Happy New Year readers from a busy little crafter

First of all, apologies to those readers who have been awaiting the latest instalment after what was a phenomenally busy end of 2012. It being the year that everything broke, the Harvey household was more than happy to wave goodbye to that year (and the expenses that ensued) and welcome in the New Year.

What have we/I been up to I hear you ask? Well, the kitchen revamp finally went ahead with the wallpaper and old white tiles coming off and the lovely olive green paint and cream tiles with olive stripe going on. We can’t get over what a £400 facelift has done to the kitchen which definitely didn’t need new units or work surfaces. Of course I must share with you our frugal tip on the kitchen- Tesco Clubcard points tripled up to rewards vouchers with Topps Tiles. Boy am I glad we spotted that one before we threw away another £150. They all but paid for the tiles 🙂

Another thing that kept me busy was the Brockholes Craft weekender on 15th/16th December. It was a fab time with lots of demos on flower frills for the girls and I sold FOUR of my dresses! The Christmas spirit was certainly present that weekend. I also met loads of great people, other crafters and even other bloggers. One of the best tips of the weekend was from the Pendle Crafters on the stall next to me who whilst sharing fabric bargain tips, they told me about a little secret called Immanuel Fabrics in Burnley. Only open Monday’s and Thursdays, and having a friend for whom we were about to purchase curtain fabric for, we went on a morning beano there on the Thursday before Christmas. Boy oh boy oh boy! Let’s just say it’s a good job they take cash only and I had only taken £50 with me, because £42 and a bin-bag of fabric later I left a very excited little bunny! All fabrics in there were either £1, £2 or £3 a metre so you can understand my predicament. Suffice to say there are some great fabrics to continue my foray in to 50’s and 60’s style recreation dresses (as they take about 5m each) and I will be posting some photos on here very soon of ones I have been working on. I have two nearly finished and a third to be made having seen the following photo of Naomi Watts in a magazine

Yes I have that exact colour duchesse satin from Immanuel Fabrics at only £3 a metre. Form an orderly queue please ladies!

I must also give a shout out to a new blogging friend Peach Nia, who I met at the Brockholes weekender, over at http://alovelylittledeer.blogspot.co.uk. She is another crafter in to various things such as baking and sewn crafts. I love her interviews with other vintage/crafting peeps as well.

Major project of the New Year has to be my Up-cycling craft classes which start tomorrow night at the local community centre. I can’t wait as there has been quite a bit of interest from adults at the kids demo sessions at the Vintage fairs so thought it was about time I got us ladies together for some kid free time. The Christmas present food mixer has come out again to bake some yummy cupcakes for the occasion (oooh how did I manage without one, the buttercream from it is the best EVER!), to sustain us crafters through the lesson 😉 Of course not wanting to miss my lovely readers out, I promise that when we get to about week 4 or 5 of the classes (hoping that we do!) then I will post a how to on the flower decorated cushion cover from shrunken wool jumpers.

So, I must leave you with that for now as otherwise the family will starve, and I really need to get all the kit together ready for tomorrow night! Promise it won’t be so long next time.

 

Aside

Autumn harvest

Oooh we have been busy down at the allotment recently. We do love autumn and it’s harvests, but when all there is to get up are more and more potatoes, it gets a bit back breaking. However, you can’t complain when you get beauties like these:

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Max is very proud of his pumpkin and it is now safely at home waiting for Halloween. We have also had some of the BIGGEST cucumbers you have ever seen:

ImageAnd this has now been filled with poo, courtesy of spookily similar husband whilst I have been digging up potatoes:

ImageWe’ve also had the first try of the most gorgeous burgundy red in the middle Heritage potatoes, which has prompted Junior to ask when they are in various meals (exceptionally good all rounders by the way) what they are, and to look incredulously when we have answered “potatoes”!:

