Sunday, 30 April 2017

Walk

One of my short term ambitions from March 2017 was to keep the routine of a daily walk.

Both for weight control, stamina, strength and to see things around me.
I need to keep track of my heart after the time when I rode the pling-plong taxi to the band-aid house and although I am cleared for running, I really never did get into running when I tried it before. It is just not my thing to exercise for sweat.

I do micro exercises, every so irregularly a session pilates on the living-room floor from a dvd and I hike with back-pack for vacation.
However, I do go for a walk most days.

Every day, the ambition is to go for a walk. Most days after work it happens and when he can, the man will come with me. We then do a walkie-talkie and get the stress and concerns of the day out of our heads. Most days when not working, either one of us will say Walkie? and like old dogs, the other will wag the tail, get out of the sofa and go for the shoes.

Usually the walk takes 20-40 minutes and goes around the neighbourhood. Sometimes adventures happen and it takes two hours or more to come home. We try not to eat out but we sometimes do the shopping or errands during the walks.
Mostly we just walk. Stomping, hand in hand, through the city, the parks, along the canals, going to see different sights or developments or places where buildings are coming up, or past the zoo to the the flamingos, or down the seedy neighbourhood to reclaim the streets and say hello to all the young men hanging on the streets.

The point with the walk is to introduce and keep medium-level physical activity into a daily routine.
The plan is to do it every day, every single day. It isn't more difficult than it can be done everyday. I hardly need a rest day to recuperate or such nonsense. There are immediate benefits mentally (de-stress, connect and consider my surroundings) and physically in the long run.
It took a very long time to find a way to have time and energy for exercise in a form that I could be comfortable with and feel like doing most days.

How do you get your daily activity?
This is my way.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Wheels

My wheels have been to service and for repairs.
I usually do most things myself but this I could not do. At lest I never got around to doing it.
A new gear box was clearly needed and with that new breaks.
I suppose that the new parts could just be slotted in as replacements for the old but I have been riding with bad gears and insufficient breaks for too long and something had to be done.

I found a repair man with a lazy eye and greasy hands who knew exactly what I wanted and what I did not need. He fixed everything in a few hours and left the broken back light for me to fix on my own whenever I get around to it. I paid him happily and instantly forgot about it. It was already budgeted in my joy-money.

I took the wheels out for a pure joy ride today. Riding hard past children, train crossings and past cyclists without fear as the brakes works perfectly.
Gear up, and up, up, up and up and faster and faster along the river.
The wind in my hair and sun in my eyes. Free falling with Tom Petty.

Did I mention that the only wheels I own is my bicycle?

Portion

Fun fact:

If you portion control the eating for two months, lose weight and eat healthily - and then for your birthday have meat, cheese, wine, beer, snacks and candy -
 you get a tummy ache...

... as a gift.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Left

I am naturally right-handed so I need to focus on strengthening my left arm.
I try to use both of my arms.

I have broken my right wrist twice in my life living with a cast for a month each time.
Once playing football (international version where you really do not use your hands but I am so exceptional, I managed to break my wrist anyway. Sigh!)
The other time I broke my wrist was on a bar fight wrestling with a friend. (I was in another bar fight when I sucker-punched an annoying guy without breaking my hand - and without being arrested. I did get thrown out of the bar though.)
ANYWAY...

Both times with my right hand in a cast were very difficult.
Both times I have managed and I learnt to use my left hand more.
I still do try to use both hands as much as possible.
I type with both hands. I remote-control with both hands (so I can eat with my right and remote with the left if I want to.) I stir the porridge with my left. I try to brush my teeth with my left (which I can not do yet) and to unlock the door and turn the handle with my left (which I can do if I focus and look at my hands). It is handy in every day life to be ambidextrous.

It is good to train the left arm by just using it more in everyday jobs. I do not recommend breaking your hand just to do this (but most things have a silver lining and this is what I got from that.)
My ambition to increase my physical activities also has worked and I now have much stronger arms.

