35. Happy Friday Links

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

A bumper crop of links to wish you a peaceful weekend.

Claire xo



Less Spending, More Home Cooking

Hello. I feel I need to say hello as I've posted lots of weekend links recently and not updated you on A Year of Less Spending for at least a month. I feel the need for a bloggy chat too. From me to you. Not an essay. Just a chat. A thank you for your comments and reading behind the scenes. An autumn catch up before Christmas blog posts arrive here at Just a little less but rest assured they'll be no panicking about that around here. 

Three months into A Year of Less Spending and I'm still recording my spending every day (or every few days if I'm honest). I've relaxed a little with my weekly grocery budget of £92 but I rarely go over £100 a week and if I do it's just a smidgen over. Careful menu planning, eating from the freezer and cupboards and frugal meal choices are keeping me on the straight and narrow.

Since September our food cupboard, fridge and freezer are emptier than ever but our diet is healthier and our tummies never happier. 'No more chocolate biscuits' is my current mantra as I try to keep my weight steady and avoid the temptations of home cooked food and leftovers. No Nigella snacking from the fridge for me, for now.

I've been spending more time cooking (and less time cleaning) as providing good food on a budget is a domestic priority right now. I've tried cooking pasties for the first time and have made a sourdough loaf every week since being given a sourdough starter and recipe in Cornwall last month. It's great for keeping a hungry teenager happy at meals (and between meals) and went down a storm at book club on Monday night this week. I love it toasted for breakfast and daubed with butter and marmalade. Majestic peasant food. 

Red cabbage is cheap and colourful and we've braised it with apples and stashed it away in the freezer for Christmas feasts. There was enough to make a pretty and hearty coleslaw too. We've had roasts, gravy and soup, of course, to use up every last bit of veg. 

My teaching schedule has been typically two or three days a week so when I have the time and energy I've been batch cooking simple meals like chilli for the freezer. Some eating from the freezer days will be a treat over the Christmas holidays. We're pencilling in some easy days.

My motivation for A Year of Less Spending remains high. I haven't bought a single piece of clothing since starting this challenge. This wasn't a rule of my challenge but it'll be interesting to see if I buy any new clothes over the year.

Instead of shopping trips with mum we've been going to the cinema and treating ourselves to a chippy tea afterwards. We loved Suffragette and The Lady in the Van is booked too. Daily walks are a simple pleasure. Followed by the odd hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows feeds any extravagant urges.

My appetite for books is renewed and I'm enjoying reading in the evenings and early morning. The library service is wonderful and a weekly trip to the library to pick up reserved books is now part of my routine. I'm thinking of keeping some kind of reading log here on the blog next year as it's so easy to forget what you've read and enjoyed. I'm currently reading A Place Called Winter by Patrick Gale. It's gentle and interesting.

So there you have it. Spending under reasonable control, minimalist wardrobe intact, trying new recipes and reading and walking in between. Less spending is a good place to be. It hasn't been an easy journey getting here but it's amazing how quickly you adapt to spending less. Like downsizing, living on a tighter budget is possible and can have advantages. 

So, how's your spending going? Please tell.



Happy Friday Links

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

With these, have a peaceful weekend xo



Happy Friday Links

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

  • The Anti-McMansion via The New York Times. One family in a communal clutter free space, "We love the things that we have and try not to be wasteful. The rest, we edit."
  • A simple approach to walking for mind and body, Why no-frills walking is the best kind of walking by Marissa Bate via The Pool.
  • Was Thoreau fleeing reality? He's certainly inspired many of us to simplify our lives and notice the everyday beauty in nature. Oliver Burkeman disagrees: Why cabin fantasies shut out reality via The Guardian. For more escapism find copious calming cabins on the blog Cabin Porn. Love it. 
  • I enjoyed this short story on Granta, an online magazine of new writing.
  • Continuing my floating tiny home fantasy... take a tour (via Homes & Property) of up-cycling genius Max McMurdo's floating home as seen on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces this week.
  • After my holiday treats it's time to get my grocery shopping back under control as I continue A Year of Less Spending. Jack Monroe provides a useful updated list of her shopping on a budget tips here. The readers' comments are worth studying too - I like the idea of a printed list and using it many times (diagonal line for bought item, crossed line for used up item and repeat). 

With these, enjoy your weekend xo



A Simple Cornish Break

And then there were two. Two happily married souls a little shocked to find themselves child free for a whole weeks holiday. After a two and a half year break (yes I've been counting down to this holiday) we returned to Far West Cornwall this half term. Here's my photo story of reconnecting with this beautiful part of the UK. And reconnecting with each other. I do love a good holiday blog post (with lots of photos). I hope you do too!