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It was a busy weekend for me last weekend as I got back in the swing of Vintage/craft fairs after a summer break. It was up at Longridge which is a beautiful area of Lancashire and gateway to some wonderful countryside. So whilst I was mad busy teaching kids how to sew flowers for their hair, brooches or what have you, the boys made their way off to the GIsburn forest which is a haven for off road mountain biking. As they had at least 3 hours to kill up there, you can imagine Junior came back much muddier and a hell of a lot more tired than when he went, as you can see:

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They are trying to encourage me to go with them next time, but I settled with a leisurely family cycle round Cuerden Valley Park on the Sunday instead, 14 year old geriatric dog in tow! (and he did ever so well considering his age)

Harvey’s Handmade has been busy again with a couple of clothes alterations and a possible commission for a run of book bags for a small local business. I am quite excited about this and will be running up a sample and sending it to the customer before hopefully starting a run of them.

Talking about small local businesses, I really must big up a friend of mine, Carrie’s cupcakes. She reallly is the most yummy cake maker I know, and has been so kind to teach me how to improve my cake decorating skills with a skills swap. This idea was born out of lack of money earlier this year when I decided I would like to take cake decorating and photography courses if I had the money. However, instead I put a request on our local Freecycle site for a skills swap offering my sewing skills in return. More than 6 months on and I have forged two great friendships with two young Mums who learn to sew with me whilst I learn cake decorating and photography. It’s saved me heaps and is so much more enriching than just going to classes. We both get one on one coaching and all our skills are coming on leaps and bounds. Course, the only drawback to the skills swap with Carrie is my expanding waistline, but oooh considering some of the beauties I have brought home recently, it’s been worth it. This was yesterday’s creation:Image

Quite chuffed with it but it has nearly all gone already! I think I will have to make a couple of these for family in the near future.

Looking forward, I hope to be off to the Swingaroo vintage Dancehall Halloween do next Friday, so don’t be surprised if you see some spooky photos on here next week. I also can’t wait for my belated birthday present trip to London with Mum as well as a busy half term week catching up with both sets of parents. So, until next time……

 

Cupcakes, Christmas and the conservatory

Firstly, apologies for the delay since the last post peeps but we were luxuriating on a Club Med sun lounger in sunny Turkey and dodging this dire wet British weather we’ve been having. We enjoyed ourself so much that Junior has cried every day since we got back and doesnt want to go to school anymore! Mind you, it was an absolutely super holiday with archery 5 days out of 7, not to mention two goes each at sailing on the Catamarans. Junior was treated like a mini celebrity (hence the sadness since we have returned home!) and we are all Club Med converts.

And not satisified with the sun he got in Turkey, spookily similar husband flew almost straight back out to Barcelona for a business conference and has been in 24 degree heat again all this week. Some people!!!!! The pre Xmas diet though HAS to start this weekend for all, when I’ve finished those pesky cupcakes I practiced this week:

Image Not bad for a first attempt, following instructions of course. I had to practice as I have a Polka dot and pinstripes themed party night coming up at our Jazz swing dance class and havent had time to sew myself a polka dot dress so thought would take something else spotty with me.

Before we went away, we finally got the conservatory makeover finished and here are the results:

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It’s a much more child friendly lay out now with storage boxes for small bits and empty cubby holes for larger things. Junior certainly tidies away after himself much more often now, and loves having that playmat out on the floor full time- I’m just so chuffed it fits so well in there considering we had that way before this project materialised.  We also have a childs table and chair at the left hand end where he can sit and do his homework, and a properly hung blackboard and removable phonics board for practicing writing.  Of course we’ve just got his toys all in order and along will come Christmas and we might be pushed for space again, but like with the rest of the family (my shoes included!) it’s a one in one out policy in this household so we don’t get too cluttered. In fact Junior has already volunteered that he needs to get rid of some of his toys because ” We need to make space for when I write to Santa for what I want for Christmas”! He’s 5- he’s NOT having the Argos brochure to shop from you know!

