Friday, 23 March 2018

Free bed

The primary reason why we started thinking of Project Bedroom was that we needed a new mattress. The one bought when we first met (always start a new relationship with a new mattress) has been falling to pieces. Crap quality, we thought.

Then somebody came up with the idea to call the manufacturer to complain.
The mattress was after all only eight years old.

The manufacturer is our new favourite provider of household goods.
They have come up trumps!
We get a new bed!
(Equivalent in price to the amount of money paid back in 2010. Conditions apply.)
If what we choose is cheaper, we get the rest of the money to use for something else in their emporium.

All we have to do is to cycle out to their large storage shop outside town and go through all the options. Thankfully there are lots of options and designs any Scandi like me will appreciate (in restricted dosage).

Thank you IKEA, we didn't think it was possible.
Truly above and beyond customer service.
Worthy of a mention by name you are!

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Paints & Varnishes

There has been an inventory made of all the remaining paints and varnishes in the house.
The inventory took weeks to prepare and about five minutes to do.

We have the following.
Wall paint: white, dark grey, red and blue.
Glossy paint: white and black with a small jar of white radiator paint.
Dark oak wood stain.
High gloss varnish.
Hobby sized jar of golden paint.

Just to be completely complete with all paints in the house there are also
Nail polish in gold, orange, red, blue and clear, as well as
Oil paint for canvas in white and black.

The white and red wall paint will be used in Project bedroom whenever we get around to it.
Not re-decorating.
We will just re-paint it exactly as it is today with the left over paints from Project kitchen and the red left over paint from when the bedroom was painted the last time (thirteen years ago?).

Monday, 19 March 2018

One year ago

What a difference a year makes... (sung with the voice of Dinah Washington).

A year and a week ago we came home after living a month in Lisbon.
A year ago we came up from bed after both having suffered a bad cold.
We learnt so much about Portugal and Lisbon, about ourselves and each other during the trip.
We changed, evolved and let go of nonsensical ambitions.

When home, we set up a number of short-term ambitions. It is high time to assess what happened.

Alcohol - the ambition was to avoid alcohol for a month. I do not think that really happened. I drink wine most weeks (about five glasses in total) so it does add up over the year. There was a white month in January of 2018 that probably lasted longer than the ambition of March 2017.

Meat - the ambition was to not eat meat for a month and this ambition has had a lot more staying power. We eat very little meat these days. Perhaps twice a month for the man and less for me. This also excludes fish and seafood. Otherwise it is vegetarian food completely. (We are not going vegan.)

Daily walk - the daily walk routine continues but has been complemented with ten minutes of morning belly exercises. All mornings since then actually. I am still making attempts of running and weekend cycling trips. The subsequent weight loss of 2017 has made the increased physical activities more enjoyable.

Buy-ban - I apparently attempted a total buy-ban between March and June 2017. I have no memory of this. That is often the problem with ambitions. They are so easily said and equally easily forgotten.

New job - nope, didn't do that. Sent some applications, attempted some interviews but nothing very ambitiously or passionately. Hanging in with the old job (because what I do is good) hoping administration will stop hindering me from doing my job.

Stay close to the man - this is another of the ambitions that had staying power. I learnt in Lisbon that is does not matter much where I am or how I live. As long as the man is around. The more the better. The closer the better. Shoulder to shoulder 24/7 is good. For a hard-nosed fifty (almost) year old woman with an independent personality, it came as quite a surprise. The man is even more shocked. Thankfully he has the corresponding ambition (or things could become awkward).

Have you achieved your ambitions from a year ago?

Saturday, 17 March 2018


I am trying to wear all my clothes during March 2018 - or at least as many of them as possible.
Yesterday, I dressed up in a white shirt with a little cardigan for work. I creamed my hands in front of the mirror. I took a sip out of my coffee cup.
I dropped the rest of the coffee cup onto my white shirt.

Mumbling lots of bad words, I took off the white shirt, rinsed it and dumped it into water with oxy. I took out a new white shirt out of the wardrobe and went to work.
By lunch I noticed that something had dripped onto shirt number two.
Not very noticeable but still a clear stain.
Shirt number two replaced shirt number one in the bucket of oxy when I came home.

