Monday, 16 January 2017

Project Pipes

The previous weekend I spent an unproportional amount of time in the shower room.

First I cut my hair which took about an hour and a half and came out fine although possibly a little short. I really need to remember that to cut it at the length I want it, will make the hair end up being about a centimeter to short when it is finished. Remember. Remember.
(At the moment and in unflattering conditions, I look like I put a pot on my head and cut after the edge. I did not and I insist on flattering conditions! I will spend most of the week wearing a helmet anyway so it will have time to grow.

Then I started project Pipe. Not great timing since I am away for a week or so, but at least the project has been moved from dream via plan to first part of the project.

Project Pipe is the second part of the project to paint all our heating pipes, covering the shower room.
We live in an old house and the heating pipes all run outside the walls, very visibly. Since it has been at least twenty years since they wast were painted, the paint is chipping, cracking, oxidizing and changing colour. The radiators grow yellow and start rusting.
The project part shower room  insists of scraping/sandpapering, cleaning and scrubbing the pipes and the radiator and then painting them with radiator paint we bought for the first part of the project when w painted the kitchen last year. (I'll see if I can find the link.)

Actually, we have everything needed for the project already in the house and the only thing needed is inspiration and and hours work. It will probably need three layers of paint and each task takes about but less than an hour.

I started the project the day before I go away for a week.

Do you have half-finished projects waiting for your time too?

Sunday, 15 January 2017


The man made me a tea drinker.
I do not think I had drunk twenty cups of tea before I met him.
At least not outside England. Where a cup of tea is not only a liquid, but also a remedy, a psychologist or a teddy bear.

Now we drink tea in the afternoon, herbal tea in the early evening and camomile tea before we go to bed. That is a lot of tea and all of it is a liquid. Except the camomile tea, that is a remedy against insomnia.

I got two huge white tea mugs with an apartment I once moved into, and we use them everyday. Most days they get cleaned in between, some days we just keep adding tea to them during the day.

We share a tea bag between us if we drink the same kind of tea at the same time.
Otherwise the tea bag is saved on a little plate by the electric kettle for the next use.
Easily, there are four cups of tea from a tea bag.
We mostly keep one black, one green, one mint and sometimes one rooibos box of tea in the house at the same time. As well as the all important, even essential, camomile tea.

Although camomile tea needs to be strong to do anything. Every bag is strictly two cups, one use.

A twenty pack box of our favorite kinds of tea last us about a month.
I estimate we spend about €2 on tea every month. One for him and one for me.
We pay for it through our bucket-budget.

Thursday, 12 January 2017


Advice on saving and careful spending can come from the most surprising sources.

A good but most surprising surprising source recently was Vogue. Yes, Vogue.
I came across an old copy of the British edition of the July 2016 issue in a local free book case.
I love haute couture avant-garde fashion, design, sewing skills and fabrics and I devour fashion magazines for adventurous clothing with concentration when I come across them (no, not a chance I will pay for the magazines. They are so easily available after a few months it is no point buying them new if you are not in the industry - and then the cost should be carried as a company expence.)

On page 65 was the article How to shop smart by Sarah Harris. Some of the advice are contradictory to other advice and all are not written in a way that makes sense, but here are a few that I found inspirational for shopping (only slightly textually modified;  Sorry Sarah Harris, different media, you know) :

- There is little point in buying a red sweater if you will not wear it.
- Check your wardrobe before clothes shopping (think shopping list for groceries).
- Never layer clothes on hangers in your wardrobe so you can see what you have.
- Identify what you need and if you really do not have anything already that serves a same or  similar purpose.
- Do not buy dry-clean only clothes if you are on a budget. Don't even buy hand-wash only if you are lazy.
- Always find pieces you like the design, fabric, colour of before looking at the price-tag (to develop your taste and your style. Remember the out-of budget style for cheaper shops.).
- Always check the price-tag before trying anything on. Never try anything on that is outside your budget.
- Consider the cost-per-wear when shopping but if you are not going to wear it in the end, even the cheapest item is expensive, so only buy what makes you happy.
- Never spend a great deal of money on a white T-shirt, spend less and replenish more frequently instead. This is not an item bought for longevity.
- Always bring two or three sizes of the same item into the changing room and try them on without looking on the size on the label. You may prefer the fit of the one you weren't expecting (and fit is everything)!
- Pay with cash not credit cards. You will find notes harder to part with.
- Make a list of all clothes bought - it will force you to remember the failures and to identify need that have already been fulfilled.
- Never buy anything that does not fit thinking you will slim down into it. If you are not going to wear it now, you do not need it now.

