Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Orchids on your Budget - Making a budget.

There are many more qualified to do budgets than me but the Orchids on Your Budget feels that the miscellaneous section that most budgets suggest should be cut down the most is the reverse with us.  As long as you have enough for the essentials this section should be as much as you can afford. Even if you have to cut down to the bear minimum on everything else.

"Miscellaneous" is the item that covers theatres. parties, trips and cocktails, permanent waves (blow dries now) and a Wedgwood breakfast tray set or the jewelled clip you saw in the vintage shop window and lilacs in Springtime.

What works best is to draw the "miscellaneous" budget out of the bank once a week and do as many of the things you want keeping in mind the days you have to cover.

Professional budgeteers minimize this item, true if but if your budget is small - but this section is the fun in your life and should not be trimmed - look at ways that you can save in other places - the coffee every morning, the sandwich at lunchtime, the newspaper - read it one line - all add up and could quiet easily be part of the "miscellaneous" that affords a chic evening purse or good bottle of bubbly.

It is wise to budget one way or another. It seems to be the only sure method of knowing what is coming in and going out.  Have a budget and follow it but be flexible with it and make very sure that your budget covers orchids!!

This is the last of the Orchids on Your Budget posts but I will keep returning to it with ideas, tips and photos of how you can have a fabulous life with out spending a fourtune.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Orchids on your Budget - Giving to others

One that you should not do is giving presents especially Christmas and Birthdays.  People on a budget economize and nobly tell their friends and relatives they can't manage presents this year and know that it will spoil it for them.

Your income is in bad way  (and attitude) if you can't give a few presents, with thought taking the place of money.

Some of the most wonderful presents I have received have cost next to nothing - gosh presents (the kind that make you go gosh when you open them) are the best ever.

Handmade gifts  - a large fir cone tied with ribbon for those friends with fireplaces, pick up an old glass or china in charity shops or antique shops, find a decorative box and fill with sample sizes of beauty products or a basket with food goodies, make some cupcakes or cookies wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon.

Collect unusual ribbon, wrapping paper - use lining paper and potato print or cut stars and stick on. Scraps of fabric can be used as gift wrap, newspaper - especially the FT it's pink!!, old magazines, brown paper tied up with string with a pretty flower or trinket attached. Making the outside look fabulous means that you have taken time and effort to make it special.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Orchids on your Budget - Out and about.

Don't think that you can't get around on very little money.  There are few cities that don't have inexpensive restaurants or deals that can be used to go out for a meal.  There are lots of things that can be done for free or very little money. Cinemas are often cheaper during the week and lunchtimes in fancy restaurants do good deals.

Pack a picnic in the park - there are free and using a proper basket, linen napkins and cutlery instead of paper ones will make the simplest of food seem more expensive and chic.

Investigate what public facilities have to offer - free lecturers, or concerts, reasonably priced venues and events in your own area and you will have fabulous interesting things to do which will encourage you to do more and find more ways to have fun on little money.

First nights of plays are often cheaper, are there magazines that want people to review events in return for a ticket?

Thinking outside of the box - and again what seems to be the buzz word running through this blog - IMAGINATION!!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Orchids on your Budget - Entertaining

As to the matter of entertaining which is something that you shouldn't give up unless your bank account is really alarming.

You don't need to entertain expensively.  It doesn't even need to be a lot of work.  But entertaining is important.  Both the parties you give and go to are stimulating and boost the moral.

Being embarrassed by having the entertain simply is a silly form of snobbery and in these days when simpler meal are smart and a amusing party is far more of an achievement than an extravagant one.

Real hospitality and carefully combined guests are the most important part of any party.

One of the first rules is not to attempt more that you can manage. In these times when money is tight necessity had invented all sorts of ways of entertaining on a shoestring, without the need for 9 course dinners!

Keeping it simple but fun with good food and friends is all you need:

- Sunday lunch - made simple - baked ham, potato salad, with cherries or strawberries for desert.

- a late supper post movie - sandwiches laid out on the coffee table made with a variety of breads and fillings so that people can make their own combinations, bottles of beer or ginger ale.

Sunday brunch is always a great way to entertain especially in the summer when you can get outside - bloody mary's or lots of fresh juice, huge bowls of berries, yogurt, toast some muffins with a selection of marmalade's and jams - wack on the barbie and cook sausages and bacon.

The setting can do a lot for the party and that isn't a matter of cost.  A table set in a sunny window or on terrace with a view or under an apple tree can make the simplest china look enchanting.

