Sunday, 15 April 2018


When the colander lost its handle -
a pair of pliers were attached with a rubber band.
The solution still is in place and works fine.
Sure, it looks a bit ridiculous but nobody who is willing to pay for change has seen it yet so no change has been demanded.
More importantly- it works! It is used several times every week for vegetables and pasta.

We have been looking at replacements, even stood in line to pay for one.
But then something, probably size, didn’t feel right, and the purchase wasn’t followed through.
I have an idea what the replacement will look like, and how it would function. However, the need for a new colander isn’t very great.

When Not buying anything, wasn’t buying anything like a new flipper but re-purposing its handleless remain for something else, I was intrigued. It turned out to be a spatula and not a flip-flop (the non-native English speaker again surprised at the variety of right words in different places.) The sentiment of not buying anything as a matter of pride, I share.

You see, the metal spatula in our house has not had a handle in my lifetime. Meaning it was broken off before l moved in eight years ago. As it is of a different model, it still functions beautifully in all non-stick pans (and with the very occasional cake cutting). It is accompanied with wooden spatulas and other kitchen utensils. This one is unique. Not only that it is the only one broken, but that it is the only one of metal.

I think my position could be summarised as follows:
I’d rather give a hand than demand a handle.

We are still working on changing the handles in the kitchen to kitchier ones. Still not paying for it. Still walking around with a screw driver in my bag for when the trash gods will give me access to some broken furniture. (I found some fantastic ones a few months back but in the wrong size. Very disappointed). 

What is your current relationship to handles? Needed or not needed?

Saturday, 14 April 2018


Project red wool has been finalised.
Or more correctly, is drying and will then be finalised.

As so many things in this household, things happens organically.
Laundry time. What needed to be laundered?
I did my winter scarfs, hats and gloves. The man has a winter scarf that is red and fluffy.
It can not be washed with anything normal or everything normal will become red and fluffy.
Washed it needed to be anyway.
What else was red and fluffy in the house.
Blankets in the sofa that had only been dried after the wine incident and never washed.
They are both red and woolly, although not quite as fluffy.
Fluffy blankets will not be a problems. The sofas are also red.
The man has a nice office sweater in red wool.
If everything was to be washed on the cold wool program on the washing machine, that sweater could be washed together with the rest (inside an old pillow case as protection).

Everything fitted nicely, the short program was run, and when finished -
project red wool was finished.

Except - yes, right - the drying time.

Small project for the day.
Together with all other small projects, raises the total organisation and cleanliness in the house.

Saturday, 7 April 2018


I believe in each individuals' obligation to take care of themselves as far as possible, to develop themselves as far as possible, to be as useful contributes to their society as possible and to be optimists.

Manage your own businesses, your own affairs, your own taxes. Know how to feed yourself, to cook, clean, sew and handle your house is the first step. Asking for help, that is also each persons personal task.

I once had a young manager who announced she did not know how to cook.
Proudly. Victorian. As if it showed something good about her.
In the same company there also was an old manager who bought a new shirt when a button fell out of a shirt. None of those behaviours generate confidence and I would want neither of them on my team on a deserted island.

I am most certainly not a 'prepper' but I am prepared to handle myself, help my closest and possibly you too. I am not a libertarian, I value the role of a society, a congregation, a group connection, a clan, possibly even a family structure. I think we need each other and I will want be a contributor, not a burden. Not only a burden anyway.

If we all start by handling and managing ourselves the rest of our energies can be brought to generate common goods. It would reduce the amount of pain for others.

I have high expectations on myself. I want to step up and work hard to meet at least some of them.
And I want to be the person who can ask for help when I need it. 

How about you? Can you handle yourself?

Friday, 6 April 2018

Broken bone

Oh yeah-

I have a broken bone in my foot.

I fell during the emergency action when I dropped my wine glass in the sofa and stained everything within a mile radius a week or so ago.
Because of the quick reactions and dedicated stain removing - the sofa, pillows, clothing and everything else are completely restored - it is sad to have to report, I am not.

