Saturday, 31 December 2016

Clothes bought 2016


I have kept an eye on the amount of clothes bought in 2016. It should be nothing, just as 2015 should have been nothing - but just as 2015 was NOT nothing, neither is 2016. 

Before we went on our 2016 adventure to Ireland I bought a new pair of hiking boots for €70, a sun hat for €1, cheap rain clothes for €11 (which were worn out in days and thrown out almost immediately) and three pairs of new hiking socks for €7 (always take new socks on a hike). 

I have also bought two t-shirts for €6, a pair of 2nd hand rain trousers for €6,50 (an emergency buy) and a new 3-season jacket for €40. All of these have been replacements for things thrown out and all essential items (except the t-shirts I suppose). 

The last month I have also gone mad and bought the following items on my wish list: silky pyjama €10, fleece winter hat €1,50, black jeans €25 and brand new high quality brand of rain trousers on a 60% off sale for €45 (same brand as the beloved rain jacket and a brand that really never goes in sale).

I have also got clothes for free: 
A hooded sports shirt I paid for with gift cards (thus since I did work for the gift cards, just as I work for money, it was not truly free), a t-shirt from our Irish adventure (included in the tuition fee so not entirely free either) and then two heavy cotton knitted sweaters the trash gods gave me from a pile of stuff thrown out. Wonderful quality, does not look even used and fits really well. 
Those were truly free and truly recycled. 

In total this makes €223 spent on clothes and shoes during 2016 : or €70 on shoes and €153 on clothes. Since I budgeted €10/month for clothes and shoes for 2016 this is WAY over budget - but I will not beat myself up for it. But I will adjust the budget for next year.

Friday, 30 December 2016

Memo Box

I have a box called the Memo box.

It was started when I was young and tried to clear out. Things I did not want to clear out and did not want to use or even display - went into a separate box.
When full, the box got taped up and put into the attic. Then I started a new box.
It contained diaries, invitations, letters, souvenirs, calendars and other odd bits and bobs. Clearing the note board usually sent some items into the memo box.

After twenty years of this, I had three memo boxes. Large boxes. Banana boxes sized but sturdier.
I would open them at times to get something or show something to somebody.
I would dream about clearing them out. Just throwing them.
I would dream about opening them and keep just the good bits.
I would dream about donating them to the museum that would open in my name as I got old.
I would think that whoever was going to write my biography would appreciate having them.

In early 2014, when I sold my house, the boxes in the attic had been unattended to almost five years.
With the emotional support of the man, a camera to capture the memory of some items, and a very, very small new memo box, I dug through all boxes.
I kept photos, albums and school books. I saved all qualifications and newspaper clippings where I appear. I tossed the rest into large black garbage bags for incineration (keeping of course all hazardous materials, electronics or similar non-combustible items on the side for more suitable waste treatment.)
Very little was donated. I could just not bear the thought of seeing those items on the shelves of the second hand shops.
From this clear out, I have since then further culled photos, calendars and the like. The only thing I accidental tossed where my student day medals (I do not think I can explain what they are without complete loss if international dignity - unless you already know. Not that I necessarily need them, but they are such a crazy memory of a life I used to live, and would not have taken up much space, that I think I would have wanted to keep them. But then, considering how embarrassing they are, I might have tossed them anyway by now.)

I still have a Memo box though. I keep items in it that I don't want to through out. For example old address books and calendars, letters and post cards from friends, physical photos I am given and other little items that means something at the time.
It is the size of a shoe box.
I cull it occasionally.
And I will never ever fill it and tape it up and put it in the attic (as I now have none and instead will keep my memories in my head).

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Sponge

I have tried to learn how to make a good decent sponge cake.
Or relearn.. After all, I ran the student cafe at my student club for three semesters. Baking everything.
A long time ago and I remember nothing.

After changing the flour, the baking powder, experimenting with soda, discarding one recipe deciding on another, changing the baking trays, trying muffins, varying with raisins (soaked in alcohol, or not, and powdered or not), I have produced some truly failed sponge cakes.

But they are coming along, and if I can just find better muffins paper (refusing to buy a muffins tray as I would need three and this is all a fad anyway) they will be very - lekker, as the Dutch say.
Tasty!

I stick to one recipe that I slowly am learning by heart and understanding the variations of.

I did the same with meat balls and meat loaf a few years ago. Now I confidently can produce very nice meat balls with very little stress.

I will bake a batch of each for the old year party, taking place the evening before with celebratory anticipation of the new year.
That will my next festivity. I have childhood trauma with today and the next coming days. Actually, I think it is fair to say I dispise Christmas the way it is celebrated in the western world and in Scandinavia especially. I would be happy to join the league against Christmas. If there ever really was a war on Christmas I would consider volunteering, but probably could not be bothered enough to tell people how to live their lives.
But I do not participate.
Only John McClane hates Christmas more than I do.
Except Hans Gruber.

Oh I miss Alan Rickman!

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Spare keys

It happened.

The most reliable friend in our group of acquaintances, whose spare keys we have, locked herself out.

She called quarter to ten on last Friday morning, when I was wide awake and the man barely so, and neither of us were out of pyjama, asking for her spare keys. (We do not work Fridays.)

Because we are mean people (or just sleepy), we made her come to us for the keys. By the time she arrived, we were dressed, showered and had coffee made.

Then the problem arose.
Which spare keys where her keys?
There were several identical types of keys and honestly, who will know the profile of one key from another in a bunch of identical keys?

We gave her the whole bunch and she walked home and got in so she could get her bike and go to work. (Yes, we are all working odd hours and mostly as little as possible for as much money as possible so that we can live life like this.)

This means that when the bunch of spare keys are returned to us, we have a task to do.
Whose keys are whose and of course - are they still current?
They need to be individualised and tagged.

I also have a sneaky suspicion that I heard that another set of friends whose keys we also have, said something about changing one of their locks not too many years ago.

That means we may have an old set of spare keys for some people. 

This spare key project will be a little task to carry out when we go visiting our friends for the upcoming winter festivities.
(While we also ask those who have our keys,  if they know where they are.)


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Solstice

Tomorrow is winter solstice in the northern hemisphere.
On 21 December it all changes.
It is one of the earliest winter solstices possible.

It never gets darker than it is today. Tomorrow, truly, it will be brighter.
Winter is not over but the tilt of the earth's axis will start turning us closer to the sun.
The nights is never longer than tonight and by tomorrow it will look brighter.

Not by many seconds in the north but it will be changing.
A little more light will appear by every day. The nights will be shorter.
Turn your face to the sunshine. It is coming back. 

If you live closer to the equator, you may not be aware of the change the solstice's brings.
The release, the relief, the slight relaxation of the shoulders.
Up in the north, and even north of where I come from, this is the real event of winter.

Burn a log, do a naked dance, copulate, plan your garden, eat a lamb, light a candle - 
do whatever you feel comfortable with.
But take a moment to thank universe and nature for not giving us longer nights and darker days than today.
Tomorrow all will be better.

Winter may not even have arrived yet, but the light is reappearing.

People of the southern hemisphere have nothing to celebrate today, it all turns for them too but not in a good way. Most probably they do not care, busy as they are with sunshine and warm weather.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Lights cont.

We have 19 sources of light in the house, not 18 as I previously said.

I have been out of the country and into the next one for a few weeks, causing damage to the reputation of heavy industries (aka my job) while working very hard and long and sleeping very little. I have met friends and colleagues which is always lovely, but otherwise well earned my salary.

Meanwhile, the man went into his closet.

Then he came out of the closet.

And announced that the light in his walk-in closet was really wonky and needed to be replaced.

So while I was away, he removed (having to use a saw which sounds odd but not being the one doing the job, I have no objections) - anyway, he removed the old light fixture and put in a new one.
This is the new one.

We now have 19 safe sources of light in the house - including the fairy lights which all are out of the closet for the winter festivities.
We know we have 19 safe sources of electric lights because they have all been checked and cleaned.

Next project to tackle is to look at all light switches, electrical outlets and of course, as always in winter time, the fire alarm.

Do make sure you check the fire alarm (and have one, perhaps also a carbon monoxide alarm if you have fireplaces or gas heating).
To die saving ten or twenty Euro on simple safety equipment is possibly frugal but silly.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

First

It is never the last sit-up that is the hardest to do.
It is the first one.