Talking of Christmas, the way I approach this since I left work has changed significantly. This will be our 3rd Christmas since I left and I look forward to them all the more. Yes the planning and buying has to start in September but that’s so much more pleasant than panic spending on overpriced tat which isn’t really appreciated by the receiver and will be in a charity shop by the end of January anyway. In fact, Junior has already put a request in for a home made Captain America dressing up suit, seeing as I have already made him a mask and we managed to pick up the shield cheap too. Well, it pays to plan ahead because I will be busy with other homemade gifts including many personalised leather gadget cases amongst other things. These will no doubt be posted on here as they progress. Talking of Christmas, I already have quite a few “do’s” warming up for the festive period and starting in late November, a couple of which I want to make home sewn creations for so I have formulated a craft plan to get it all done. What with those and the Craft/Vintage fairs I will be doing between now and then, I will be very busy. However, I’ll still make time to share instructions and photos with you so keep tuned…….oh and you might even see the Kitchen get that makeover we promised too, we’ve just realised that we can triple up Clubcard vouchers at Topps Tiles, oooh now that will be fun as it takes the edge off the expense. Of course as soon as we get the kitchen done, we can fit a dish washer so you see my motivation!!!!

See you soon

Shoes, Shoes, Soup and Shoes…

Now my lovely readers, for those of a delicate nature, avid home improvers and shopaholics who have control issues, I suggest you look away now. As promised, I have finally got round to taking some photos for you of the shoe cupboard. That 5 shelf, double doored, built in to a firebreast alcove shrine to the great Imelda Marcos, queen of all shoe lovers. I present to you, nirvana……..

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It should be accompanied by a triumphant musical score when you open the doors don’t you think? Of my friends who have seen it, I have been called lucky and spoilt!

And it truly is built in to the side of a chimney breast in the bedroom. Of course, I can’t take all the credit for this because it was actually already there when we moved in to our house 3 years ago and Spookily similar husband “gifted” it to me as the perfect storage for all my shoes. Gotta love him but THEN readers, he made the cruel rule of if your shoes don’t fit in there, you have too many!!. Hence the toe to heel rule (Hell you can get another pair of shoes per shelf then!) and ignorance of the messy pile in the bottom. But I was even able to adapt it to carry my bags as well, genius. Course, I feel the need to add another shelf now, just to see how much more can squeeze in 🙂  So any of you out there with a handy husband and a spare chimney breast alcove in your bedroom, you know what you’re gonna do with it now don’t you?

Things are moving along nicely with the conservatory with the only worry being are we gonna run out of that lovely teal paint- in a word yes! Argh- off to the paint mixing desk this weekend I feel, but never mind as the original only cost £4 it aint exactly gonna blow the budget too much. One of the bookcases/seating is built and in place and the foam for the seatcovers is ordered. I can’t wait, I see first week in October it all coming together nicely and photos available for you to see.

On another home project, here finally is the finished computer chair re-cover I told you about a few weeks ago…

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Quite a transformation from sad office chair to slick stylishness. As I said, a simple Google search gives you loads of how to’s and even though I thought our chair was sealed, handy husband had the back off in a jiffy.

Anyway, I promised you all my Dad’s Scotch Broth recipe didnt I, preferred this week by Junior over my own home made minestrone- pah! There’s no pleasing some people. As the weather has changed for the colder over the last few days, I guarantee you this will warm the whole family up from the inside out and for a total cost of about £1.20 (80p of that being the bones, if you have to pay for them, some butchers give them away):

Scotch Broth (serves 4-6)

2-3 Lamb bones (ask your butcher, try to include one rib rack and 1 neck piece as this yields more meat)

2-3 Potatoes

A few small or a couple medium carrots

About 150-200g of Broth mix ( pulses such as barley, red lentils, yellow split peas)

2 sticks of Celery

2 Lamb stock cubes in 1 litre of boiling water

Any other left over vegetables (cabbage is good to add)

Take the lamb bones, put them in enough water to just cover and boil them in a large pan for approximately 90 minutes. It is recommended to do this the night before you want to make the soup for the reason that once this is done, you remove the bones (keeping them aside) and leave the stock to cool so the fat can rise to the top and be skimmed off when cold, making it a healthier soup. It also means the bones will have cooled to be able to pick off as much meat as you can. Getting a fork in to the crevices of the ribs gets quite a lot I find. Be careful not to overpick as you don’t want small bone fragments in your soup.

