Happy Holiday Links

Each week I like to share wonderful resources and reads to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less.

  • Nigella is back! From The Pool some insights into Nigella's food philosophy of balance and enjoyment, "No one should be put on this earth to go on a diet." This article is based on an interview published in Good Housekeeping magazine. There's more Nigella over at The Telegraph. Doesn't she look great in jeans and a checked shirt!
  • If it's balance you're looking for, this post is helpful, 5 signs you are out of balance from LJ at Whole Life Productivity.
  • Something for the weekend or half-term, Seven card games for a pizza and games night from The Simple Things. We'll be playing Eights next week.
  • One from The Minimalist's archives. I read this essay for the first time this week and I think their idea of should vs. must is very useful, How To Make A Damn Decision.
  • This sounds tasty, Cheddar cheese soup from Happening upon Happiness. I could so easily write a soup blog
  • A colourful and simple home, Polly & Dai's Happy Cornwall Cottage Home from Apartment Therapy's Greatest Hits. Because we're going to Cornwall next week and because it's too good to not share...
  • The good people at Unstuck tipped me off with this link to a brilliant PDF resource: 40 Uncomfortable Moments and How to deal with Them. It's easy to download and worth saving or printing for when you feel stuck in a situation, whether it's someone else's bad behaviour or how to respond to a sensitive topic such as hearing that someone's died or is seriously ill. It's all about making life just a little less uncomfortable. There's a sneak preview at the bottom of this post.


we're heading down to Far West Cornwall for a week's R & R. It's going to be just the two of us - our first full holiday without children for twenty years! So, I'll be taking a short blogging break but I'll be back in November with more happy links and A Year of Less Spending updates. And many photos of Cornwall in its autumn beauty.

Take care, lovely readers. Photo credit - our lovely friend and best man who often holidays at Mousehole xo



Is My Resolve to Spend Less Weakening?

This week's grocery spend came in at £76.10. I'm pleased with this and the consistency I've achieved over the last few weeks but I still think I could do better. Several meals were from the freezer; meals cooked from scratch were lasagne, sausages and lentils and a yummy pasta dish. We also had cider baked apples which were wonderful. The leftovers topped our porridge the next day. How versatile is porridge. 

For the first time since I started A Year of Less Spending there have been a few temptations this week. 

Magazines have been beaming their glossy smiles at me from the supermarket shelves. One day I felt really tempted to buy a magazine and I would quite happily have bought any magazine, on any subject (well maybe not fishing). Just to buy something new and to add something to my day. But I didn't, and it's an achievement that I can walk away from a temptation that in the past I would have given in to. 

Anyway, I have far too much reading on the go at the moment and magazine reading often leaves me feeling empty. This week I've borrowed A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler from the library. I'm finding it captivating, real and a gentle form of escapism too. A good book is sustaining. The Leopard (my book club read) has been returned to the library after its Prince failed to captivate any of our group. I'm so glad I didn't buy it. Our next book is The Children Act by Ian McEwan and I've reserved it at the library already. I'm looking forward to reading it.

On Monday I went to town to buy acrylic paint for my son's self-portrait work (he's taking A Level Art and Design). Two shop window displays caught my eye – both charity shops. The small city I live in has a very high standard of charity shops which means I try and keep away from them unless I'm donating (always at the back entrance of course). 

One shop had a pair of tan brogues in its window, another had a Jack Monroe cookery book. Somehow, my blinkers were off and I veered towards each shop. Despite owning a lovely pair of black brogues and having the book out on loan from the library I was still tempted for a few minutes. Just a few minutes, mind you. Stoically, I walked away without entering either shop and continued to the little art shop to buy a tube of paint, slightly annoyed with my teetering feet. My size 6 feet. Would the brogues have been in my size? I'll never know. 

Treats this week were a family cinema visit to see Macbeth (Mum, Marcus and us two) and we dropped in on our local folk festival. Both Macbeth and the folk music were great experiences which, if I keep out of the charity shops, we can enjoy more of.

So, my motivation to spend less continues but my resolve is weakening. I knew A Year of Less Spending wasn't going to be easy.

How's your spending been this week?



Happy Links

Each week I like to share wonderful resources and reads to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less.