It is not at the end of the running track that most people does not do.
It is the first.

It is not the last push-up that I fail most often.
It is the first one.

It is not the biggest projects I don't complete.
It is the smallest.

It is not the large catastrophies that throws my life over.
It is a cumulation of the small ones.

Do the little things.
Do one push-up.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Address Book


I used to start a new address book every time I moved counties, and sometimes even when moving cities.

Then the electronic revolution started and I was the crazy person who still kept an address book.
Now I am the odd person who still know the physical address of people.

In my attempt to keep up with friends and family, I try to send cards for new-years. There are less and less physical cards sent out with every year. Mostly this has to do with the decline in family members.
But it also has to do with more and more people being in a continuous stream of interaction through different social media channels.
Those will get electronic greetings and wishes for a happy new year.

However, it is the people in between that need the attention. The social-media haters (of which I know several) who also does not communicate via email continuously (some of the social-media haters) and who still really love being in touch. Some of them I also want to stay in touch with.

(Not all. Seriously, if you are blasé and jaded about your friends trying to stay in touch with you, if you not even show affection or interest when they do, even if you are depressed and unemployed, and especially if you do not ask advice or comfort in said sad circumstances - seriously, you will not get a card this year.)

(You know who you are!)

Last year I found holiday cards in a free trade bucket. This year, my storage of suitable or even unsuitable winter cards are so low that I have bought cards.
I bought a pack of winter photographs from where I live. Uncommented so I can add the appropriate greeting for the appropriate holiday the person is celebrating (Between the pagan, Jewish and atheist friends, there are few appreciative recipients of Christian cards in social circles.)

The address books all came out. I will to merge one into another.
I will continue to use the address book from the previous country and add the old and the new addresses into it (plenty of space). I will do that now while I do the send out of the cards.
And the old address books will go into the memo-box for safe keeping.

Now I can start with those cards...

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Jackets2016

Ever since 2014, I have had a buying ban on jackets.

I had all the jackets I needed.
In 2013, I even spontaneously bought a wonderfully pretty and cheerful rain coat that I didn't need. It still makes me happy but I don't use it much as it fills a need I very rarely have. (How often to I walk prettily in the rain? It isn't suitable for hikes, bikes or for any kind of physical activity. But when we go for slow Sunday walks in the rain, I could look pretty. This does not happen near enough often to create a need to buy a special rain coat.)

Anyway,
since 2014 the only jacket that has been bought is the rain jacket. After a long and elaborate process, it was finally bought in 2016.

I had to lift the ban on buying jackets recently.
The most beloved brown three-season hooded jacket from 2008 that fit like a glove and suited all occasions, died. The zipper broke earlier this fall and although I bought a new zipper in a close enough colour at the market for 1€ (a fantastic price for a long double-ended jacket zipper!) to put it in, it is not possible to save the jacket.

When I started removing the old zipper from the beloved brown jacket, the fabric breaks.
Even if I am ever so careful, I am unable to remove the zipper without ripping the fabric. I also found out that the zipper has been included in the button-holes and even if I can get the old out, it will be very difficult to find room enough to put the new zipper in.

I may still give it another try.

But with the cold weather coming and the fall jackets arriving in the shops, I went for a look-out.
I found it. On the second try.
The jacket of jackets to replace the most beloved jacket.
The beloved jacket is roomy enough for an extra sweater under.
The colour is unfortunately black but the price was fantastic. I joined a shop-club for five minutes and got another 30% off. I even remembered to de-register the day after.

The jacket is wind-proof and rain-resistant (absolute musts for Northern Europeans without a car). It has both zippers and buttons (yes, same problem if I need to replace the zipper).
It is not too warm as I will use the winter coat when the real cold hits me - most probably because I travel north.
It has a hood that fits well and stays on when cycling. The sleeves are long enough (but I use warm extension sleeves underneath anyway). 
The jacket has a coat model so it is long and goes down over the thighs a bit. Good for extra warmth.
Ideally, it could be a little longer as I am very tall but the proportions works which is the most important.

So I now that I have bought a jacket - I have a new ban on buying jackets.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

Green gloves

This is a story of how I work my "items in storage" and "using things up" over time.

In 2010, when I stumbled on ERE and the rest of the frugal community and forced my savings into over-drive to make myself financially independent, then I had a pair of green gloves.

Knitted, synthetic, unglamorous and unflattering gloves in a shade of green that was somewhere between neon green and apple green. They fit on my hands and in my pocket, they were silly and made me smile when wearing them in grey continental Europe. In 2010, they were already several years old.

When I made an inventory of all cloves and mittens earlier 2016, they had a hole in them and were to be thrown out. I lied in that post though, I did not throw them out. I mended them. Used them, washed them and put them back with the winter clothes in spring. I think I may even have used them during the summer adventure.

When it got colder this year, I wore them together with the black 1 € gloves mentioned in the post above. During the weeks of last winter when I needed double gloves, or even gloves at all, they were worn out. They were made of a fleece sort of material and I had mended the seams several times. When the fabric gave up, they were trashed unceremoniously.

In my life it is the bicycle handles that cause the death of gloves and mittens.

The green gloves were kept and taken to use again as the weather got colder this year.
It only took a few weeks before they need another mending.
I decided to treat myself.
Anomaly, anomaly. 
I am not going to mend the green gloves again.
They have been trashed, equally unceremoniously.

I am now the proud wearer of a very nice pair of brand name hiking gloves that I found in the spring of 2011 in a trash heap. They fit perfectly, look very nice and are slightly thicker than the green gloves.

Total glove budget 2010-2016: 0€
Lesson: Don't minimize and get rid of things you still can use just because your affluent lifestyle have made you accumulate too many. Use one at the time until it are worn out (under the condition that you like them) and then take out a "new" item.

Friday, 2 December 2016

FI31,74/25,39


The cryptic title means that I have a financial independence equivalent of 31,74 years counting one way (the old way) and 25,39 years counting another way (the new way).

The maths behind it is simple. My total amount of assets (not including my house as I live there, nor any pension expectations as I do not control them) divided with my annual budget.

My annual budget is low, I admit, but it is higher than what a lot of people live on. Even more importantly, my annual budget is higher than a lot of people are expected to live on legally. State, society, companies set a poverty line, and then they set an amount that you are expected to sustain yourself on. My annual budget is still higher than that.

Most importantly, I have been living within my annual budget for years. It includes a lot of no-buy's and not-spend's but it does include an occasional weekend-tip to Paris and occasional weekend-trips to the country side.

I also retire legally in twenty years.
I also may leave my current job within the year. 

It makes sense to adjust my annual budget to an amount higher and primarily safer. It needs to include all and any costs that can, could, might and would be included with a slightly different lifestyle. If I do leave my job during 2017 and set out on a different path, it will cost money.

So I budget for a much higher annual budget for next year. This also includes price increases that can be expected. I do not think I need all of the budget, and I surely hope I will not have costs amounting to the annual budget. But I might. And I need to be prepared.

The new annual budget for 2017 will not increase my spending. But since the new budget give me a financial independence number of 25,39 years without income, I feel safe.

I pamper myself with security.
Because I am worth it.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

New Annual Budget 2017


I have for years calculated my financial independence as a division my total assets and a set annual budget.

This budget has remained the same for a very long time. It is not a very elaborate budget but I have comfortably lived within it for many years. It is a budget many people live within. It is also a budget above what both students, social services recipients and unemployed are expected to live on.

(On that note: It is a good idea to know what budget your authorities are expecting you to live on if you become long term ill or long term unemployed.)

My annual budget is of course higher than my annual costs.

Anyway, for the past year I have carried a financial independence number above 30.
This means, I hold assets to cover thirty years of my current annual budget.

This is way beyond what I need.
20 years from now I will - unless the sky falls on our heads - receive some form of pension covering at least something equivalent to my current costs (adding cost increases if related to inflation).

For 2017 I have decided to change my annual budget. This means that the financial independence number will change, probably all the down to 25.

I do not plan to increase my spending, just increasing the annual budget I use to calculate my independence. I am basically only increasing the security for my independence. 

And the amount is not the point. The point is having one that you can live within.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Mayer-Briggs


Sometime in 2007 I went through a number of recruitment processes.
All of them interviewed and tested with various methods.
I am not particularly interested in talking about myself in a professional setting.
The job I had at the time was so odd and unusual that it was difficult to talk about it with recruiters.