I also try to wipe the doors with the left hand. It takes somewhat longer time but it is really good exercise. I still have six to go though.

Can you use both hands? 

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Vegetables

One of my short term ambitions for 2017 was to have a month without meat from March.
That did not work out completely. It took a few weeks and a few public announcements to remember that I was not to eat meat.

Now, six weeks later I can say that at least during the last three weeks I have not had meat. (I think.)
I have had fish and egg and cheese and dairy so I am neither vegetarian nor vegan.
Nor do I aspire to be. Not yet and not labelling myself as such.

But currently we have no meat in the house (except fish, and although it is illogical, I will treat it differently). We didn't buy any when we stocked up last time and we decided that if we really want meat one day, we will go and buy it then. Then we will buy exactly the meat we want and the best we can get. None of that 'cheap as possible, keep it at home just in case' because that stifles the creativity to eat without meat.

A bit of creativity is needed to change the routines in the kitchen. The man is very good at cooking and I am very good at using up left-overs and using what is just about to go bad before it does. Together we keep track of each other.
Thankfully we both already like lentils, beans, carrots, potatoes and I have forced cabbage and kale through to having become a staple food item in our house because I like it.
We cook pasta with veggie stir-fries and cheese on top, all and any Indian and Asian dishes, lentils, beans, polenta, couscous, pumpkin and all steamed/boiled veggies with sardines, mayonnaise, aioli, chilli sauce etc. on the side. When it is cold, we make roasted vegetables in the oven. We try to buy and use all available vegetables to find new flavours and favourites, both fresh and frozen. We also use all spices in the house to vary the flavour.
Tip for adults: Steam endive, serve with a few slices of a strong cheese on top and mustard on the side. Better than pizza.

The food prices are down considerably!!
It is amazing how cheap it is to eat predominantly vegetarian! There is no budgetary limit to the quality and price of meat that we ever want to buy, because we save probably close to half of our weekly food budget by not buying meat. The fish vendor sells us the best and the freshest there is and still it is cheaper than our standard meat almost every day budget.
Beat that!
With six no-meat days a week, meat becomes a delicatessen. Something to splurge on. Something to demand quality from. Something to research and wait for. Something to cherish. Ecological from small farmers. Game. Best cuts. Prepared with care and consideration.
It is not a 'what did I just eat' item any more.

Vegetables are the staple in our house now and although the man always has been very good at demanding his two veg per meal - I am now on board too.

And another side effect - besides being environmental and animal friendly (not for fish, I admit) is that I am dropping weight like there was no tomorrow.
Even with (home made) cheese sauce on top, a portion of steamed veggies NEVER reaches the calorie levels of meat.
Not even lean meat.

Do you have a favourite vegetable?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Pens

I steal pens.
I do not mean to. I really don't. I do not do it on purpose. But it is a fact.
If you lend me a pen, you are highly unlikely to see that pen again.
A pen in my hand stays in my hand and I will, unless I focus or you are attentive, leave with it.

This is socially not a large burden. Pens are spoils of war in office surroundings.
I however end up with a lot of pens at home.

Around 2010 and especially 2013, I started gathering all pens in all parts of the home, from all bags, and all drawers. They were stored in one place and one place only. I hoped this would enable me to use and use up the pens I have and possibly focus my attention on not bringing more pens home.
I also established a complete BUY BAN on pens. This buy ban has been in effect ever since!

Now, in 2017, I am finally low on pens. I have two pens in very odd colours that were bought to an office where I worked around 2005, in these rather unusual colours so that "the pens would never leave the archive". To this day, I hear the exasperated voice of the archivist who never had a pen available. We all vowed that these pens would never leave the desk in the archive.
I  have two.

I also have pens that I bought when I graduated in 1994 and left the university book store. I bought several because how could I ever possibly live without these special pens? I still have five (in three different colours). They are really very good pens.

