Some recent photos

Was thinking of Old Dutch Masters still life oil paintings (as you do) while making a meatless spag bol tonight and on a whim grabbed some Morrisons wonky grapes from the fridge, the lid from my ottoman and an old scarf and took a photo to try and recreate one. It took just a few minutes and I’m so pleased with my first attempt. I wanted it to look like an old unlit room, a little natural light from a window and a film of grime subduing any sharpness.

A couple of weekends ago I was feeling quite well and decided to take myself off into the countryside from Roche Abbey (which is only a few miles from my house) to a village called Laughton en le Morthen. It was a circular walk of 6 or 7 miles following an old footpath through the amazing countryside. It was a sunny, breezy day and took my time enjoying nature and the silence. Please take a moment to enjoy a few minutes of how quiet it was by watching my little video below…

 

These days, for me, my favourite thing is to go and walk somewhere, taking my lunch and a camera, taking time to stand and stare and be in the moment and simply try and remember it…

Prepping, saving money and losing weight.

Dear all,

It’s been a while. Too long…

I needed a break, needed head space, needed to concentrate and focus on getting on the straight and narrow. Forgive me if I’ve not responded to some of the messages people kindly sent me, I tried to reply to most xxxxx

Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and moved smoothly into the New Year and that you had time to make plans and set goals for 2019. What are they? I’d love to hear…

LOSING WEIGHT & FOOD
I’ve started off 2019 in a really positive way. On September 10th 2018 something finally yes FINALLY clicked and everything has been falling into place regarding nutrition and how I am feeling about myself. I decided to commit to only fuelling my body with mostly plant based highly nutritional food…my aim was to eat 90% non-processed, cut out added sugar and sweeteners completely (I only have these on special occasions if I’m attending a social event or meal out with work). Cutting out the sugar and cutting right down on the salt was incredibly difficult for the first few weeks but then it all fell into place. I’ve been steadily losing 2lb or more every week and since September 10th (nearly 4 months) have lost 45 lbs… which is essentially over 3 stone. I’m thrilled.

Because of eating this way I’ve had to give baking and recreating 1940s recipes a miss for a while. Too much temptation right now but I will start up again in the not too distant future.

SAVING MONEY + MAKE DO AND MEND
I tried really hard to “make do and mend” during 2018. My main goal was to feel more financially secure by building an ’emergency fund’ which essentially is money available that I could use should the Sh*t Hit the Fan (ie health problems, losing my job). Being a singleton there is no financial back-up with a partner having a job should anything major happen. My thoughts were to aim for a 6 month emergency fund. How I calculated this was to look at all the expenses I would need to cover in the worst case scenario (no pay check coming in or unable to work) so things like, rent, bills, food, expenses, debts, insurances, petrol, extras etc. I worked this out to be £1300 per month to cover everything.

So that works out at £1300 x 6 = £7,800. I ACTUALLY FLIPPIN WELL MADE THAT GOAL AT THE END OF 2018! (started with literally nothing in the bank!) I saved nearly £4500 and cashed in some old shares at work to help me reach my goal quicker!

As a woman who is a saver rather than a spender but has been unable to save throughout her life because of circumstances, this is such a HUGE relief to have achieved this. I am now able to sleep better at night!

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve still a way to go as I do have some debt (next on my list to blast a hole in!) and I’m now trying to build up funds to cover other expenses such as car repair, clothing. I don’t want to use my emergency fund for these kind of items.

It’s not been easy. I see colleagues with nice cars, going on holidays, dining out most weekends, going to bars, buying wine/beer/drinks for home, buying new pets/livestock, buying houses, getting takeaways, going to concerts, having their hair and nails done. I really don’t do any of these (except of course if I get invited out on a free works do or meal!). BUT I’m totally happy with that right now as I’m finally beginning to feel SAFER and more SECURE.

PREPPING
While I’m not talking survivalist mode here, I AM talking about re-kindling my interest in building up a small stockpile to help make the emergency fund stretch further. I am currently slowly building up a three month supply of food to help see me through should anything happen that would be deemed a personal emergency (again financial or health). It’s amazing what one can stash away in a plastic box under the bed! When I’m done I’ll show you what I’ve got…it’s only in it’s infancy right now but Savers and Aldi’s range of tinned kidney beans, chick peas, porridge oats, pasta, rice, lentils are really inexpensive! Again, living with insecurity for so long especially in my latter years in Canada and before I got my job here, security is a HUGE necessity for me so I’m quite relieved things are now heading in the right direction.

CUTTING DOWN ON BILLS
And this is the next part I really want to focus on. I’m looking at energy saving right now. I’ve purchased a small supply of solar bulbs and I’d also like to build and regularly used a solar oven. The idea in the summer of setting a stew in the black enamel pan in a solar oven before I head off to work and it all being cooked by the time I return is rather obsessing me right now. In the interim I have just bought a 1.5 litre 120 watt slow cooker to do exactly that. I’d love eventually to be off-grid one day but this process has to be learned so I’ll be slowly doing that over the coming years.

