On Pulling Your Head Out Of The Sand

I am very good at making plans, less so at following through on them. This weekend I’ve forced myself to confront a few things that I’ve long fingered for far too long, For years I’ve made vague promises to myself to get more organised about my finances. I’ve tiptoed around these promises for too long, but actually taking action took hardly any time at all.

Likewise, despite my efforts at decluttering and living with less stuff still means more to me than it should. This is loosely linked to my finances, as I have a fear that I’ll get rid of something that might be worth something some day (I blame the Antiques Roadshow) or that I’ll end up needing to replace something I gave away. Last weekend and this I’ve tackled this ongoing life project head on. We have a new baby on the way and I need to sort through mounds of stuff. I gave away a lot before we moved house but there’s still a lot left to sift through.

I’m getting more and more ruthless with the stuff though. Things I know I wasn’t wildly happy with the first two times have been donated or recycled. I’ve used a zero waste Facebook group to pass on things I haven’t needed. One plus is that I took a leaf out of The Frugalwoods and decided to see if, like me, people were looking to pass along unwanted baby stuff and a baby carrier was mine within hours and arrived in the post today. I have done and will pay the generosity forward.

The battle of the stuff and the finances continues. Taking the first few steps is immensely satisfying though.

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On Pulling Your Head Out Of The Sand

Growing It Ourselves

Last year I bought a packet of tomato seeds on a whim and planted some seeds in some old plastic plant pots and to my astonishment they all grew into robust plants which we then planted in what was euphemistically called a water feature, something we filled into with three tons of stone and topsoil a couple of weeks after we moved in. To increasing astonishment, the plants continued to thrive and even grew some tomatoes. The tomatoes stayed green, I looked up recipes for green tomato pickles and filled some jars with green yumminess.

This year we decided to branch out a little and try a few more seeds. We’ve reused all the pots from last years endeavours and filled more that we found hiding in our shed and under various shrubs in our garden. Along with the veggies, we’re trying some flowers this time. The only big expense has been a new set of metal shelves for our kitchen to keep everything tidy and easily accessible for watering and monitoring purposes.

Tomatoes, mangetout, aubergine and basil are all sprouting. We got lazy and didn’t label the flower seeds but they’re sprouting too. We’re getting hopeful that we might enjoy one full plate of veggies grown by our fair hands, which we could enjoy while admiring our home grown flowers.

Starting a veggie patch was one of our plans for the garden when we bought the house. I’m really glad we’ve decided to do something about it this year, and we’ve already learned a few things from the process. Next year we’ll definitely plan and research a bit more during the cold months and prepare a bit earlier. But this process is definitely better late than never.

Growing It Ourselves

Consumption, 2018 Edition.

I must have been feeling the same way I do today this time last year, as on 2 January I wrote about consumption, something I’m pondering again today.

Last year, I did reduce consumption. I used up the shampoos I had, even if I didn’t really like them, and then bought a single shampoo bar which lasted months. I used up skincare products and when they were gone I started on The Ordinary range, which I love. I bought no new clothes for our summer holiday, having discovered many bikinis I had forgotten about and being content with well worn summer outfits from years gone by. I bought few new clothes overall, and made a determined effort to make do before I realised I had to buy something.

We reduced our food waste and I reduced my spending on food at work. I got more organised about bringing lunches (and breakfasts, dinners and snacks when required) with me to the office, toting them in a free bag I got when I made a complaint to a company. We ate out less, but did spend a lot on two spectacular meals at Heron and Grey without any regret. We’ve joined the waiting list for this year. I made great use of a travel mug for coffees at my desk and the occasional takeaway treat.

I’m still a work in progress. December wasn’t a restrained month in any way, and I do feel some of the money, time and effort was wasted. However, I’m quite pleased with the direction in which I’m going and where we’re headed as a couple for the year. I’m not the only one who’s thinking about their shopping habits, as this New York Times piece shows.

Next on the list for a review is my consumption of daily events significant and minor. There is TOO MUCH.

Consumption, 2018 Edition.

Most of Our Furniture Comes From Ikea…

…so this year we decided to get our Christmas tree there. We both had a day off work so off we trotted for breakfast rolls, free coffee and a bargain tree. I can recommend the trees. There were a lot to choose from, and given my not-very-satisfactory grasp of spacial relations the final selection was delegated to himself. For €30 we got a beautifully bushy tree and a voucher for €20 to spend in February. I’ll probably replace our wooden chopping boards with bamboo ones which are narrower.

Most of Our Furniture Comes From Ikea…

Zero Waste, Low Cost Haircare.

My no shampoo experiment ended with the purchase of a shampoo  bar from Lush, which I purchased in April. I bought a replacement last week, so my grand total spend on haircare this year was under €20, excluding the couple of haircuts I got in a local salon. I’ve been pretty happy with the shampoo bar approach. It isn’t perfect but for now it’s a an easy and relatively low cost zero waste solution.

In an attempt to free up some time and money, himself bought this hair clipper set some months ago. I’ve been honing my barbering skills and so far my one customer is pretty happy, plus he’s not wasting time on a Saturday waiting in line when we could be drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. The set came with a scissors and I agreed to let him have a go cutting my hair. So far, so good and I’ve been trimming my fringe myself whenever it gets long enough to annoy me.

I know we’re not saving vast amounts of money and time, but it’s been nice to learn some new skills and work as a team. A weird level of trust develops when you’re willing to let an intimate partner do your hair. It’s not perfect, but its Good Enough and that’s fine by me.

Zero Waste, Low Cost Haircare.

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

Being Prepared

Today was my first day back at work after almost a month. I’m also setting myself a little challenge of bringing my lunch to work every day and only drinking my own coffee there too for this month. I was really looking forward to that coffee during my commute, only to find I had finished the last bag before I left in July and I didn’t have a back up. Thankfully, work today wasn’t too taxing and I made it through the day sans caffeine. I’ve already stashed a packet of coffee in my work bag for tomorrow. Coffee is an essential for me, and being a bit more prepared changes a day from being merely tolerable to good or even excellent.

Being Prepared