Pockets pockets pockets.

So I have a few sewing projects on the go. Something fun/creepy, something for charity, and around a million clothing modifications. We did a big clothing clear-out, getting rid of things that I don’t wear or that don’t fit quite right now my hips and bust have expanded. I found a few clothes I wanted to give away… but just because of one tiny flaw. So I decided instead to hold a few back and modify them so that they suited me perfectly. And one of the mods I’m doing is: pockets.

We all know the struggle of not having functional pockets on dresses, skirts, etc. There are even online clothing stores which stock nothing but clothes with pockets. And some of my favourite clothes don’t have them.

Fair enough, I’m not sure I could pull off pockets on a bodycon dress. So that one will have to stay intact unless I get super creative. But my wrap dress, 3 A-line skirts, fitted denim skirt, and summer dress? They’ll be getting the pocket treatment. I’ll put up pics and tutorials as I go, and we can see how well it all works out.

What’s a modification you’ve made, or would love to make, to your clothes?

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Guest Post @ Captain Capitalism. Stockpiles.

A huge thanks to @aaron_clarey for publishing my guest post on starting up a stockpile.

My first post back from the week off and it isn’t on my blog! 😛 Click here to read it.

TTFN and Happy Hunting.

Laissez-Faire Homemaking Will Rock Your (and his] World.

Laissez-faire, to let be, to let things take their own course.

It’s often applied to larger scale orders, like government policies. But it also makes some sense in the context of smaller orders, like family and home order.

In essence, however much the breadwinner is the owner of the house and the captain of the relationship, the homemaker is the manager of the home. And many homemakers become proper little tyrants, more often than not unintentionally. We’ll call them Domestic Dictators.

The characteristic befliefs and behaviours of a Domestic Dictator are:

  • there is a specific way to do everything which is the only valid way
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are requirements to make a home for the family
  • efficiency in maintaining order will make everyong happy
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it wasn’t worth doing
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it needs redoing from scratch
  • everyone wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is equal to failure
  • if nobody else can do something perfectly, the homemaker must do everything
  • if someone is given a task they have to do it just as the homemaker would
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is appropriate
  • nobody needs praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

This puts a lot of pressure on the home and the relationships within it, even though the Domestic Dictator does not see the source of the pressure and often believes what they are doing is beneficial to everyone under the roof! In the Domestic Dictator’s eyes, getting angry about the way the laundry was put out is justified because they believe that it needs to be hung a certain way to dry, that this drying method benefits everyone, and therefore that they need to “fix” the job someone else did. They believe that feeling anger is natural because time and energy was wasted and they believe that redoing the task is justified because their way is the only way that works. But what they neglect is that efficiency does not mean harmony, and that doing and redoing tasks is not efficiency either! Fretting over the perfect home can drive a family apart. And the cure to that mentality is laissez-faire homemaking.

Laissez-faire homemaking takes a different mentality. The beliefs and behaviours of a Laissez-Faire Homemaker are:

  • if something works, then it was done well
  • perfect order, artistic beauty and spotlessness are nice, but tidiness, prettiness and cleanliness are good targets
  • efficiency in maintaining order can be stressful
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, at least it was done
  • if a job isn’t done perfectly, it can be left for now
  • nobody else wants and needs everything to be perfect
  • falling short of the ideal mark is a far cry from failure
  • if things need to be delegated, the homemaker can let perfection slide
  • if someone is given a task then the homemaker embraces their hard work
  • disciplining someone for falling short of domestic expectations is abusive
  • everyone deserves praise or reward for meeting domestic expectations

The Laissez-Faire Homemaker takes a much more relaxed approach, taking pleasure in order without needing to force perfection on everyone. If the dishes are not properly cleaned the Laissez-Faire Homemaker may need to redo them and explain the situation, but if the laundry is hung out slightly differently to usual there is no need to tell the helper off or to redo the work from scratch. The Laissez-Faire Homemaker doesn’t only act like this, but internalizes the messages and embraces a more relaxed set of beliefs around homemaking, feeling calm and collected at the end of the day and doing their best not to let little annoyances get the better of them.

Some of my favourite laissez-faire homemaking mantras are:

1: “It doesn’t matter.”

Every time I feel annoyed about anything that has happened or been done which interferes with my plans, that’s the first thing I move to tell the other person. Often it’s hard, but fortunately with Jon it comes easily. Only once have I had to tell him “I want to say it doesn’t matter, but it kind of does.” Once in five years has my annoyance ultimately mattered. So remind yourself of it, and say it to your loved ones: “It doesn’t matter.”

2: “You can  have whatever you want.”

