UA-99606640-1March 2018 – Welcome to The Frugal Family
    • @EKOearth_ I’ve had such a great time making small but long term changes - it’s been really great x

      Jul 21, 2018

Month: March 2018

Don’t Panic!
Don’t Panic!

Easter School Holidays are upon us (at least here the in the UK they are!) – they are a difficult one to plan as the weather at this time of year is a bit unpredictable. It could be anything from glorious sunshine (friend of the frugal) or knee deep in snow – this year the forecast is for the cold stuff…

This can make 2-3 weeks off school hard to plan and prepare for. Here are 10 suggestions that I hope are worth your consideration…


  1. Visit to a car showroom, lots to look at and ‘play’ with ahem…
  2. Continue your love affair with a local library
  3. Visit to the toy shop (bear with me…) to make a Christmas or birthday list. Mine love this – you give them a pad and pencil to write down the names of things they love, and then in the car on the way home they give the list numbers so most wanted is number one etc. For some kids you could let them take photos maybe? You can also grab any free catalogues or similar and make a collage list when you get home. Supermarkets are good for this as well, and you can grab some bread and milk while you are there.
  4. Wrapping sessions, we try to get gifts for friends and relatives organised in advance and then have a grand card making and present wrapping session on the table, works for us.
  5. Indoor challenges,  – try making an assault course, playing traditional games like pass the parcel (with toys they already have or sweets/treats from the cupboard) or musical statues. If you have older children you can try a board game or jigsaw day
  6. Cut up any Easter egg boxes, wrapping paper etc so you have a collection of pictures you can then use to make a collage. You are likely to have things related to farms and Spring so use that as your theme.
  7. Plant some seeds. This is a good time of year to grow things indoors, easy options could be cress seeds, sunflower seeds and beans. Watching things grow is always such fun and you can sneak in a bit of science too… 
  8. Hunt the ______ games aren’t just for Easter! You could cut up the letters of their name and hide them around the house. Or cut up the favourite characters in a TV show and they have to find the whole gang.
  9. Collections… these are actually a real pain in the neck as we end up with bags and boxes of weird things we can’t identify all over the house BUT they do keep kids occupied for quite long periods so probably worth it. You can take a walk in the woods (don’t forget a thermos of hot chocolate or soup if it’s cold) and collect, pine cones, seed pods, sticks, stones, feathers, leaves etc. Try not to pull blossom off the trees!
  10. We have a free download with a week of kids activities you can print off and use – just follow this link and add your email address x
International Women’s Day!
International Women’s Day!

Yeah! Women are Great! or are they?

As Germaine Greer so amusingly noted the Pie got a whole WEEK of celebrations, so maybe pies are better than women – or men…

I do find celebratory days like this a bit odd. I love that it’s an opportunity for everyone to discuss, investigate, learn and lift up women – to celebrate their contributions in all areas of life and throughout time. That is a good thing. What I’m not so keen on is the need for constant defining and separating of the sexes, because frankly some women are horrid. Some men are horrid too, and some are amazing and inspirational. I’ve found over time that none of these personality traits – humour, kindness, empathy, compassion, learning, teaching, strength etc come from gender, but from the individual. Maybe I’m reading too much into this.

What I do love about this particular day is the chance to reclaim lost history – as an historian this is one of my favourite things to do. Outside of The Frugal Family I do a number of talks to groups in my area on women’s history, military history and some frugal and environmental ones too x Because men have written most accounts until very recently, there is so much of women’s history that has been lost and I feel that loss. I could write a whole post on some of the amazing women I have ‘discovered’ and share, which would be like writing an essay (which I love!) and probably a bit niche!

Instead I’ve decided to share some of the women that have inspired me personally – my ‘go to’ people when I need something I can’t always define…


Mother Teresa

If you have been following our daily theme Wonderful Women you will already know my admiration for this selfless woman. I find I can just look at our painting of her and feel myself calming down, her quiet and peaceful compassion was so profound. I’ve always been quite annoyed that she died the same day as Princess Di as I don’t feel she ever got the full recognition that her life deserved.



Hannah Snell

This is one of the women from my talk – she disguised herself as a man to join the Army. I doubt you have heard of her, but she lived to be 108! and had the most extraordinary life, sadly it is a very distressing story  – but I admire her incredible spirit and determination. When I have a feeling that I can’t go on in a situation – I think of Hannah and remember I can do anything I choose.

Octavia Hill

Yes, I also do a talk about Ms Hill! Another extraordinary woman, working for change and supporting women during a lifetime of compassionate and considerate change-making.


Maya Angelou

It’s no surprise really that a young girl with an activist nature who loves to read and is introspective should fall in love with Maya Angelou, and I’m not alone in my joy at her writing and her legacy. What I always found so compelling about her was that she continued to move forwards as she had a genuine desire to learn and teach, rather than a need to be successful in a specific way. I admire the energy required to be a truly inquisitive person, and I aspire to always be interested in the world around me and keep up with changes and movements rather than just settling in a comfort zone.