(Actually, let's talk about recruiters. Have any of them ever worked with anything else than recruiting? I truly have difficulty seeing the benefits a recruiter brings to the person you are trying to recruit. I completely see the benefit a recruiter can bring to a company, by weeding through applications following key-words and specific requirements as well as keeping salary expectations down. But I have yet to meet a recruiter little better than an evolved text search engine. Can anybody bring diversity, creativity or development to a job beyond exact search criteria and trigger words? I honestly doubt the recruiters even understand most jobs they recruit for. Or even understand the meaning of the specific requirements required.)

But I digress...
Among the tests in 2007 was a Mayer-Briggs test. Then one of the most relied upon personality-identifying test. Today, perhaps not so much, but I may be wrong. Today these tests are available in shorter (but still extensive) versions on-line, for example through www.16personalities.com

In 2007, I tested as an ESTJ.
The letters stand for Extroversion (or Introversion), Sensing, Thinking and Judging.
The personality type is called "The Executive".
Yeah, that is me!

The E was however very close to an I. (Test provides results on a scale between two outer ends of a spectrum and nobody is 100% of everything, and even rarely of anything).

If the E had been an I, the personality type would have been called ISTJ.
I heard (on the ERE-forum) that most frugalists are ISTJ.

The man did the test the other day. Not very surprising, he is introvert and sensing (ISFP).
We are not disputing that result at all either!!!

I re-did the test with him. Interestingly, ten years later, after life-changing events and a complete turn-around of my lifestyle, the result is that - I am still an Executive.
Still an ESTJ.

Although closer to being Introverted than before. Thanks, man.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Lights finished


We have 18 lamps and other sources of electrical light in the house.

Nine ceiling lights, two floor lights, three table lights, one bed light with two heads and two light strings (only one currently connected). And a light by the stove.
Very rarely are more than one or two lit at the same time. The man and I tend to spend time in the same room and of course (of course!) are the lights in unused rooms, turned off.

There are some rumours about another light string, type winter wonder land light, in the basement. (We found the spare bulbs.)
However, until the man has dug his remaining boxes there are no proof of an eighteenth source of light for the house.

All lights have now all been cleaned. 
We never turned the TV on today. Instead we dismantled and cleaned the glass covers of the remaining lamps. (They need some cooperation.)

Now, afterwards, it is really an amazing difference.
The amount of light generated by a dusty bulb in a dirty lamp is nothing compared to the radiance generated from a wiped bulb in a sparklingly clean lamp.

We pay for electricity and we really do get our money's worth this way.
No need to turn on two lamps when one does the job.
We might even in the future buy a lower wattage for the smaller rooms.

How many electrical light sources do you have in your house?

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Life


I was once asked what my ideal life would be.
If I remember correctly I answered something meaning that I wanted to live as if it was Saturday everyday. I remember I then called it Plan B Impossible.

In 2015, when I had settled into my one-day-a-week-retired lifestyle, I really enjoyed it.

In the end of 2016, when this life-style is threatened to become a three-to-five-day-a-week-retired lifestyle, it is important to remember to enjoy it.

I do enjoy it. Breakfast food, books in bed, coffee on tap and a lot of time looking out the window, or reading out loud to each other and then going to look up things we learned or should have remembered from things we have learned before, making plans to go and see things, people and places, and preparing food to cook slowly and eating deliberately with or without friends...

I just wish I would get out of my pyjama a little earlier in the day.

Today it is the third day in a row, when I do my morning shower after three o'clock in the afternoon.

(See why it is good for me to hold on to a job routine!!!)

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Light

As a Northern European, November means lights.
Lights turned on, kept on and added to.
It is darker outside longer and the light hours are greyer.
It is important to emphasise the indoor light to avoid winter depressions (unless you hibernate).

We had a few light bulbs breaking last week so we started the light project early this year.
(The light bulbs always seem to all blow at the same time, don't they?) We have access to a collection system for electrical waste and the broken light bulbs are saved for the next collection time.

I have kept "in storage" the low-energy light bulbs from my previous apartment. Two were used to replace the expired bulbs in the living room. They had been bought in 2011 and since they can last six to ten years there was no way I was just going to leave them behind when I moved in 2013. I knew there was plenty of use left in them for the money spent as I had cut out a piece of the packaging and made a note when I started using them and I know that I took them down in May 2013. There is now only one low-energy light bulb in storage. That was bought this year for the office and turned out to be way too bright and with the completely wrong coloured light. Since then I have leaned to always ask to try the bulb in the shop before buying.

In storage there are also three small, low wattage light bulbs with small fitting, two clear and one frosted. They are at least five years old if not more, and although we have only two lights in the house where they fit, they can sit in storage for a possible future use.

The light bulb are stored in a wooden wine box I once found on the street. I also keep our batteries in it (when ever we have any). The box is highly flammable of course and possibly not the cleverest of choices.
But it looks good.

The November light project is to clean all our lamps and light fixtures and we are currently working our way through it.
Ceiling lights, bed lights, floor lights and window lights are cleaned and dusted, both used and unused.
We got out a table lamp that has not been used for a long time and put it in the kitchen window. Its old fashioned style gives our otherwise stark kitchen a very cosy feeling. It is a nice light to make morning coffee in.

I will also put up a light for the mid-winter light festival later on.


Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Iron

I was a blood donor from my 18th birthday until the day I moved abroad.
With my family background, that is just a thing you do when you can.
And sometimes you got a t-shirt.

I also frequently got iron tablets. Not that I needed them very often, I have a naturally high level and I eat well. (I also very quickly feel the symptoms of anaemia. A dinner with spinach and chicken liver with an orange after restores it fast. (two types of iron t be eaten with vitamin C which helps with the uptake, that is how I was thought.) Add some almonds for the other trace minerals. Or just eat, if it is enough for you, a few meals with more variation.)

Still, I was usually handed iron tablets. It was probably the routine for female donors.
And as usual when it comes to useful free things, I accepted.

Yesterday I ate my last remaining iron tablet.

Probably way past expiration date but definitely still with effect.
I need a lot more fluids than normal today to you-know get things going.
But not a cold in sight. Feeling strong as an old pot.

Now there is only a multi-vitamin box in the house.
The man and I each have one after been in touch with children.
We think it helps against kid-bugs.

Do you have vitamins or minerals in the house you could eat - or get rid of?

Monday, 21 November 2016

Roaming Paris

We went to Paris and roamed the streets in the sun for three days.

We kissed on bridges and while on one over the rail road, a train driver tooted his whistle and waved enthusiastically at us.

We ate when we were hungry and inspired. Best was a restaurant with food from Madagascar, Mariania just down the road from the Moulin Rouge (no website, . Walk slowly, it is tiny and easy to miss and that would be a shame. I normally order the thing on the menu I do not quite know what it is. I by now have learned what Andouilette is and that it is fine, so I don't order that any more. Otherwise the memorable French culinary experience this time was Os a Moelle - bone marrow roasted and served in the bone.

We saw the Louvre from the inside for the first time. The history of the palace is fascinating, the "stuff" is overwhelming although fantastic. Don't bother about La Joconde (Monna Lisa) there is an in my mind even better portrait by Da Vinci. La Belle Ferronniere hangs almost unnoticed in the gallery.  Go late in the day or if you can in off season when many tourist stay away.

Our hotel was the friendliest, sweetest, cleanest dingy place I've ever stayed at. Not a place I will recommend (I want to keep it to myself). But also because I do not think most people can handle the microscopic room, toilet and shower shared in the corridor or the thread bare towels. We spent only nights there and stored our pyjamas' the rest of the time; for us it was perfect.

We went to the Arts et metier museum and although we started where we ended our visit the last time, we could not make it through. Again exhausted and over-inspired. It is a fabulous place for planes, trains, automobiles, bicycles and all scientific history you can ever want.

We also went to the Jean-Jaques Henner museum to see more paintings by an artist I first saw at the local art museum in Mulhouse a couple of years ago and who by now has had his own museum renovated. Very nice, very inspiring with room for improvements. We will make a Henner exhibition in our bedroom.