I also have some very nice, brand name pens that unsuspicious people have lent me over the years.
Thankfully, none of them is VERY expensive. I have never managed to walk away with a something really good. But still, they are pens definitely bought to be used for special things. I have several.

But I am finally running low on cheap pens. I hardly have any pens left from hotels, conference centres, companies or brands. I have been very diligent the past few years to use up the non-special ones, one after another, and then throw them out. I go through the pens almost every year to make sure they still work and throw (or re-build) the ones that doesn't. (As a part-time student, I still take a lot of notes with pens.)
The good pens were bundled up and tucked away until the bad pens were used up.

I have started using the good pens now.
The enormous masses of pens has finally been reduced. I make no promises that I will not bring home more hotel pens or conference writing material but those days are past and very few of those pass my hands any more.
I can see the end to the excess. I can see the beginning of a life with very few pens in the house. The extravagant amounts of office material that I have accumulated over the year is reduced.
I can start dreaming about special pens again.

Does anybody have a pen to lend me?

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Shopping behaviour

I am starting to see a pattern.

I try to create conscious decisions for the future. I try to eliminate random purchases, influenced by marketing or promotions. I try to buy what I want for the price I want to pay for it - and I am willing to wait for the right moment.

Going through everything I own, identifying, counting, assessing and remembering, shows that I have not done this before too well.
That is what the list of jackets I own from yesterday tells me.

In the past I have bought, or have been given by the trash gods, jackets randomly.
I have grabbed them as they pass me by on the commercial roads. Many of them have been great purchases. For example the stylish coat ten years ago for €30 that I still use and will use another ten years is the best example. The five almost identical office jackets were more thought through purchases. (Or I bought one, loved it and went out to buy all I could find in my size in reasonable colours.) Many others are just great jackets that I still hold on to because I own them, can never replace and love - but not really must have.

Several of these have been bought on a whim.
The suede coat from Scotland. It is mine, it will not fit anybody else. It is just perfect. But I rarely wear it. Suede in a rainy country is not very suitable. It is also slightly too warm and bulky to wear as an indoor jacket. If I ever meet anybody who loves it as much as I do, I will gladly let this one move on.
The opera jacket from Shanghai. It is made to measure, it is perfect for its job, and solves all problems dressing for fancy opera, theatre or other similar events. But I really very rarely go to these events any more and with my increasing age, independence and (ehm) sophistication - when I go, I go in normal clothes and do not dress up any more. I'll be in the cheap seats anyway and times are changing - who cares what you wear to the opera! I could easily let this jacket move on too - any long-armed, wide-shouldered large sized woman out there in need of a black opera jacket?
The velvet tail coat. This is my new years eve jacket, my outdoor wedding jacket, my dress for the cultural events with the culture workers jacket. Put it on and I am turned into a cool, edgy, fun person - half Slade, half Adam and the Ants, half Downton Abbey. But it just doesn't fit perfectly over the shoulders and I am not skilled enough to fix it (not in velvet!) and so far not engaged enough to have somebody else do it well for money. I could survive without it.

All these jackets were bought on a whim. None of them were looked for, thought over, analysed or even contemplated before purchase. Not like the rain jacket in 2015 or the three-season jacket from 2016.
So I see a pattern of the past creating consequences now and for the future.

The plan for shopping already put in place must be followed: All purchases must be considered in advance. Spur-of-the moment purchases are usually not completely right. (I have more examples, and more recently too, unfortunately...)
Lesson learned:
Just because I have bought some lovely jackets over the years that I have managed to find a (theoretical) use for, does not mean that I should continue doing so. Enough is enough.
No more jackets. (period)
No purchases of really anything without a thought through plan. 
No purchase or anything over €20 without a 30 day waiting period.

