Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Sounds impossible you say. I beg to differ. If time is money, and money equals time spent out of the home, lets see what the figures say:


home help 2184 / 0
childcare 2 children 10, 800 /0
Food shopping 5040/ 2500
Transport costs 3000 /1500

Total costs 21024 /4000

This does not include the amounts spent by families on taking kids away on holiday once a year, all half term activities, lunches out, and all other costs associated with work.

An alternative to working out of the home is to work from home, freelance at whatever is your niche in life or become adept at being what my DH calls' DIRECTOR OF HOME AFFAIRS'.

If you are unsure as to whether you have the capabilities of running a business.......I question why as you already have all the skills,you are doing it.
The secret is very simple.......use the WOW factor ( well organised woman)

I don't advocate here that you should all stay at home, but simply that you consider the cost versus the time you spend away and check whether this is how you want to live. You may have another choice here.

If you are missing the pension contributions and health care....you could save some money for yourself if you so wish.


I am in the lounge/living room area this week. I have packaged up some children's videos and posted on my local freecycle site to that they can find a new home. I have cleaned the floor in the kitchen and hall. Defrosting for tonights dinner is my home made spaghetti sauce which my kids look forward to. Sitting down to work on my blog and catch up on emails. Then will tackle some more sorting in the lounge. 11 am is my sit down and relax time, time for some reading after which there should be some time to listen to some music or podcast and finish my sweater. Lunch will be a simple bowl of home made soup with some fruit after which I will have a little nap ( medicinal purposes). Then chickens will be fed corn and will check on egg production ( not a lot as it is winter), but will talk to them and spend some time in the garden checking my plants in the polytunnel. Picking up son from school, have cookies and milk and then put on the fire in the lounge. We will have some together time, doing home work and generally catching up with what is happening. When the other boys get home, music practices will take place, some relaxing together and then we will have tea as a family. When home work is done, we all huddle round the fire, feet warmed up, reading books with me knitting.

DH has just told me he wishes to change our shopping day from Thursday to Tuesday as he has a new commitment on Tuesday near the shops, so should save diesel getting there and back. I can adjust to that.

I am having a car free day.

Monday, January 30, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

A few years ago, my shopping trolley would be full of those cereal boxes with toys in them. The choice often was not made by me but by the children (very early consumer choice) and then we just kept on buying the same ones from week to week. If you have got into that mind set, consider some alternatives:

Boiled egg with toast

Marmelade on toast

Muesli with yoghurt

Fruit smoothie


Popcorn surprise


All of the above need a little more time, do not come with toys ( although feel free to add your own) and could be considered healthy ( check your opinion on that)

This comes with a warning, there will be strong protests on immediate changes from day 1 to another list of breakfats choices, but try to persevere. My oldest son does not eat breakfast as a rule but can be tempted with porridge and smoothies. My middle son, who 'only' eats packet cereal with chocolate bits and CD's in them, now can be happily seen munching toast and eating popcorn surprise. The younger one has been easier to persuade and he is keen to juice the lemons and lay the table for the pancakes. He told his Dad yesterday ' not sure why we need a small plate turned upside down on a big plate when Mum makes pancakes, but I know she needs it ' ( in case you need an explanation, it is to keep them from being completely flat ( as a pancake) and makes it easier to lift them off the plate).

For some recipes on making yoghurt and granola at home, check Ardent Eden and Norene's five percent.

Sunday, January 29, 2006


Not that I want to panic you here, but details of scientific research that we may be nearing a point of no return just shows how important our little changes can be to slow down the damage being caused to the planet. If you doubt that one person can make a difference, think again, we can all make a difference by making small changes. One step here and one step there. I do believe that if sales are led by consumers, we can vote with our feet and do things differently. My aims are small but I try and make a small difference.
The weekend has been spent mulching plants and keeping warm. We were out when the sun was shining to take in some air and enjoy the light. There is very little that can be done in the garden at the moment, although I spotted a primrose out there. I have noticed that we have had very little rain so far and wonder why?

Friday, January 27, 2006


Interesting article on some action which may encourage manufacturers to reduce the energy used by TV's and appliances in a bid to reduce Britain's energy supply. We need not wait for a new regulation, it is an easy action to do, just swicth off appliances and lights that are not used by the plug.

Easy to implement, easy to save energy. If we all do this as a rule, then we will take a small effortless step to reducing our energy requirements.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


One unit of electricity is 1KWH or 1000 watts for 1 hour. You can find out the costs of price per unit from your electricity supplier.

