Tiny Sparks of Joy

Relegating things to the attic after being slightly irritated by them for months.

Taking some action on repeal of the eighth amendment, albeit small.

Minimalism v Reality in the New York Times. A few months old but relevant to me now.

The Lam family, photographed over several years. Even though I don’t live in a small space, I’m intrigued by those who do and how they do it.

Making some New Year’s resolutions which are achievable, like saving a little more and exercising a little more.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Tiny Sparks of (New Year) Joy

Having the house back to non-Christmas normality. I was a little sad to say goodbye to our tree but it went off to recycling this afternoon.

Making resolutions which are realistic and which I’m confident I can stick to.

Organising and cleaning the fridge in preparation for a frugal January. We have a lot of food, we just need to change our mindset a little.

Black Mirror on Netflix. We’re a little backwards-having just finished season 4 we’ll now tackle season one. Piggate here we come.

Shredding documents whose relevance expired on 31 December. Always satisfying.

Tiny Sparks of (New Year) Joy

Tiny Sparks of Joy

New wooden decorations from a company recommended to my by a zero waste fan. I want almost everything on MindfulandMaking.

Finishing library books and remembering how much I loved my twice weekly visits to the same library when I was a child.

An advent calendar stashed away for opening on 1 December.

Plans for every weekend from next week until Christmas. Plans in general make me feel better, as I realised in yesterday’s post.

Finding that tomorrow really is another day, and being very thankful that things have picked up somewhat since Thursday.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

This One Is Actually About Budgets-Part 1

I became slightly addicted to reading personal finance blogs over the summer, in particular http://www.frugalwoods.com/. I don’t have a lot in common with many of them, in that neither I nor my husband have a huge desire to retire early and travel the world or live on a homestead, but I have been thinking about money and independence and what those two things mean to me and to my husband and to us as a couple.

I have never been great with money. I only ever managed to save with a very specific goal in mind and I love stuff. In college, I had the enormous privilege of:

  1. Living at home.
  2. Having tuition free education, something I am thankful for every single day.
  3. A great, well paid part-time job that I was easily able to fit around my college schedule.
  4. Good health, enabling me to juggle numbers 2 and 3.
  5. Not having to worry about bills, food and paying rent, another thing I am thankful for every day-the money I earned from my job and fairly regular babysitting for a family down the road was all mine.

My best friend worked close by and we’d work all summer, saving as much as we could, then we’d go to London for a week and blow most of it on clothes, having a good time and letting our hair down before resuming our studies. Again, this is something I am really, really thankful for and I couldn’t have asked for more from my parents who facilitated me being able to do this.

When I was in college, the Government of the day set up a crazy good savings scheme, the SSIA. It was a no-brainer, you got an extra 25% when you saved into these accounts. I set one up and when I started a ‘proper’ job after graduation I upped the payments. I did not save much beyond this, but I was still living at home with minimal bills. This was the heady days of the peak of the Celtic Tiger and the madness of this time is best illustrated by the fact that I was able to buy a house, with the assistance of my parents (have you realised how amazing they are yet? I thank them every day, in my head at least, for the privileged start I’ve had in life) despite:

  1. Having just graduated and not having a long track record of working.
  2. Having only the savings I had managed during college.
  3. Having no lump sum in a deposit account.

So here I was, 23 years of age, a home owner who had never really had to plan her spending, save and budget with a long term goal in mind or be responsible for all the bills that come with running any household but especially being a homeowner. And I continued to like All The Things. Stuff was my friend and while I was never a candidate for a show about hoarding I was a very good consumer.

Looking back, I don’t know how the process of buying a house didn’t change my mindset around finances. I mean, you’d think if anything would signing up for a 40 mortgage would. But no, there are more tales to tell.


This One Is Actually About Budgets-Part 1

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Pulling out the slow cooker for the first time in months, which meant coming home to dinner even though I was out all afternoon.

An unexpected extra 45 minutes before I had to leave the house today.

The red bricks on the front of our house in the September sunshine.

New to me Chalet School books arriving in the post.

Two gym sessions down this week, and another planned for Friday.

Catching up with two friends I don’t get to see half as much as I’d like.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Organising our filing system. By system, I mean the drawer wherein resides the Important Stuff we need to hang onto. Shredding is immensely satisfying.

Making six eggs stretch to cover baking, tea time sandwiches, lunch time fritters and breakfast pancakes. I’m determined to empty our fridge before we do more food shopping.

Hibernating in the house today and having a relaxing time of it, in between the various jobs we’ve meant to do for ages, like sorting out our attic which is currently our laundry room.

A week off work. Planning on some gym time, working on the photo books I’ve told myself to get going on and leisurely coffees with a book.

Knowing another unabridged Chalet School book is on the way. The collection nears ever closer to completion.

Tiny Sparks of Joy

Starting Somewhere

We have a lot of photos. There are photos everywhere, on phones, on old SD cards, on current SD cards, in WhatsApp and Instagram accounts….there are too many to ever look at again, duplicates beyond count, many blurry images and many that spark no memories whatsoever – I have literally no idea who I’ve been photographed sitting next to at a college ball a decade and a half ago.

Last year, immediately following our holiday in France I made up a photo book, tweaked it a bit, left it sitting in the saved folder of the photo book company until I got a discount code that made it affordable enough, ordered it and that was our Christmas gift to each other. We’ve looked at it several time since and I’ve told myself one day I would eventually start organising our current holiday snaps.

Yesterday we had a rare weekday off together and the huge box of photos that had haunted and taunted me for months was taken down, dusted off and sorted out. I was a bit more clinical, a bit more ruthless and the main priority was getting the photos into some of the albums we had and getting rid of more and generally starting somewhere. I was inspired a little by this post from Erin Boyle of Reading My Tea leaves, in that in a world where we’re swamped by the photos we take the best plan is to Start Somewhere.

So we’ve started, and today I continued and there’s a half finished photo book for this years holiday lurking in the depths of a Snapfish account. I’m happy that at least its half finished, instead of never started.

Starting Somewhere