I hope this will stop the random purchasing.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Jackets2017

I have counted my jackets and coats. The difference to the list from 2016 is that this time I also included office and indoor jackets:

I have more than I ever would have though.
- 1 brown thick winter coat (old, at least from before 2008, but can manage another season as it is only used in freezing temperatures).
- 1 black three-season long jacket (bought 2016)
- 1 long black, tailored flared coat (bought H&M on sale in 2007 for €30 because it had lost its belt, still stylish for when I need to be stylish)
- 1 rain coat (white, black, wonderful but not very practical and doesn't get used much, bought 2011)
- 1 beige summer coat (probably early 2000 sometime)
- 1 brown suede jacket, almost like the black leather one John Travolta wore in Get Shorty (bought in Dunfermline in Scotland in 2006 for £5 in a charity shop)
- 1 rain jacket (the much beloved bought 2015)
- 1 ski jacket (the rarely used one bought mid-1990 and there is still hope to use it)

- 1 green from around 2005 with metal buttons that fits perfect and makes me look really cool (why do I not wear it more often?)
- 1 black summer jacket (a gift from the trash gods 2015)
- 5 office jackets almost identical (three black jackets, one white jacket and one dark grey are identical and all are bought around 2008. Stretch, machine wash, excellent quality. One or two are at the end of their life).
- 1 black velvet opera jacket made to measure in Shanghai 2009.
- 1 antique velvet coat with tails from a second hand shop in Brussels from 2010, probably 1970s.

I have 17 jackets for the four seasons I live with. I really do NOT NEED ANY JACKETS!
Note to self: STAY AWAY FROM JACKETS and COATS.

How many jackets and coats do you have?

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Doors2017

High time to de-snot all doors and handles in the house.

We have 9 doors in the apartment. Each door has two sides and two handles.
That means that there are 18 larger amounts of painted door area to wipe and sanitize.
There are also 18 handles to clean.
And of course, 18 door frames must be cleaned at the same time.

It is also very good arm exercises and I try to use both arms for the job.

I'll let you know when I have wiped all 9 doors, handles and frames.
One down - eight to go. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Seeds2017

Since 2013, I have strived to grow fresh herbs on our small balcony.
Mostly because the cost of fresh herbs that the man wants to use is just horrendous. Partly because I want to be self-sufficient. A bit is also that the man wants to grow flowers (flowers!!!) and I really have no patience spending time on items that I can not eat. (Forever the utilitarian.)

Currently, the man's apartment is in the middle of an enormous exterior renovation. Last fall the front was wrapped in scaffolding for months. Now the back - and our balcony - is covered by netting and scaffolding. The floor of the balcony will be removed any day now and we have had to move everything off it. Including the plum-tree that has spent the last three weeks in our living-room and absolutely LOVES it. She (we call her Prunie) is spreading all branches and displays a wonderful range of pink and white flowers over half of the room. It is beautiful. (We crawl around being bumble-bees pollinating as much as we can but we may probably not get any plums this year.)

Even if we do not know when we will have access to the balcony again, I have started germinating all an any seeds available in the house. They are all very old this year but maybe some will germinate and can be planted.

So far the tomato seeds have germinated (eight little seed spurts has gone into a seed pot) but the parsley has not. Neither has the dill, aubergine or the broccoli but they have not had much time yet either. There is still hope.

I germinate them on kitchen paper on a plate with plastic foil over in a shaded window (I have a lot of those right now) in a warm room (few of those available as we try to keep the heating as low as possible to not encourage Prunie to much).

I still have lots of different seeds to try out but all of them are quicker to grow and really should not stay indoors very long after starting to grow. We may after all not have access to the balcony until June.
Hopefully some of the seeds, already paid for and close to just being thrown out, can give us something home grown to eat later this year - or at least some skills.

Are you germinating? Your seeds.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Dresses

I own two dresses. One grey. One black.

Both are remnants from my previous lifestyle. Both are chosen to be long-term money saving items.
Both are bought no less than ten years ago and used no more than ten times each. I have no memory of what I paid or even where I bought them, but they have saved me much concern and bother.
Both have saved me a lot of money.