I have been monitoring our supply and we use about 15KWH per day on average which seems high to me but actually is probably normal. The following information from the energy saving centre, give an indication of the amounts used per appliance.
Freezer- upright and chest about 1 to 1.5 units per day
Fridge freezer about 1.5 units per day
Fridge less than 1 unit per day

Convector heater 2KW 30 mins = 1unit
Fan heater 2KW 30 mins = 1 unit
Infra red heater 1KW 1 hours warmth – 1 unit
Oil filled radiator 500W 2 hours warmth = 1 unit
Panel heater 1.5KW 40 mins = 1 unit
Electric heater ( 3KW) 20 mins = 1 unit
Immersion heater ( 3KW) on 1 hour = 3 units

Dishwasher one full load = 1.5 units
Tumble dryer full load of cottons = 3.5 units
Full load of synthetics = 2 units
Washing machine load of synthetics at 40 C- less than 1 unit
Load of cottons at 60C – about 1 unit

Cooker and Hob about 1.5 units per day
Kettle 12 pints of boiling water = 1 unit
Microwave( 850W) 20 mins on full power = less than 0.5 unit
Toaster 60 slices of toast = about 1 unit

Single electric underblanket 1.5 hours per night for 1 week, 1 unit
Extractor fan 24 hours use = 1 to 2 units
Hairdryer 12 10 mins sessions = 1 unit
Shower ( 7KWH) 5 mins, 7 days per week = 4 units

Some of the choices we can make are to find a supplier that provides value for money or provides green electricity. To compare prices, look here.

The next step would be to change all the lightbulbs to energy saving ones and although its costs more, they use 1/5 electricity and last 8 to 10 times longer.

You can work out an amount of KWH per day on average that suits your lifestyle and see whether you want to reduce any of it.

For our family, we could use less electricity by switching the bulbs, and ensuring that appliances and lights are switched off at night and not on standby. I intend to make these changes over the next few months and then see whether we are making savings at all. To me it is not just the cost element here but looking at how we can be part of a solution to reducing our energy needs, being aware that energy resources are limited and that the price of fuel is likely to increase in the future. So before you buy an appliance and plug it in, you could find out how many units it is going to set you back on running costs. The reason for calculating this for us is that I would like to consider photovoltaic solar panels to provide our electricity. That’s a project for the future though. Starting small.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


We no longer buy bread in this house, simply because we have managed the art of making our own, or at least are working on getting better at doing so. I still need help from a breadmaker which is not ideal as it uses power. There is a theme in what I am trying to do and it is all related to energy, my personal energy and the energy available from other sources. I am keen to reduce our energy consumption but need time to increase my skills in doing so. Hence I have not yet managed to stop using the breadmaker. The first bit was to use it and stop buying my loaf in the shop,unless you use a local baker, and progress to the breadmaker. I do buy flour in bulk. It is not organic because I have not been able to locate a source nearly. Once you manage the art of making bread ( even in the breadmaker) you can become creative with the types of loaves you make. I tend to always include a novel flour type in my order to enable me to experiment. Sometimes it works, sometimes not but the idea is to get a bit of variety. I am tempted to make the no-fail breadrecipe from breadchick. What appeals is the no-fail bit. Having a family that rely on their daily loaf to be at least edible, I need a bit more time to experiment with dough making.Once you get the dough making sorted, you can try more than just a loaf, but make pizza, pitta bread, rolls etc. Its all about time management and energy. The breadmaker can take 6 hours to do this, it probably takes the same by hand, but I would at least like to give it a go.


The weather today is apparently coming from Siberia, which means it is getting colder. We have no central heating in this house, a woodburner in the lounge and an Aga in the kitchen so today we are huddled in the kitchen. As I love to knit, I have a selection of nice warm socks as well as sweaters. There are some sweaters you cannot wear inside that often and I have a couple that suit this weather beautifully.

I have been out in the garden though, checking on the plants in the polytunnel and the rest of the day is spent drooling over seed catalogues and planning what my next job in the garden is. I will be planting seed potatoes in February as well as some early peas and lettuce plants. The weather is still very dull so when I can, I spend time mulching the beds with compost and generally preparing the ground. The good news about frost is that it should kill the bugs, well at least deter them from breeding too much.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I talked a few days ago about being able to cut my food budget in half. It sounds easy to do, but actually, you need time to make that work. I still am working on reducing the amounts I spend in the supermarket and changing my shopping habits but it takes a little while to get the hang of it.
What exactly am I trying to do : I figured that the amount my supermarket got out of us for sheer convenience shopping was simply too costly to the environment on many counts.
1. It takes us 2 hours per week to shop
2. The journey was 25 miles using the car
3. We used to shop at random
4. The media got our kids in telling us which powder or cereal to buy.