I put on my pyjama top.
In the sofa, I took a sip out of my red wine glass.
The rest, I dropped onto myself, the sofa, the blanket, the white pillow, the floor and the man.

Emergency protocol immediately activated.
Paper, towels, salt, hot water, vacuum on the sofa by the man while I soaked as much as possible of the wine into my clothes before I got out of the sofa. While I try to peal the white pillow case from the feather filled inner pillow, I keep the man with clean towels to focus on the sofa and I dump jeans, underwear, socks, sweater, t-shirt, blanket and everything else in the buckets of water.

While replacing shirt number two with the pillowcase in the bucket of oxy, I slip, fall and hurt my knee and foot. Bleeding I hobble around until everything wine soaked is under control and doesn't risk staining more than the sofa. The foot is roughly bound up when there is nothing more important to do.

A proper slapstick silent movie it was.

By now I have run out of apologies for staining his beloved sofas (thank heavens they are excellent quality and deep red in colour so should not show stains too much).
He is bored with assuring me he is not upset with me.
I am upset with me.

Today I am vacuum salt from everything and doing double laundry.
Hopefully almost everything will come out without much stain to the characters.
Except me. I will be drinking wine inside bin bag in the future. 

Friday, 16 March 2018

Project Bedroom

There is a new project brewing in the pipeline.

Through Project Closet and its eventual closure, several new skills were rediscovered and learned.
Plastering, cleaning and painting ceilings and walls is not difficult. It is just heavy work.
It takes time. It requires to clear out the space where the work is going on which will mess up other areas of the house - because we really do not have any extra space for store things that must come out of the work area. But it is not difficult.
We know how to do it and with a little more practice, we can probably do it really well and possibly even as well as a professional. Not as quickly, but with the same end result.

Laying a floor using click-floor boards is not difficult.
The man knows how to do it. He feels confident in how to do it. We have accessed the tools needed and we can use them. Having laid one floor on his own, has given him the ability to do another, even if it is bigger and more visible. That is the confidence of experience. I have also gained the confidence of his experience. If he can do it, so can I. If I can, so can you.
Not quickly, and not without having to work hard at doing it. But it is possible.
By doing it ourselves we can keep the costs down and the flexibility for when the work is done, up.

We need a new mattress and we want a longer bed.
To buy a new mattress without buying a longer bed is not an option.
We should have a 210 cm long mattress (we are both very tall).
If we change our bed, there is no other alternative than to solve all issues at the same time.
When a 2,10 metre long bed goes in into our tiny bedroom, it is never coming out again.
So a new floor need to be put in first.
We have a vague shared idea of the type of flooring we want.
Before the new floor goes in, however the ceiling and the walls desperately need a new coat of paint.
The radiator and all piping will be painted at the same time.

New bed, new mattress, new sheets, new floor, new paint.
All in one go.
Everything except the bed must be in the house before the work starts.

My large wardrobe must also be emptied, dismantled, moved out and stored in the office else while the work is being done, and to make it possible to fit the new bed in.
To paint the walls the wall-hung shelf must also be emptied and taken down and found a place for. Curtains taken down and folded up somewhere.
The old bed must be broken up and either moved out of the house to be picked up by the city on the special large garbage collection day - or, stored somewhere until we can use the pieces to build side tables from. Only when the old bed is out, can we take the old carpeting and under flooring out.
I get tired just thinking about it. 

From then on and until the work is finished, we will have to sleep on the floor. In the living room - but there are no blinds there? The office is very small and will have a wardrobe in it.
The kitchen is not big enough. The hallway - could that be possible? Could we sleep in the hallway?
There are no other options.

The preparations and the planning will be long and elaborate.
The work itself will hopefully take a week at the most but it will be hard work.
And it will not be done now.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018


Joe Orton, enfant terrible of  British theatre in the 1960’s.
The murdered friend from a normally dysfunctional family.
A product of his family history, his culture and his time.
Ambition, talent, persistence, personality made him.
Surroundings stopped him.

