Saturday, 27 May 2017


For weeks I have been walking around with a screw driver in my hand bag.

I am a zero spender and we live in a rental apartment where we are responsible for everything inside.
The kitchen is fine (not good) but fine. The kitchen cabinet handles are dreadful however. And of course, once I had seen the handles, noticed the handles, decided the handles were dreadful - I could think of nothing else. We needed new handles.
I talked to the man, he wouldn't mind new handles. But the old had to be saved so that if we move out, we can put them back in. (Yes, national rental regulations are very different.)
Of course we do not want to spend money on something we do not own but I had a plan.
I measured the existing handles and especially the distance of the holes in the cabinet doors.
And then I put a screw driver in my pocket.

I had seen that old kitchen and bathroom cabinets were common on the street of large waste collection, sometimes even other days. The cabinets usually still had the handles left on them.
If I had a screwdriver with me, I could rescue - evacuate - liberate - steal - reuse - adopt to a new home - the handles so callously put out on the street by the previous owners.

The daily walks around town now had one eye looking for old cabinets.

They were plenty, with and without handles. Some handles were horrible. Some where non-standard. Some where wonderful but then I did not have the screwdriver with me. Usually when I was far away from home and could not go back for them later.

But then the other day - the handles appeared. The gaudiest, elaborate, standard in size, non-standard in appearance, handles appeared. (I still had to go home for the screwdriver because by now it lived in my hand bag and this day of course I went on the walk with out it).

This is a picture of the old next to the new handles.
There were only three of them but we only needed three for one side of the kitchen.

Personally, I think they are a great improvement although I am not sure that I like them that much.
The man loves them and finds them amusing, hilarious and because they are not at all like anything in our kitchen, the best thing ever.
He now wants six other different sorts of handles the the six remaining kitchen cabinet doors.

I keep the screwdriver in my pocket and keep looking for handles to add to what will, if all goes according to the man's plan, be a very eclectic mix of handles in an otherwise quite standardised kitchen.

The best thing? They can be removed in thirty seconds and changed into something else.

Friday, 19 May 2017

2009 to now

2009 I dreamed.

I dreamed of not being alone.
I dreamed of being financially independent.
I dreamed of having a less demanding job.
I dreamed of being intellectual.

Hopeless, hopeless dreams. It would never happen.
It didn't just happen. Nothing never just happens. Everything takes work and many, many little steps.

I went on-line and went on bad dates. One I almost didn't go on. It almost didn't become anything. The connection almost sank several times. But somehow we managed to keep the relations ship sailing and I am not alone.

I started super-saving, found ERE and worked on the steps. Within five years, I had change my financial lifestyles and had 20 annual budgets in assets. Since then it has only increased.

I was kicked out of my job, I found another, I hated it and I found yet another further down the career path. Less demanding, slightly boring. I changed my life to be more focused on the non-job part of living. I worked hard to get a job that stays within 8 hours of the day. Then I cut it to four days a week.

I started an on-line course at a university in a subject that only interested me and had no value in my work related life. I never mentioned it to friends. I read the literature at night when I was awake with insomnia worrying about my job. I wrote the papers on trains, planes and taxis. I attended on-line seminars from any location and at any time I could wrangle away. The professor was enthusiastic. The following semester I took another of his on-line courses. I later took the full first year course load part time, on-line. Then switched universities to do the second year course (as the first university did not do second year on-line). The third year course was started at a third university that was no good. I dropped it and restarted the third year one year later at a fourth university and I graduated with a bachelor of arts in my chosen subject. The fourth year I struggled with the third university as they were the only ones doing it on-line and worked hard to make them do their job of actually educating. The firth year the same and it is not quite over yet.
Preparations for my masters thesis have been difficult, not to say very difficult, with the third university. 
Today I was confirmed to do my masters thesis as a separate course, on-line, part time at the first university. Although the course does not exist, they will make it happen.

My supervisor and mentor is my first professor.

In his favourite subject. In the subject of the first course I took on the subject of history.

(Different approach, same fascination.)
My entire education is after all his fault, his responsibility, his doing - only fair that he takes this project to the end.

He is also the kindest, most supportive, motivating, patient and most genuine person I think I have ever met. (And no, that is not how you get ahead in academia. But it is how research is kept active.)

Amazing what dreaming and many small steps can create. 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Bought clothes 2017

So far in 2017 I have bought the following pieces of clothing.

2 micro-fibre long sleeved t-shirts
4 standard cotton t-shirts
1 vintage football jersey
2 wool hiking socks
1 blue t-shirt with buttons (trash find)
1 cotton striped long sleeved t-shirt
1 pair of full price original black Levis' 501 jeans

Total amount of money spent: €60
No, that does not add up. Not with a pair of Levis' being €90.

I take surveys on-line and get paid in gift cards which I use in one of my favourite department stores which supplies me with clothes, underwear and hygiene articles.
I also pick up clothes from trash piles, donation boxes and friends. I use the same criteria for those pick-ups as I do when buying in a store. There are more people out there (and with more normal sizes) who will take what will not fit our suit me.

