Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Fun For Free (Well, Almost) - Home Edition

I've been thinking about this lately, since everything costs so much nowadays [/oldladyrant] and it's so easy to fall into a rut of doing the same old stuff and feeling a bit bored about it all. And with the recession (I refuse to say Credit Crunch without thinking of cereal) really starting to pinch everyone it's better to stay within budget and do, dare I say it, free or almost free things to pass the time. So... here's my first initial list of things. Things which you may have done before or forgotten about, or stuff you've never done at all. Anyways, I plan to blog my way through a few of these bad boys just so I can show you how easy it is.

Today we're starting with things themed around Home. When I think of Home I think of cosy evenings under a blanket watching TV or reading, a nice yummy tea and an early night. And maybe a bit of pampering, and a good chat with the people who matter most to me. That's what Home means for me, and sometimes it's just good to chill and shut the world out. Plus, there is just so much you can do at home for free which is both fun and satisfying...


The subject of way too many lifestyle magazines - but for good reason, too, as it is so satisfying I love it! It does take time, and bin bags, but it's so worth throwing out all of the rubbish or giving away the stuff you no longer need. Plus it's great to look at stuff you've hidden away for years, and either wonder how on earth you ended up with it or why. And the act of giving away things you no longer use to friends or family who do want it is great. And if you get to use some of the old stuff you've been hoarding for a while, that's even better. One word of warning though, you will find yourself asking why you felt it was necessary to spend your money on the stuff you never used... And you'll probably find yourself thinking before you buy in the future. But it's amazing seeing your living area looking gorgeous for a change.
Cost: Free
Time taken: At least two weekends, if not more. It's a big commitment, so maybe you could space it out if you've got plans.
Top tip: Make a list of what you want to tackle beforehand, but try and make it reasonable - so for example, try to aim for one room at a time. Also, get your friends/family involved. Especially the kids. Younger children will love it, and the older ones might feel a bit apathetic at first, but will most likely get into it and secretly find it great fun (even if they won't readily admit it at first!)


Chocolate cookies

Baking is so much fun! And it is so easy, and very cheap too. Firstly, you will need all of the ingredients and a good basic recipe. It depends what you fancy making. If you like Victoria sponge or fairy cakes, check out Nigella's recipe on her website here. An easy chocolate cake can be found here (it looks heavenly and I've yet to try it but cannot honestly wait) - but honestly, you can use any simple recipe you find on the internet, or even just a packet mix from Tesco, but making it from scratch is so very satisfying. And huge fun. Also, as everyone knows, eating the results is the best part! And the more regularly you do it, the more likely your friends and family will ask you to bake for them! So it's a win win situation really.
Cost: Under a fiver for ingredients, although if you plan on baking a proper sponge cake you will need the tins and possibly things like wooden spoons, a metal sieve and cookie cutters. Places like Argos and Tesco often sell complete silicon bakeware kits for under £20 so that should see you right.
Time taken: A morning at the most.
Top tip: Leave the butter out of the fridge for at least an hour before using it. It makes it nice and soft. Secondly an electric hand whisk makes the mixing part really easy (and prevents you from getting a trapped nerve in your arm, I should know)



Recently I made bunting for my room because one, I was bored, and two I had some super pretty wrapping paper which I didn't know what to do with. (For one, I'm way past the age of covering my exercise books at school with wrapping paper and clear cellophane - remember that? I used to print cute photos, stick them on the front with Pritt Stick and then clear cellophane it. Oh, the memories!) Anyway, if you feel happy with your room, but feel something is missing, maybe making bunting is the answer. I'll blog about how to make it later in the week, as it is dead easy and great fun. It'd look fabulous in a little one's room, and you can use almost anything you've got lying around, fabric, wrapping paper, newspapers, children's paintings (ask permission first, I don't want to make your kids cry)... the list is endless. Either way, it's a great Sunday afternoon activity.
Cost: Relatively free. Use whatever you have. Although, how long is a piece of string? And how much is a piece of string. That's how much it'll cost.
Time taken: An hour to two hours at most if you have little ones helping.
Top tip: Make a template of the triangle beforehand and use it to make even shaped bunting. Stock up on Pritt Stick, too, or dust down your sewing machine beforehand.


Dandelion Clock

Where I live there are loads of options for going out for a picnic - loads of woodland, parks and streams. Even if you live in a city and don't have much of an option, bar a huge park, but you do have a back garden, go for it! It costs barely anything, except for the price of sandwiches, crisps, cake and a drink (and making sandwiches by hand is so much easier and tastier than buying them from a shop - less mayo, for a start) - take a blanket or use a picnic table, and just relax. It's a great way to have fun, chat with your friends and family and spend time in the fresh air. And if you can get a walk in at some point too you'll be made. And it makes for great photo ops, too.
Cost: Whatever's in your food cupboard, so relatively free.
Time taken: A whole afternoon, if you like.
Top tip: Always put the lids on foods which attract insects, to stop them from getting in and ruining your lunch. Oh, and without sounding too patronising (I know my readers know better, but just in case) please throw away your rubbish properly. Litter sucks!


Tricks Of The Trade

This is my favourite for obvious reasons. Take your time on a quiet afternoon, and do all the things you don't normally get much time to do. Paint your nails, put on a facemask and chill out, before a nice long hot bath or shower (hair mask, exfoliate, just go for it) and just relax. It's even better when you have the whole facemask/manicure thing with friends... The benefit of it all is that you come out of it feeling relaxed, happy and best of all, looking really good. And it really doesn't cost anything. How many of us spend Sunday afternoons moaning about how boring it is? Well, here is the most obvious thing to do!
Cost: You should in theory, have everything you need, but sachets of facemask usually cost £1 so not too expensive.
Time taken: Take your time. That's all I'll say.
Top tip: Rinse your hair in water as cold as you can stand, after conditioning. It will help to make it shine.

As promised, I will be blogging some more fun free things to do over the next week, and blogging about bunting and how to create it. I'm so excited to be doing this! (Also, this has left me wondering if there's a career which involves professional cutting and sticking, if so, sign me up!)

Let me know how you get on. What are your favourite fun free things to do in your spare time? Leave me a comment below!


  1. Kokeshi doll bunting? AWESOME! These are all lovely ideas. I think you should make loads of cake and send it to ME! (Then my free activity can be eating, heh :D )

  2. Yay! I love the print too - it's from Fred Aldous (99p too - bargain) - I had to buy it, but then wondering why I bought it as I wanted to keep it all for myself! So I made bunting with it.


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