Read John Lahr’s biography of Joe Orton;  Prick up your ears.
See the movie with the same name with Gary Oldman for an excellent but sadly fragmented story.
Read the plays. Read them out loud to hear the drama and the dialogue.

We saw Entertaining Mr Sloane performed by our neighbourhood dramatic society this weekend.

I thought the play would be too set in the problems of its time, a time long gone by, to be enjoyable.
The play covers blatant racism, active death penalty, homosexuality, illegal abortions, sexuality, immorality, domestic violence, oppression, social and psychological control and references to rife abuse of every kind of vulnerable persons.
I think I was expecting something more like How to kill a Mockingbird.

The play travels time and space very well.
Possibly because the societal moral changes have not been as large as the societal legal changes since then. In some countries there have been no changes neither in the laws or the social morality since the 1960's
The play is therefore as current as in the north of England in 1964.

And whatever some may think, that is not a good thing.

The four actors performed it well, at least the second half when the nerves came under control. It was odd to have it performed in Irish English (I kept expecting Molly Bloom from Dublin to walk in at any time) but the English speaking dramatic society of the Netherlands will have to take what they can get. At least almost all of them spoke in a similar Irish dialect. 

Sunday, 11 March 2018


In the inventory of my shoes I made in July 2016, I owned 17 pairs of shoes and varying kinds of feet wear.
I noticed when looking into how many inlay soles I had, that some came from shoes now dead.
Clearly a sign that a new shoe inventory is needed.

Today I own:
1 pair of flip-flops (used for camping only)
2 pairs of indoor slippers (the same sheep skin slippers, mended and mended again with a spare pair still in storage)
3 pairs of sandals (one for the balcony, one hiking sandals, and one beloved city sandals. The nice-pair-but-not-for-walking have been donated.)
3 pairs of nice lady-office shoes (used only when dressing up)
2 pairs of sports shoes (one to run in and one for summer hiking)
1 pair of hiking boots
1 pair of winter boots

That means I currently have 13 pairs of foot ware (of which at least nine are in continuous use).

The previously owned rain boots were one day taken out to use in the rain. I found out that they had died the rubber death. Completely eaten up by themselves and useless. Nothing I should hold on.

Again de-cluttering made simple by the device: Don't buy anything and break stuff.

How many pairs of shoes do you have? Have any of them died while not being used?

Saturday, 10 March 2018


Travelling need to be easy to be enjoyable.
Keeping luggage light is an important part.
(What you pack, you have to be able to move.)

This week I might have reduced it too far. This was my toilet bag.

Toothbrush with a head cover, tooth paste, compact deodorant spray, eye cream, and box for lenses with liquid. I only brought the minimum as I thought the hotel would provide me with soap, shampoo and skin lotion.
I take all those things home after a hotel stay anyway and this time I thought I would just use it there. (Normally I end up bringing my own and travelling home with two sets of everything.) 

There was only one flaw in the plan.
This specific hotel did not provide skin lotion.
Eye cream was used all over the faced.
This hotel also did not provide conditioner. I didn't think I needed it, I normally don't use it very often. The quality of the water, dry winter weather combined with continuous hard-hat wearing days made me long for a conditioning rinse in the evenings. As I didn't have skin lotion I could not even make my own over night conditioner. (Dilute and leave in, wash normally in the morning. Put hard-hat on. Bingo! Gorgeous!!!)

I was happy coming back home to the man yesterday, leaving snow storms, freezing cold sleet under deep snow behind me.
I also left some very successful work meetings and relations behind who were teaching me almost as much as I tough them.
When I get to do what I do for work, I really do like what I do.
I am very very good (in my extreme niche position.)

Saturday, 3 March 2018

March 2018 - Clothes

The aim is to go through all clothes I own, use as much as possible, at least try the rest on for fit and only only put back the items that actually fits.
The clothes that don't fit because they are to big or too small will go into bags for "fat-clothes" or "slim-clothes". (These are not nice names, but I am not nice and you all know what I mean. We all have them.) The goal is that at the end of the month I will have no clothes in the wardrobe that currently does not fit.
Hopefully something will be left - but then, if not, I had nothing to wear anyway. 
The clothes that fit are to be used. If they are not used, if I do not want to use them even though they fit, they must go too. Clothes that make me unhappy by style, texture, cut, shape, form or level of derogation, really must be taken out too. I have an "on the way out" box that I, when I feel creative, dig into for re-fitting, sewing, deconstruction projects. That is not part of the task for this month. 
Nor is it to keep any certain amounts of clothes or to donate it. 