So having done the preparation above, prepare your vegetables once you are ready to put the soup together, peeling and chopping the carrots and the potatoes in to small cubes and slicing the celery or other vegetables in to similar sizes. Prepare 1 litre of hot lamb stock with the 2 lamb stock cubes, adding it to the reserved lamb bone stock from the night before. Put all these ingredients in to the largest pan you have (I use a stock pot), along with the broth pulse mix and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and add the lamb meat you managed to get off the bones. Simmer for about 30 minutes until the pulses are tender (if you choose to add pulses that require a pre-soak or pre cook such as green Puy lentils, please ensure these are pre boiled before adding them to the soup, as otherwise they will have too much “bite” which will detract from the finished texture). The soup will “reduce” during the simmer and start to produce a thick starchy broth. Taste test it before serving as whilst Dad said salt doesnt need to be added because of the amount in the stock cubes, I found on my second batch, it was better for having about 1/2 tsp added in the last 10 minutes of simmering.

Now I would like to have shown you a photo of what the finished broth should look like, but let’s be honest, Scotch Broth doesn’t win any prizes in the beauty stakes! It’s brown and it’s sludgy but it’s what it does to the palate and the belly that matters. And junior seems to LOVE it, hence why we have called it Grandad’s Scotch Broth because let’s face it, I can’t take the credit here.

So with 25 mph winds rattling the windows and the fire on (if not quite yet, the central heating), I leave you to welcome Autumn with a triumphant yee-ha and a belly full of Scotch broth, until next time……..

New term, New start and dressing up!

Phew, and finally the new school term is upon us as I and many of my fellow stay at homers breathe a sigh of relief and get back to some sense of normality after the 6 week chaos of school holidays. I don’t envy teachers one bit, and if Junior is anything to go by (and talk on the playground amongst other mums assures me I’m not alone), the level of tiredness he has returned home with over the last few days must mean they have been working him hard already. And why shouldnt they, I hear you ask, because I now have to start working hard myself on all those projects that were put on a 6 week hold.

The icing on the cake to the end of the school holidays had to be the Preston Guild celebrations, starting off last weekend with the Vintage Guild and continuing in to this weekend. And I did promise you some photos of the events we attended and the outfits I wore.

Saturday was the 1922 Guild tea party and dance in a wonderful restored retro tent. Here’s some photos:

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These are our teachers from my Monday night Charleston, Jive and Lindy class. Fab couple.

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Here is one of us all in the swing of it, I’m front row on the right.

Anyway, the dress I am wearing was made by me from a very 20’s style dress which I accessorised appropriately including a 20’s style flapper hair do. I was even approached for the opportunity to parade down the catwalk for best in show later on from which the following photo was taken:

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And lil old me only goes and gets a rosette for one of the best outfits which gets me and the family free entry to the 1942 style Guild ball in the evening didn’t it?!  So it was home for a VERY quick change (and by that I mean try getting yourself and your son changed AND him fed in 30 minutes!) and hair restyle to get back out for the Vintage ball. Whilst the number I wore this time wasn’t made by me but shop bought, it is really easy to adapt modern wrap style dress in to this:

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An excellent evening was had by all, even sweeter for us on a freebie! I collapsed in bed with the knowledge I was doing it all again for the Rocking 1952 guild party on Sunday as well!