Food is a big source of arguments and I really can’t see why. Between women playing 20 questions about dinner venues and men not really being aware of what’s in the fridge, many couples argue over meal planning. What I do is simpler: I look at what we have, suggest two or three meals and Jon picks. And if he wants something else? Then he can have it. As long as we have it in the house or he’s willing to go out and get the ingredients, he can have whatever he wants. Leftovers can be reheated. Meals can be frozen. Ingredients can be repurposed. What matters is that everyone is fed and happy.

3: “There is always tomorrow.”

Some days the setbacks just pile up. My schedule is very tight most days: work, housework and downtime are all calculated into the day methodically. So if something takes too long or gets in the way, I can miss things. On Tuesday I missed several opportunities to write due to endless phone calls. On Friday we were out a lot and I couldn’t do the cleaning. So instead I did the cleaning and my extra work on Saturday. Sometimes things can wait, so prioritize, reschedule and calm down. There’s always tomorrow.

4: “Once done is good enough.”

When Jon does the dishes the stacking is almost always completely different from how I would do it. When he hangs the laundry out it’s wherever. When he makes dinner it is often simple, fast and may not fit my macros. But considering that he only does these things when I am too busy earning money, doing another job or having a minor meltdown, it would be cruel to complain he isn’t me, and stupid to redo it in the time I don’t have. Once done is good enough.

5: “What’s done is done.”

Sometimes your annoyance does matter. Sometimes work is an absolute mess, needs immediately redoing from scratch, never doing like that again, has completely thrown your schedule and the person needs to know. But, again, making it into a massive blow-out has no point. Take them aside, explain the problem, pour your energy into fixing it. But what’s done is done. You can’t undo their mistake with anger. So let it go.

If you are more of a Domestic Dictator, this approach may seem confusing, even lazy. But it works. You may wonder how people can be happy if a stew was made and all everyone wants to eat is eggs and waffles. You may wonder how a homemaker can settle for an improperly loaded dishwasher. You may wonder how a house can run if everything is not exactly to plan. But it still works.

There is happiness in harmony, and laissez-faire homemaking puts harmony first, allowing happiness to bloom.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… assemble the compenents of a good stew.

Repost from a while back. ^^

Stew is awesome for you.

Think about it: it’s a combination of anything you want or need (fruits, tubers, meats, legumes, grains, fish, nuts, seeds, leaves, roots…), all cooked until perfectly digestible. If you want to preserve certain heat-unstable vitamins, then you can just add an ingredient at the end, when your bowl is cooled and ready to eat. The only utensils you need are a chopping board, a few knives, a pot, a stirring spoon and a ladle for serving; all of which clean easily because of the amount of moisture in a stew. You keep all of the nutrients that are lost in boiling and throwing the water away. You keep all of the fat that is lost in roasting or frying something. Chances of getting charcoal in it are very low, which reduces potential carcinogens. It is full of fluid for hydration. It can be recycled into soups, pies and curries. A stew is absolute nutritional and gustatory perfection, specifically because it’s so adaptable. You can make a Paleo stew or a legume-based stew or a fish stew or a vegetarian stew or a four-meat stew or a vegan stew or a boiled stew or a soaked stew… You can make it however you want or need and season it perfectly to taste. It is warming like a soup and hearty like a roast dinner.

It’s also amazingly good for you. But Jamie Lewis has already gone into this in far greater depth than anyone else; so, provided you’re not easily offended and/or can block images on your computer, read on: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

Being the way I am, I’d also like to go into how economical stews, curries and the likes can be, as well as how easy they are to make. So, without further ado, here are some stews (new and from my old blog) that are cheap to make and good for you. Every one of these was basically made by hacking the ingredients up and putting them in a pot on a low-to-medium heat for a few hours. They are also hatchet stews: stews made with whatever we had lying around or needed to use up. So, whilst they’re all amazing and worth making, think of this more as an example of how cheaply and easily you can make an amazing stew with anything you have in the house.

Stew 1: Lamb and chicken stew.

  • Ingredients: 800g lamb chump chops, 6 chicken drumsticks, 5 chicken thighs, 800g chopped tomato, 700g potato, 2 large carrots, Italian herb mix, salt, pepper.
  • Servings: 9.
  • Cost per serving: 91p.
  • Nutrition per serving: 743kcal, 47g fat, 59g protein, 21g carbs.

Stew 2: Chicken liver curry.

  • Ingredients: 800g chicken livers, 300g rice, 400g peas, 200g mixed veg, 400g chopped tomato, (300g butter), tahina, paprika, anis, nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, salt.
  • Servings: 6.
  • Cost per serving: 42p without butter, 62p with butter.
  • Nutrition per serving: Without butter: 375kcal, 7g fat, 28g protein, 50g carbs. With butter: 744kcal, 48g fat, 28g protein, 50g carbs.

Stew 3: Ox heart stew.