We also walked, from morning to evening. Following the New York-method meaning you cross the street on the first green street light regardless of where it takes you. Cheating is allowed. This only works in towns where the pedestrian street lights are automatic, not requiring to press a button.
We saw the modern Bastille, castle towers built year 1190, a book for sale estimated at 390 000€, an dreamy apartment costing less, a lovely church Notre-Dame de Bonne Nouvelle where the organist was practising, a art nouveau styled school, and a thousand other oh, look there's that I have forgotten now. Paris is always inspiring and it is important not to stay away. It is also the best counter-action against terrorists.

We banned work emails during the weekend but on the train home I got notice that I have received another project for my most beloved steel company (starting directly) and with another project for January, I can skip a lot of less stimulating things at work. Very inspiring! The man had an email from a client almost crying when hearing he could be available, they want him for a year. They are not going to get that, but it is nice to be asked.

The fast, high speed charge extra train home from Paris was announced to be an hour late and we accepted to be humbled by life. However, we arrived on time and we never asked why.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Paris

Enough is enough.
We are going to Paris over the weekend.

We got cheap train tickets and a hotelroom for a song.
We will spend one day in the Louvre, one day in three other museums and one day trying to get lost.

We have made a stack of sandwiches and filled out water bottles. We got an outrageous amount of cheap muslei bars to have as pocket food. We packed warm sleep wear and comfortable shoes. Two changees of under clothes and toiletries. The back packs weigh five kilo and looks like a small gym back. We will look completely parisienne.

If a tasty brasserie invites us, there is budget for a two-three course dinner and wine at cafés and an oyster each in Les Halles and numerous coffees if we want to.

It is enough death for now, we are going to be alive.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

PoorAdvice

Why are there so many financial advisers with no money?

I am just wondering - and I think I will say it again.

Why have financial advisers rarely any personal wealth?

There is currently blogg-war raging between two serious financial bloggers on which is the best way to invest money. (No names. They need no encouragement.) (Both are equally insulting and infuriating btw!)

The most furiating thing is that neither of them really have any money. I do not only mean that they do not have any real money - although that is true too. Neither one of them actually have any serious amounts of money beyond the value of the property where they live.
Both of them also have children and wife's to support meaning the money that they do have has to stretch to cover several persons. Neither can survive a year with their current expenses without income from work - or advertisement. I call fake on them both.

I love to read about people who have no money and make do - happily or not, beautifully or not, but they struggle and usually succeed to keep their life within their budget. Some of them have much more income than their budget but it goes to paying off debt or establishing savings. All of them are inspiring. All of them are real. All of them are helpful and respectful.

I do not like to read about advising investments they themselves are not taking - or even in position to take. I also do not like to read about what people plan to do with their money when they have them. Especially if it is five to twenty-five years away. I like dreams, they are essential. But they are that - dreams. Not plans. I especially do not like to read about making or saving money written by people who neither make nor save any money.

I appreciate reading about people who has been through it for real.  How they did it.
I appreciate people who have managed. That is where I want my advice and inspiration to come from.
Not from those who say they do it, promise, there is a plan, and preparations will be done and there will be success, really truly.


Friday, 11 November 2016

Investments

I talk a lot about the money I do not spend.
On this blog I also occasionally mention the money I have.
In my normal life (you know, the real life where things happen? :) I never mention my money. Only the man will occasionally hear a "I am rich!" when I have counted my money and calculated my financial independence number. Occasionally it will come up in a conversation that perhaps I do know something about shares and stocks. I never talk about the markets where my money are as it is not relevant information for anybody but me. It is not advice for anybody or even good for anybody else to know.
To most people I am just a stingy, cheapskate who doesn't spend her money.
That is fine. That's the way I want it. That is the way it is - most of the time.

This week I have spent a lot of money. A lot. As in several annual budgets lots of money.
Actually, I have invested them in gold-edged secure funds and shares with large dividends.
Same thing.
I have been a buyer.
The same rules apply when buying stocks as to when buying socks.

I buy knowing what I want. I buy to hold. I want dividends more than share value increase. I buy when the price is right - or cheaper.
I buy what I want when everybody else is selling.
You may do something different with your money on your markets and with your knowledge.
There is a science behind it all but it is still a gamble, one only you can decide upon.

I have had a great week. I have bought at ridiculous levels. The markets are so volatile that bids on  ridiculous levels for shares in wonderful companies can go through. I usually put in a bid for the day before the markets open to see if they go through. I do not leave the bids in longer than that and I may change them during the day.
Now the bids go through. Only for the share price to bounce back up again.

These shares are affected by Japan, UK, Russia and the silly country of the week while the companies production, market, investments are not. The levels are for some companies lower than ever in the last five years - five years. Remember the catastrophes the financial markets have seen in five years? No, right, you don't and the markets do not either. 2008 is behind most of us and 2001 and 1995 is coming around again.

This means that this weekend is the time to go through your long term investments and read and understand what is happening and ponder where it is going. Do it in the weekend when the markets are closed. Do not make any decisions, just get a sense of what is happening.  Monday is the time for decisions. And do not trust anybody. Not even banks. And most certainly not me.

Don't tell me I told you to do anything. Never follow the advice of a blogger with no credentials.

But understand and learn and know and look and read and take no risks with money you need.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Socks2016

Socks have been in focus the last few days.
After a summer vacation spent in mostly wet hiking boots, socks have taken a hard beating.

All socks have been washed hot inside out. All have been gone through to weed out the poor ones.

I am approaching the point when I can buy a new set of ten or fifteen new black office socks (something I thought would happen last year but found not needing). I am planning it for spring 2017.

The man has eliminated all his poor socks and is currently living with only nice socks. It makes dressing in the morning easier. It also makes sorting socks easier (as all match each other there is no matching needed. They are all just bundled up in pairs when they come off the line and go in the sock box.

Currently I have seven short black office socks, five long black office socks (not including two that are worn every week to wear them out, two pairs of fun socks, three pairs of warm socks, six short summer socks and two pairs of sports socks which how ever serve as bed socks. (I do not do sports in socks). I also work from home some of the time when I do not wear socks (warm indoor slippers)

This usually takes me through a week or two.

BTW Death has come and gone, the pain is over and the grieving has started which is easier for everybody. The mother was happy into the end, ready, prepared and with everything arranged and having said her farewells. In this country it is a choice for the terminally ill to decide when they want to die.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Tomorrow

Tomorrow is going to be a really very memorable utterly shithole of a day for somebody.

The only reason that it is not miserable today is that today is Monday.

Tomorrow however is Tuesday and that can be made devastatingly awful.

I am focusing today on trying to make tomorrow better. Not today. All focus is on tomorrow.
I cook, clean, write notes, send encouraging text messages, fold laundry, vacuum and prepare for the rest of my life. We need to be strong and prepared. Tomorrow is going to be awful.

This evening our friend is by her dying mothers side. Tonight her brother will be there.
Tomorrow her mother will be gone.

Today I am focusing all my might on trying to make tomorrow a better day.
I go write an assignment for my studies. I will mend a sock. I will bake a cake.

Anything to improve on tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Spoon

With financial freedom comes the time and strength to support others.

We had the children for dinner last night (including homework checking and bed time arrangements).
We are about fourth or fifth on a list of people ready and willing to take care of these children and only occasionally are we needed. Two commuting parents with problems of their own are raising two kind supportive, interesting and unusual individuals. Although we are in general not fond of children, these two individuals we do like. We are always happy to help and most of the time available.

Yesterdays dinner and dessert resulted in us having no clean large spoons in the house this morning. (No problem, we had pancakes with cheese, but still rare enough to mention.) This almost never happens, we have so much cutlery. We also do dishes most days (the apartment has no washing machine to store dirty dishes in) so the sensation of being out of spoons just does not occur.
I didn't even break out the ridiculous but convenient pic-nick set for four I was given several years ago and which is used for midsummer pic-nicks and large family gatherings.

Consequently, because this is me and how I do things,
this morning, instead of starting doing the dishes, I cleaned out the cutlery drawer. (Most was out of it anyway so not a lot of work.) The drawer and the insert was washed and wiped and when completely dry, all cutlery and stuff will go back in. Or not, depending on what stuff has actually been used the last year.
I already sneaked away a hand held cheese grater that I do not like and the man does not use, into the "on the way out" box.
If he wants it back, he can; if not, he will not.
There might be more pieces up for discussion.
That one was not. The discussion has been had three years in a row.

