Monday, 15 September 2014

Minimalist v. Frugalist

I having been pondering on this one – and I am still undecided. I often think I should like to be a minimalist – simplifying things, and reducing my possessions.

gandhi jpgteresa

It is said that Mahatma Gandhi believed so fervently in the life of the spirit that he had only a handful of material possessions when he died – a watch, sandals, spectacles, and a few similar items. Similarly, Mother Teresa left just a bucket and two saris. Now you could argue that the nun lived with the other nuns, and was provided with a bed, bedlinen, and meals – so did not need to ‘own’ plates, cups, bathtowels etc. But lots of other people live relatively minimal lives within the context of a more conventional 21st century Western World existence. They have ‘capsule’ wardrobes, use just a basic set of kitchenware [2 pans, 2 knives, one chopping board etc] and keep all their reading material on one little Kindle.


I am aware that if ‘hoarding’ means ‘keeping something for which you have no immediate use’, then I am definitely a hoarder. And I justify this to myself by saying that this is being frugal. If I get rid of this thing now I may have to spend money on replacing it later. Don’t frugal people need to keep things ‘just in case’? This past few days, I have found uses for ‘just in case’ stuff.


A couple of years ago, we gained two chairs which another person in the village was throwing out because their legs were damaged. Bob was able to make one good chair from the two damaged ones, and it now lives at Cornerstones in the back bedroom. But he stripped all the leather from the second chair and kept it in the garage. On Thursday I was using that leather to finish off another project [I shall write awl about that later!] It would have cost a lot to buy a piece of leather.


On Friday, a colleague in the staffroom asked ‘Does anyone have any pine cones please? I need some for Wednesday week’ Much shaking of heads and mutterings of ‘Sorry, no’ – I went over and said ‘I have a sweet jar full of them that you can have’ and explained they were left over from a Church Holiday Club Craft. I didn’t dare tell her which year they were left over from! They’ve been in the garage for ages


On Saturday I was involved in a rather sticky craft project involving PVA glue. Fortunately I have a tub full of little plastic pots which contain disposable gloves [you get a pair in every box of hair dye- but I use the same pair over and over for that until the gloves split] So I was able to keep my hands clean [and yes, I did throw away the very sticky gloves afterwards]


I’ve sorted out the work I shall be doing with my new SATs students – and put it into some old folders which I had emptied out 2 years ago and stored in the loft. And that’s saved me the cost of purchasing more

I think my problem is making intelligent decisions about how many boxes of these things I need to keep. In the box of folders in the loft were also dozens [yes, honestly that many] of cardboard ring binder files accumulated down the years – and then emptied of their contents when no longer needed. What do I do with them?

  • I shall never have need for all of them.
  • Charity shops don’t want these items
  • You cannot even give them away on Freecycle
  • I feel uncomfortable just throwing them away

Any suggestions? And while we are at it, my jiffy bag collection is getting rather large too – even if everything I ever advertise on eBay sells and I do lots of blog-giveaways, I won’t need all these padded envelopes [I must have samples in every size they produce, from tiny to huge] I did manage to reduce my mammoth pen & pencil collection over the summer. I took a large box of [new & unused] items to Holiday Club and we gave them away as prizes each day.

Do you have items which you hoard?

How do you manage to declutter your stash?

Is it possible to combine being a minimalist and being a frugalist?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Midnight Madness

Having gone to bed by 8.15m on Friday night, I was up again at 11.50pm! I’d had a good rest and was still dozy when Bob brought me a cup of tea around 10.30pm. He mentioned that ‘there is a strong likelihood of the Northern Lights being visible over North Leicestershire around midnight tonight’ [according to the Internet, which as we know, never lies!] Instantly I was wide awake! Seeing the Aurora Borealis is something I have always wanted to do.

Reports in The Guardian explained recent solar activity meant that conditions were right. “The current spate of displays have been sparked by a gigantic solar eruption, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), that collided with our atmosphere on Friday morning at around 1am. Observers in Canada and the northern states of the USA saw mild auroras as a result. A second ejection [was] due on Friday afternoon and could increase the likelihood of the lights appearing over the UK [Friday] night. The stronger the compression of Earth’s magnetic field the further south the aurora will be seen, and the more active the display.” The article went on to explain you needed to be in a position to have a clear view of the northern horizon.