Rather than faffing over my hair myself first thing on a Sunday morning, I decided to get it done by the stylists in one of the tents which was a fab treat. I went for a classic chignon which still allowed me to wear my fancy saucer on the side of my head (£10 at our Charity shop did you know?!) Admittedly, I may be didnt quite get the spirit of the ROCKIN 1952 Guild quite right though, as I had gone down the avenue of a 1952 retro reprint pattern shift dress, a very Audrey Hepburn ladylike style:

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Anyway, never mind coz I seem to carry off over-dressed rather well, loved looking like a proper lady and LOVED the fact that my Grandma’s vintage fabric finally got made in to a lovely dress (as did Mum when she saw it on a Skype call later in the evening). It was such a simple pattern as well so can’t wait to make up some more in different colours/patterns for my Harvey’s Handmade vintage stalls. Now I have pleaded with Mum to raid her further stash of Grandma’s fabrics for future projects!

So, now the kids are back at school and Guild projects have been finished, worn and photographed to death (if you made the effort to dress up for the Vintage Guild, you did get somewhat “Papped” nearly the whole time and I suspect there are still more photos/video of me out there I am yet to see!), it’s time to turn our efforts back to home improvements. I really hope to get the painting finished this weekend so we can get the seating in and re-covered to get some photos on here for you. That and it would be nice to get proper use of the conservatory back before it gets too cold again!

And on the frugal front, I will share some more money saving tips with you next time which MUST include my Dad’s recipe for Scotch broth using lamb bones. Junior loves it SOOOO much, I haven’t stopped making it and he even chose it over pudding and custard for his post school snack today. I mean, I ask you, what 5 year old boy do you know that choses home made soup over stodgy dessert?! Yeah it must be magic so I feel I should share the recipe with you.

Busy, Busy, Busy

So sorry peeps for it being yet ANOTHER 3 weeks since my last post. School holidays eh, who’d have them?! At least I have got to the end of 6 weeks with my sanity intact….just!!!! There have been trials and tribulations, strops on a monumental scale and many a minute spent in time out in Harvey Junior’s bedroom (for me, not him- only joking!). How does one home school?! I’m darned if I know!!!

And is it just me or does every Mum of boy(s) have the constant “I’m hungry” drone through the whole of the holidays? I mean I know they come home from school and eat us out of house and home but how do they cope at school when we send them with packed lunches?

Anyway, to say we’ve been busy is an understatement. As I said last time about the DIY, the major conservatory project is actually more than half way with the painting nearly done and then the shelves-come-seating can be made and fitted and then lil ole me gets to do her sewing creative bit and cover the foam seating pads and other seats in there with co-ordinating fabric. Ooooh the joy. Course a project report wouldnt be fair without an “in progress” photo to accompany it so here you are;

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If we didnt mention before, this is Junior’s “play” room as well as a family room, hence the piles of games/jigsaws and various storage around.

And in our revamp we have brought joy to others with passing on storage we no longer need, such as the leather look storage box which was never really ideal for a boys storage needs. He needs to find something, EVERYTHING gets turfed on to the floor. Much more sensible to have the black square storage boxes you can just see on the left which will go in the new seating/storage. Freecycle (or Freegle in our area) has proved very useful over the past few days in decluttering in general. That and of course Ebay for Junior’s Lego Duplo, which in sorting out in there, he has finally let us sell for him. Just in time as well it seems because did you know that a used Lego Duplo airport can be at over £60 bidding already?! That will do nicely for his Christmas present funds.

The colour scheme by the way is going to be a lovely charcoal grey and teal, from the £4 per pot Next paint if you remember, Here’s another photo of the two side by side:

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Grey, much more suitable a “hide dirt” colour when you have a boy than yellow don’t you think? And I was ecstatic when I found a dark grey with teal fabric for the seating too, which will be going in this corner.

The other thing I have been busy with is dresses for the Preston Vintage Guild this coming weekend. This is a once every 20 years Trade & City festival which can be traced back to at least the 1300’s. Ooooh I can’t contain the excitement now! I have tickets for the 1922 Tea dance with brunch and Charleston dancing, and for the 1952 one. Whilst I had already recently finished my 1920’s dress, I have been busy this week squeezing in time to sew my 1950’s floral pink shift dress. I’m particularly proud of the 1950’s one as it’s made with some vintage floral pink cotton I inherited from Grandma via Mum when I was a teenager. It’s also more Audrey Hepburn shift than American Prom dress, which should be a bit different to what others will be wearing. Yet again, I have sourced my accessories from the Charity shop and feel that they add the finishing touches. I can’t wait to show you some photos early next week of the fun that’s bound to be had this weekend and pics of other people’s finery as well.