I’d be interested to hear how everyone else saves money and can be more earth friendly while working full time. I’m all ears!

At the end of the day I do believe that eating and living more like our Grandmothers is a good thing for us financially, psychologically and environmentally. Let’s get this straight, I love my modern gadgets but I also see that we have to have balance so I find I am drawn to non-electric items, simplicity, making do and appreciating everything I have.

And although I love my gym membership NOTHING beats a long brisk walk in our beautiful countryside.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

C xxxxxx


Back to Basics: A Life Reset, A Life with Less Crap.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE so many aspects of living a modern life, we are mostly all VERY lucky and despite my fascination with yesteryear I’m happy and excited to be living in 2018. HOWEVER, the more I study the past and compare it to the future, there are areas in our modern lives that perhaps are suffering because of ease of accessibility a plethora of convenience food and goddamm it, advertising and portrayal through the media telling us what makes us normal and happy (I’m talking health and finance here).

Instead of following the majority, I think it’s just fine and dandy to look at life a little differently and have goals and aspirations that don’t necessarily fit into society. A little non-conformity is good…

There are two main things that need resetting in my life right now and I’m going to turn to yesteryear to achieve them…

1) Cure my obesity and become more active and stronger.
2) Save money every single month and create a safety net, an emergency fund of 3-6 months income by only buying essentials.

What’s non-conformist about this? Well they’ll be NO modern latest diet guru ‘must-do’ suggestions such as Low Carb, Paleo, Ketogenic, High Protein, Super-Foods, Juicing, Fasting etc. I’m sure all of these have aspects that are useful and do work but I’d rather just eat lots of fresh veggies, enjoy some wholefoods carbs, get my protein from old-fashioned pulses and beans and eat my fruit and greens.

As for saving money… They’ll be no get rich quick schemes but rather following the example of our parents/grandparents and buy less crap, mend and make do, only buy things that you have saved up for, no credit and always put some money away and save for a rainy day. I feel many young people especially, in this day and age are so pressurized into living up to what is portrayed in the media as ‘normal’ they really struggle financially (and yet I’ve met many young people who absolutely put me to shame and have really got their lives together!!!!).

STRUGGLING
The two things for me that I’ve always struggled with are my obesity and finances (I’m single, one full time income and my past has included some very tough times).

I’m NOT the sort of person that wastes money, expensive things simply don’t impress me (except maybe a fancy Kitchen Aid food mixer!!!). That’s not to say I wouldn’t love a beautiful little cottage in the countryside or a newer car one day but generally, on a day to day basis I am very happy with simplicity and frugality.

But the latter part of 2017 I made some major changes in my life to make things a little easier financially. I moved just two miles from my workplace (which has saved about 85 miles, 2.5 hours and £12 a day in commuting time and costs) and the place I rented out, while being a bit rough around the edges, has saved me £125 in rent every month too!

All in all, I’m about £350 better off per month and if nothing breaks down, if no big unexpected bills come in or my car breaks down, I can try and save most of this! For the first time in my life, IF I make sacrifices and remain frugal, I can theoretically save money and I’ve started to put this into practice.

PLANS FOR 2018.

So specifically my plans for 2018 are

a) To lose 60 lbs in weight (I’ll weigh in tomorrow) by eating simply and sensibly, increasing my walking and daily activity (those wartime recipes will help!)
b) Save at least £3000 in regular savings (as am emergency fund) and £1000 in Christmas Club savings (which is enough to fund all Christmas and birthday gifts throughout the year for my three grown up kids and both sets of grandparents AND pay for all our celebration food)

Throughout the year I’m going to focus on not only simple recipes from the wartime era during rationing but also the modern costs of eating simply and healthily.

In addition I am going to post my monthly household expenditure budget so you can see how and if I am able to cut costs, how much I can save, what sacrifices have to be made to save money on one income. I LOVE reading other peoples blog posts on budgeting and I think this will personally hold me accountable and keep me on the straight and narrow.

There will be things I absolutely will not compromise on to save pennies and that will be my weekly organic vegetable box from www.riverford.co.uk – to me this gives me joy and ensures I have a good supply of healthy food waiting for me in the house.

I hope you’ll join with me and we can work together on this and support each other.

Life is often a struggle. In many ways I am ashamed of being almost 52 with no real emergency fund, no contingency plan, and for only just getting by in life in my past. But then I look back and realize all I could really do was strive to get by and just do the best I could.

I want to change this now. I want 2018 to be the year I begin to FINALLY feel I am in control of my destiny and feel a sense of achievement.

Lets do this……

C xxxxxxxxxxx

National UpCycling Week

I saw a competition on Gumtree so submitted my dresser just for the hell of it!

I’ve always wanted a painted dresser but like most of us, just don’t have a spare few hundred pounds to just go and buy one when there are priorities like food, electric and bills!

