A month without money?.. Let’s mend and make do!


Immediately after Christmas, most of us, especially those with limited income, single parents, those on benefits or simply those who have really overspent are pretty much BROKE in the month of January and the only way to balance the books is to cut the spending, and be extra frugal for a month or two.

I’m not against a little moderate consumerism, we need it for our economy and businesses BUT I am against mindless consumerism and the pressure many individuals and young families can feel to overspend way beyond their means. I can understand that we want to give our kids things that make them happy, even more so if they have little or nothing and I enjoy the giving and receiving of affordable gifts, but the sheer weight of debt many encounter post Christmas is a ‘horrible’ situation to have to struggle against.

Looking back to the home front during WW2, that pressure of consumerism was alleviated, families had to mend and make-do and use their ingenuity and creativity to often make gifts. Expectations were certainly not the same as they are today.


So what can we do to really cut back in the New Year to balance the financial scales?

I guess it has to start at Christmas. Reduce the spending, give smaller gifts, don’t use credit cards if you can’t afford to repay it back in a month or two, never spend more than you have and don’t be afraid to say no.

When my marriage broke down several years ago and then consequently losing my work visa in Canada and with no means to support myself, our life took a dramatic turn and ever since the first of those events we have have lived within our means at Christmas and do not own credit cards. That’s not to say we still don’t feel the pinch in January and February though, especially with a multitude of family birthdays taking place BUT a couple of careful months and we are back on track.

So here’s the challenge for anyone who want’s to join in and share their experiences…

“Let’s spend as little as humanely possible for a month, lets do without stuff, be mindful of the food we buy and eat and let’s just mend and make do!”

I’m up for it if you are!!!

I’m not saying we should list our private outgoings and bills etc but rather celebrate the daily cutbacks we make to save money in what we purchase and what we buy at the grocery store!

How little can we spend?

What can we save?

If anyone is up for this as a group lets do this here and/or on my Facebook page.
Well my challenge starts today – I’m off to the shops in an hour or two. I’m going to keep all my receipts and ONLY buy something if I REALLY have to.

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas.

C xxxxxx


So here’s my first spend since Christmas. £2.80 for toilet rolls and sanitary towels. I wonder how long I can make 6 toilet rolls last!


MEND AND MAKE DO: DRESSMAKING CLASSES IN LONDON, 1943 (D 12887) Mrs Bolton at work on a sewing machine during a Make Do and Mend class in the office of the Kennington branch of the Labour Party. She is making a coat for her 16 year old daughter on the sewing machine that she has bought to the class as part of the 'Equipment Pool', to which all members of the class contribute. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125908

MEND AND MAKE DO: DRESSMAKING CLASSES IN LONDON, 1943 (D 12887) Mrs Bolton at work on a sewing machine during a Make Do and Mend class in the office of the Kennington branch of the Labour Party. She is making a coat for her 16 year old daughter on the sewing machine that she has bought to the class as part of the ‘Equipment Pool’, to which all members of the class contribute. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125908



Merry Christmas.


Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and hope your day tomorrow is filled with happiness and love.

I am so very sorry for my recent lack of commitment to my blog. I feel so frustrated with my lack of time to do the things I feel driven to do but I am going to formulate a plan to try and fit more time in to post and communicate more regularly. I have REALLY appreciated the continued support, messages and comments.

Thank you and have a lovely day tomorrow with those you love xxxxxx C

Homemade Christmas decorations- tree stars

Here is a lovely way to make pretty tree stars out of old Christmas cards . I think in wartime Britain during the 1940s people would have made lots of homemade decorations out of card or paper! – Hope you enjoy this blog post from 2012!  For full step by step instructions to make these tree stars click here  C xxxx

The 1940's Experiment


A  few readers asked how I made some really simple but pretty “tree stars”..

Our Christmas this year, is as always frugal, but also has more of an emphasis on homemade, so we are enjoying trying some money saving ideas out and decorating our place festively, making do with what we’ve got.


Last week, I noticed a link on a friends Facebook page, to an article on how-to make homemade paper stars. Initially looking at the design it seemed like it would be terribly fiddly and complicated but I gave it a go. The  first one was a little fiddly but the second and third were quick and easy and looked delightful once I had hung them up on our Christmas tree .

I made mine from standard white printer paper as I thought they would look nice against the green of the tree but you could make them from…

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Four in a Bed – Channel 4 – 1940s Cooking!


So one very hot day last summer I drove all the way over to Cambridge to take part in a Channel 4 TV show called “Four in a Bed”.

They wanted someone to facilitate a 1940s bake off and we decided on a very simple ‘Carrot Cookies’ recipe.