The first thing I did was weigh up the cost of changing from actual shopping to online shopping. The charge was quite high but no higher than going by car and the other benefit was that you could shop exactly what was on my list and monitor the total amount of shopping. No sidestepping on special offers, they could be checked but again, the temptation was less than standing in front of it.

Little tip, if you tend to go shopping with kids, feed them before going and why make it hell. My kids love shopping.....they like to tell me what cereal they want, because it has a toy in it and it is a good lesson in teaching them about advertising.Now they eat less cereal.

I make a menu weekly, in fact for 2 weeks, check my store cupboard and make a list of what I need for the next 14 days. Whenever I run out of anything in the kitchen I make a note of it on the pad stuck to the fridge. I keep the menus because I figure that when it comes around next year I will be able to check what we ate and how we have made progress in our menu.

Shopping online made me realise that we have a habit of buying certain things every week whether we needed them or not and actually informed me about different choices I could make.

Its a gradual thing, but if you keep chipping away at it, you will get to reach a balance.

I love cooking, so would rather do that than work in an office,and making a meal with love from scratch, makes me happy, I know exactly what is in the food and it smells heavenly.

I used to buy, bread, yoghurt and cakes, now I make them all at home and the result is less packaging, less salt and more variety.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on.



You don't have to buy from anyone.
You don't have to work at any particular job.
You don't have to participate in any given relationship.
You can choose.

You alone steer the course you choose, in the direction
of where you want to be today, tomorrow or in any distant time to come.
You hold the tiller.

You can decide to alter the course of your life at any time.
No one can ever take that away from you.
You can decide what you want and go after it.
It's always your next move.


©2006 by Max Steingart

Monday, January 23, 2006


If you have any thoughts about ethical investment and where you would like to save your money, listen to this podcast. I personally love podcasts as an informative way to multi task, I can listen and knit at the same time! This issue has some links that may set you thinking about how your money is invested and where.


Frankly, I love shopping but I have noticed that the reasons for shopping have changed over the months. When I was really busy, working, family, reading, studying and living life in the fast lane, I have to admit that shopping indeed was my leisure activity. What interests me is the feelgood factor I got from shopping which I have now replaced with other things. I did consume to debt and am not the only one. Reading Joe Domiguez book, provided a formula for working out exactly what my hourly rate working was equivalent to. The starting point was the actual rate of pay, then deduct working expenses such as travel, clothes, lattes, lunches,hair do,2 week holiday to relax and be together as a family, gym membership etc, until you get a figure that becomes your true hourly rate, that is what you are working for.
It was a shock to say the least, but the difference between me working 4 days out of our home and staying at home equated to £ 30 per week, my true hourly rate was a lot lower ofcourse than what I got paid. It sounded so nice, but the reality was that I had no time to paint my home and would pay a decorator to do the job I had not time to do, which actually came to more than was my net hourly rate, so not truly a balance in my affairs. If you really are passionate about the work you do you may not wish to return to a homelife. I was very passionate about my work and my career, but more passionate about my children and their future. This is of course a personal decision but when I am faced with buying new clothes, I convert the cost to the true hourly rate that I need to work with and then ask myself whether I am prepared to work 6 hours for that top. Sometimes I am but mostly I am not.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Image hosting by Photobucket

Spotted this weekend, a different form of transport. Just sharing with you. Have been away to Chester to visit some friends which was great and as this city has fantastically dressed men, managed to visit the Oxfam shop and get a Pierre Cardin cashmere/wool jacket for next to nothing. I love bargain hunting...... back tomorrow to continue on the savings theme. I have made my weekly menu tonight so that the shopping list is tight and accurate.

Friday, January 20, 2006


That is a really good question. Why would you bother? For me it relates to getting a better balance between time and money. You can get caught up in creating money by working harder and harder and finding that you then spend more and more to counteract that. What matters is the difference between what comes in, what goes out and whether you enjoy what you do.

A good starting place for me was Joe Dominguez book, on which I commented in Angora's Journal.Having been a Financial Adviser I thought I had a good idea but this book really is an eye opener for people who wish to compare the amount of money coming in and how to manage money going out.
It is simple to read and offers 9 steps to Financial Independence ( when your income = outgoings from savings ( i.e. other sources than paid employment). It challenged my values about money and the world I had built surrounding it. Following the steps I have clearly identified areas in my life on which I spend money and which are not aligned with my current thinking and do not provide fulfillment.