To cut a long story short last year I found a set of shelves (on Gumtree) that had been used as a bookcase in the child’s bedroom and bought those and shortly after I also bought a very beaten up chest of drawers. They fit perfectly together and looked like a dresser so I also bought a small pot of chalk paint and just went for it!

In total the whole project cost me less than £50 and I now have something unique with a story to tell. I’d never part with it!

Would love to hear if anyone has also upcycled something! It’s great to think we are making use of old objects that people may throw away and are giving them a new lease of life!

Carolyn xxx

Moving: We are in!

We finally made it up North to South Yorkshire! Very happy but really shattered!

There are lots of boxes to unpack, beds to be assembled, decorating to be thought out, curtain poles & curtains to be purchased, handles to mend and not least a few more car loads of belongings from our old house in Nottingham to bring up (and a few days scrubbing our old home before we hand it back). BUT the main thing is we are IN!

Already, despite the worry now of being broke with all the expense of moving and paying double rent for a while, I can feel the fog lifting and feel much happier.

I’m sitting here at a desk in my bedroom, typing this, over looking some allotments and hills and appreciating how I can see some grass and trees and that there is a public footpath up that hill and for miles and miles through fields of wheat and this is making me smile.

Today I’ve baked a granary loaf with my new secondhand bread making machine I purchased the other day from someone on my street, unpacked several more boxes and given myself a computer desk with a view. Am so excited about finally having my own private desk with a view and intend to spend a lot of time here!

Well the lawn beckons! I’m not sure whether I’ll have time to create a victory garden this year but I do have some string beans in (from a friend at work) so at least it’s a start!

LOTS OF LOVE

C XXX


June Update – At the Houses of Parliament and nearly time to move!

If there is one thing I am desperate for, it’s time.

At the moment I am staying 4 or 5 nights a week on an airbed (with no furniture and no WI-FI or TV) in our new rental house (just 2 miles from work). It is convenient, saves time and money and I’m so knackered that I’m in bed most nights for 8 pm! Every weekend is spent back in Nottingham frantically packing, cleaning and painting in preparation for our forthcoming house move. By June 30th all should be handed back over and our new home should have furniture in it although my dining table will have to live under my bed (once I’ve taken the legs off of course) as there is simply not enough room for it.

I’m hoping by the end of July everything will have settled down into some sort of normality and routine so I can once again focus on eating healthier (10 lbs on since the Marathon!) and start re-creating more wartime recipes. I’m seriously missing my stepping back in time (culinary of course) – it feels like part of who I am has gone missing.

In addition to getting back on track with recipes and weight loss I have exams to study for in December (Certificate in HR – Level 3) and an awful lot of catching up to do regarding that too! I’m still working on building a complete vintage recipe/event/shopping phone app (which will include every single wartime recipe I have recreated with photos) as well as a directory of all vintage tearooms in the UK, and vintage clothing shops, vintage events, vintage everything really….. it’s a huge undertaking and very time consuming but what I’ve learned in life is you have to put the effort in and be jolly patient and passionate about something and willing to persevere for anything to be remotely successful.

One exciting thing happened recently, I got to go to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London on Election night for a lovely Summer Dinner! It was through work ( www.pmsdiecasting.co.uk ) and had a wonderful time! The buildings were absolutely stunning! What an experience!

Take care all, can’t wait to be back online properly and have time to take care of the blog again.

Lots of love

C xxxxxxxxx

Update – March 2017

Am so sorry for the lack of updates and posts on my blog. I try and keep my Instagram updated though as it’s quick but my life at the moment (like many of you I’m sure) doesn’t have enough hours in the day. Am always on catch up and never quite catching up enough!!!

I hope everyone is well! Spring is in the air and it’s bringing with it feelings of a new beginning and hope for the future. A lot has changed here. My eldest daughter now works with me so we both commute every day. She’s doing really well! My youngest daughter is about to sit her A level finals at college and has been accepted into Reading Uni to do her Bachelor of Arts (she wants to be an English teacher). I’m struggling with my training to do the London Marathon mostly with some hip pain and my ongoing Plantar Fascitis problem but will be training like crazy these next 4 weeks. My weight is slowly still moving downwards and after putting weight back on towards the end of 2016, am happy to say that since January 1st I’ve lost about 22 lbs and am currently at 260 lbs. Am starting to enjoy cycling on the exercise bike at the gym and do 20 km regularly, and now also use the rowing machine and do kettle bell exercises at home and a bit of boxing (mostly punching the sofa pillows!). I figure it’s all going to help!

Once Em’s final exams are over and the London Marathon is done and dusted then we will be heading further North to live in Rotherham which will mean we save 2.5 hrs a day commuting as well as nearly £250 a month in fuel! Sending lots of love and hope everyone is happy and healthy. I really miss doing my recipes and updating the blog right now, if I had the luxury of working part time I’d be busy on it!! LOL xxxxxx C