  • 50 Things to Be Thankful for Every Day by Kori McClaine via The Huffington Post. I like numbers 21, 25 and 50. What are your favourites?
  • What does it feel like to give up your job, home and start an alternative life? Yasmine Phillips relates the highs and lows to Becky Barnicoat in, I gave it all up... to live off the land via The Guardian.
  • Technology is not ruining our kids. Parents (and their technology) are ruining them by Jenny Anderson via Quartz. This link appeared on Becoming Minimalist last weekend and it's so good it deserves a second plug. It made me aware of the importance of leading by example in my technology habits.
  • Stop Trying to Follow Your Passion by Kali Hawlk. I like Kali's advice to listen to our 'softly beckoning voice... because there won't always be a lightbulb moment.'
  • I love Sarah Henshaw's book barge, blog and book (The Bookshop That Floated Away) and I've been thinking of posting a link about her. Then I discovered her boat was featured last week on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces on Channel 4. Find a tour of her charming narrowboat on Series 5: Episode 4 - about 17:30 minutes in, or watch the whole episode (title: Hearse campervan and bathing machine).

And finally, I was contacted this week by a television producer, Edd Buckley, who's currently developing a new documentary idea about frugal spenders. The production company is called Boundless, part of FremantleMedia UK. They make a variety of documentaries and factual television programmes including The Truth About Your Medicine Cabinet (BBC One), An Hour to Save Your Life (BBC Two) and Grand Designs (Channel 4). 

Here's more information and contact details:
I am looking to speak to those who are extremely thrifty with their money. I’m after people who limit what they spend and sacrifice buying luxuries because of this. Perhaps they stock up when items are discounted, or are experts in reusing and recycling things so as to not to waste money. As this idea is currently only in development, at this stage I’m just looking to speak with people and potentially film non-broadcast interviews to pitch the idea to the channel executives. 
If you are interested email: EddBuckley@boundlessproductions.tv

Many thanks, enjoy the links and have a great weekend.



Spending Report Week 6

I'm into week 7 of A Year of Less Spending. I'm very happy to give you a report of week 6 as it was a good week :)

Grocery shopping: £73.95 (budget £92 per week/£400 per month for three/four of us which includes food, household items and toiletries). This is my lowest spend to date. £75 is where my grocery spending is hovering when it's just the three of us (our eldest is away at uni) but I'm sure I can reduce this further. 

Spending diary: There were two no spend days (day 6 and 7). I was determined to not go over £75 on groceries and having two no spending days definitely helped. My spending diary makes dull reading this week as all I spent money on (other than regular outgoings) was food and petrol. Other spending included a Saturday paper, church collection money and a donation for a gift for a colleague going on maternity leave at school. We had a buffet this lunchtime to send her on her way – pizza and cupcakes. 

Motivation: I'm still very motivated and trying to get each week's spending a little lower than the last. I feel motivated to get more organised and disciplined with my menu planning and grocery shopping as I know spending less on this will leave more room for manoeuvre in our budget in future months.

Clothes shopping: My spick and span wardrobe is quite happy as it is thank you. I'm still getting pesky clothes brochures through the post though which I recycle immediately. 

Treats: The weekend was spent quietly tidying the garden, decluttering our tiny shed and walking in the woods. This was enough to give us a break from the working week. There were no cafe visits just homemade fruit cake to come home to which was too dry if I'm honest but was still eaten with glee.

Temptations: Staying away from virtual and actual shops is keeping my spending urges at bay. I've never browsed clothes online very much but now I know there's no point or joy in it for me right now.

Menu: The week started with scrambled eggs for tea for two as our youngest was out. This was good for both weight control and budget control. Friday tea was from the freezer as I'd worked that day and it was supplemented by curry side dishes from the reduced section of our nearest (deluxe) supermarket. We had curry whilst Marcus had shepherd's pie. Other meals included homemade pizza, chicken tray bake (with loads of veg) and jacket potatoes with fillings from the freezer. As well as chilli I also found a tub of veg tagine lurking in the freezer which went well with the jacket potatoes. I think I made it early in the summer (it was unlabelled, tut, tut) and I wish I could remember where the recipe was from as it was delicious. Tonight we ate Jamie's broccoli and pesto tagliatelle (Jamie's Ministry of Food) for the second time. A squeeze of lemon improved it for us but Marcus said he thought it needed chicken. He would eat meat at every meal whereas we prefer most meals without it. Saying that, he had two very large helpings!