Three groups of clothing: 1) Fitting - goes in the wardrobe.
2) Not fitting but usable - goes in the fat or thin bag.
3) Not liking for any reason at all - goes into the "on the way out box".

Hanging clothes will have the hangers turned backwards after use so that I know where I am in the "go-through". Folded clothes will go back to the bottom of the pile after use. If taken out and not used, it will not be back at all if I obviously do not like it. (It can be taken out of the "on the way out" box at any time if it was a too hasty decision but usually it stays.)

This year I have nothing left in storage (clothes that are just doubles and put aside until the the other is worn out or clothes that there is nothing wrong with, nice, fitting, good quality but for occasions currently not happening - for me my office lady clothes and shoes). Everything is in active use - I think. I have no major events coming up that I expect to have to buy clothes for. The dresses and fancy clothes are ready for party at a moments notice. I do not expect that I need to buy anything.

(I am not a minimalist, I am a frugalist. The aim is not to have as little as possible, the aim is to get the most and best use out of the things I own and have spent money on.)

I promised to keep a list of all clothes I buy this year, and I will continue that. The list for last year was very revealing.
So far I have bought five pair of sports socks (€4) and a pair of black jeans in a second hand shop (4€), perfect fit and form but unfortunately slightly too short. I will be used as long as I wear high winter boots (as nobody can see it).

Thursday, 1 March 2018


The first of every month I calculate my net worth. I check all debt (none, rent is paid and the internal household accounts are squared). I log onto all three financial institutes where my money is handled (two banks and a pension account). The value of all accounts are noted down and assets that I have immediate access to are summarised into my net worth. I do not include the value of my small apartment as I will always have to live somewhere. I also do not include the current value of any pension or retirement funds as I do not have access to them at the moment. There is no possibility to assess their value on the day I need them, or my net value the day they start paying out. Maybe I will be in dire need of it, maybe it is only a bonus.

I estimate my net worth as the number of years it could sustain me, living with my current annual budget. Note, not the annual spending. The annual spending should be lower than the annual budget. With my current lifestyle, my current annual budget fits me well although I pay the upkeep of (contribute to) two humble abodes in two countries. It may sound as an unusual set up unless you have a summer house or similar, then it is exactly the same.

My current new worth will carry me for 36,25 years. I call it my FI-number: the Financial Independence number. I calculate it every month in the same way. There is no certainty that it will be enough for all those years but there is a hope that price increases will be carried by investment returns and interests. Hope. Anything else dramatic will need an adjustment in the budget.

With most financial estimates (4% SWR, a frugalist lifestyle, dividend pay outs, passive income etc) this should be enough for a safe early retirement. (Early-ish in my case as I am about to be 50.)
The conclusion has been reached that retirement is not for me. I like to work, not only because I like what I do, but also because I function very well with project-thinking, deadlines, progression and result. Much better than with total freedom, as it often leaves me feeling a little useless. That makes me make more project plans, so I could just as well have paid work. There is much progress here to be made still.
Since 2013 I only work four days a week. A pleasure I pay dearly for, and a pleasure I am happy to pay for. (Pay in terms of reduced income.)

I say that I like what I do for work, but there has been serious problems the last two years with who I do the work I do for. Not liking top management and their super structure, which isn't very super, at all. Middle management covers their mistakes as much as possible (poor sods) to keep the actual work going, but it needs to get much better before it gets good.
The FI-security makes the situation less stressful financially.
National health and social security systems are wonderful foundations for creativity and freedom.
I still feel good having income every month.
Maybe I should work on that mental financial independence some more.

Weight has increasing from the low of -5 kilos (five less than the weight I said I never would go above and still did, and worked hard the last year to get off more than 10 kilos). But it is still on -4 kilos so within the acceptable range. I really have to pinch me though to not become a slacker and an eater in the cold weeks ahead.