The badly bruised foot - from blue, to purple, to green, to yellow - recovered.
It revealed that under the swellings, was a broken foot bone.
Just one.
Not that it really matters. It's only a small one. I have full mobility.
Nothing can be done by even the most skilled orthopaedic surgeon.
It will heal by it self.
I can walk, run and cycle without problems. There is pain only when touching the top part of the foot so shoes are a little choicy at the moment. The softer the top the better and I lace loosely around the break.

I have healed broken bones before.
I slipped on ice in the winter of 2009 and did a perfect James Brown imitation, slamming both knees to the ground. Almost without a scratch on the skin but I broke/cracked a patella. Staying of my knees for a few months, the bone was completely restored and after a few years, all bone scarring disapeared.
In 2011, I got stuck in a tram and broke the fibia in my lower leg. The break was clean, did not move and as it was supported by the tibia, there was nothing that needed to be done. As long as nobody kicked me on the shins (or me kicking my shin onto something else) it was pain free. It healed quickly but the unevenness of the bone setting could be felt for years after. By now, the bone is completely even again.

Don't try this at home. Do reset bones professionally as major internal injuries can occur otherwise. Ribs, collar bones, fingers, toes and other mobile bones however, are healed by taping them and rest.
No doctor is going to advice on anything else so save your time.

I have public free health insurance, I don't go to the doctor for these things anyway.
And I drink milk.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

DVD 2018

As a movie lover, a film watcher and a fan of acting; I own movies on DVDs.
I sold a lot in the large 2014 clear out but when I counted them in 2015 , I still had 150. 

I know I said I was going to do DVDs in January when I counted my CDs.
I didn't - but I have now. I still own 158 DVDs.
Only three of them are sport, yoga, training related.
Consequently 155 proper movies in my possession. The difference is surprising as I have not bought, been given or otherwise acquired any DVDs since then. (Except one about the Nordic Secretaries of the United Nations).
Still,  158 DVDs are what I own.

The man looked through his and within ten minutes had culled about half of them. One quarter were stripped of their plastic cases and put into a DVD holder. The rest were dusted and straightened up on their shelf. It was a quick job because he was in the right mood

I looked at mine and thought: "that is good, that is important, this can never be replaced, that has a sad cover but the story is important, that is another good one, those go together, these are all made by the same director and oh, look at this one, I want to see this immediately..."
Tentatively I hovered a finger over one and think "this could possibly go but only if I truly dislike it when I watch it again."

But then on the other hand, if I don't want to get rid of them, I don't have to get rid of them.
I am not a minimalist.
I am a frugalist.
When (not if) the content on the internet becomes available only to the rich, I will need to own physical movies and music just to have access to artistic expressions I have already paid for and invested in.

I promise myself to do a new inventory of DVDs every year and only keep what I like.
The target is to own 150 DVDs or less by next year... or at least not more.

We have started watching movies again and I have placed one or two that I have no interest in seeing again, in the on-the-way-out-box. The ambition is to watch all of them again. We'll see about that.

How many DVDs do you have?
John, Deb, are you ready with the updated numbers from 2015?

Monday, 2 April 2018

April 2018 - Camping equipment

The monthly task for April 2018 is Camping, sports, summer equipment.
Most of us are outside more in the summer time than in winter and spring. Now is the time to go through everything. Air your sleeping bags, all of them. If you don’t want to air it – do you really want that sleeping bag?
For you in the southern hemisphere with winter periods, is it about time to wrap things up and pack it up safely into storage. 
Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mattress, cooking kit, back pack, bicycle bags (a very urgent need this year, let me tell you later), hiking boots and shoes, sport equipment, camping food, and all the paraphernalia that surrounds it that I have accumulated and not really use, is part of this inventory task. Take it out, shake it out, air it, test it, use it - or move it to the on-the-way-out-box.

I know I do not need anything - and I really try not to want anything. 
I have over the years gathered all this stuff in one large plastic container and what does not fit there, is at least gathered in one place.  
It should be possibly a relatively easy task to go through it this year. I might even kick some things out as not needed.

Note to self: This is the year to make a decision about fishing equipment (a rod and lures in the book shelf does not fish it self even if you live overlooking a water.) Use it or loose it.

