NEW AND IMPROVED

I have neglected this blog for some time now in favour of my personal blog, multicolouredsmartypants and my cookery blog, Easy Cooking on a Budget. Given the predictions about the British economy, post-Brexit, I decided it would be a good idea to create a blog focusing on home made things, homemaking and frugality. ‘Frugal Freda’ sounded like a good name, but it turns out there’s already a blog called Frugal Frieda, so that won’t work. Then I remembered the lost and lonely Unpaving Paradise Project and realised that I already have a wonderful place to address issues that relate to frugality, homemaking and the environment. Being a housewife myself and living with a chronic health condition, I want to blog about how I am going about the task of moving from disorganised chaos to organised, not-quite-so-chaotic, enjoyable family home, especially as we live in a marvellous old house which requires an approach different to that taken for the typical 3 or 4 bed semi that pervade the UK.

I have discovered a love of housework that I never knew I could have and it is a joy to be able to put my creativity to work in the process of decluttering, organising and using what I have to hand, or making something, instead of just buying whatever takes my fancy. My mother is a shopoholic and although I don’t go to the lengths she does to buy, buy, buy… well, let’s just say that it has come to my attention that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree o_O

So, welcome to the new and improved Unpaving Paradise Project. I will try to blog about once a week.

To get the ball rolling, I am making lots of Christmas presents this year. I have already made eight flannels/washcloths, and am currently crocheting a Harry Potter scarf  for my youngest child. I had to buy the yarn for the scarf, and I have ordered a Gryffindor sew-on badge, but the flannels were all made with yarn that I already owned. In my ongoing attempt at decluttering I sorted out all of my craft stuff. Turns out I could probably open my own shop, so I decided to make the most of what is already here, rather than buying more. I am also going to make some scented soaps to go with the flannels and I have some homemade vanilla extract steeping in the back of my wardrobe.

How about you? Any ideas for a frugal or environmentally-friendly Christmas? I’d love to hear from you!

Soap: Liquid or Solid?

There is an interesting article on the BBC today about the reasons some people prefer bars of soap to liquid soap or shower gel. The five reasons given in the article are:

1) It’s what people have always used.

2) Solid soap is more luxurious.

3) The feeling of scouring away the dirt in the shower (not quite sure what this means).

4) Less packaging is better for the planet.

5) Bottles are fiddly.

I would add the following as advantages to using bars of soap:

6) Bars of soap are often cheaper. I can buy a bar of pure soap for a lot less than I can buy ‘pure’ shower gel. Also, household soap can be used to make laundry liquid. Soap can even be used to wash your hair, with a bit of effort.

7) A little goes a long way! A bar of soap in the kitchen or cloakroom lasts a lot longer than liquid soap. This saves packaging, transportation and energy (because the more of a product there is, and the more quickly it is used up, the more energy is used in its manufacture and transportation).

 

8) Soap lathers up just as well as shower gel. I like to use a scrunchie in the shower – is that what they’re called? One of those things on the right -> If I wet the bar of soap, wet the scrunchie and then rub the soap on the scrunchie, it lathers up really well but uses up very little of the actual bar. I was given a pile of shower gel for Christmas which my son won at the school Christmas fair so I am steadily making my way through that, but once it’s gone I will happily return to using my bars of soap!

9) You can make your own soap very easily using ‘melt and pour‘ soap and you can customise it to whatever shape, scent and colour you prefer. This cuts down on packaging and transportation, and is probably the best option for those seeking to be more eco-friendly.

What do you think?

GARDENING FOR DUMMIES, DECLUTTERING & UPCYCLED STORAGE BOXES

I have neglected this blog lately, although I have a lot of ideas in the pipeline. My health has been up and down, which of course affects blogging as well as my ability to be as actively eco-friendly as I’d like. I don’t beat myself up over it – what’s the point? If you’re not well, you’re not well, but you do your best and that’s good enough (why is that such a hard lesson to learn?).

I have, however, begun gardening for the first time in my life (seriously – I didn’t know a weed from a rake), and gobbling up gardening books. I was dead chuffed when I planted my first potatoes earlier this week. I highly recommend Geoff Stebbings’ Growing Your Own Fruit & Veg for Dummies, along with a book about tackling and identifying weeds, which are a big problem in our neglected Victorian garden, though even in its neglected state it is gorgeous. The cat which used to poop all over the garden seems to have gone, which is a relief. I am not a cat lover and I think anyone who is serious about the environment should give consideration to the fact that domestic cats are responsible for the deaths of millions of birds and thus have a huge effect on ecosystems.

