1. Get Out More.
Stop watching television (it'll only make you hanker after more stuff or compare your lifestyle unfavourably with those of the rich and famous) and go outside. Wrap up warm, and find a way to spend an afternoon for free.
If you're not in the house, you're not paying for heating and lighting (or constant kettle boiling if you have a coffee habit like mine)! Take along a drink and snacks, and see where you end up. Follow footpaths, explore parts of your neighbourhood, find somewhere new.
We were surprised how far Prima and Secundus could walk without complaining, especially as Prima's wellies began to leak and Secundus didn't really want to go on a walk in the first place. It's fresh air and exercise, it costs nothing, and the feeling of cosiness and achievement when you come home after a long walk cannot be beaten.
2. Exercise More for Less
Still on the "it's good for you" theme, if you are looking for other ways to get fit, I have a new recommendation. Instead of the gym, try a fitness DVD. You can get them from your local library or follow you-tube videos (the only thing with online workouts is that they are not always created by professionals) or you can try my latest discovery, Toned in 25.
This DVD contains two workouts of 25 minutes each and I think we can safely say they are high intensity. A brilliant alternative to half-hearted weight-training at the gym or the cardio classes you keep skiving, the DVD offers a whole body approach: “To get the results of a 60 minute workout in just 25-minutes, we focus on High Intensity Interval Training" says Tora Cullip, co-author of I Want What She's Having, Now! "Rather than work on one muscle group at a time, we base each session on whole body movements, fatiguing your muscles just long enough to maximise your fat-burning potential!”
Fatiguing is the word, but if you like a challenge, the Toned in 25 DVD is a convenient and thrifty alternative to gym membership, at $14.95 + shipping and handling. As an ex-international triathlete and qualified fitness professional, Tora knows exactly what it takes to get in shape in the shortest possible time and her delivery on the DVD is clear and encouraging without the usual wishy-washy celebrity stuff. We're talking straight-forward and to the point; it's about exercise not hair extensions. The only thing I would change is the nondescript workout music; I suspect I may override it by playing Moves Like Jagger at the same time, once I am used to all the moves. 25 minutes, three times a week is something even the busy mum could fit in, and, judging from the Power Workout I tried, I'm optimistic about toning, trimming and tightening up fast.
Our dining chairs get a lot of, um... traffic, shall we say. I'm sitting on one right now in front of the fire and they also have to withstand a great deal of wriggling from Secundus at meal times.
I patched up the cushion covers in April last year but these too were beginning to look tatty so I decided to replace them completely. Not wanting to sew in a zip, I created an envelope-style cover and re-used the original ties. And, like just about everything else I sew, I used scraps of material, not all of it new. Patchwork can be time- consuming but it is so homely and forgiving. None of the cushion covers match perfectly but they are all vaguely in the same part of the colour wheel.
Tackling this project saved me a few pounds, and meant I didn't have to go to the shops (which would have tempted me to spend further - I know what I'm like in The Range) or buy online and pay crazy postage. If you use preloved fabric you are almost certain to save money by making things yourself, plus you can make it to your exact requirements and it will be unique. My friend Mrs Forward unpicked a falling-apart dress the other day, made a pattern from the piece and re-made the dress! I'm not sure I have the skills/ patience/ dress-wearing habit for that but I like the idea.
Other recent sewing makes include a hot water bottle cover for Prima, in red spotted fleece, and a new PE kit bag for Secundus, in navy fleece with red rocket pattern. These could easily have been purchased but I get a real kick out of making items by hand for my family. It keeps me occupied, develops my sewing skills, and I feel so proud when my kids tell their friends "mum made it".