Chickenlady!

I am admitting to a guilty secret. I am obsessed with chickens! It used to be the real thing when I had more time and didn’t have foxes living at the bottom of my garden. Now I no longer keep chickens, or rather I do – my house is full of them and I even have them in my office at work. However, none of them has a pulse.

dresser
I have a dresser full of them in the lounge, two chicken clocks, chicken garden ornaments, chicken mugs and biscuit tins, chicken plates…you get the idea. I don’t know what it is about them exactly. I think they connect with my idea of a more simple life – growing my own food with a few hens in the garden.

My work chickens. They have been kidnapped and held to ransom but made it back to me!

My work chickens. They have been kidnapped and held to ransom but made it back to me!

imageI will go back to keeping chickens, but in the meantime I will make do with my ornamental ones.

I have had a productive morning, cleaning and organising the house and sorting out some things for DD1 to sell at her boot sale tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather holds so that she gets lots of customers.

The garden is calling though. We were given lots of free wildflower seeds at the Chelsea Flower Show, so I want to clear the wild area – which is just a bit too wild – and make it into a large bed of fabulous wildflowers for the summer. I also have lots of veg to pot on and plant. Mr S keeps turning up with more plants that people have given him!

Sometimes you just need a break

We had intended to continue with the decorating yesterday but neither of us could face another day of it. The house was covered with dust and grime, there was laundry everywhere that I couldn’t get outside to dry because of the wet weather and the general cleaning hadn’t been done either. We decided to start afresh next weekend.

Instead I spent the morning giving the place a quick going over and organising myself for the coming week. I feel so much better when I am in control and on top of things!

We took a drive to Brightlingsea in the afternoon and had a walk. It was very windy and certainly blew the cobwebs and decorating dust away. Sometimes the simplest things can make a difference and we felt much better for some fresh air and a change of scenery.

I have bought very little of anything

Getting blown away in Brightlingsea!

Getting blown away in Brightlingsea!

this month, although I have spent quite a lot of money on paint! About £100 I reckon but that’s not much to spend to decorate a room. I am currently saving my pennies towards a carpet to complete the job.

If you have any advice on the best place to get a bargain throw it my way :-).

If I could loosen my belt …

I was wandering  idly around Blogland with a cup of tea yesterday morning, girding my loins for the next bout of DIY. I very much enjoy doing this when I get the time, particularly looking at those with a money saving or frugal slant. There are a couple of well known bloggers who actually have good incomes now and you might think they no longer needed to live such a careful and frugal lifestyle, but they continue to do so because they still have specific goals they want to achieve. I have a feeling they would still do it as a lifestyle choice, even when they have achieved their financial targets.

I live a frugal life because I have to. If I didn’t I wouldn’t make my mortgage payments each month and could easily rack up huge credit card debts. When it is all going well and I manage a bit of extra income, or I don’t get a large unexpected bill because the car engine explodes or I need an emergency plumber I quite enjoy the challenge. It feels like a pretty productive and useful hobby! However, I don’t enjoy sailing so close to the wind most of the time. I know it wouldn’t take much for me feel I am drowning rather than staying afloat.

It did make me consider what I would do if I got to the point where I had paid the mortgage, got a different job that paid lots more, came into some money…would I still be as frugal? Would I shop in Aldi if I could afford Waitrose? Would I still buy all my clothes at bootsales? Would I spend a week decorating my hallway or would I get the decorators in?

The dream....

The dream….

I think the answer is that I would do a bit of both. I am naturally frugal and I can’t bear waste of any kind, because that was the way I was raised. However, I would love more quality time with Mr Shoestring and my daughters, so if I could afford the decorators I would happily pay for their skills! I would have more holidays as I love travelling, I would buy a camper van (which has been my dream forever) and have lots of trips around the UK and Europe. I would still go to boot sales, but I would buy some decent quality new clothes as and when I needed them. I would continue to do my food shop with a list and might just pop into Waitrose after I had been to Aldi :).

What about you? If the mortgage and debts were paid off and you had a decent amount coming in, what would you do?

Just to prove I have managed to do something this week, even if we aren’t quite finished and will have to come back to it next week, here is how the hallway is currently looking.

Before...

Before…

...now

…now

Before...

Before…

...now!

…now!

Are we there yet?

Four days of decorating the hall and we are only about half way through! There is so much woodwork to repair, rub down, scrub and paint. Eight doors and doorframes, the bannisters, window sills and skirtings, plus walls to fill, wallpaper to hang walls and ceilings to emulsion. I am getting very tired but it is looking better already, so I know it will be worth it in the end.

imageI don’t need the gym anyway as I am sure I am burning lots of calories. The house is a complete tip, but it will have to remain so until we have finished and I can restore a bit of order.

imageTonight’s tea was a £1 Aldi pizza, jazzed up with some peppers, olives and cheese and served with a bag of salad leaves. I can’t be doing with cooking at the moment!

Back to it. I will post some pix if it ever gets finished. 🙂

Manual Labour

I had no time for a blog post yesterday – the decorating has started!!

I knew the hallway was going to be a pain to redecorate. What it really needs is replastering, not just sprucing up, but the budget won’t run to that. I spent a lot of the day repairing the walls – filling in holes and patching up the wallpaper. We daren’t strip the old stuff off as it may be all that is holding the plaster together in places….Mr S did a very impressive repair of the artex on the ceiling. I wish we could get rid of that as well but for now it will be painted so it will look fresh and clean.