Friday, 4 November 2016

Sweet

I have been talked to very sweetly by my employer.
Not a single snappy comment.
No answers and no resolutions but I have been let in on the secret plans for the company and I have been stroked and petted.

I still work there and I will for at least six more months.
Unfortunately for them, while being annoyed, I sent out a number of resumes to potentials.
And I counted my money.
Again and again.
And I spent almost nothin'.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Nov2016Project

The project I have set myself for November 2016 is related to clothes.
Yes, yet again.
I still have too much clothes. With too much I consider more clothes than needed to keep me dressed  a month or two without laundry and that are not special occasion pieces. Although I bought very little the last five-six-seven years and the amount in "storage" (meaning waiting to be worn until I need it) is rapidly reduced, there is still too much clothes in my possession.

I am however on the verge of wearing out a lot of clothes.
I therefore think I need to focus on using what is on the verge of being discarded so that I can tip them over the point and actually get it out of the house.

The project for November is the following new habit:
After every laundry and when the clothes are being folded up to be put back into the closet, all good clothes go into storage. Unless it is something I do not quite like, something that is worn and should be on the way out. These things go back in the closet (or in the "on the way out the door box" if it is really something I do not want to wear again. Some things are thrown directly.

The project started with the kitchen towel-project. We have some (terry) towels for the kitchen. They always started to smell after a few days. They were not even very old an not worn or bleached. So they got laundered in a very very warm wash. When used the next time, they still started to smell after a few days. So they got soaked in vinegar for a few days and then rinsed. They still started to smell after a few days. With the first one, we looked at each other and without breaking eye contact, just put the towel in the bin. It was easier with the second one. The third one survived a week without starting to smell so it is still in use.
With only one kitchen towel in active duty, we also suddenly saw what else was available. A terry towel advertising a gym is our new kitchen towel. It had been sitting in the man's drawer for many years, now a free kitchen towel. We also found an orange towel from a previous kitchen. The colour is wrong for the "décor" but seriously, who cares. Now all our kitchen towels are upgraded. When these are out of action, we can get a new set.

So I thought I would do the same thing with my clothes. Store the things I know I like and keep using the things I question. Now, I do not have to dress up for work but it doesn't matter. If the clothes you have in your wardrobe does not suit your work and that is your lifestyle, then they should go.

This is not a money saving project, but neither does it cost me anything. I simply use what I have until it doesn't work for me any more and then I will be left with the good pieces - and possibly a wardrobe where all clothes are good and well fitting.
I am currently folding the third batch of  laundry in this project and I am starting to see which things come back again and again.

Today I am wearing:
- a funny coloured much loved pair of socks that really are on its last leg of life, 
- the loved perfect pair of jeans that have not yet been laundered under this scheme,
- a too transparent sports t-shirt under
- a slightly faded sweater.
Except for the sports-t which was a mistake bought one-two years ago, I have probably worn this combo five hundred times before. I will continue to do so until the individual parts cannot perform any longer.

Besides the jeans. They will be put aside after next laundry.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

FI31,43


I am currently one snappy comment away from full freedom and financial independence.

This is what all the skimping, saving and investing all comes down to.
The opportunity to say - no, this is enough - and then walk away. Calmly.

Or in my case: This is not enough! (and I am not calm at all).

My current financial situation is that I hold 31,43 annual budgets in my possession.
It is not as much as it was about ten days ago (31,47) but it is more than I have ever owned. It is way more than the 25 that is estimated to regenerate itself eternally (with an estimated 4 % return,  See more about Early retirement Extreme ERE on its blog).

I count my financial assets every month, divide with a set annual budget that I have lived within for years and estimate the amount of financial freedom it gives me. I do not include the value of my home (as I live there), nor any and all legal or restricted pensions that will (or will not) start paying out in 20 years or so.

So when the going gets tough, the arguments are mounting up and the room closes in - I am free to walk if I want to. (Yes that will be walk. There is no money available for luxury.) But I am free to just close my computer, take out the SIM card out of the phone and never going to work any more.

There is a fair bit of separation anxiety. There is a lot of uncertainty.
There is also a great deal of rage and annoyance. Several bad words roam my brain.
I have however no crippling fear for the financial situation.

It took hard work, five years and several difficult decisions. But it is now done.
The remaining question to decide is: Have I had enough of this?

(I have the Viking blood roaring in my ears and I know I need to calm down a week or so before I make a final decision to pack my bags... )

Thursday, 13 October 2016

More pie

Pie.
Water.
Push ups.
Classes.
Weekend plans.
Work successes.
Full financial freedom.
Life better than the internet.
Reality as always better than fiction.

Especially when Bob Dylan gets the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Pie

During our weekend out, we passed several houses offering free apples.
I put a few in my back pack and made apple pie for the man today.
Several good wife points acquired.
Prized beyond rubies. Price included sugar, butter and some flour with old bread as bread crumbs. And ice cream.

A hard day made easier with love pie.

Monday, 3 October 2016

FI30,88

Hard work, lots of work, ambitious money making and money saving through a frugal life style has paid off.

I have currently financial assets that would cover 30, 88 years of financial freedom with a frugal but not in any way unreasonable budget. A lot of people would not choose to live on my budget but my budget is a budget a lot of people have to live on. A lot of people are also told by authorities to live on my budget. It is enough to pay for my own bathroom visits (internal joke), it is alsp enough for laugh, love and plans.

It is not enough for continuous indulgence, uncontrolled shopping or aims for unlimited luxury.
But it is a safe basic blanket and I am very very and gratefully happy about it.

Weight is also good. At least the weight identified through the weight jeans (you know, the pair that are used to measure fit.) My jeans are loose and nice and fit really well.
The scales have been returned home after servicing a friend's mother for a few months. They must have been broken. Or they just hate having to come back to us. The scales tell me I am +6,5.
(That is not 6 kilogrammes more than before, it means I am 6 more than I would like.)
I had expected +3. I would have liked +2.

Oh weeeeell, fitting into my clothes is more important, I suppose.

Water

We took the weekend off and took off this weekend.
Our every second month weekend trip was due. And the man always gets a trip for his birthday.

We took the train, rented bikes, cycled 30 kilometre and came to a village in a nature reserve where the roads are canals. We stayed the night. There was nothing to do. Almost no people around.

We walked all little foot paths along the canals, contemplated a canoe to take us out into the nature park with only water, peat and bog, but stayed on terra firma and kissed on every bridge. If I remember correctly there are 27 on the north side of the village and 52 on the south side (but the lack of oxygen due to that much kissing may have disputed my counting). I am not far off though.

We both did our best to put time and space between us and all worries and had a lovely weekend.
Nothing has changed but at least we are are going to handle it supporting each other.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Going

And when the going gets tough,
and the pity party had run its course,
I will eventually get going.

To combat the feeling of being out of control, I take control of the things I can take control of.
I do dishes.
I vacuum.
I do a load of laundry.
I sow on a button on, stitch up a sock and mend a pocket.

The movement moves my feeling of despair into the area of calm.
It makes me feel much better.
My focus is reduced from the unlimited to the limited.
From the future to here and now.
I get a sense of order with being organised and organising.

I printed tickets and organised the forthcoming work trips. I have the day off and therefore time
(I have FI - financial independence due to being highly frugal and stingy - so I retired a day a week three years ago.)
I sent a short supportive email to a friend.
I sent an equally short instructive email to a family member.
I am even planning to resow a few summer tops that have not serviced well (as in they do not fit me.)
I will run another load of laundry.
I will take all recyclables out.

And when that is done, I will feel even better.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Days

There are days.
Days with no silver lining.
Days that could go down in history as days without benefits.
Days that really shouldn't have got out of bed in the morning.
Days when there is nothing happy to write in a blog about and I spend my sleepless nights reading and loosing myself in other blogger's contentment and satisfaction with their successes.

The family now has two, not one, but two, members with dementia diagnosis. There is also one official exhaustion diagnosis, one heart problem and one in complete denial.
That is it. That is the family in its entirety. (The extended family is still huffing on as the train.)

The friends are either unhelpful, has a hospitalised daughter with anorexia, a hysterectomy, a sister with schizophrenia (well, yes, but that is not new so this only is added to the list because I am having a pity party) or is unemployed going on 11 months.

