Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Frugaldom in June

 

Glorious sunshine has burst through at Frugaldom, so it's back to work on the land project - in between dog walking, lemon curd making and spending some cash free, prime fitness time making the most of the swimming pool here on site.

Wild rabbit

Around the Frugaldom micro-ranch, the gardening has already ground to a halt. Having the bird feeding station and a nest box fitted has generated some excellent photo opportunities, especially with the woodpeckers visiting many times each day.

Field mouse on the bird table

At ground level, however, our little furry friends are having a ball. Not all of them are staying at ground level, either. First it was the rabbits digging up the rosemary and the birds pecking the strawberry plants, then it was the field mice running up the dry stone wall to help themselves to the bird food and now I have an owl visiting every night, obviously thinking the mice are for supper snacks!

First bed prepared in the garden of gratitude

Today I took the neighbour's two little dogs with me to Frugaldom, so the conversation was a bit one-sided during the walk there and back. They were very well behaved and sat watching as I dug and prepared the first of the beds in the garden of gratitude - this explains the furry tail-end that got into the photograph!

This is the current view from the garden of gratitude when looking towards the Forest but this vista will change as time progresses. The wood will be harvested and new trees planted and to the forefront, we still have to lay out the rest of the garden. Future plans for this include seating and possibly a picnic bench, as it will all form part of the eventual walk.

Frugaldom project

As you can see, the Frugaldom Project is beginning to come alive now that the flowers are coming into bloom, trees leafing up and grasses growing. Just out of shot in the above photo will be the first of the ecoart displays, where the barn owl swoops to land on a nearby tree stump. The sculpture is well underway and definitely taking shape, so we are hoping it will be completed and in place later this month.

Ecoart by H R Mayson - barn owl landing

There is so much to do out at the project that it's difficult to know where to start next. I am always on the look-out for willing helpers and accommodation can be arranged for willing volunteers. There are camping facilities nearby, as well as various other options, so don't be shy, give frugal living a try. More details available on this and other options in our forums at www.frugalforums.co.uk or else get in contact.

Frugaldom in June

Monday, 8 June 2015

How to decorate your small living space to look bigger

 

If you are living in a small house or cottage, apartment, lodge, or caravan, there is plenty you can do to make your living space look and feel bigger.

Ambitious plans include removing or altering the position of a wall or screen, adding larger windows, glass or panel doors instead of solid doors, or building a separate level or platform for a bedroom or office. Major changes such as these will need professional advice and planning, but some simple decorating and home furnishing tips can also help, without any major expense or upheaval.

Decorate in neutral colours and think about creating clean straight lines in plain designs. Heavy, dark or floral wallpaper will make a room feel smaller.

Wooden flooring creates a feeling of space and is more practical to clean than light coloured carpet. Then, add a few carefully selected items in a strong, bright or bold colour to accent the neutral decor, such as cushions, a throw, or a vase. This will add taste and personality to the room without overdoing it. Try to keep surfaces clear, with only the minimum amount of ornaments. Hang a couple of your favourite pictures or photos if you want to, but be ruthless or the result will be cluttered and will make the room look smaller.

Choose furniture for your home that doubles up as storage; for example, an ottoman or laundry basket that can be used as seating, a stool for a nightstand, a sofa bed, futon or loft bed that can be used during the day, a nightstand with drawers or a unit that can be used as a mini-desk or bureau.

Mirrors and floor to ceiling storage

If space beside the bed is tight, hang a shelf instead, and use ceiling lights, wall lights, or sconces instead of table lamps. Store clothes and shoes out of sight in floor-to-ceiling wardrobes or cupboards so as not to waste space. Use any space underneath beds for storage; storage baskets or cubes for smaller or less-used items are ideal to keep everything tidy and organised. Hang a floor to ceiling mirror. Open up windows by removing heavy curtains and install wooden shutters to maximise the light coming into the room.

In the living area, choose an extending or drop leaf table, a nest of tables and chairs or stools that can be stacked or stored away in a cupboard. If possible, choose bespoke furniture that uses every bit of available space effectively; opt for built-in book shelves that fit into an alcove or small space.

Windows, mirrors and laptop

Hang a mirror opposite a window to reflect the light, and look for clever artwork that creates an illusion of space – for example a tunnel effect or a forest scene. A wall-mounted television and a laptop or tablet instead of a PC will help to free up space and reduce clutter.

In the kitchen, reflective, light or white surfaces and cupboard fronts, as well as under cupboard lighting, will help the area to feel larger.

Give some thought as to how you can maximise the space that you have. By decorating in light colours, removing clutter, and making good use of every bit of room that you have, you can maximise your living area extremely effectively.

Downsizing, home decor and small space living are all topics discussed at www.frugalforums.co.uk  Join us free to take part in our moneysaving and budget challenges.

How do people not pay any energy bills?

 

Most people know by now that there are all sorts of ways to reduce energy bills. Insulation, double glazing, smart appliances and simply knowing when to put on a jumper can all help. But how is it that some people manage to pay nothing at all? Is it really possible, in an ordinary home, to generate directly and sustainably all of the energy you need? You might be surprised.

A new generation of homes

Finding homes with this kind of potential is getting easier than ever as construction and development companies have cottoned on to the fact that there’s a big market for eco-friendly properties – and some, of course, share that wish to do the right thing as far as the environment is concerned. M1 Group, for instance, now routinely put eco-friendly systems in their new build properties, giving them added market appeal at the same time as standing by the principles of sustainability that have always influenced their way of doing business.