Let me just add that I do not like dresses and skirts are possibly the only other piece of clothing I detest wearing more. I do not wear dresses and skirts unless I have to. That is why I only have two dresses and two skirts and wear almost neither. But most people are different. Many of them ought to learn some new tricks.

In my previous lifestyle I often needed to wear dresses. Cultural and professional reasons mostly. I really would struggle not conforming by wearing a dress. So I wore dresses for work when I had to.

However, since I wore dresses for work, nobody really cared what I wore as long as it was appropriate. It was a cultural uniform. A professional tool.

Sometime in the mid-2000, I simplified the dress-part of my life. I got a simple dress, used it every time, dressed it up differently every time, wore my hair differently and always looked professional.

For example, a simple good-quality, fitted knitted black dress, knee-length, demure, easy to clean, easy to stretch and easily forgettable.
The dress is also very easy to dress up and to change with accessories. I still own it.
And last night, the black dress saved my life.

We were invited to a fancy 50-year party with dress requirements. I could possibly force my way through the event in trousers but with the dress in my wardrobe, I did not have to force anything.
With the recent weight decrease, the dress fitted very nicely too.
An extravagant, dramatic glass-bead necklace the man gave me for a birthday, a pair of nice-lady office shoes, and a pair of silky pantihose from the sock drawer bought more than ten years ago and still in it original packaging, completed the ensemble.
A black and gold shawl picked up in a metro-shop as an emergency-buy before a cocktail party in 2009 for €5, my mothers clutch bag from the 1950s and my regular three-season jacket from last year was added.
With washed hair, some hairspray, some foundation and a lick of shimmering eye shadow (no mascara as I don't have any) I was ready for my close-ups, Mr DeMille.

(That I was coughing my lungs out every five minutes was not part of the plan.)

The man put on his grey designer suit from when he was a fashion slave, ironed a white office shirt, polished his daily shoes and added a vintage bow-tie I bought him from a dingy second-hand shop some years ago and that matched my neck-lace.

Together we looked exceptional.
We photographed ourselves extensively before we left for the party.
(The pictures do not show that we were coughing every five minutes and had to cut the party somewhat short.)

I can not repeat this miracle every month but I was very happy to pull off last nights "performance" without too much concern.
If I have to dress up with these people the next time, I'll wear the grey dress.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Weight

I have a goal for my weight.

I need to come down to 0. Not zero weight but down to the target weight. Not a goal weight, not a dream weight, not anything glamorous. But the target weight is what I am aiming for. It is a weight that I really shouldn't have passed at all but am now struggling to come back to.
I let it happen. I have to do the job. I have to do it now. If I gain any more, it will just be more difficult to remove it.

Currently I am a +4. I have four kilos to lose and keep away for ever.
I have been +9 and I have been +4 before.

Right now I am down to +4. During the month in Lisbon I got a lot of exercise. Lisbon is hilly and uneven so it is a constant aerobics exercise to walk around. Combining it with healthy food and the Portuguese portion sizes the weight stopped piling on and started coming off.
Did I really have to prove again that it is less food more exercise that makes the weight come off?

After that I spent almost two weeks on site and in the base. There I have to keep food very simple. I have no fridge and there is very little access to fast food (and I am picky and cheap so fast food is out anyway). When I came back to the man, we went to bed for a week in colds.

When I came back from Portugal, I made a few short-term goals with regard to food.
No meat, no alcohol and keeping the portion sizes Portuguese.
In the last month, I have had one glass of wine with friends. I have had meat three times (four including yesterday): one portion of grilled chicken, one main course of high-quality beef and at the airport I found myself gobbling at the tasting stand for salami - twice - until I remembered that salami is meat. (Duh!)

There has been a fantastic change. Not really on the scale, I am still on +4. But thighs are slimmer, belly less protruding, and waist a lot less.
I finally have a waist less than half of my height (this is apparently a simplified tool to measure bodies with). I also have a BMI within healthy again. 