I'll leave you with some glimpses into week 6. Week 7 is busier for us and it could potentially be more of a challenge to stay on track with the budget. I'll let you know!



Happy Weekend Links

Each week I like to share wonderful resources and reads to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less.

With these, have a good weekend. 
Claire xo



Spending Report Week 5

This week has felt easier. It's beginning to feel more normal to be spending quite a long time planning my menu and shopping. I'm falling into the habit of planning next week's menu and shopping list well in advance. I'm also giving myself plenty of time to check the fridge, freezer and cupboards. I think I'm getting a bit quicker at the whole process. I hope so, I've got many more weeks to go during A Year of Less Spending. Here's what happened in week 5.

Grocery shopping: £75.41 (budget £92 per week/£400 per month for three to four of us which includes food, household items and toiletries). My lowest week so far probably because some of the meals were from the freezer.

Spending diary: There's only been one no spend day but the other days were very low. My only extraordinary spend was £10 spent on plants and bulbs for a tub (picture below). It's very purple and very cheery at the front of our house.

Motivation: I'm finding I'm enjoying searching for new recipes. Spending less on groceries is motivating me to be more adventurous with our meals. I've borrowed Jack Monroe's A Year in 120 Recipes from the library and I'm looking forward to testing some of her dishes.

Clothes shopping: I've tidied my wardrobe and edited out a few pieces. I wished I'd done it weeks ago as having space around my clothes looks good and makes me feel better. No new clothes needed * breathes deeply*

Treats: The autumn planter was a treat but I kept the cost as low as I could. As you can see from the menu last night we were treated to a meal out with family. However, Tuesday is the start of my spending week so that's technically week 6's spending. My menu runs Thursday to Wednesday just to add to the confusion. I should, I suppose, try to synchronise my spending week with my menu.

Temptations: I was tempted to visit a hairdressers but I decided to have a go myself and just trimmed my fringe. My last salon visit was in August so I can hopefully last longer without a professional cut. In 2015 I've spent £88 so far on my hair (three visits in February, May and August). This is much lower than in other years due to the fact that I'm cutting my own hair in between salon visits and no longer colouring my hair.

Menu: We've eaten well this week but maybe having roast beef and then steak wasn't the healthiest option. I tried Rachel Khoo's harissa minestrone soup for the first time which was as warming as I'd imagined. It made six generous portions (two are in the freezer). I also varied our usual shepherd's pie recipe by substituting half of the lamb with red lentils (as seen on BBC One's Eat Well For Less). This also tasted good. The beef was a brisket cut and cost just under £7. It gave us enough for second helpings (youngest son) and we also had it as leftovers on Monday instead of our staple feel good Monday meal (egg 'n' chips). I also made Eton mess trifles with frozen berries, cream, meringues, strawberry jam and custard. I've got a mess of meringue nests in my cupboard and I'm trying to whittle them down. Four gone this week, six to go. 

I'll leave you with my week 5 photos. How's your spending and motivation going?



Simple Happy Links

Each week I like to share wonderful resources and reads to inspire simplicity, mindfulness and living well on less. 

  • Mental minimalism by Paul Jarvis. An epiphany essay for me. Mental decluttering... such a straightforward approach to mindfulness. I like the idea of 'owning' my thoughts and gaining mental space.
  • I Will Not Quit On Running by Paul Wilson. I've been running regularly since January and recently completed a 10K race reasonably comfortably but I would still like to up my training. Other than imagining I'm training with Mo Farah my motivation to run is often lacking. Focusing on gratitude might be the solution. This attitude of gratitude would work well for other exercise too.
  • How to save £££s on your food bill by Shoestring Cottage. Wonderful tips and recipes for eating cheaply and healthily. 
  • Untangling the Decluttering Message by Minimalist Woman. I enjoyed reading Meg's take on the upsurge of decluttering as a topic in the media and her wise words, 'There is no one size fits all size formula for decluttering.' 
  • Finally some small house love for us to drool over. Hill Housefeatured on Wealden Times, is a delightful fisherman's cottage in Hastings, East Sussex. I love the white, red and grey palette and the relaxed styling. It doesn't shout 'simplicity' if you know what I mean.

Thank you for reading this week. Enjoy the weekend xo