Solar panels on a tiny house

Solar power

Many people assume that there’s no point in fitting solar panels if they live in northern climes, but with the new generation of solar materials now available, that’s no longer the case. Even when the days are short and there’s a lot of cloud, a single solar panel is often sufficient to create all the hot water an average family needs. This new technology is also a lot cheaper than the old technology because economies of scale have come into operation as more and more people have concluded that solar energy is the right choice for them.

Frugaldom in its windswept landscape

Wind power

You will need planning permission to install a wind turbine, but you can now buy good rooftop models for just a few hundred pounds, and if they’re well positioned – so as to get plenty of wind – they can generate impressive amounts of electricity. They’re ideal for remote locations where there are no neighbours to annoy and few other buildings blocking the flow of the wind. In places such as this, versions with masts can also be a practical option and are often more productive.

Hydro power potential at Frugaldom

Water power

For people fortunate enough to live near a waterway, small-scale hydroelectricity generation can also be an option. People have been using waterwheels for thousands of years, but modern hydropower systems are highly efficient and can produce electricity for all your household needs. You will need to get a professional assessment to find out if it’s a practical solution for you.

Energy generation systems such as these can provide all the power that’s needed for some homes. They can also be used in combination. In some cases, the results are so impressive that householders can not only provide for their own needs but also sell electricity back to the grid. This means they make a bit of money, and a larger proportion of the overall energy used in the country comes from renewables, helping to reduce everybody’s carbon footprint. It’s a win-win situation.

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Following on from our discussion in the NYK chat room regarding frugal entrepreneurs and long term investments, making the right choices at anytime can reap real rewards, in both money and self-sustainability terms. Frugaldom has vast potential for development of more eco-friendly projects than you can shake a stick at - and let's face it, we have plenty of those lying around the place. So what would you choose for your ideal self-sustainable, eco-friendly home? I know Frugaldom isn't home, but with today's technology, almost anywhere in the world has the potential to become self-sustainable on or off the grid, even Scotland could balance the energy books with the right mix of solar, wind and hydro, although we do seem to get more wind and rain than sun most years. frown

You can discuss this subject and many others at www.frugalforums.co.uk

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Moneysaving Mayhem

May has been a busy money-saving month of mayhem, so far, but we have managed to complete the barn painting and have another corral, or small paddock, fenced, planted the last of this year's trees, sown seeds and I set up a makeshift wild bird feeding station outside the caravan, where the resident woodpecker is now visiting several times each day. That's my frugal entertainment. Life on site in a mobile home is great!

If you are lucky, John Irving quote

I'm going to begin this latest post with a quote from John Irving that definitely reflects the mood of the day. The photo is one I took of the nearby loch when it was perfectly calm and reflective. I think some of my long-standing friends and family are wondering if I have taken up permanent residence in the mobile home, now known as my micro-ranch. Yes, it's a far cry from a sandstone cottage, but it most definitely has everything I need and greatly increases the time I can spend working on the Frugaldom Project whenever the weather permits. The field is a mere half mile from here. What isn't there to like? I have luxuries here that aren't available at the house, such as Sky TV, an indoor heated swimming pool, golf, fishing, site shop, various free to attend social activities and all are included within the annual site rental fees that equate to about £40 per week, including WiFi, water and TV. (Swimming, fishing and golf are included in that price.)

Night and day at Three Lochs

The site is not a year-round residential site, but I can spend 11 months of the year here, leaving February as the month for catching up elsewhere, visiting friends and family or getting jobs done elsewhere. With the spare room and living room bed settee here, I can have friends and family to stay anytime, providing a frugal holiday option for many and also less travelling for those coming to help out at Frugaldom. The site has facilities for campervans, tourers and tents as well as renting out chalets, but I think the majority of the caravans may be privately owned holiday homes. To be absolutely honest, I haven't a clue why we didn't look at this option instead of renting an assortment of houses over a 10-year period while saving to buy! It could have saved thousands of pounds! I think I've spent more money moving house over the past 15 years than it costs to buy a decent ex-rental or secondhand mobile home on this site! I'm not being paid to say this, but if I could find frugalers to buy the two plots and 'vans next to me, we could have a great little frugal community going here - I could even provide allotment-style gardens at Frugaldom for food growing.

Raspberry muffins

Right now, I have a hand wash drying outdoors, pegged to the airer, and a tray of raspberry muffins baking in the oven, alongside quiche. It's taking time to accustom myself to a full size gas oven after using the microwave and mini oven for so long, but I've managed not to burn anything beyond use. There's also the fact that the cooker doubles as heating in the open plan layout of the caravan. I'm a few items short in the kitchen department, but am managing fine without having to buy anything else. My total spends have amounted to £4 for a plastic wash basin and a cheap frying pan. My latest frugal visitor was able to provide me with …

Continued here

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Moneysaving in May

 

010515gardenofg2

Welcome to May's money-saving madness, when the weather should change for the better and we can all get out there and make some extra effort to curb our spending, tend the garden and attempt to grow some food. It's time to make do, mend, sew and sow!

It is great living practically next door to the Frugaldom project, where a mere half mile walk takes me from here to there and allows for a couple of hours work in between anything else, really. The fine weather broke and sent us back to rain and hail with heavy frosts in the mornings, so I took advantage of that situation and planted a few garlic cloves into the ground next to the caravan - with luck, they will grow… Read full post about Moneysaving in May