At 11.45pm, Bob was showing me pictures on his Smartphone of the Aurora – clearly visible over Norfolk!  Do I wait seven years until retirement, and hope they show up over Cornerstones when I am living there full-time? Nope- we got up, dressed, and drove out to a high spot about 10 miles north of here. Did we see anything? Sadly, no glorious lighting up of the night sky this time – unless you count the light pollution caused by the city of Leicester, the town of Coalville, and all the illumination up the M1. We did see some stars twinkling and a bright moon. Never mind. Another time maybe… But as Bob drove back, I found myself humming a very old evening hymn about the Light of the World. These pictures are ones which were published yesterday – showing the night skies over Norfolk.

Sun of my soul, Thou Saviour dear,
It is not night if Thou be near;
O may no earthborn cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes.

northern lights n nfk 12 9 14Abide with me from morn till eve,
For without Thee I cannot live;
Abide with me when night is nigh,
For without Thee I dare not die.

northern lights cley nfk 12 9 14Watch by the sick, enrich the poor
With blessings from Thy boundless store;
Be every mourner’s sleep tonight,
Like infants’ slumbers, pure and right.

northern lights nfk 12 9 14

Come near and bless us when we wake,
Ere through the world our way we take,
Till in the ocean of Thy love
We lose ourselves in Heaven above.

Maybe we were mad to drive out into the Leicester countryside at midnight – but I am glad we did. A crazy unscheduled activity like this can bring so much joy – and definitely counts as Quality Time.

Friday, 12 September 2014

The Best Of Intentions

Today I was back in the school where I worked in the spring. I am providing SATs support for year 6 pupils in the morning, and then working with a Reception class in the afternoon. In the world of education jargon, children removed from classes for extra support are often called “Intervention Groups”. As I was chatting with one of my students, he suddenly said “Have you had these intentions in other schools, Miss?” I assured him I had!

But yet again I have got to the end of another week’s teaching completely exhausted. Tomorrow I am having a lie-in. Possibly till midday!!! Don’t expect a blogpost in the morning.


I intend to catch up on my rest – so I am having a bath* and going to bed Very Early [*now it is emptied of all those wedding flowers]

Friday’s Child Is Loving And Giving

You just have to smile when a five year old, asked to write a sentence about somebody in his family [and all around him are writing ‘My Dad plays ball with me’ and ‘I went to the park with Gran’] chooses to write

My momy is uorsum


I have two daughters- one born on a Friday, the other on a Sunday. Both girls are loving, and giving, and both are [imho] absolutely awesome – as are their guys. Even though Bob is conducting the ceremony, and I will be there as MOB, we still received this card in the post yesterday – just so we don’t forget


It looks like being a truly uorsum occasion

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Awl For One, And One For Awl

We gave ourselves a gift in August. Well, two actually. We had decided to mark our 35th Anniversary with a slate sign for ‘'Cornerstones’ and we set a budget for this, then agreed to spend any difference on a ‘silly and frivolous item we would both enjoy’. We got the plaque, duly affixed to the wall last month.


Then when we were in the Chandlery in Wells Next The Sea, we saw something we both felt was an ideal item – it really ‘ticked awl the boxes’


And you just have to love something made in Poughkeepsie


Poughkeepsie is in the state of New York. You pronounce it “Pukipsee” and it means "the reed-covered lodge by the little-water place"

Here is the awl- beautifully made, with full instructions


It comes with a reel of strong waxed thread inside the handle, and two needles [which store neatly and safely inside when not in use] Thus far I have used it for two projects – I sewed together the ends of a length of very tough webbing for Bob – and an ongoing personal project which is part of my 52 Projects list. I am hoping to get that completed over the weekend and will blog that later.

Awls have been around for centuries. There are various different types of awl [saddler’s, shoemaker’s etc] and some are stitching awls like this, with a needle, others are simple ‘pricking awls’ designed to puncture the fabric and make holes. Lots of awl stuff here. I am getting a lot of enjoyment working with this one.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Mob Moments

Thank you everybody who left such lovely compliments about the dress I wore for Moira’s wedding.

  • Yes, I did feel amazingly glamorous in it
  • No, it wasn’t genuine vintage, but a modern repro.
  • Yes, the beadwork was heavy [it weighed nearly half a stone!]
  • No, I shall not be wearing it next June when I am MOB
  • Yes, it was borrowed from Steph

When I posted on facebook that I would be MOB, some of my male friends misunderstood, and thought I meant I’d be in this lot


My Mother Of Bride outfit is something I have yet to sort out. The thing is, the colour and style of that dress, fabulous though it is, are both wrong for the colours and style of Steph’s wedding. I am taking my time over choosing the right outfit. I don’t really want to go down the highly expensive, “I shall only ever wear this once” route.