I also failed not one but two in a row papers I've handed in for my history studies. New teacher, different criteria but I have not failed a paper in years. Exams yes, but never a paper. I am slightly stunned and contemplate failing.

We are going away for the weekend and the man is not preparing or not communicating the plan, the route, the weather, the needs and the potentials which annoys me. I can do spontaneous but I have a hard time planning to be spontaneous.

The work is lazy and possibly without future after next year. Last week I was complaining that I didn't get to travel very often and now I complain I have to go away twice in October. And to add to the frustration is that it is to the same place! Apparently not possible to combine either. New legislation may squeeze me moving into another country but nothing is decided yet.
And it has started to rain.
And I burned the porridge this morning.
And ... and... and...

...but I did fix my bike. The lights and the luggage straps are replaced and in full working order.
I made lots of mince meat, green bean in cream sauce with penne pasta for dinner and grated extra cheese for on top. That was nice.
I am also happy about my weight currently and I can do seven push-ups in a row. Almost all the way down too. It only hurts a little afterwards.
I am also wearing all my summer clothes one last time before I succumb to the cold and start digging in to the sweaters and winter jackets. I just add a tank-top under, or put a cardigan over.

Possibly it is not too bad all in all...
at least I am not spending money to make me happy so the frugal finances are keeping me safe for the future.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Bike

Besides feet and public transportation, my main means of transport is my bicycle.

I bought it when I started spending longer periods of time in Amsterdam (and had fallen off the man's gigantic spare bike a few times) AND we had figured out how to fit three bikes in the basement storage.

Everybody cycles in Amsterdam, in all of the Netherlands and that is just what I am used to from Scandinavia. There we also cycle in the winter snow - in the Netherlands they cycle all year round too but I would not call the weather here winter. Bah!

When my bike doesn't function well, my life does get quite complicated. Do I trust it? Can I take it on long trips? What else do I need to fix? When will the next flat tyre come?

Currently the problems are that the packaging straps are broken, front light doesn't work, the gears - all seven of them - are non-functional as the gearbox (is it a gear box on a bike?) is worn out and the whole thing wobbles in the back because the back wheel isn't completely round any more (probably happened in the bicycle rack at work.
I have fixed the brakes and the lock this year and it is a constant struggle to keep it going.

I went to the bicycle man to talk about the gear box and because of the model, it would cost almost half of what the bike is worth. Although I need my bike, I do not think it is worth putting another €100 on a bike bought for €225 five years ago. I think I will be riding without gears for a while!!
A replacement bike will cost me €300-400. Of course I can go and buy a new bike but in this town that would be quite a pointless thing. Bicycles here need to be made from high grade steel, weigh a ton and be designed so the driver sits up straight when cycling. No other bike will be strong enough to survive a few weeks being parked around town and only if you cycle like a flamingo do you have a chance to catch traffic in order not to kill yourself when cycling in Amsterdam.
But it is fun and if you ever come here, a rented bike is a must!

Anyway, I have done some bike work today. I took apart the "gear box" to see if the bike man was right. (I am not sure but since it is not being replaced and I can't fix it, it doesn't matter).

The front light is a cheap piece that is simple to replace as well as the straps for luggage. I will have to go and buy that tomorrow. I released the back wheel and re-set it, let the air out of the tyre and re-pumped it in an attempt to see if the back wobbling can be reined in. I'll take it for a spin down the large bridge tomorrow to see how it performs.
Yes, a bridge is the only hill I have access to in this country!

Monday, 26 September 2016

Cake

This was this years birthday cake for the man.


Life is busy and between everything to be done and neither one of us especially interested in cake
(to eat), I baked him a cauliflower, mash potato and cheese cake surrounded by buttered carrots.

With a candle. Because he is number one.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Blond

I have blond hair.
Every year in the fall sales I buy a bottle (300 ml) of high-brand shampoo.
Then it is sold for half price and since I use it only occasionally, a bottle can last almost a year. (I buy really cheap shampoo for every day use.)

Last year, I made a mistake when buying the shampoo.
I managed to buy the conditioner instead.
It took me quite a while until I used it and noticed.
I was very annoyed with myself. I then had to go and buy the shampoo too.

The bottle of last year's shampoo has been used up. It was actually emptied quite a while ago and I have been looking forward to seeing my brand on sale. Finally it was sold for half price and I bought a new bottle of shampoo yesterday.

Or so I thought.
In the shower this morning I found out I have managed to make the same mistake again.
I have bought yet another bottle of conditioner.
And since I have opened and used it, I can not return it.

The man commented that considering they sold shampoo especially designed to be bought by blonds, they really should write clearer on the bottle.

Bang. Burn. Zinger.

I am going to go and buy a bottle of shampoo today.
Or I'll send the man.
I now have conditioner to last me at least six years. I do not use conditioner very often.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Bed

We never make our bed.
If people are coming over, we only straighten the pillows and stretch the covers.

We do not have a bed cover. We do not have ornamental pillows. We have no cuddly toys in bed - other than as a joke, I might put the man's stuffed fish-toy on my pillow when I leave for a few weeks.

We also sleep in the smallest room available in the house. The bed sits between three walls. We get into the bed on the short end. Changing the sheets is an acrobatic event. The benefit is that we do not need to heat the room in the night. It is also easy to quickly cool it when need be.

Sleeping in the smallest room also means the available space is used as much as possibly. Besides the bed, the room holds my wardrobe, two laundry baskets, the ironing board and a one shelf book case on one wall and a magnetic notice board for art exhibitions on the other.
No need for visitors to go in there. We do not hold a bedroom to make other people envious. It is purely a personal space.

The main reason for not making our bed however, is that we want to dry and air the bed during the day. Sometimes we open the window, especially now when we do not have to worry about the cat jumping out. Hopefully we minimize the breeding grounds for acari and other bed bugs by letting our bed breathe.

How much bedroom space do you have, if you have a separate bedroom at all?

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Family


Fun fact:
The man have more siblings than I have living relatives, including fourth generation cousins.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

45-65-85


I will say it and I will say it loudly. This is the rule for everybody. Agree with me or not, your neighbours, relatives and removal companies do.

If you are 45 and have everything you need, STOP ACCUMULATING STUFF.

If you are 65 you must start to CLEAR OUT YOUR STORAGE.

If you are 85 and have not yet done any of the above, you will be cursed on your funeral because you have left the tasks you could not handle yourself to people that may or may not have liked you in the beginning but when left to clear out your lives accumulated stuff, will NOT like you any more.
If you are 85 and holding on to your mothers discarded clothes since her death thirty years ago, you must must must ask for help. And most importantly, then allow people help you.

When dealing with your death we do not also want to deal with your unsolved problems and your junk. It does not add to your legacy of not having any problems. It only leaves us with the knowledge that the image we had about you as independent and on top of things was a false image. In reality you just stuffed you storage full of unresolved issues. In reality you could not handle most things.
In reality you were happy enough to add to the problems of others, just so that it would appear that you were perfect.

The simplified rule I now impose on everybody is:
One in One out at 45. Clear one box per month at 65. Stop paying for storage and put your car in your garage. Be sweet and kind at 85. At 98 you can do whatever you want if you have cleared your stuff.

Stop shopping at 45. Clear out storage at 65. Stay very very good friends with your family at 85.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Living

I am currently spending my time in the land of the living, the dying and the demented.

While I deal with my own health issues (all is well, but still no answers), the rest of the family has decided to collectively fall to pieces.
While I handle work and school, I also project manage the practical lives of a number of people.

When one is put back up again, the other falls to pieces. The third decides to help and breaks the first. The fourth decides to come out with supportive health issues, sending everybody into frenzy of trying to deal with information that was revealed for the first time in forty years. The fifth is asked just to sit still but will not.

I pull my hair, while having a phlegmatic outburst internally. "- Could you just please just take care of yourself before you start trying to help somebody else? Please." It makes it so much easier for everybody else.

And if you need help, could you please say what you need help with instead of insisting all is well with you but your plants needs watering? While the real problem is that you are not eating properly?

Thankfully, while my minuscule family circle is dwindling, new relatives appear out of the wood work. Sane people. Helpful people. Cheerful people. Old as the independence of Finland but as stable and quiet. When I screwed up, they stepped in and helped me.