My Mum

We are actually quite different people, and of course your mum always drives you to distraction more than anyone else! My mother is a woman of enormous generosity, who is the most creative person I know and has given me so many of her skills and passions (as well as her toes and voice…) not forgetting of course that she gave me life itself – and there is no greater gift. I love her heaps – and now I’m a mum of determined and wilful girls I have come to have an even greater respect for her. When I was 11 my mum went back to college, to study for her degree. It was hard, and stressful and I have always been so proud of how she overcame all of the obstacles to become a teacher a little later than planned. It’s such a shame that teaching has lost so much respect as a profession and she retired earlier than she would really have liked as the role became over worked and under appreciated. When I decided to lecture I was sure it would be to adults! We are not a very demonstrative family, so I have probably never told her any to this…


My Girls

Of all the things I worried about while I was pregnant I never really considered the pressure of being a role model – of leading by example and being your best self at all times. I’m not very good at it. My kids often see me cry, hear my frustrations and I’m sorry for that, however, I hope as they mature (as I have done in my understanding of my childhood) they will see that everything I do is in the hope of being better, of doing more, of teaching them all they need to know, that they will see the depth of my love and awe as I watch them grow and change and fill me with such wonder. The challenge to be a great mum, to show the value we place on education, love, compassion, understanding, the environment and conscious living – as well as attempting to ‘do’ and not just ‘say’ is the most exhausting thing. Of all the challenges in my life parenthood is by far the most difficult! But I love that when I get a moment to reflect on it, I can see that is has also given me a million opportunities a day to be my best self, the honour of raising these incredible (and infuriating) four people is quite breath-taking. I look at the strong and independent women that my girls have to look to in their family, the stories they will hear of the extraordinary and everyday achievements from both sides of their great grandmothers and beyond and I know with those genes they really could take on anything.




Who are the women that have shaped  you? And who are the women you hope to influence?


Mother’s Day Musing
Mother’s Day Musing

So, this is a tricky celebration – firstly it’s held at different times of year in different countries (more on that later) but also it can be a very volatile subject for those that are not mothers but who would like to be, those who have lost children and of course those who have lost their mother… it can be hard to celebrate something, knowing how hard it is for others you know and love. However, I do like the opportunity that many ‘event’ days give us to share kindness, affection and celebrate goodness so here are some thoughts on Mothers Day…


In the UK it is historically known as Mothering Sunday – and this wasn’t to do with your actual mum, but your mother church. On the 4th Sunday of Lent you would visit the largest or ‘mother’ church in the area (this goes way back to the 16th Century), it then slowly joined with being a day that young people who were working in service could go and visit their mother and perhaps take a small posy of flowers, or a piece of cake. Mothering Sunday then became a day to celebrate your mum.

Over in the USA a totally separate non-religious celebration invented in 1908 by Anna Jarvis to celebrate the role of mothers. It was signed into the calender in 1914, although Jarvis later started a revolt against the commercialisation of the day, feeling it had lost all the genuine affection and moved to something you could just buy and not really think about in depth. Jarvis saw no need to buy anything for Mothers Day and led the boycott of cards and chocolates for the day she had created!

So the two versions of Mothers Day have morphed a bit, despite having vastly different histories. I would agree with Anna Jarvis, that a day to honour any woman that has given time, inspiration, care, love and probably blood, sweat and tears into the lives of others is a good day. I also agree with her that there is no need to spend money buying things when you can tell her you love her in many other ways.


* One tradition from the Mothering Sunday in the UK was to bake a Simnel Cake – this was a real treat during the restrictions of Lent, it’s a fruit cake with marzipan – yum. Download a recipe and either make a cake if you have time or just chat with your mum about her memories of Easter celebrations.

* Make a card, it seems too easy but mum’s really appreciate if you have taken the time and care to create something just for them – if you are not confident with your artistry then print off some really special photos for the front.

* Make a photo collage, you can choose lots of special times, or just the two of you or a theme or whatever – they make great talking points.

* Go for a walk together, to an old haunt or where you used to live or just to a nice park. Time is precious.

* Take her breakfast in bed, this has become a bit of cheesy one and most mums are probably up first! However, this is the day you can embrace the cheese, maybe think of a real favourite breakfast or come up with something new…

* Give a gift of time, commit to visiting (if you’ve left the nest) once a day/week/month depending on your situation, if you can’t visit then consider the help technology can offer – can you call, Skype, FaceTime, Message etc.

* Flowers are lovely but don’t last very long, if you do want to buy a gift think about a living thing that will last forever, maybe name a tree in their honour if you can’t plant one in the garden, or buy a miniature rose that can stay indoors for a long while.

* If you have a skill you could upcycle something they need, refurbish something they love, or make an item yourself that will mean the world.

* Ask questions about her life. Everyone has experienced their own unique version of events, so even if you think you know everything about your mums life I bet there are a few funny stories or childhood memories still to be uncovered. This shared history is a great way to really connect with people. Even very young children enjoy hearing about the ‘old days’. My kids cannot believe that when I was small there were only 3 channels on the TV and the telephone was attached to the wall, and I’m only 42

We have some FREE gift vouchers to download in the shop if they might be useful… I’ve left them deliberately very blank so you can really use them for anything, they are A4 size and should fit into a DL envelope x

Share the love with a mum that may not have her children around, maybe visit a friend that you know struggles at this time, or take a box of biscuits to the local residential home.

In the year that we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women getting the vote, it seems a particularly important year to celebrate all that women bring to the world, and this is just one day to remind us to do that. Hope you can enjoy it x

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