I follow FlyLady and am making good use of her decluttering system. The first thing you need before you can declutter is a home for an item. This is rule no. 1. The home can be a shelf, a box, a wardrobe, a box of items for charity, a box of items for recycling or, as a last resort, a bin bag for things that have no use for anyone and cannot be recycled. Of course, decluttering only works if you then take the donations, etc., out of the house. I spent a long time thinking that putting things in charity bags or in boxes ‘for recycling’ was good enough. They still didn’t grow legs and walk out of the house! Decluttering is, in essence, deciding where something belongs. If you declutter for 15 minutes a day, as FlyLady suggests, you will soon see significant results.

While decluttering, I realised I have many items that are useful and reusable, but only at certain times of year, e.g. children’s birthday party items. It suddenly dawned on me that it would be useful to have all ‘birthday’ things in one place. I didn’t want to go out and buy more boxes, and was inspired by Alejandra’s tips on creating storage boxes from things you already have.

I do try to get the whole family in on the eco-friendly/FlyLady act. It’s no good if Mum is busily tidying and everyone else thinks there’s an invisible cleaning fairy who picks up after them and cleans all their messes. Hey, kids! There is no invisible magical anyone. You need to learn to pick up after yourself. I began by taking a used but sturdy cardboard box and sticking strips of colourful tape to one of the sides. It was then time for the school run and my excitable, creative 9-year-old, when she came home, wanted to help. I reassured her that it doesn’t have to be perfect to be useful and ta daaaa!

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I plan to do a Christmas box as well, using washi tape with a reindeer design.

She finished off our very own super-duper upcycled ‘Birthday Box’ which now contains plastic birthday tablecloths, a ‘happy birthday’ door banner, some plastic cups and some cardboard plates and bowls. I admit these are not the most eco friendly items, but at least we will reuse them rather than disposing of them.What else could go in, I wonder?

NB. If you’re thinking of having a go yourself, I’d recommend gaffer tape or duct tape. I used washi tape and it’s really not very strong, although I won’t store anything heavy in this box. Gaffer tape would strengthen the box. 

All Aboard the Number Two

What a brilliant idea. That’ll get the job done. I was thinking only the other day how human waste is an unused, ever-renewable resource***. We must be able to utilise it more. Ingenious!

*** I really, really must get out more.

Hurrah for Public Transport (and Preparations for a Homemade Christmas)

There has not been so much blogging lately as I am snowed under trying to balance studying with sorting out our lovely new old house (if you know what I mean). An aged house such as ours has its own particular set of problems for any new inhabitants inheriting all the ‘quirks’ that the previous owners never fixed. But it’s fun o_O

I am also trying to make preparations for a make-do-and-mend, pre-loved, home made, Un-paving Paradise Christmas with all the family. I have already made a shawl, wrist-warmers, napkin rings and am onto the recycled cotton crocheted flannels (which will be wrapped with home made soaps and bath bombs) and pine cone decorations. Last year I made two pairs of these lovely slippers, and will also make a couple more pairs for friends and family for this year. It’s a simple, but very effective pattern. My middle child still wears them and loves the fact that they were created especially for her, which is as much the value of a home made gift as the gift itself 🙂

It being half-term here in this Lost Corner of Middleshire, we took the children to the National Space Centre. It’s a fantastic place. The planetarium alone is an amazing experience. A particular favourite was the ‘rocket’ in the cafe, which every so often would begin to rumble and emit vast quantities of dry ice lit by red lights, to much shrieking delight on behalf of the children stood underneath. Also, if you book online in advance, you get a free annual pass. Read more here.

We travelled by train and stayed overnight as it’s a long way away, which led to some interesting questions with regard to the eco credentials of train travel: why is it more environmentally-friendly to use the train, but costs more? Shouldn’t the fact that there are 100 people travelling in just one carriage be more economical for the traveller? Why, even when you have discounts such as the Friends and Family Railcard and you book weeks in advance, is rail travel in Britain so expensive?

Un-paving Apparel

I’m not a fashionista, let me say that straight away. I hate clothes shopping. I rarely wear make-up or even high heels. But I do choose my clothes with care and I do take care of my appearance. In my efforts to be more eco-friendly I have slimmed down my wardrobe, giving half of my clothes to charity. I have kept my favourite items and enjoy, at the end of each day, choosing with care the clothes I will wear the following day. I rarely buy new clothes (except underwear!) and nowadays I rarely buy second-hand clothes either.

However, given that it has been nearly a year since I bought new clothing, I decided to have a look at the ethical clothing shop Nomads. I’m so glad I did! I was thrilled to be able to purchase two new, stylish fair trade dresses from the Nomads clearance sale for less than £30.

You can check out Nomads online clothing store here.

NB I have no affiliation to Nomads. I just like their clothes.