But no rest for the wicked, as you may have noticed that teal wall needs a third coat of paint after the darling OH did two coats on it whilst I was out with Junior on Sunday. TTFN

 

Do it yourself?! Don’t we always!

Hi there readers. Sorry it has been a while and spookily similar husband has been badgering me to get the next instalment done on here but have been so busy with home projects. What with trying to squeeze in the outside paint jobs in this unpredictable weather we are having and planning other home improvements, time has been limited. At least the deck railings on Junior’s playhouse are looking much better in a bright shade of blue now.

On the cupcake front, I have been busy with sticky toffee pudding ones for the 2nd anniversary of the Swing/jive dance class I have started going to, and tomorrow the scrumptious limoncello ones with soft centre for my old work colleague who is leaving for pastures new. I have to say thanks to the lovely lady at http://normalactivities.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/limoncello-cupcakes.html for the recipe. I use shop bought Value lemon curd as opposed to home made as it saves faff and seriously, no-one knows the difference!

Sewing wise, I have a couple of wedding dress and bridesmaid alterations as well as a couple of outfits for myself for the Preston Guild vintage luncheons (photos of which will be posted after they have had their “debut” in early September, one 1920’s and one 1950’s dress).

This weekend, we have moved forwards on one of our major projects getting the bookcases from Ikea for a conservatory/playroom revamp. They aren’t going to be bookcases though, as I got the idea from here, a clever lady called Jen: http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.ca/2012/05/playroom-progress-bunch-of-baskets.html. It has to be said, when you can go to Ikea and get the stuff required for this project (2 Expedit bookcases and storage boxes) along with a few other small items, and still have change from £100 that can’t be bad. This will solve a few toy storage and kid seating problems in our conservatory, which ends up being a meeting place for kids and adults when we have parties or play-dates. I would like to start this right away but the room requires painting first, and to do that I suspect I will have to wait til the end of the school holidays- roll on 3 weeks!

Another home improvement job is the kitchen revamp, following a water leak a couple of years ago it is LONG overdue. Course I suppose I should tell you why the home improvements schedule has been coming on leaps and bounds. Well when the Next sale has gorgeous modern paints (teal, charcoal and violet) reduced from £16 to £4 each your revamp ideas and colour schemes suddenly start to crystallise!! Trust me, twice a year get online and check out their home sale bargains BEFORE you consider your own wardrobe (No, I never thought I would ever do that either!). At that price, you have to proritise!

I would have liked to give you some photos of the den and the cupcakes, but sadly, the camera has chosen now to run out of batteries and we have no more. I don’t even seem to have taken a full photo of the computer chair re-vamp either! (Sigh!) So here is a before and during photo, and you’ll just have to keep tuned for the after one!!!!!

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Enjoy and TTFN

PS

The raid on the parents a few weeks ago was SOOO successful. Not only did we come back with two untouched pots of paint (Truffle and light blue- will go well with those Next ones!) and the conservatory chair we went for, but we have reserved for next time, some masonry paint to finish some exterior jobs. In fact to discover how much my parents were hoarding was quite a shock so I swiftly organised a garage sale to get rid of their large items (Including furniture) and so popular was the idea, that some people turned up a week early last weekend not having read the advert properly!!!!

You know you’re turning in to your mother when…….

…….(Fill in with your relevant top 5 indicators)

As I approach a big birthday this year, I realised there was no more denying this fact last week. If the gardening wasn’t a hint (which I swore blind i would never do/like) and the sewing (now third generation) a given, then it hit me full on recently following two little incidents. It even prompted an “I love you Mum” call to her (Hi Mum!) to thank her for bringing me up proper, like!

