams of the wet bags. If you’re not into sewing, you can buy similar reusable wipes here and wet bags here.

Happy sewing people! Let me know how you get on in the comments.

How to Upcycle Old Kitchen Cabinets For Any Room

We just pulled some really old, 1970s kitchen cabinets from our garage. They had probably been the original kitchen in our house, but were then relegated to garage storage about 15 years ago. As you can see, they were dark wood formica, square and simple type of design. Unfortunately because they’d been in the garage, they’d become stained, chipped and the laminate was peeling. Despite all of this, I decided they were probably salvageable.

I peeled off the peeling layers of laminate and underneath I found 40 year old, decaying and yellowing glue. This had to be cleaned off, if I had any chance of saving these from landfill. Cream cleaner didn’t shift it, so it ended up being a tough job with a Stanley blade scraper. Even then, they didn’t come up clean and I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint over that combination of laminate and old glue successful.

Cue- Fablon! Remember that sticky-backed plastic from Blue Peter, that seemed to be in every make?! Well, it turned out to be a fabulous, cheap fix for my vintage cupboard. I bought 1 roll of white wood effect and 2 rolls of this beautiful, contour rose, pink lace patterned for the inside. It definitely sticks better to the smooth laminate surface, but it’s done a good enough job at sticking over the rough gluey surface and making the cupboard look passable again. Just make sure that you measure twice and cut once! I also purchased a Coral smoothing tool and it was definitely worthwhile. It can also be used to smooth wallpaper, should I ever get around to anymore decorating.

As you’ll notice, I removed the doors and discarded them – I wanted that modern, open shelving look. These may not be perfect, but I was looking for good enough. Plus, you’re not going to see much of them, once they’re up and filled with books and knick-knacks. I have 2 more kicking about in the garage and I’m very tempted to upcycle the rest. After all, I’ve only had to pay for the Fablon, approx £20 and new cupboards would have been a hell of a lot more.

After this success, I can see myself attempting a whole range of projects with Fablon. It gives a really professional finish, if you take the time to do good preparation. It has utterly transformed this cabinet and I can see myself doing simple tasks too, like covering books or other pieces of furniture to match.

Over to you – have you ever tried Fablon? There are a huge range of colours and patterns available.

Upcycling a Child’s Table to Make a Board Game Table

We’re big board game fans in this house and we regularly have friends over for ‘Games Night’. We’re all feeling our age and finding it a bit hard going to sit on the floor for hours. Our dining room table is quite small, as there’s just the two of us normally and it gets used for food on these nights. So we’d been keeping an eye out in all the usual places for a suitable ‘games table’. My idea had been that we would acquire one of those retro card tables from the 1950s or earlier, which have a felt top and often fold out. However, as they’re mostly designed for Bridge – they tend to be quite small. All of the ones we saw were also in poor condition or had very high asking prices! We also looked in charity shops for some kind of gate leg table, but as minimalists – it would be a big decision to bring another large item of furniture into the house. They also require chairs and we really wanted something more like a coffee table height, so people could either remain in armchairs (or sit on the floor – more on an answer to that later).

I spotted this child’s play table in a charity shop locally and knew instantly it was a great find. I described it to my other half, but he was unconvinced (mostly because I’d shown him so many unsuitable items on eBay! lol) They were also asking £25 for it, which seemed quite steep to us. Still, he dutifully agreed to come and look at that weekend.Well guess what – the shop was closed! We then got tied up with well, life and totally forgot to go back until we were passing about a week later. Helpfully the table was still there and they’d reduced all furniture to half price, to try and clear some space in the shop. We expressed an interest in the table and asked if we would pull it out, to fully check the condition of it. The manager said we could have it for a tenner! (She obviously wanted rid of it).

It turns out that this little beauty is made of solid wood and retails for about £150 when new. You can also be lucky enough to pick up second-hand ones on eBay for around a tenner too, if you look at the right time. The legs come right off, so we can fold it down and tuck it out of sight, when not needed. The top was a little scratched and we didn’t love the green colour. So we decided to send it a little upmarket, with its own blue felt top which has the added advantage of stopping the board games from sliding all over the place. You can see in the photos above, that we are part way through our little renovation/ upcycling job. The felt cost under £3 from my local fabric shop and we already had the all purpose glue at home, from other craft projects.

My other half announced that some bean bag cushions would mean we could all sit comfortably, at the right height. You could easily pay £15-£25 each for these in the shops and I have an abundance of leftover material from other projects. So I picked out some that matched our lounge curtains, some heavyweight corduroy that I picked up in a charity shop for a song and another piece leftover from some bedroom curtains. I purchased 6 zips, at a cost of 64p each and 2 bags of beans at £6.50 each. Perhaps I will do a tutorial soon, but for now here is a picture of 2 of the cushions I have made. They take a couple of hours each, but the savings are evident.

