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?