This is definitely a book I would recommend if you are trying to simplify your life, if you are facing a major life change and want to conquer the money thing.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


I promised to get back to this. I have managed to locate some further lightfittings that may benefit from the above. Some are tricky to install because they had bayonet fittings and not screwtop but I am persevering. The light quality is different but we will get used to it. I have only seen one type of these lightbulbs although you can find a variety of them here. I have no special affiliation to lightbulbs or suppliers but the link may be helpful if you are trying to find some to fit your fittings. I think this will take me some time to work out a list of what goes where and the likely cost of replacing them. Will update you.


Image hosted by Photobucket.com

I am a bit late in planting my sweetpeas, should have happened last november.....but there seemed more pressing things to do then, like getting ready for Christmas in downshifting fashion! The picture is just to get you dreaming......of summer scents and the possibilities of creating your own scented patch somewhere. The seeds are easy to handle and I put 7 in a small pot with some compost mixture. I like to plant mine at the foot of a teepee made of bamboo sticks and get a pillar of sweetpeas in my garden. The light is still very poor at the moment and seedlings are not really coming up.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


The primary school in our village is working towards achieving an eco school award. It has been an interesting journey so far, with the children discussing how to reduce paper at school and how to reduce the use of electricity. The discussions at home have also been great and prompted my 7 yr old to go and post notices on every lightswitch and walking around in a slighly bossy manner asking everyone in the house some pertinent questions about' why did you leave that light on'. I commiserated with him, a lousy job to do and yet his idealist views are to be commended. I can also be found uttering the words ' light, door!' on a regular basis with very little effect. I keep trying.
Yesterday we had a discussion about energy efficient lightbulbs so will be looking into that and letting you know how we get on. We were given one yesterday, courtesy fo some parents at the school ( we have a very small school) and I am grateful to them for not only giving us one for free but for the natural discussion we had at the dinner table about its use, where should it go, what does it do. I love these discussions and like to hear the feedback the kids give me. More on that tomorrow when I have searched for some more facts.


My postie often seems laden down with a variety of letters and mail he drops down in my porch. I have no letterbox so am acutely aware of the '' chuck, thudd" of the amount of mail that arrives. My usual excitement is quickly abated when, on a regular basis, I put more paper in my recycle box than use. To change this I have registered with the Mail Preference Service. It was quick and easy to register and hopefully I will see a change in the next few months.

The second thing which has prompted me to make changes was the interruption caused by 2 sales calls yesterday. I do not want to be rude to people, I love getting calls and talking to people and yet I felt frustrated at the way in which the callers went into a sales spiel without actually listening to me saying no. ( If thats your job, I am sorry, could not do it, take my hat off to you!) In the past I have been polite, said no. This has also often not had any effect at all making me feel as if I am unusual in that which maybe I am. Thanks to the power of advertising, my brain seemed to recall some information about a telephone preference service.Details can be found in your telephone directory or here.

Both online processes were quick and easy. Again, you may want to read the small print to see if it fits in with what you want in your life. Small thing to do, took 10 mins and should be beneficial to some ( apologies to mail marketing firms!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

DOWNSHIFTING WEEK- 22nd to 28th April 2005

Hooray, there is going to be a week to celebrate and work on downshifting. You will find a permanent link in the sidebar.
I have been spending far too much time browsing the web to try and find things about downshifting and not enough time getting on with it, but it is main aim that everyone will be able to share these links and create a greater awareness. This site is a wonderful resource with many links and ideas on how you can start your downshifting journey.

Suggestions for individuals are as follows :
Book a half-day off work to spend entirely with someone you love, no DIY allowed
Cook a meal from scratch, using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, preferably organic
Cut up a credit card
Donate a bag of clothes, toys or useful items to a local charity shop, refuge or recycling centre
Hand-make a simple card for the next birthday or event on your calendar
Eliminate 3 non-essential purchases this week
Plant something in the garden you can cultivate and eat and start a compost heap
Consider reputable work at home parents and small local businesses, for services you need
Tonight, turn off the television, switch on the radio, play a few games and talk

We already do the last thing on a regular basis. Wednesday night is our no TV night, which the children have found very difficult to adjust to. We have however rediscovered reading and playing the numerous boardgames that have been received as presents.

Downshifting and simplifying your life is done one step at a time. There is no need to rush.....just take one step and the rest follows.