The first was bread, you know of the stale rolls kind at that stage it makes a hollow sound. Well I nearly threw them in the bin last week but some little voice in my head said “No, you have no breadcrumbs left in the freezer, whizz it up and freeze it”. And you know, the little voice was right. I ALWAYS do this with any flavoured bread we have (Salt & pepper french baguettes particularly good, but getting left overs is tricky) and not only does it make a yummy gratin topping to pasta (with or without cheese) but also makes fab croutons. Course the breadcrumbs go in there side by side with the ice cube tray frozen pesto, thai green curry paste and any other perishable once opened jar of stuff that can be frozen (not come across one yet that doesn’t freeze by the way so feel free to experiment).

The second was finding myself in town on one of the bi-weekly Car boot days and it actually being a nice sunny day (I know, in this summer too!). So I had a pootle around and came upon what looked suspiciously like a Tommy Ball shoes clearance stall!!! At only £2 a pair! Now this will go straight over the head of anyone not Preston/Blackburn/East Lancashire born and bred but there used to be in Blackburn (and Preston) a discount shoe place that got rid of old season (or slight seconds) Clarks, Startrite and other labelled shoes but with the names scribbled out. And whilst I H.A.T.E.D having them bought for me as a kid and thought them soooo untrendy, you can guess what I did can’t you? After having a giggle with the stallholder about them (yes he was put through the embarassment too) I promptly snapped up a pair for junior’s return to school in September in the next size up. I resolutely do not intend paying more than £2 for a pair of shoes in future because do you want to guess how many pairs of shoes he has shredded (literally!) this first school year? Three- and BEFORE he has had time to grow out of them (and he’s working on the fourth but I am shouting at him to stop braking his bike with the front of his shoes!!)

So I had to phone Mum there and then in glee and tell her I loved her because I realised that with all my frivolity and overspending of my twenties, I was now financially grown up and making sensible decisions all thanks to her and Dad. Course it’s also what has made me such a “Make do and mend” Womble now, ably assisted by my spookily similar “can’t pass a skip” husband. My parents are currently hoarding LOADS and need to car boot desperately (you’re NOT getting another grandchild from me Mum and Dad so you CAN get rid of the baby stuff!) but not before I have “helped” (read cherry picked) clear stuff out with them. This weekend is gonna see a large round wicker conservatory chair of theirs shoe-horned in to our Skoda estate (it will go, even if the dog and Junior have to go on the roof bars!) in order to be given a Harvey household makeover (project will be featured on here). Also up for grabs are any leftover pots of paint they have after decorating recently. Well that is how I did the kid den last year (which still needs finishing as you can see)

We didn’t need to buy one pot of paint, just Freecycled or used up what we could find- and now I have lots of crafts that need small amounts.

Talking about cherry picking, I must impart to you my best moneysaving/frugal tip of the week. Volunteer at a charity shop, weekly if you can. They only want a couple of hours of your time and are usually flexible around you. Choose your charity shop wisely, and by this I mean pick your favourite. We have one locally here in a village called Longton called the VIP charity shop. I used to think it stood for the quality of clothes in there, but it actually stands for Villages in Partnership which ploughs money back to community projects in the local area. I can’t begin to tell you the finds I have made there in my 6 months volunteering, but suffice to say I pay them every week to work there by what I take home! I mean who could resist a Diane von Furstenberg tunic dress for £10, a Salvatore Ferragamo suede jacket for £6 and black lace evening heels (as new) for only £6. Oh and did I forget to say that not only do we get advance look before things go out on the shop floor but we also get a small staff discount?!

So there you go, charity and car boot chic that no-one need know about (ooops, did I just tell all my friends now- doh!).  I have shared some photos with you this time and promise that the shoe closet, and the girl den, will be on here soon. However, sewing projects and cupcakes for the teacher beckon so I must go. TTFN

PS Just a few flower shots for you gardening types out there, just so it’s not all reading you know!