The clothes are black, grey, white, blue, red and beige. (Not entirely according to plan but not far off.)
One is striped horizontally which I have not worn in many years but like. (That is according to plan.)

The bra is complementing, border-lining replacing the bras bought after thorough research in 2015. One is behaving strangely and is worn out. This is the one that has been used the most and treated the worst (hand washing in hotel rooms does not go easy on clothes). The second is still in the running but needed a companion.

My need for t-shirts is by now completely filled up and t-shirts join tank-tops on the list of NO BUY.
But I now have a range of different t-shirts in varied colours and materials for a multitude of uses (pyjama, sport, casual, work, and going out). Long- and short-sleeved, round- and V-necked, extra long as well as normal length. (The extra long t-shirts are worn with a shorter top or sweater, perhaps a top or a sweater that otherwise is too short to wear.)

The jeans replace the pair of black jeans (bought 2009) that I managed to get paint on two months ago when I did project pipes. I used a magic marker for clothing on the stain to be able to use them until I was ready for a new pair. (This pair will be left in the nest to be used as emergency/laundry trousers.) The new pair of jeans will also replace the previous pair of Levis' 501's bought 2010 that I love but any day expect to have my buttocks fall out of (although many and serious mending there really is very few threads left in the bum area). I will have do to a serious inventory of stock of my trousers, but I think I will be fine for the rest of the year. I did after all manage to suit up in office gear some time ago so even if there isn't amount, there sure is versatility available.

I still plan to buy socks (black) this year (but not yet) unless my life-style changes which would probably require some sort of office clothes, but it isn't looking threatening at the moment. I would be fine for the first week though, I have handled party situations with existing clothing and otherwise I don't think I need anything else.

T-shirts go on the no-buy list while socks go on the wish-list, but I will wear out a few more before I buy ten identical new pairs.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Buying clothes in 2017

Having gone through my clothes and discarding quite a bit, I know that I might need to buy (find) clothes during 2017.
Very little clothes have been bought the last five years. I am starting to wear out clothes and reducing the amounts. I went trough everything last year and did an ambitious project trying to wear out the worst which also has reduced the amounts. I now have very little that I do not use.

Reducing my weight a bit, at least temporarily, also has allowed me to dive into the bag with 'thin' clothes (the bag with 'fat' clothes have been used very much lately - sigh.)

I know that there will be a few needs coming up in the clothes section during 2017. Socks is one thing. Pyjama trousers is another. Or maybe I actually don't need anything?
I want to get the right things if I do get something, even if it is from the trash gods, so I have been amusing myself with planning what to buy. So that when or if I buy anything again it will fit with what I have and support my current lifestyle.
I need to consider colours. My wardrobe is quite monochrome and I want colours, that fit me and that fit the rest of the clothes. 

First decision is to stay away from pink, corals and even red. They make me happy to wear but really does not suit me. My pale skin goes ruddy red really quickly. A pink sweater with my blond hair and a ruddy cheeks makes me look like a piece of pork. The reds are also too strong from my lifestyle which is more low energy and low key. They also do not go with work, making me look to much as a fire extinguisher and really clashes with the high-viability vests.

I will also stay away from the blues. Most blues that is. I never wear blue jeans and up until about ten years ago, I never wore blue. Then I found periwinkle, lavender and royal blues. These nuances suit me really well and I can wear it every where. It is really limited to a few very specific blues though. And I have enough, there really isn't anything I need right now.

I love the greens, especially apple, lime and grass green green. They suit me and make me very happy. Not business like though and again the shade of green has to be exactly right or it goes very wrong. Most of my camping and outdoor gear is high-tech hunting gear that comes in florescent orange or forest green. I consequently already have a lot of forest green and really should not add more without joining the forestry service. Or join the army.
Orange is the monarchist colour of the Netherlands and although useful for football, it can only be worn specific days. And I am not an orangist monarchist. Nor do I support their national football team (although they sourly need support the poor sods.)

Yellow in general is not a colour that suits me and I have not worn it much since I left my teens.

So what does that leave me?
Browns,  greys and the beiges.
Check. Got all that.
(And all you artists out there can cringe as much as you want, when it comes to clothing, black and white are indeed colours.)

And patterns. I am left with patterns. 
I think I will attempt to aim for patterns. Something graphic, organic, non descriptive, certainly not text, brand or glitter. No stripes and no checkers unless it is gingham, glenchecks or pepita.
Very difficult but I think that the 1960s, Mary Quant and Mondrian could be inspirations.
I think that the right pattern could sort out the problem with colours.

I also want to look at fabrics. Texture in a garment brings just as much to clothes as the colour and their nuance does. Of course the garment also must be well-fitting, good quality but the fabric and its texture does make a difference. I want to stay away from 100% cotton, but rather aim for wool, silk, viscose or new high technical function materials that dry quickly and never smells. But they can not make me look like a hunter, camper, hiker or hobo. Still the garment must be something that enables me to go to a fancy restaurant if I want to without changing.

Combining these requirement, and within my budget (as low as possible and possible for nothing) should fulfil my goal for clothes.
It would give me clothes that I can wear for a very long time with minimum annoyance. 