Armed with many props from my kitchen such as tea cups, rations books, bunting, old lace, cake stands, vegetables and ‘here’s-some-I-prepared-earlier-cookies’, and getting lost a couple of times on the way, we eventually made it and despite not having a hairbrush at all (I forgot it) was able, with the help of my daughter, to position two rather pathetic looking victory rolls precariously on my head and squeeze into my slightly tight dress (which WILL be loose one day).

We had great fun filming with Channel 4 at DUXFORD LODGE which is a beautiful country house quite close to the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

Initially I made my excuses not to do this and tried to find someone else who would BUT so many times in my life I turn things down because of being self conscious so pushed myself to do this and was really pleased I did.

It was fun, gave me a little more confidence and of course will always be a day to remember.

The 1940s Cooking Scene starts at 8 minutes 50 seconds in and you can watch it on the link here.

Keep pushing outside your comfort zone if ever you get a fun opportunity like this and just GO FOR IT!!!

C xxxxx




A very well know supermarket visited….

profilephoto1940An exciting weekend…

Yesterday I spent all day cleaning up my rather messy kitchen and baking some 1940’s dishes as a VERY well known supermarket were sending a photographer over on Sunday (today!).

I’ll tell you more when I know more because quite frankly, although the photographer was lovely and talented (see his Instagram here) I think he had his work cut out with this chubby silver haired vintage foodie. My dress barely fit, my wrap around pinny wouldn’t wrap around (my boobs have seemed to have grown immensely overnight and has scared the life out of me!) and my Victory Rolls looked more like something worn by ‘A Flock of Seagulls’. I am about 80% convinced right now that they will decide not to run the article when they see my photos…

Whatever happens, it was good spending all weekend cooking and giving the kitchen a pre Christmas scrub and Jess and I enjoyed a chit-chat with the photographer who was very kind.

Right now I am absolutely shattered. I’ve gobbled down 1/2 a Lord Woolton Pie and two blackberry mince pies and am going to have an afternoon snooze on the sofa.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

C xxxx



Gym and Weight Loss Update – 15th November 2016

Enjoyed some walking and jogging on the treadmill tonight with my friend Bertie and had a lot going on in my head so grabbed my phone and just talked.

My weight has gone up from about 255 lbs to 266 lbs in the last 4 weeks (and I had put 5 or 6 lbs on before that too) so I am really trying hard to get back on track and focused.

As a person who has been morbidly obese most of the last 20 years or so you have a huge fear of once you have lost some weight that you will lose control and put it all back on again (lets face it – we’ve all probably been there many times). I used to be 345 lbs and NEVER want to be there again because it was painful and unhealthy. My goal currently is to get below 250 lbs by Christmas and get below 200 lbs to run the London Marathon in April 2017 as a runner for the Royal British Legion.

Night night, never give up!

C xxx

Blackberry Mincemeat for WW2 Christmas Mince Pies – Recipe No. 157


You had to really think ahead on the home-front during WW2. Bottling hedgerow fruits during the late summer months would have enabled you to use many of those berries to make Christmas mince pies. The fruits bulked out the dried fruit which was much harder to get hold of in the quantities most housewives were used to.

7c3678aff3aa79930546591cda391b12This recipe comes from ‘Woman Magazine’ and makes about 3-4 jam jars or at least a large litre kilner jar and will be enough to fill 24 mince pies!

I made this today and as I had no blackberries and obviously wasn’t forward thinking like many bakers during WW2, I was able to just pop along to my local Sainsbury’s a buy a frozen basics bag of forest berries which includes blackberries. They’ve worked very well!

I tasted a spoonful before bottling and it tastes very much like a mix between traditional mincemeat and apple pie mixture. Very tasty!

Blackberry Mincemeat for Christmas Mince pies.

1 lb blackberries (or mixed berries). Use fresh, frozen or bottled.
4 cooking apples
4 oz (100 g) butter, margarine or shredded suet
4 oz (100 g) of chopped mixed nuts
1/2 lbs ( 400 g) of dried mixed fruit
2 – 3 rounded dessertspoons of soft brown sugar (or granulated)
8-10 drops almond essence
2 rounded teaspoons of mixed spice
Honey or golden syrup


Chop up apples and place in saucepan with a spoonful of water and soft brown sugar and simmer until apple is soft and getting pulpy.
Add berries, spice and almond essence and simmer on low for another 15 minutes stirring now and again. Switch off heat.
Add your margarine/butter/suet and stir in until melted
Add chopped nuts and dried fruit and stir (at this stage if you wish you can add a dram of whisky or brandy.)
Spoon into clean, sterilized jam jars and once filled drizzle the top with a little warm honey or golden syrup to seal before adding lid.
Store in the fridge or somewhere cool until needed when you make your mince pies at Christmas!

Should keep for 3 – 6 months in the fridge!