Stop buying the life you think you want and start living the life you’ve got

This saying (and despite Googling it, I couldnt find that anyone else had ever used this so I am copyrighting it for any future self help book now!) is what spurred me on to start this blog. I realised that my adult life had come full circle. After leaving a high stress career 2 years ago to be a stay at home Mum, and for the sake of our marriage,  despite being on less money the Harveys as a family are much happier.

Let me elaborate. For a good 15 years, I followed the academic and work path which interested me- law. I saw it as a career not just a job, and I really enjoyed it. I couldn’t begin to imagine ever giving it up. Then, we were blessed by junior in 2007 and as things do, he and my family became more important. It was harder to work on our relationship with the demands of a toddler and a part time job to hold down, albeit that I was doing full time work in part time hours! It’s not exactly professional to be on the phone to a barrister with a screaming toddler in the background now is it?

Anyway, as you do, I soldiered on burying my head in the sand and not realising how the pressure was chipping away at me. It was my darling OH who after 2 years of this had kept asking if anything was wrong, to which I said “no” because I couldnt put my finger on it (stubborn is my middle name!). Then a couple of things happened at work which just broke me. For the first time ever it made me cry in the workplace, and once the floodgates were opened, they carried on for hours at home. Everything came out to my darling husband, who just sat there nodding sagely in his (irritatingly “I told you so”) knowing way 🙂

So after about 2 weeks of this self depreciation, which was evident to me by then was verging on depression/ a nervous breakdown, my husband gave me the light at the end of the tunnel. Those magic words “You know we can afford for you to give up work if you want”. Of course it had the condition that I sought medical help, but in the end I didnt need it because once the decision was made to give up work, the cloud lifted.

So I started a list of what I could do to fill my time instead, headed by clothes alterations using my sadly neglected sewing skills, and when it got to 7 things, I knew I wasn’t going to be bored. Three months notice later, and with fond farewells to workmates, and many jealous “Lucky you” comments, I stepped in to the scary world of the stay at home housewife.

And BOY has it been an eye opening 2 years. You know you’ve made the right decision when not only has your sewing now culminated in your first wedding dress commission, but people can’t stop commenting on how well you look. From my Aunt last summer who hadn’t seen me since junior was 15 months, to my chiropractor who saw me this April and said I carried myself so differently now (and incidently who I hadn’t needed to see for shoulder tension since leaving work!) it never ceases to amaze me how much my work was weighing me down, physically as well as emotionally it seems.

And what have I learnt most from this transition? Well something I have always known on meeting my husband is that money can’t buy you love, and it can’t buy you happiness either. Yes we all need a basic level of comfort which puts food on the table, a safe roof over our heads and clothes/fuel to keep us warm, but after that, our consumerist society has got us too fixated on what we THINK we need to make us happy when actually, we don’t. This global recession has been the kick up the proverbial many of us have needed to stop being so lazy and neglectful about things, to stop throwing things away just because we think we need a new one, and to be more sustainable. Yes, I may always have had slight “green” leanings, but did I ever think I could start weaning myself off my Imelda Marcos shoe collection?! (OK, so when I post photos later of said shoe collection, you will say it’s still 5 times the size of most, but seriously, for me that’s good!). And did I say that even before I married my husband, he instigated a rule of one in, one out on the shoe front and I STILL went on to marry him!!!!!!

So anyway, enough of the “I’ve seen the light” opening blog speech and more about the money saving and “Make do and mend” side. As we are coming in to “glut” time on our allotment, be prepared for lots of tomatoes (about the only thing we can count on with this weather!), quite a few soft fruits and more potatoes than you can shake a stick at. Also, with the school holidays fast approaching, what can we get up to with the kids over a yawning 6 week break? Will I have the time to squeeze in any sewing/crafting of my own (Let alone blogging!)??

I hope you will enjoy sharing with me our little journey and look forward to seeing you again soon.