And all these advice combined - is the reason why I never buy haute couture avant-garde fashion.
It does me not stop me from enjoying it though.
The man and I sometimes dress up to the teeth and go browsing the high-end fashion shops for inspiration (and the following price chock). 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017


I would like to have a nice pair of headphones.
Something small, something reliable, something durable.
It will take a very long time before I will be on the market for a nice pair of headphones.

I wear a pair of head phones while working. Both because I work through an on-line based system where the audio is vastly improved through headphones, and because I also listen to  talk radio, audio books, TV shows and sometimes music streamed through my computer.

I never listen to anything when I am outside (preferring the sounds of traffic, people or birds around me). I also rarely music on my phone, and then usually only a song or two.

The main reason why it will take a very long time before I will be on the market for a nice pair of head phones is that I already have hands full of head phones. Many many years ago, I travelled on trains and planes where they would provide you with a complimentary pair of head phones. Small, slim and one use only.
As a conscientious environmentalist I could not contribute to that, so I always took mine with me.

I ended up with more than twenty pairs of head phones until that nonsense stopped (and people had to pay for head phones or bring their own).
As I am not a minimalist, I have held on to them and used them, one after another, since then. They last about a year the way I use them.
Yesterday I broke yet another pair. Yet another little bundle of cord and microphones went into the electronic waste collection pile we have.

When I inventoried the storage of head phones however, it turned out, that I do not have hands full of head phones any longer.  I have two. One pair from the stock of free head phones and one pair from an old phone that works on the computer too.

So in less than two years, I might be on the market for a nice pair of head phones.

Monday, 9 January 2017


Just like last year, we are planning an adventure this year.
Something we will need to prepare for, something we need to save for, something that will be a fantastic experience while we do it and something we can look back on in the years that comes and think: Oh yes, 2017, right - that was the year we did that!

Something that beaks up the monotony of the regular life.
Something we can do because we have saved and prepared and planned for our lives to be independent, free, and with a frugal lifestyle.
Something we PAY for by not indulging ourselves, by not buying anything, by never wasting food (ehrm), never eating out, never a lot of things, and don't you dare pretend you can not do the same, if you really put your mind to it and really wanted it! But your dreams may be different than mine.

Our planning has been going on for several weeks if not months.
Our dreaming has been going on for years.
It was probably the first thing we talked about doing together when we met. I was then just going there for work and the man had just been there on vacation.

The planets, stars and clients have now finally aligned.
We have a month available for adventures in February. I will continue to work my 4 days a week, possibly with a vacation day a week. My bosses and projects do not - for a while - care where I am as long as I can get online for my work assignments. The man who just ended one project and has another one contracted for a month later. This ensures the financial continuance of our frugal lifestyle but there will also be reductions in the monthly spending and some use of savings.

The adventure includes culture, food, museums, books, water, hills, history, language studies, art, cooking, outdoor activities and much warmer weather than in either of our counties in February.
We might double our spending for a month but the result will be unforgettable.

We have just rented an apartment in Lisbon for a month and booked the flights.

Sunday, 8 January 2017


I am ashamed and astonished - no, astonished, surprised and a little ashamed,
No, I mean, astonished, surprised and disappointed.
I am not angry. I am disappointed.

I found half a dead cucumber in the veggie drawer of the fridge today.
We never buy cucumbers in the winter.

And if we, as we don't, buy cucumbers in the winter, we always eat them immediately.
We never leave a piece to die unnoticed in the veggie drawer of the fridge.
We eat what we buy.
We don't waste food. We never let food go to waste.
We don't throw out food. 
That is not who we are.

(looking sternly at the man who licks his lips remembering the cucumber dish he made for his lunch during the holidays...)

Ceremoniously throws mouldy, rotten, liquidy part of a cucumber in the trash while humming a funeral march not especially softly.

Tuts loudly.

Friday, 6 January 2017


I changed my toothbrush yesterday.

It had not quite reached its three month mark, nor was it worn out even though I always buy the cheapest possible SOFT toothbrush available.
(Your gums will thank you for using a soft toothbrush.)

However, after a week with a snooty cold and the subsequent slow recovery, a new toothbrush is an easy step to better healt.

I suppose I could clean it and boil it to sanitize it but not even I have gone that far yet.
(and it may not be entirely safe either so it is not an advice)

Not when a toothbrush cost less than €1 (budgeted at €4/year), I have environmentally good waste treatment systems with energy recovery available for both the old and the packaging of the new one, and the only aspect I have not yet solved is the environmental and work environmental impact of the production of the toothbrush itself.
But I will work on that.
When I get back to work.
When I am cured from my cold.

And a new toothbrush will help.

I bought a yellow toothbrush. Vividly remembering one of the inmates who when I worked maximum penitentiary, told me choosing the colour of the new toothbrush was one of the few choices available to him that could make him happy. So he took his time and chose carefully - every time.