  • Ingredients: 300g ox heart, 10 mushrooms, 3 carrots, 1 onion, 300g chopped tomatoes, 75g butter, thyme, rosemary, basil, garlic.
  • Servings: 1.
  • Cost per serving: £2.14.
  • Nutrition per serving: 1093kcal, 73g fat, 64g protein, 45g carbs.

Stew 4: Sweet chicken stew.

  • Ingredients: 2 chicken quarters, 4 stalks of celery, 24 dates, 100g raisins, 100g butter, 600g potato, peppercorns, salt, cloves, thyme.
  • Servings: 2 without rice or butter, 4 with 100g rice and 50g butter.
  • Cost per serving:£1.07 without rice and added butter, 78p with.
  • Nutrition per serving: Without rice and butter: 1601kcal, 69g fat, 66g protein, 179g carbs. With rice and extra butter: 1484kcal, 76g fat, 35g protein, 165g carbs.

Bake in the oven near the end to brown the tops of the chicken quarters..

So not only are stews good for you and easy to make, but they’re probably one of the most economical dinners out there, regardless of whether you’re looking for pure value, value-fullness or value-calories.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

10 Things That Grow In Clay And Frost.

If you’re anything like me, you love to DIY as much as possible.

Which means that growing food in difficult soil winds us up continually.

Here are 10 things that survived clay soil and frosty winters year after year here, making garden food easy to grow and maintain.

1: Potatoes.

Adored worldwide as a staple, potatoes survive almost anything. Normally by early Spring the leftovers of my Winter harvest has begun chitting (technical term here, no laughing!] and I can plant them out. But even when I didn’t my potatoes reseeded themselves from the tiny spuds left behind last year.

Literally any time a potato grows shoots, plant it out and see what happens.

Just don’t plant out chitting potatoes straight into frost. Plant out clean ones early, green ones later. The shoots can be devoured by frost and you will waste good potatoes.

2: Woody berries.

Woody berry bushes like blackberries, raspberries, currants and gooseberries all do great in our soil and even through frosts. They thrive in hedge areas.

3: Parsnips.

Our parsnips reseed themselves every year, although I will often let a single ‘snip become fully mature and harvest all the seeds to keep over Winter, to minimize crop loss. They do great and are actually tastier once the first Winter frost has nibbled them.

4: Brassicas.

Not great at reseeding themselves in our soil, but they are persistent. Still got three broccoli bushes from two years ago. They have never floured, so I never picked them, but I gather the leaves in Winter and they dutifully regrow in Spring.

5: Marjoram.

Cut back and dry out your marjoram over Winter, leave it alone over Spring and Summer to regrow. It’s a beautiful, fragrant herb that does well pretty much anywhere.

6: Strawberries.

I always thought strawberries were fickle plants that keeled over and died at nothing at all. Apparently only the leaves are. I planted our strawbs out where they can be guarded by weeds and parsnips and they are thriving. They just need a bit of foliage around them to help retain enough water, a wall against late frosts and a little sunshine and they produce berries even in the harshest soil.

7: Mint.

Mint grows everywhere and will dominate your whole garden.

8: Rhubarb.

Rhubarb is not at all hard to grow. Just make sure the roots don’t get choked by grass or weeds as they get established, pull the stems out instead of cutting them and clear up after Autumn is over. They will grow back.

9: Chives.

A little like mint, established chives will regrow year after year without a problem and slowly creep across your garden.

10: Raddishes.

Never had bad luck with raddishes anywhere. Sometimes not had particularly good luck and this soil is awful for them compared to milder, softer soils. But they still grow here. Sow them out, wait, and they will rise up for you to eat all through Summer and Autumn. They don’t really reseed, though, as we eat them before they flower.

And those are 10 plants that survive our garden. What troubles does your garden have? Got any gardening staples?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… use a SPONG meat grinder.

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

Making your own nut and seed butters!

We all want to eat a bit healthier. And we all seem to love peanut butter! We’ve probably devoured it by the tub from the age of one, so it’s hardly surprising. Of course, the first thing any healthy eating fanatic discovers is that peanut butter is actually awesome for you, albeit calorie laden, just as long as we eat the all peanut, low sugar, low salt variety. Some people are happy at that point, but some of us psychos then start to look for different nut butters: almond butter, sesame paste, cashew butter… And I’m sure that you, like I, have noticed that these special nut and seed butters are expensive. Well fear not! You can actually make all your nut butters very cheaply at home and so quickly, even the traditional way, you will never go back!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nuts or seeds of choice
  • 2tbsp equivalent oil
  • a pinch of salt

Utensils:

  • bowl
  • meat grinder and blender, or a food processor

Recipe:

  1. Soak your nuts or seeds in boiling water, leave overnight.
  2. Drain them.
  3. Roughly chop or mince the soaked nuts.
  4. Add the oil and salt.
  5. Blend until a paste forms.
  6. Serve.

Is it really that simple? Yep!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.