We arrived to blue skies after a wet and dull journey. The view of St. Michael's Mount and the colours of Sennen Cove after hours of traffic were intoxicating. Excitement led us away as we couldn't wait to get settled into our beautiful holiday cottage, Peace and Plenty. We have stayed here before at Boscrowan Farm and knew that we'd be met by a homemade cream tea and beautiful flower displays at every turn. The autumn blooms were stunning... The scones tasted as good as they looked...

It was a mixed week of weather. Luckily our first day was sunny and we walked from Porthgwarra to Porthcurno beach. I didn't catch sight of Ross at Porthgwarra Cove (this is Poldark filming territory) but I was delighted to see a seal bobbing in the surf further along on Porthchapel beach. A simple moment I've been waiting for. This part of the South West Coast Path is stunning.

Our next day was wet and wild and although we enjoyed a quiet morning of reading we began to miss the sea. Off we headed to explore Godrevy beach and lighthouse and then the front at Penzance. Cornwall is always interesting whatever the weather. And any excuse to use a wood burning stove...

Boscrowan is hidden away in a secluded spot in Heamoor, Penzance. It's well situated for exploring Cornwall but has lots to offer on its doorstep. Trengwainton Gardens and tearoom is a favourite haunt of ours as are the nearby galleries, The Exchange at Penzance and Newlyn Art Gallery. We bought a weeks ticket which included entry to the Terry Frost exhibition and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. I found the colour in Terry Frost's work when seen as a collection very moving.

Ancient monuments also caught our eye. Lanyon Quoit is a Neolithic funeral site that we stopped to admire as we drove from St. Just to Madron. 

On my list of new places to visit was Kynance Cove on the Lizard peninsula. I've admired its turquoise waters on many blogs and just had to see it for myself. I don't think we saw it at its best and it was very busy even in October. I preferred being away from it all as we left Kynance and walked along the coast path. Sometimes you have to venture off list...

We gave the shops a wide berth at St. Ives preferring to pootle the tiny streets and explore the coast path towards Zennor. I wished I'd taken my boys to the Barbara Hepworth Museum and studio when they were little. I think it's the most vibrant museum I've been to and the garden is fun to explore. 

Stopping off at Rosewall Hill just outside St. Ives gave us a chance to catch the last of the day's light and the landscape that inspired Hepworth. Muddy but magical...

All of this and Peace and Plenty to come home to. My most memorable holiday as a child was a farm holiday and this break brought back those memories. Simple pleasure such as wandering the gardens, feeding chickens, picking apples from the orchard, choosing tea from the vegetable garden and fussing the dogs were in abundance. We ate simply but well and Elizabeth our host provided me with a sourdough starter, recipe and equipment to make my first sourdough loaf. Another new simple activity to take away (the starter travelled home with me). 

Our youngest enjoyed and survived a week at home without us (with some adult supervision). We thoroughly enjoyed our time alone and could get used to it in a few years. I would thoroughly recommend all aspects of this holiday. We paid for this holiday ourselves - this is not a sponsored post. Cornwall in autumn is beautiful!

I'll leave you at Boscrowan...



Happy Friday Links

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

  • Thinking of buying a spiralizer? Think again. Here's a great way to create beautiful strips of vegetables as recommended by cook Anna Jones: For Anyone Thinking of Buying a Spiralizer from The Women's Room. I'm all for reducing the number of kitchen gadgets.
  • Longing for a good book to curl up with on these darker nights? Try Longer books for longer nights by Bookends for inspiration.
  • For Archers fans (a long running British radio soap opera) why The Archers must hold onto villainous Rob by Gillian Reynolds via The Telegraph. Good to know I'm not alone in feeling deep wrath for this weasel. 
  • This Dutch farmhouse featured on Decor8 is light, calming and stylish. Look out for the simple monochrome wardrobe. 
  • This week I was interviewed for BBC Radio 4's You and Yours. Listen to me taking reporter Bob Walker around our pared back home. The feature about decluttering starts about 26 minutes in if you don't want to listen to the whole episode. 
  • The Key to Living in the Moment by Marco Laberge at Toward Minimalism reminds us to embrace the present moment and to be mindful of why and when we seek solace 'in the clouds.'

Thank you reading these links. It's great to hear that you enjoy them. 

We had a lovely week in Cornwall. When the photos are edited I'll be back with my holiday post. 

Enjoy your weekend xo