It could possibly lead to a situation where I get NOTHING new at all.
That could be fine too.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


We have counted and calculated our use of coffee.
Four packages of coffee, 500 gr, lasts us about three months, when we work.
This means that we use 12 packages of coffee a year, say 15 just to even it out.
15 packages of coffee cost us about €75.
Add to that about four pots of instant coffee through the year, say five to give margins.
That costs us about €20.
The rest of the coffee we drink is paid for by our respective offices or client.

We probably only go out for coffee once a month at home. Add generously speaking €10 per café visit a month (always with cake!), that makes another total €120 in a year. Just for café visits.
We never buy take-out-coffee unless we travel, and even then we sit and drink our coffee like civilized people.

Actually when travelling, take out coffee can be a relatively large part of our travel budget (buying coffee 24 times in 28 days). When hiking and camping though, we have the camping cooker with us, and always make morning coffee in the tent or drink it standing at the espresso bar to keep the price low.

Adding up, this would make an annual budget of €215 just for coffee. Minimum.
Out of which 55% minimum could be coffee in a café. With cake.
Those are horrific numbers!
If we also would have paid for take-out-coffee, the amount of money (AND calories) for just coffee would have sky-rocketed. We much rather save that money and spend it doing something we will remember.

These are the numbers we use when making the decision whether to have coffee immediately or to go home first and drink it there. Or go without.
(We drink tea, and a lot of other things too, but that is not coffee.)

How much do you spend a month on take-out-coffee?

Saturday, 6 May 2017


I own a pair of much loved, much cherished and very imposing brass pricket candlesticks.

Pricket candle sticks means that they can only be used with church candles (the ones with a hole in the bottom).

I bought them in 2002 from the police when they sold stolen items where the owner could not be identified. So I do not know where they come from but I know they have been stolen. They are now mine until somebody with a better claim comes along.

The candlesticks are very HEAVY, 8 kg each and made from brass. They are almost half a metre high and with a base plate of 0,4 metre and a top plate (to catch the dripping candle wax) about 0,3 metre wide. They dominate any room and I love them.

They look like they could be made in the 16th or early 17th century and they look Flemish or German (Nuremberg) but then not quite. They could sit on a kings table or a catholic church altar but not quite. Not everything is right.

Since they became mine, I have spent a lot of researching and reading books on historic candlestick designs and metal works. I can identify any kind of European metal candlestick at a glance - except my own. They are unidentifiable and this has possessed my mind for close to ten years.

Yesterday they were identified by an expert. The most adorable little man with white hair and a bushy moustache and with extreme knowledge, he knew immediately what they were
- and what they were not.

My candle sticks are not 15th century and they are not 16th century.
They are also not 17th century.
However, they have something from each period, different styles are combined, making them resembling various 16th century candlesticks style without being copies or anything.
They are definitely made in the early 19th century.
Further than that, it is not possible to identify them.
But he loved them too.

He also made clear that they are most probably not made for any kind of religious community (although there are very similar candlesticks in my favourite synagogue - where I go for the music, and they let me in, pagan as I am, because they are good people and because good people do not care about a persons religion but their actions - but I digress....)

Anyway, they are valued to 600-800 € the pair, not more.
It is sad they are not from my favourite historical period but it also means that I now can use them, admire them, display them and be proud of them.

They are mine and nobody can or will take them away from me. 
I also do not need to add to my home insurance or donate them to a museum or even write a monograph about their history so that they are not forgotten in art history.

I can just love them and finally show them off.
(Banana for scale.)

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


One of my short term ambitions from March 2017 was to have a month without alcohol.
It was one of the easiest promises ever.
Except that I didn't quite make it.
During the month I had wine with a very special dinner with good friends. So I cheated.
It was worth it.

I didn't drink anything else that month. I still consider that ambition reached.
At the very last day of the month, I also went to that fancy party with free bar.
Just my kind of thing.
I still only managed two glasses of wine because of the bad coughing.
Good wine though.

At the end of the 30 days, we decided that the ambitions were done with and we bought wine for a weekend dinner.
Unfortunately the wine wasn't great. I didn't drink much of the bottle.
Some went into a sauce a few days after.

Since then, the weather is also cold, and although there is now both wine and beer in the house, we have not drunk it. I am now going past six weeks of the initiation of the ambitions and so far nothing more has been drunk. Warmer weather is coming though and normal routines will be resumed.

The best is that with this short term ambitions, we have managed removed or at least reduced the casual, conventional, routinely, repetitive drinking of wine with dinner or weekend.
It might come back, but it has been good to change the pattern.

I think the man misses his drink, he has a small whiskey occasionally.
Me, I am Viking. There is a different attitude to drink in my culture. 
I drink at parties and to get drunk.
If there is no party or I can't be drunk: I don't see the point in alcoholic drink. It really has to be good or I will not drink it.

So by now, with age and different lifestyle, I of course get drunk very quickly.
It is not pretty.
I want to listen to Lordi (try this Youtube if you dare) or ABBA, Kim Larsen or even A-ha. (But by then it is really time to go home).