Hunt out car boot fairs, charity shops or flea markets for individual pieces of china and linen, mix with cheap white china from high street stores - effective but stylish.

Buffet suppers are a triumphant solution to no maid no money solution.  One advantage is that everything or nearly everything can be made in advance.  The best buffet suppers are planned that everyone can sit down in small groups with a small table to avoid the necessity of balancing plate, glass and fork.

A smart way to do it if you have no dining room is to sit your guest on sofa's and occasional chairs with a number of side tables and each table laid as for a formal dinner.  Or serve coffee after dinner in a beautiful coffee pot - you can pick ones up all over the place.

Throw a tea party with china teapot and teacups - simple sandwiches and shop bought cakes.  For cocktails - mix jugs of spirit with lots of juice, serve olives. nuts and little nibbles that can be bought really cheaply - £ shops have lots of olives and nuts, or make really simple canapes - cheese biscuits with cream cheese or bean puree - there are lots of quick ideas in books that you can borrow from the library.

In summary - keep it simple, use good ingredients, and some imagination to entertain with style.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Orchids on your Budget - You have to Eat

There a lot of things you can do when economizing - food isn't one of them!

If you come to a stretch when you have to get all the meals yourself (in 1937 many households had at least two staff), get them as inexpensively as possible and do it with air and no-one will ever know you are cutting back.

Nothing can duller than uninteresting food on the table and beans on toast and all though lovely does get tiresome after a while. But there is a vogue for simple yet interesting (in 1937 and again now) - anything served with chic, can seem like some thing copied from the smartest house.  It can also served unattractively seem like poor pickings.

The trick is to have a little knowledge about food and service, to put imagination into your meals and to organise the time you spend on them.  If you haven't got the first head to the smartest magazines and books (all available to borrow at the library), and spend some time reading and getting ideas from them. When you got out shopping spend 15 minutes in the linen, china and glass department of the stores you visit to see how they display things and what ideas you can borrow.

See where you can find simple pieces of white inexpensive china - add vintage glasses or plates, find unusual napkins or buy remnants of fabric - sew the edges or fray them if sewing is too much for you.  Flowers and leaves from the garden or small bulbs in pots look lovely on a spring table. These are minor extravagances, small orchids on you budget and the type of thing you need as stimulus to keep up enthusiasm seven days a week which isn't easy but can be done.

One obvious bit of advice is go to market - the farmer's market or foreign store - don't be too set about taking a  list - see what's available, browse around and buy in season.  Look out for interesting spices and sauces that can make food something a little different.

Keep a well stocked larder of essentials that can be whipped up into a meal in a few moments.

Learning to make a few signature dishes that you do well, will soon get you a reputation as a great cook.

A simple but stylish dish - a curry made from a lesser cut of meat, cooked slowly in spices, add a heaped bowl of rice in a lovely vintage dish and served with some or all of the following condiments - chopped onions, tomatoes, boiled eggs (white and yolk separate), green peppers, grated coconut, fried onion and mango chutney - serve these in a mixture of vintage dishes and plates and it makes the most basic meal feel chic.

If dress the table and use your best china and table linen for everyday simple meals it makes it all seem a lot less as though you are economizing and dinner time a little more chic.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Orchids on Your Budget - Things you can't afford to do!!?

Economizing is painful if you keep applying it in the wrong places - you have to be careful where you pinch.

First and foremost in this is "letting yourself go".  The women who feel she can't afford to keep herself as young, handsome and chic as humanely possible or she will do it when her finances are in better shape eventually finds that she has made a miscalculation that runs into money.  The result plays havoc with  husbands, jobs and her opinion of herself.  Lean periods as at all times a women needs to be as seductive as possible as since it is only normal for a man to look around for an excuse for his difficulties and a slovenly wife is as good excuse as any other. (Not very women's lib but if you look fabulous you feel better about yourself and he's not going to want a younger model).  The kind of women who gets up any old how and slops around the house deserves all she gets - harsh words from 1937 but making an effort around the house always seems a very glamorous thing to do - even Primark do cute little 40's style pj's and silky dressing gowns so there really is no excuse?  (and trust me your man will love it and you will probably make the postman's year!!!)

The beauty problem may present more difficulties but with a little planning and system you can still give nature a helping hand - do your own nails in front of the TV, give yourself a facial, or sign up for the local college or salon that advertises for models (Check that they are always under supervision)

Economize on things that you can - toothpaste, body lotion and scrubs, they may have a more elegant smell but they do the same job.  A good foundation - less spent on mascara, eyeshadow and lipstick.