Just because they are related.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Teeth

Teeth is the one thing I am willing to spend unlimited time and resources on.

They are to be with me until the day I die (and longer if the osteoarchaeologist doesn't drop me when excavating my sceletan).
I have seen older relatives struggle with crowns and dentures. I have seen younger friends spending large amounts on the bleaching teeth and nothing on toothbrushes.

My decision has been to really care for my teeth. Brush minimum twice a day, sometimes three times a day. Use the correct brushing technique. Use the right equipment. Floss occasionally. Rinse with mouthwash with flour daily (not Listerine!) Rinse with water quickly after eating something sour.

And I go to the dentist more often than they think it is necessary.
As I now have reached the level where my teeth and my tooth routine are in good stand, I do not need to see the dentist anymore. I only get to see a dental hygenist.
This year she charged me €40 and told me to come back in 18 months.
She gave me a new toothpaste (triel sized) and a flossing thing to try.
And she told me some good jokes I can enhance my social skills with in the week to come.

All in all, I came out of there better off than I went in.

Have you been to see the dentist or dental hygienist the last 18 months too?

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Spending month

It is common to have a super saver month in September. A 'I will not spend any money at all if I can get away with it until I really must'-month. Trying for the highest savings rate. Keeping a row of no spending days and keeping it for as long as possible. Anything legal is allowed to keep the wallet closed during this month.

After a few years and a long row of the super saver months, live style changes and super saving becomes common, normal and the average life.

After years of super saving, I am giving myself a spending month. Not a super spending month, that would be silly. But a spending month.
It started last week. 

So far I have bought hot dogs and coffee and even a bottle of water when travelling.
I have taken the bus short distances.
I am even considering buy pizza. I have even gone to the supermarket without a clear shopping list. I have even gone shopping, randomly browsing shops with just stuff in them.

I am sadly failing.
I never bought the pizza as I realised it was quicker to just make porridge.
I did not buy anything new in the supermarket. Nothing I do not normally need; actually even less as I could not remember to buy what I needed.

I even went to shops to spend my gift cards, just randomly aiming to spend them.
I failed that too. There was very little I wanted and what I could consider all had something wrong with it. Not the right size. Strange materials. Sleeves too short. Not the right colour. Nothing available that I didn't already have. No new needs presented themselves. I was considering a blouse (just not in black), a bowl (but it will not fit in the kitchen cupboard) and a book (but really, there are books for my classes arriving by post in a day or two and by then I really will not need something new).

What I want is a car but there is just no where to park it in Amsterdam. What I want is an experience (but the gift cards are all for stuff).
I am a failed buyer. A failed shopper. A failed super spender.


HURRAY!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Work

I like my clients and I like what they do.
I however wish they would hurry up.
Almost four on a Friday afternoon and I am not done yet as they are not done yet.
Leaving an expensive consultant in an air conditioned conference room is not good business.

I really can not write them up for it. I know what they are doing.
I sent them to do it.

Now, can I possibly drink another cup of coffee.
Or should I just doodle something rude under the conference room table?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Packing up

I am packing for a few weeks.

The need includes work in office and industry, family and friends in house and outside as well as my own home.
The time is at least two weeks but could be a month or even more.
Everything must fit in hand luggage.
The weather will range from rain and hailstorms to the current heat wave.

Puhu - I am struggling.

I must be strategic.
Jeans, shorts and summer trousers. Check
Five tops max because this is the easiest to acquire or borrow. Easy clean of course.
Jacket for office but now must add a very light cove of some kind. Something warm.
Rain clothes. Socks and underwear. Sleeping clothes.
This time also bathing clothes as family currently is located in a beautiful lake side spot.

The stuff will include small amounts of hygienic products, glasses, bug stick and jewellery.
Work papers and computers. Chargers.

What am I missing?
The flight leaves this evening.




Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Harvest

Three sprouting potatoes from the bottom of the fridge went into a crate of left over soil on the balcony in May. More soil and water was added during the summer.
Then we left for a month. The plants died without flowering. The dream of a potato harvest withered too.

STILL, look what I found yesterday.






 I eat my potatoes with butter. Sorry about the potato camera used.

Now I know that I can grow potatoes and feed myself at least once without much work.
Are you harvesting you potato crop too?


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Spark

Do you have items that spark joyously? 
Things that you look at and just makes you feel confident, content and have happy memories of? 

Do you also look around and see something that you just do not want to see for any reason? 
That thing that doesn’t work, that thing that you know you should get rid of, the thing you have no use for and it belonged to somebody that you didn’t particularly think of very fondly?

You know you could. You say you should but it ends with that and a sigh. "I really could ..."
Now is the time to do it.
Lift your eye and go and sort out that one thing you see that you do not like.

It is also easier to find the things you enjoy by cleaning and accounting for everything in your house, section by section, at least once a year. 
You  usually know immediately which things you like more than the others.
Find those. Notice those. Love those.
The items you love, you will be happy to clean, dismantle and thoroughly appreciate. You will be happy adding work to then by mending, polishing, cleaning, ironing or washing.

All other items are just draining you. 
Get them out of your ownership. Get them out of your house. 
At least put them all to the side. 

Keep them separate from the happy things you have. 

I see a computer monitor that has not been used the last year and a pile of papers. I will talk to the man about the monitor and I will sort that pile of papers. Now.
Now I will.
now I do

Monday, 22 August 2016

Art

I like art.

I used to say quoting the Pope in the Michael Angelo skit by Monty Python: I do not know much about art but I know what I like.
I later learnt more about art and definitely stopped knowing what I liked.
Very different types of art opened up to me with a little bit more knowledge. I developed from my teenage deep love for the Dutch masters and ventured into different types of art, both backwards and forwards in time. I now even like modern art, installations, events and all forms of expressions: paint, dance, video, uncommunicative, plaster, graphics - you name it.

I do not like all art. I do not like everything of anything. I do not even understand most of what is presented as art. But there is really something about art, modern art, young artists, experimental artist that shoves, drags and transports us and our society to see the unseen. It is good for us. That opening of a thought, any thought, is always a good thing; regardless of what value we as individuals put on the quality of the thought.

So I like art.

I found the most addictive little art game on-line the other day.
The United Nations World Food Programme has a free education, free food web-site called www.freerice.com It has advertisements where 10 grams of rice is donated with every page view. This is something I support and I have opened my Ad-blocker for them.

And it is addictive!

The site works as a free learning site and with every answer, a donation is made. I think you can log on and keep track of how much you donate, but I have not done that.
I donate kilo's a month anyway. Because I am addicted to the Famous Paintings subject.
The game can be set for different subjects, vocabulary, geography, human anatomy etc but also Famous Paintings. The game is simple.
They show a famous painting and my task is to identify the painter. Easy?
Yes, the first few rounds.
After that... Let me not give it away. Try it out. I get noting for it, you might learn something and the United Nations Food Program get more rice to fight hunger with.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

BANG!

BANG!

I bought a piece of art.
I liked it, I thought it looked interesting and the thrift shop only charged 50 eurocents for it.

After a bit of research, an email to an international expert, a glance at international sites for selling of items and some further reading about colonialism and history, I now know why.
It has a lot of interesting aspects.
I also know that my investment has is worth hundreds of per cent more than I paid for it, and that a lot of people would not even touch it.
I have hung it on a nail on my wall.

What I bought is a 19th century copy of a painting by Antonio (Anthony) van Dyck.

It is a portrait of James II of England (James VII of Scotland), also known as James Stewart. It is a detail from a larger painting showing the three oldest children of Charles I. (There are other paintings showing the four-five-six-seven oldest children of Charles I (Queen Elizabeth II of England owns some of them and they are displayed at Windsor Castle.)

The original of my little detail is painted probably 1635 and could possibly be from the one on display in the Galleria Sabauda in the Palazzo Reale Museum in Turin, Italy. At least it looks like this, copied http://www.jacobite.ca/gazetteer/Turin/GalleriaSabauda.htm ). 







The accompanied text from the Jacobite.co site, notes other versions of the same painting, also originals by Van Dyck. One is supposed to be in Dresden (probably Gemäldegallerie Alte Meister, but I have so far not found a picture on-line, and I have no recollection of it from the time when I called Dresden home). 