IMG_4274

And lo, we are the proud owners of a custom games set-up, all for the princely sum of £20. Can’t be bad eh?

Zero Waste Fails – Homemade Dishwasher Tablets!

Dishwasher

Don’t all the blogs you read about Zero Waste preach about everything that works for them. I’m getting a little sick of it actually, it’s like the edited version of many people’s lives that are portrayed on Facebook. It’s simply not real!

So, I’ve been trying to find a Zero Waste alternative to individually, plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets for some time now. It’s been one massive fail. I’ve tried recipes for liquids, powders and tablets. None of them was successful, not successful enough to switch to anyway. They contained in varying proportions; soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda, borax substitute, essential oils, castile soap and citric acid.

The tablets fell apart as soon as I removed them from the ice cube moulds. Alongside that, they were only halfway effective – leaving nasty, gritty residue on my cups, making my stainless steel cutlery marked and rusty. In addition they were totally useless on tea and coffee stains – meaning that I had to wash many items again by hand or soak them in  a special solution to remove the stains.

The dishwasher powder was the same, only this added a terrible white residue to everything which I had to scour off with a metal scourer. The liquid was no better, with horrible water residue marks on everything. The whole point of having a dishwasher is to remove that heavy burden of washing up, multiple times per day. Because we cook most meals from scratch, we normally have a large amount of dishes and pans to clean.

Whilst I’d love to be writing about my fantastic homemade dishwasher tablet recipe – it just didn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s because we live in a hard water area, or something else. I ended up making a trip to the supermarket just for dishwasher tablets because I couldn’t bear the white residue on everything any longer and I was worried I was going to ruin my expensive cutlery permanently. On top of having to wash everything again, it simply wasn’t worth it.

What are your Zero Waste fails? Do you have a successful dishwasher tablet recipe you can share?

How to make your own Eco, Zero Waste Disinfectant Spray.

IMG_4148

We all need something to keep areas in the house sanitary; like toilets and in my home, cat litter trays. I have been using this recipe for a couple of years now and I wouldn’t change back! Get yourself down to you nearest £1 store and purchase one of these metal spray bottles. They’re usually with the hair accessories.

Ingredients

  • Basics Vodka
  • White vinegar
  • Tea tree oil
  • Cooled, boiled water

Method

  1. Combine 1/2 cup of Vodka with 1/2 cup of white vinegar and pour it into your spray bottle. I find a funnel is useful to avoid spillages!
  2. Add about 10 drops of tea tree oil which is a natural antiseptic, or you can simply leave it unscented if you prefer.
  3. Top up with enough cooled, boiled water to fill the container (usually 1-1 1/2 cups).
  4. Shake to combine all the ingredients thoroughly!

Important note – it’s vital that you use cooled, boiled water if you want this to keep. Boiling the water kills any microorganisms. It usually lasts me about 1 month and I use it to clean 2 toilets and 2 cat litter trays per week.

To use – just spray on your surfaces and wait 10 minutes, for it to do its disinfecting magic!

The Best Laid Plans

Whenever I have to go out for the day, whether it’s for business or pleasure I plan to take a packed lunch with me. This is a crucial money-saving tactic, as you can easily spend £3.50 – £5.00 on lunch, even just a bog-standard sandwich! It’s easy to purchase an insulated lunch bag and a couple of mini ice packs, so you can store your lunch safely, regardless of whether you’re out and about or not. Another great tip is to take a thermos flask with you, so you can save another £3.50 or so on a hot drink. If you think you’re going to succumb to a sweet treat, mid-afternoon – then pack one! It’s far cheaper to buy a multi-pack of chocolate bars than it is to purchase them singly, either from a shop or a vending machine.

So I dutifully did all of the above and set out on my journey. Imagine my frustration and dismay when I arrived at my destination, to find I’d left the lot on the kitchen counter! The best laid plans and all that. So I ended up having to purchase items in a corner shop anyway! This was even more frustrating, as I had to break my own zero waste rules as you cannot buy anything ready-to-eat unpackaged here, except for fruit. I blame my forgetfulness on a phone call that I received just as I was picking all my belongings up to leave. That interruption cost me dearly, in every sense.

Still the other beauty of a packed lunch is you can always eat it later or the next day! Unfortunately my sandwich hadn’t remained cool, despite the cool pack I’d used – too many hours had passed, so I had to bin that.  However, everything else was ambient and I just had it for my tea instead!

Have you had any money-saving fails?