Another extravagance is letting your house run to ruin because you think you are cutting back by not doing the jobs that need to be done - it takes a lot of minor repairs to total major ones that result from years of neglect. Getting things replaced or repaired at the first sign of wear before it completely breaks down and costs a lot more to replace.

Cleverly built shelves, minor DIY jobs, a change of paint, a lovely lighting fixture picked up at auction, pretty vintage china or an inexpensive rug to cut out a draft  - there are 100 ways to stop you house from being dated and drab and the result is not merely more fun to live in, it may even mean a better price should you need to sell.

It all sums up to the fact that economy should be as nearly invisible as possible.  The thing is you can't afford is letting economy stand out like an ugly patch on the wall.  With planning and a little ffort no-one need know that your are cutting back at all.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Orchids on Your Budget - Dress Sense

Practically every women believes in her heart that she cold look a million dollars if she had a million dollars to buy the latest designer label.  The truth is that the women that do a look a million dollars often do it on very little money. ( You only have to look at some of the celebrity disasters to know that money does not buy style!!)

It does take time but isn't it worth spending a little time and energy after all you don't get anything for nothing.

Fashion sense is a gift to a chosen few but anyone can learn what suits them and how to build a wardrobe of clothes that works for every occasion.  Basic rules for smart dressing on a budget are pretty much the same as they were in 1937 - the styles may have changed but the guidelines remain the same.

The main one about build a wardrobe around one or two colours at the most for instance, how many times have you bought something that doesn't go with anything else you have?  Not good budgeting!

Buy your your staples in neutrals - black, brown, or navy (camel or cream in summer - this will also go with other neutrals).  Once you have your basics in neutrals make shore that your shoes and bag match these, it may sound monotonous but it is the greatest style economy when it comes to clothes.

With this plan everything goes with everything else.  Besides there are still blouse, tops, jackets, scarves, belts and other accessories to bring brightness to your wardrobe.

Another rule is never buy clothes that are defiantly one-purpose dressing or even one season trend led items.  Its all very well if you have enough money to replace your wardrobe each season but as most of us cannot it is a better investment to buy simple elegant styles that are timeless and you don't tire of in 5 minutes.  Day dresses that have classic lines will take you to work. lunch with the girls and out to dinner.  This may sound all unexciting but as a matter of fact you can be just as chic in an outfit that doesn't tell where you are going as in one that does - a little mystery never hurt anyone!!

As for the list of clothes this is the original from the 1937 book - the principals are the same now as then, keep your basis in the same neutrals so they mix and match then add some "whimsical" fashion item for each season.  Make a list like this for Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter and you will always look chic and no-one will ever know that you are working to a tight budget!

  • Toast brown wool coat untrimmed. Simple well cut, warm enough to wear through Autumn and a good style to wear with separate furs?!
  • Black wool dress (with brown buttons to go under coat)
  • Short toast brown wool jacket (lightweight to wear over dress or separate skirt)
  • Check brown and black skirt
  • Printed silk dress (with brown and white design to be worn with jacket or coat)
  • Toast brown hat, bag and shoes
  • Lighter brown stockings and gloves
  • White gloves, bag and accessories and jacket (warm weather to go with print dress)
This may sound a little dated with matching shoes, hats and gloves but the basic principal is the same (and I want to bring hats and gloves back because it was just so ladylike and chic!?)

As for evening wear - the LBD is the elegant standby and can be worn in so many ways that you will never tire of it and with a little imagination no-one will realise that it is the same frock time and time again. It can be varied by contrasting jackets, jewels, flowers, scarves and shoes until it dies on its feet - one example taken from the book is the following:

A business women who can't spend much on her evening wear but has to entertain for work with a smart set - her solution is one beautifully cut evening dress and several changes of accessories.  The dress is the backdrop for:
  • An emerald green taffeta jacket and slippers
  • Two ruby clips and bracelet to match worn with black slippers and bag
  • Pink chiffon roses and pink chiffon scarf worn with black slippers and bag
  • A gold lame jacket and gold bag with black slippers
If she feels her dress can last another season she will buy a black sequined jacket or some chunky gold jewellery or a belt in the new colour instead.

So with some thought and a little creativity you can look elegant and chic on a budget - think of the French they do it very well with a limited wardrobe but fabulous accessories and most of all keeping it simple and classic.