Phew…


…life seems to be calming down a little now. Just enough to write a post, anyway. We had a wonderful holiday (there’s so much more to Spain than many tourists ever see! Every time I go I leave a little bit more of my heart behind) but spent much more money than I’d anticipated. And now I’m beginning to realise why more people don’t start their own businesses… even running the shop for just 25 hours a week, there’s never enough time for all the things I need or want to do, either in the shop or at home. This season has been a complete write-off from the preserving point of view; I’ve had no time at all for foraging or preparing, beyond a small batch of crab apple jelly. Luckily there’s still plenty left in the freezer & on the garage shelves from last autumn, but I actually physically miss going out & gathering stuff in. I really need to sort the house out & redecorate whilst there’s less stuff in it, but there’s no time for that either. And younger daughter needs more input from me (elder girl is my right-hand woman in the shop, and is in fact a huge help in all ways – I wouldn’t be able to do it without her, and can’t thank her enough, even if she is just working off her airfare to Las Vegas!) but there’s no time for that, or re-stocking the shop… MUST do better at the things that really count; it’s thinking cap time.

So I’ve started the Christmas planning now. For many reasons, we have never gone overboard & spent a fortune on consumer goods, but this year I’m really going to rein in the festive spending. I know that for a lot of people, that isn’t a matter of choice, and I don’t mean to make light of their grief & dismay, but I see this as a joyful & interesting challenge; how can we have a happy & meaningful Christmas for the least possible cost? A while ago I read Jo Robinson’s excellent “Unplug the Christmas Machine” about how to make Christmas less stressful & genuinely enjoyable, and I’m taking many of my cues from that as well as from various Frugal-type forums I’ve belonged to & contributed to over the years. Also from the Quaker attittude that every day is a holy day; there’s simply no need to work yourself into the ground celebrating just one or two of them, especially if you end up losing sight of what makes them special in the welter of work you’ve created for yourself. For that reason, I’m not going to go all out for a handmade Christmas either, lovely though that is; I’m going to concentrate my efforts on the things that really matter.

I have a collection of in-date Tesco vouchers saved up that will cover festive booze and any of the “special”  food items I can’t buy locally; Twiglets particularly spring to mind! Otherwise our local market & shops can supply everything we need – superb quality at reasonable cost. Prezzies for the offspring will be modest again this year (especially as I gather they’re hoping to go back out to Spain next year) and amongst the wider family I have suggested a second-hand or home-made Christmas; with more than 30 of us that’s only sensible, and we’ve had a strict “upper spending limit” for many years now. Decorations will be home-made (or possibly CraftsPlace-made) or natural and the tree may even be home-grown, as a Lawson’s Cypress in our little front garden is in need of a severe haircut. We never decorate until just before the Big Day anyway; IMHO the whole idea goes stale after a couple of weeks & if you start Christmas at the beginning of December you’ll have had enough of it all by about the 20th!

So now I need to find the time to hunt around for those little special items that will bring a genuine smile to people’s faces. And for patterns, supplies & ideas to keep my customers happy in the shop, too. In other words, what I need most is just – more time

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