The bannister was a bit of a job and took ages to rub down and wash, but at least I did manage to put a coat of quick dry gloss on and it looks so much better. White instead of aged yellow! The kitten likes to jump up and down on it and wind herself in and out, so I had to shut her away in the end.

Mr S is coming over to help again today. Because I know we will both be starving by tea time and won’t want to cook, I have made a slow cooker creation – Bacon, barley and leek stew. If it is a successful invention I will post the recipe.

barley bacon leek stewBack to it!

Pauper’s Paradise

 

Shoestring Cottage

Shoestring Cottage

We don’t live in a fancy house; we aren’t situated in a particularly sought after area. Shoestring Cottage is actually a 1940’s ex local authority semi in Essex. However, as was often the case at the time, the houses were built solidly on lovely big plots.  Ours is the corner plot and looks out over a green. We have the scout hut behind us and a row of pensioners’ bungalows to one side, so it is quiet and almost all of the neighbours are polite and friendly.

imageI love our house, but even more I love our garden. In the summer it is so much work and, after three years, we are only just getting it as we want it. We don’t have a lot of money to spend, but we do have lots of enthusiasm! We often don’t know the best thing to do, but take advice from family and friends and we are learning as we go along.

imageAs we have an extra long weekend for the May bank holiday, this gave us a chance to catch up on the gardening yesterday, and also meant we didn’t go out anywhere and spend any money. It was a gloriously dry and sunny day, absolutely perfect for being outdoors.

greenhouse1Mr S cut all the lawns and put the new greenhouse staging together that I bought on Saturday from Wilkinson’s. It was an absolute bargain at £5. I prepared the greenhouse and did some clearing and weeding of the veg beds, including digging up the last of the leeks. I got a few courgette plants in (mine are only just germinating but these were from a neighbour), some mint, celeriac and some everlasting spinach. I also sowed broccoli, carrots, various flowers and planted the tomato plants – again from Mr Shoestring’s lovely neighbour – into the greenhouse. I could list everything in the garden as individual projects for the sake of the 52 projects challenge, then I would have achieved all 52 by now! The garden is an on-going project!

I wanted it done as on Tuesday morning I start decorating the hall. Now that will be a project.

What is your piece of paradise? Do you love where you live?

 

Room with a View

This is the view from my window this morning – don’t you just love spring? It gives me lots of energy and ideas!

image

Although, it does also remind me of the more mundane jobs that need to be done – that patio needs weeding for a start!

However my next burst of effort is going on the house. Our hallway is in a terrible state, with peeling paper and paintwork, no skirting board in places and a tatty bright red painted floor! It is going to be huge amounts of work, which is why I have put it off for so long. I have booked a week off work in the first week of May and I am going to go for it. Mr S will be working but I am hoping he will help me with some bits. I asked for Wilkinsons vouchers for my birthday so will spend those on the work, and use up a lot of the paint in the shed.

Anybody else have any projects planned?

Another project to tick off the list :-)

The weather has been so fab here in Essex. We managed another day sorting out the garden yesterday. My project was sorting out the flower beds in the front garden. They were so full of weeds! I filled up 4 compost bags full – our heap was choc-a-bloc, so I will donate them to the Council waste collection. Me weeding

One of the beds before weeding...

One of the beds before weeding…

The beds look a bit empty now there are no weeds, although I planted some summer bulbs and have some seeds on the go to fill them up.

pre weeding

Another disaster area…

Looking better!

Looking better!

Mr Shoestring had a productive day too. First he titivated the sheds – not sure if you can see from the pic but he added some fancy edging. He just needs to add a door to the new shed and it is complete. It is a work of art!

Fancy sheds and newly rotovated veggie patch

Fancy sheds and newly rotovated veggie patch

Then he tried out the rotovator that his neighbour donated.

Mr Rotovator!

Mr Rotovator!

So I reckon that’s another two projects done! 🙂

A project

Mr Shoestring found me a lovely little chair for the student/lodger room. I plan to rub it down, paint and distress it and then wax it. If it looks good at the end I will do the same to a big old pine chest of drawers that I have in there. It is a nice solid bit of furniture but it is a bit shabby, if I’m honest, and not shabby chic!

imageSo, two more projects for my 52 projects challenge. Life is so busy I will be happy if I manage 25 projects by the end of the year.

Worked flat out yesterday getting the student’s room ready and giving the house a thorough clean. By the end of that I was too shattered to blog!

I will do an update when I have painted my little chair.

In the meantime I am off to make a fruit cake and crumble to welcome our visitor. I do like to make sure they are well fed!

Super Sunday

imageIt is a beautiful day here in Essex. Amazing after the driving wind and rain of the last week or so. I even have two lots of washing on the line!

imageWhilst I was out there I dug up the rest of the leeks and found a few sad looking sprouts – the sprout tops looked more promising so we will eat those as cabbage. Leek and potato soup on the agenda I think!

We have also completed another two of our 52 projects. Resealing the bath and whitening the grout means the bathroom is done and another one I have been meaning to do for ages was to clean out the cupboards in there. They were full of out of date medication and sorry looking soggy old plasters. Now they are beautifully tidy 🙂

That makes 4 projects. As we started late we still have some catching up to do I think!