Thank heavens, because I have to break out one of the old nice dresses from my old lifestyle and a pair of nice lady office shoes AND a pair of nylons (pantihose) for the nice party tonight.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Cough

Cough Cough Cougrrrrrrgh Cough Cough, that has been my beat the last week.

Nasty nasty cold sunk me totally. I have spent a good week in bed, actually eight days so far. I am still not well, but for the first time since I arrived, I am out of bed and staying up. Thank heavens for a online-based job and flexible work hours! Although I have been mostly in bed, I have carried out all urgent tasks and a lot of routine tasks I normally never have patience to do, and will not loose too much work time.

I was not alone in bed. The man completely went down too in a similar cold. Like to old cats, we have slept, snored, coughed and blown our noses through a week of constant companionship. Sleeping in the day, coughing in the night. Up for a shower, back to bed for a nap. Eating every cold remedy available in the house. Roll and roll of nice lady butt toilet paper used to blow noses. The days have passed one by one almost un-noticed. With a change of pyjama every second day and a shower almost every day, only laundry has been done regularly.
Food has been eaten but not the normal amounts. Food is cooked by anybody with temporary energy. The other cooks food in the next phase of awakeness. Thanks to poor appetite and basic provisions at home food has been available. However, two days ago we went to The Good Veggie-Shop (not actual name) and stocked up. Yesterday the man claimed he needed meat (first meat in almost a month) and went across the street to "Bad Supermarket" (commonly known as) and bought some with some other provisions.

Today vacuuming has been done and I think we are on the mend. The sheets are changed and I have started the sanitation project (wiping walls, door handles, switches etc from coughing residues. Toothbrush is boiled and cleaned. Gross? Ohyes! But I am not risking re-infection.)

We are still coughing and still blowing noses but the virus infection is gone. So now we drink enormous amounts of liquids (non-caffeinated) by the hour to clear phlegm and mucus from sinuses and lungs, staying clear of bacterial infections. No exercise, warm clothes and hearty, healthy food.

The aim is to be presentable at tomorrows big party!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

FI33,84


The Financial Independence number from April 1, 2017 is no joke.
I was expecting a drop or a stagnation in the number because we spent a month in Lisbon not saving very much in February and that the stock markets were volatile in March. But no. I am not very sensitive to stock market fluctuations and since I was out on site and in the nest a good part of March, my expenses were low and the savings high.

The Financial Independence number ended up being again an all time high: 33,84. Meaning that all my assets added up, except the value of my apartment as I must always live somewhere and also except the value of any pension systems I or employers have paid into as I have very little control over them, and divided with my estimated annual budget that I can and live and have lived on for a long time, gives the number 33,84. This means that if I live like I do now, my assets will last me 33,84 years. I cross my fingers that all future coming price increases will be compensated by increased interests and dividends but nobody will know for sure about anything in the future, and certainly not about the future of finances. I could cut the annual budget some more if I have to but even if I could, my spending would not be increased very much and will never include expensive take out coffee, magazines or air-fresheners.

I also still work and make money more than I need each month although I did retire to 80% in 2013. This means that the increase in FI-number between months also includes new savings, not only value increases.

Anyhow, nothing of this makes any difference as we currently spend no money, both in bed with each one gigantic cold. We eat out of the cabinets and consume all available old French cough drops, old German homoeopathic congestion relievers, Swedish throat pistils, Belgian nose drops and roll after roll of god toilet paper.
(We got a house sitter for our apartment plants when we went to Lisbon, not because we needed it, but because she urgently needed to redo her bathroom while working intently so she moved into our place, and because she is a soft nice lady, she bought soft nice lady butt toilet paper, no liking our rough frugal hard working toilet paper, and left it behind.)

So now we have plenty of soft nice lady butt toilet paper for our snotty noses.
That is no joke either.