Another version by Van Dyck is supposed to be in Stanford Hall in the UK. Today Stanford Hall is today a wedding and party venue of the more exclusive kind. They have posted pictures on-line and in one of them (which I have rudely screen-shot). The Van Dyck can be seen on the wall.



 My little painting is nothing like this. Nor does my house look anything like this.

My little painting is very fine, detailed, delicate and could possibly be painted on glass. 
It is a delight to see - under a magnifying glass. There is a tiny, tiny signature (NOT Van Dyck).

It is set in ivory under a convex glass (slightly dirty on the inside ) surrounded by a not too fine yellow metal ring. It is ready to hang and it looks like this in a mirror image:


I long to break into the frame to see the back of the miniature portrait and to clean the glass but I suppose I should not. Similar 19th century copies of unknown paintings set in ivory are sold on-line for between €55-75. I am guessing that it could fetch more as it is a copy of Van Dyck and of a very very historically controversial person. If I ever sell it, I will make a donation to the thrift shop organisation.
However, it is not for sale at the moment. Ivory older than 1947 is legal to sell and the back clearly shows that this little thing is older than that. However, it is not uncontroversial to sell ivory, and a lot of people will not touch it.

I have hung it on my wall with pictures of other Catholics while the Orange family looking angrily at them from the Protestant wall.


The international expert I asked? Bendor Grosvenor from the BBC series Fake or Fortune. See his blog in my link love list to the right. Not that he gave much of an answer, but he did answer!


By the way, did you know Samuel Pepys on 11 April 1669 complained that James as the Duke of York was looking too long at his wife ("did eye my wife mightily")? You find also find Samuel Pepys Diary in my link love list to the right.

All links in this post are to link love sites, nothing commercial.



Friday, 19 August 2016

Clothes2016

We came home from our trip with our 12-13 kilo backpacks and our 2 kilo bags of clothes.
As almost everything we used for our month in Ireland was camping, hiking or running gear, it washed and dried quickly and could be folded up.
I stopped there.

I wanted to take the time to go through all my clothes before everything went into the wardrobe.
Counting, trying on, assessing needs and removing items that really should not be used much more.
I even attempted to dust and clean all shelves and hangers.

I didn't get through it all. Not even I live up to my, usually continuously reduced, requirements.

However, what I DID DO was the following:
Pile of not to be used much more-clothes:
I did bring and completely wear out some clothes in Ireland which were thrown in a container (for household waste) on our last day, including a pair of old jeans (buttocks hanging out). But as soon as I opened the wardrobe at home, I immediately saw items that I did not or should not wear much any more. They all immediately went into a pile containing odd bras, worn out socks, badly fitting tops, shorts and some almost completely worn out trousers. I will see if I will use any of this at home (I do work from home sometimes) and try to dress myself from the pile. But I doubt much of it will be selected for re-use and it will go into my "on the way out of the door" box. I will go through these as well as all other items already in the box and then be done with the whole lot. Most of it is not even good enough for charity. I do wear out my clothes but then I also have a storage of good clothes not currently in use to draw from, so I do not really need to buy new things. 

Start counting clothes and assessing needs:
I got as far as the following:
Trousers: NO NEEDS. In total 18 pairs of items to wear on my legs, including very nice, almost unworn office trousers as well as sports trousers, shorts, shorts and hiking trousers. Pyjama trousers and skirts are not included (but is seriously easy to add: 4 pyjama bottoms and 2 skirts).
Underwear: NO NEEDS unless it is free, then I can buy three very specific items in the right colour, size, design and price (so far quite elusive items). But other than that, the need for underwear, including bra's and slips is fulfilled.
Pyjama: NO NEEDS but want a silk pyjama and since they are very expensive (about €70 and my budget would be around €5) it is a no go. Still a want though. Otherwise four bottoms, three tops, two gowns and a pair of sleeping socks will see me through the winter. If I need any more, this is something I could and should sew.
Socks: NO NEEDS although I thought this was what I would have to buy this year. But with 10 warm socks, five long socks, 6 short sockies, 8 traditional black cotton socks for the office, two cheerful socks, 2 sport socks and a pairs for sleeping, I really do not need any more during the winter. Then - in 2017- I will go and buy a ten-pack of my favourite supermarket basic standard black socks (which has a distinct feature so that the man and I can differentiate between our otherwise identical standard black socks). I will then toss out all the old office socks in one go.

I did not get around to count and assess needs among tops, light sweaters, warm sweaters and jackets - but if I remember correctly and look at the piles and piles of clothes I still own (counted in 2015) -
I do not need anything soon anyway. I was given a t-shirt from the archaeological dig we attended this summer. Great quality with a funny print and I will wear it a few times and then probably sleep very well in it for about ten years.
If something changes, I'll get the clothes I then need. But I am not buying for just in case.
I have all the just in case I need.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

BABPS

Bites, aches, bruises, pimples and scratches  -
slowly they are starting to heal.

A week ago, I got severely bit by something that I have never been bit by before. I know that because my immune system told me there were absolutely no anti-bodies in my body against whatever that bug was.
I got five huge, wide, high and irrrrritatitngly itching blotches in a lovely blue colour.
(Finger, arm, bum, hip and toe)
I dove deep into my old storage of antihistamines and allergy pills for some relief.
Within four days, the blotches were starting to reduce. (And possibly completely without any help at all from the allergy pills I was eating double doses of - as I had a lot in storage.)
Now, a week later, I am left with the blue spots and the scabs from where I scratched the skin off. In another week of so, I hope all signs of them will be gone. The apartment is cleaned and vacuumd and emptied and bug-proofed and I have not got any new ones in a week.


The bruises are all starting to heel too. The typical volunteer archaeologist knee bruises are finaly starting to fade. Knee pad were of course used but I just could not stay on them.
This summer I have looked like a hard working exotic dancer or a hard working Catholic nun.
I was looking forward to some shorts or even a skirt in the warm weather when  -bang- I walked straight into a bedpost and bruised the entire leg. I now look like a four year old after her first bike ride. Band-aid and everything.

The scratches are mostly all my own doing but climbing Mesolithic tombs and the accompanying fences (barbed wire fences!) did nothing for the civilized look. The worst scratch across the upper arm is healing nicely and can almost be hidden by a t-shirt.

The pimples will clear with better food and cleaner water. I again realised how good the tap water is in the Netherlands and in Sweden, in comparison to Ireland and Belgium. Drinking a normal amount of water every day (not too much and not too little) cleans my skin and I will probably have another week or so until the cleaning and cleansing reaches from the inside all the way out. Not digging in dirt is also going to help the skin to heal itself.

I like roughing it for weeks and even months at a time. This adventure really has not been roughing it very much, although the work was very physical. Most nights we slept indoors and we always had clean tap water and even something that could be called a shower available. Not just quite the standard of living even my home apartment can give, even its low standard is higher than that.

I am very happy to have a home of my own where I can heal my BABPS.
It may not be much but the adventure this summer again made me grateful that I have it. Small as it is by normal standards, tiny by most, shocking by some, it is safe and clean and mine.
My home base is truly my first priority.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Arms

My arms started to do the double wave bye bye.
You know, the ones where you wave once with the hand and once with the floppy bit of the inside of the upper arm.

The plans for the adventure to Ireland and all the the physically hard work that it would include (archaeology is not for the weak), also included a lot of arm strengthening exercises.
I have very little sport equipment but I do have some. The plan was to do more physical exercises when watching telly or reading in the sofa. These micro exercises which I have described earlier, really made a world of difference.

Not only did all the physical hard work (think chain gang, breaking stones) not injure my arms or shoulders;
not only did I have the strength at the end of every day to lift my knife and fork for dinner (although I will admit I did feel them the first week)
but together it also actually have resulted in giving me quite nice upper arms.

The upper arms do not flap anymore.
The inner arms do not flop anymore.
The shoulder is stronger and there might even be a hint of minuscule muscle to be seen occasionally.
Most importantly, the little cushion between the chest and the arm is almost entirely gone.
(Ladies: is there a name for this useless thing? The thing that ruins every sleeveless dress or top on a woman past hmpf-hmpf-something of age?)

Anyway, my point is:
With very little effort, no sweat, no thought and only the occasional "ouch, ouch, huff, puff, only one more", I have gained armstrength and nice looking arms.
Not bad for no money at all, is it?