I was talking to a lady this week who said she has got her fascinator, bag and shoes for her son’s wedding [July 2015] and just has to find the dress to go with them. I suspect I shall start with the dress and choose accessories around it. I am enjoying the all suggestions and comments friends are giving me- and their generous offers of hats, bags, fascinators which they will lend if needed. We ought to be better at sharing such things. I have a hat which has been to a Buck House Garden Party [on someone else’s head]


I am not planning to waste money on a Journal for the MOB. Steph and Mark are sorting things out – it is their wedding. I’ll just help as and when I am asked.

I had so much fun planning my own wedding and I do not want to be the sort of MOB who takes over – I want Steph to enjoy herself. She is a very competent young woman, and can organise it all in her own way.

cartoonI shall definitely take advice from both Bob, Steph and Liz before I commit to buying anything.

My family are far better at spotting styles which suit me – and they are gently able to deflect me from choosing  the wrong things, without making me feel unattractive.


I have concluded I am neither apple, pear or pumpkin, I am definitely a sultana . A sultana is defined as either

a princess, married to a man of great importance   or

a fruit which is small and shrunken, very sweet, with great taste

Which fruit are you, do you think?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Ripping Yarns

I have always been fascinated by the mysteries surrounding Jack The Ripper. Liz knows this, and five years ago took me to the City Of London Cemetery Open Day, where I saw the graves of Catherine Eddowes and Mary Ann Nicholls.

cemetery 6cemetery 7

Today a book is being published which claims that finally, we have definite proof of the Ripper’s identity.

ripper- eddowes

With Catherine Eddowes body was found a shawl – this was kept by one of the policemen, but it came up for auction some years ago

ripper shawl&russell edwardsRussell Edwards, an ‘armchair detective’ with a lifelong obsession with the Ripper, purchased the shawl. After much research, and with the help of a DNA specialist, he claims that he has established the identity of the Ripper. There are six ‘main’ suspects – three from the upper echelons of society, three from the lower classes. Edwards has tested the evidence.ripper suspects


He says that tests on bloosd and semen stains show that “Jack The Ripper” was in fact Aaron Kosminski, a deranged schizophrenic Polish hairdresser from Whitechapel. You can read more here.

I wait to see what other ‘experts’ say about this ‘solution’ to a puzzle which is 126 years old.  I know that crime writer P J Cornwell still maintains it was the artist Walter Sickert. And I wonder if this will affect future episodes of “Ripper Street”.


Monday, 8 September 2014

A Trio of Time-Saving Tips

Three things which I did this weekend, which made life easier

P10000361 –First tip - If you have just changed your car [elderly blue Daewoo] for a newer model [silver Toyota] but have yet to learn your registration number, make sure you put some sort of personalisation on it. I transferred my Baptist car sticker. This made it much simpler to locate in a huge shopping centre car park on Friday morning. There are loads of small silver cars out there!!

DSCF4629DSCF4635floral foam

2 – If you have to arrange a lot of flowers, invest in some tall florists buckets [mine were very cheap from IKEA] When you get the flowers back from the shop, trim the base of the stems, and give the flowers a long drink [at least an hour] and in another bucket, give the floral foam a long soak too. Here’s the added tip – use some of the flower-food sachets which came sellotaped to the wrappings in the soaking water for both the flowers and the foam. This will help maximise the amount of nutrition the blooms take up – and hopefully prolong the life of the final arrangement.


3- Final tip, if you are going to an important event, try out your whole ensemble beforehand, to make sure everything works. Steph generously lent me a rather glamorous dress for the wedding [‘do check you have the right underpinnings, Mum’] Thanks Steph!!

kmfc friends

I had originally intended wearing my red suede Mary Janes with the dress – but realised on Friday evening that they were not quite right, and the black sandals looked much better.

Similarly the bra I tried on initially looked fine at the front – but Bob pointed out that the low cut back revealed some rather inelegant hooks and strappage.

Saturday was quite a hectic day, so it was good to have the complete outfit [including necklace, hairclips and ear-rings] all ready and waiting to slip on, with no last minute panics.