FRUGAL CHRISTMASIt's been a quiet couple of days here and most unlike Christmas, owing to the sunshine after all the rain we've had recently!
This has been the first ever Christmas that I haven't spent with family, so it was rather strange. Not having a car means no longer being able to just jump into it and drive to visit anyone and none of my family lives within walking or cycling distance. So, for a number of reasons, I haven't, yet, seen any of the members of my immediate family.
Christmas Eve brought Santa, unseen, at some point to leave a heap of goodies! I'm now the proud owner of some 'bling' (mud guards, a back rack, panniers, LED lights, metal cleaner and a bicycle pump) to jazz up the £40 mountain bike I'd bought. This is also classed as a frugal investment, as it means I'll can carry all my workstuff safely on the bike down to the village and have space to bring back essentials, like milk. Still no basket for the front, though, so a fast, frugal solution has now been found.
Christmas Day dawned bright and sunny! How odd, but how convenient!
My cycling companion is the long-suffering, second occupant of 'Chez Frugaldom', my house-sharing partner who was talked into foregoing a shared car in favour of having a bike. A secondhand one was duly arranged for delivery a few weeks ago - before he could change his mind! He wasn't going away for the holidays, so the sunny Christmas Day saw us out cycling as soon as all the festive phone calls had been made. Indeed, by the time we returned home, it was sunset, so dinner wasn't served until after 6pm!
The frugal festive feast comprised homemade soup, followed by roast chicken dinner served with all the usual Christmas trimmings, barring the brussels sprouts - I didn't grow any this year - and bread sauce, which I hate. A friend makes braised red cabbage, which we share, so we had that along with the stuffing, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, honey roast potatoes and carrots (no parsnips here this year) followed by homemade clootie dumpling. We were soon stuffed! Mind you, between then and bedtime, I still managed to squeeze in some biscuits and cheese, then crisps and dips!
I think I may have gained a stone in weight just over the past couple of days!
As I said previously, I still have no basket for the front of my bike but what I did get for Christmas, was a posh new handbag from my mum. I'm sure she felt sorry for me when she saw I was still using the same one that I'd rescued from the charity shop a couple of years ago, but I like it, it's real leather and has sufficient space for everything I need, including my camera. Guess what I did with the old one after receiving the lovely new one? That's right, I strapped it onto the front of my bike! Now I can safely carry my camera, emergency supplies, polythene cloak, mini carton of juice and even a banana for snacking on, right there in my hand/bike bag. I'll fashion a better connection for it soon, but it serves the purpose for now.
Christmas night was a recycling night, winding all the paper and cardboard packaging into kindling sticks for the fire whilst sitting in front of said fire, watching TV. I salavaged any bubble wrap or polythene bags for using elsewhere and plan on using the basket (savoury hamper made up by daughter) to store sewing bits and bobs once it's emptied.
Boxing Day dawned fresh and bright, so we were, once again, able to get out and enjoy the surrounding countryside, this time with a stop off for a coffee and catch up with 'neighbours', if you can call them neighbours when they're over 6 miles from here.
It was quite a bitter breeze or, in Burns spaik, 'bleak December's winds' were 'baith snell an' keen!' Looking across towards the Galloway Hills, we could see traces of snow lying, surrounded by fast falling clouds that were heading our direction!
The homeward trip was a little slower, owing to my lack of fitness resulting in total lack of speed when cycling up even the tiniest slops, so we arrived home about ten minutes before the rain, which I feel was most fortunate! My daughter and son think I'm a little crazy for reverting to a bike but getting fit for summer should be fun, as my eldest grand daughter is more my 'mini-me' than her mum's - she loves ponies, got a bike for Christmas and, at the age of 8, already has her very own little sewing machine, crafting boxes and a love of recycling! (Very proud granny!)
Boxing Day dinner was a near repeat of Christmas dinner to use up all the leftovers and tonight, it's chicken (again) to use up the last of that! I'm rather glad that I've invested in a little piece of beef for New Year!
I hope everyone has had a lovely, festive, frugal few days and that the coming weekend will see you prepared to welcome in a brand new year. Many of the 2013 challenges have been posted to site already and, as you know, my personal Frugaleur Challenge for 2013 is to create a little cottage-industry style business from handcrafting and selling McGonks. I now have a whole unit stuffed full of fabric offcuts, wool, stuffing materials, threads, buttons, needles, crochet hooks and countless other bits and pieces that will be recycled into frugal Scottish gonks and am now applying to have my economical arty-crafty project considered for inclusion in 'The Big Burns Supper' next month, as part of their art/craft vending machine project. It's all very exciting, but I'll keep you all posted on progress.
Today - I've been catching up with work and washing, the dehumidifier from H's studio has been wheeled indoors to help dry wet laundry and I'm now having all the bits and pieces fitted to my bike, ready to tackle a fully-laden post office run. Fortunately, if it's raining, Royal Mail has a superb website that allows me to pay for and print all the labelling needed for sending out work stuff and we have a post box in the lane, so bad weather needn't hamper proceedings. If it doesn't fit in the box (McGonks don't fit through the slot), I hand mail straight to the postman when he comes to empty it. It's great!
Off to check the stock now, as the remainder of the Christmas chicken is being turned into the next batch of soup.
Keep on frugaling! It's frugal fun for everyone and it's the fun part that makes it all worthwhile.
Until next time,