Going through the camping, sport and summer equipment is also a task that has become urgent very quickly. We are going on our first expedition already in April. 
Although not sleeping out (still to cold for that) all the light weight hiking gear and clothes will be needed for our week of rummaging through the countryside and historical places.
If anybody wants to meet up with us, we will be in Kent (UK) around third week of April.

Sunday, 1 April 2018


In times of extensive expenditure, it feels uncomfortable with a volatile stock market. It affects assets in stocks, funds, pensions and most of all - FI: my financial independence number.

I count it in the same way on the first of every month and it is the total value of assets (excluding property that I live in and pension rights that I can not touch or control). I will always need to live somewhere and although there are assets in the small studio that is my bolt hole in my mother's country, it is currently not for sale and therefore the assets are nil. I do not count the value of pension rights invested beyond my control before my retirement as the value is currently nil for me and what the value will be the day I retire, is anybody's guess. So I will not guess, but I do track the value.

I do not count the value of any other property (not that I have any) in my assets. Cars can go over the edge into a canal faster than you say "parallel parking in Amsterdam" and second hand items have none or very little value.
I have no debt since 2010 but that would be deducted from the assets (actually I do owe taxes currently and my employer owes me travel cost reimbursements - it will all be sorted during the month, and should if done completely correctly be included in the assets calculations.)

I log on to all accounts on the first of each month when all bills for the coming month are paid. (I have adjusted payment dates for all fixed bills to coincide with salary payments. It just goes in 'n' out and that part of my salary I never really see.) The rest of income is saved or booked for any other payments. At the end of the first of the month, I know I am financially secure at least that month - for what ever I can predict. The savings are invested with focus in long-term dividends and with the ambition of never loosing its value. I do not risk my investments - they are my financial independence money and they must always be there. Some available immediately, some in stocks with dividends, some in long-term funds. Everything is in my name. The man and I have separate financial lives for reasons.

I divide my total assets with my annual budget (that I live within comfortably and have for years) as I keep the costs lower than the budget. 

Currently the FI-number is 35,96 - meaning I can live almost 36 years within my current budget keeping my fingers crossed that price increases and dividends/interests equalise and compensate each other. I also still work - although only four days a week - and still add to the savings each month.

This month is another disasterous stock market month - although not as bad as last week. I tell myself "long term investments and dividends focusing so the current value does not matter" - but it is hard.

It is especially hard since I am currently also using savings from the "house repairs" part of the budget, not used very much the last few years to pay for Project Bedroom and will use savings from the saved "vacation" part of the budget to buy a new bicycle. With a new fridge in the horizon and warm weather for camping coming, there will be some serious (for me) spendings in the future.
I do not like it one bit. I do not like spending.
But that is what I save for - now I can enjoy the results of eating at home, bringing own snacks, never going out for coffee and having no car to pay for. 

Saturday, 31 March 2018

Clothes - March 2018

The results from the March monthly task are in.
I still have too much clothes.

You would think that not buying clothes, or at least very limited for years, would reduce the amount of clothes in the wardrobe. (Well, it has but there is still much more than I currently need.)
You would also think that loosing weight and packing up all clothes that are too big into a fat-bag would reduce the amount of clothes in the wardrobe. (Well, it did but I will continue to wear clothes that at least stay on the body (and not showing too much of its content). Only the completely too big clothes have been packed up.)

It did however help having to empty the wardrobe during Project Bedroom, cramming everything into the man's wardrobe, into a book case and onto the dining room table for two weeks. Having all clothes in my face left nothing unnoticed. The loved but not worn pieces of clothing became very obvious. (I am still looking at you, beloved brown suede jacket that I do not like to wear.)

Going through everything, using as much as possible (no laundry for weeks) and trying on almost everything before returning it into the old wardrobe in the renovated bedroom has left the following list:

- Sweaters (thin, thick, cardigans, fleece and hoodies): 19
- Pyjama (long, top and bottom): 9 + robe
- Sport bottoms: 3
- Trousers (summer, winter, jeans, hiking, office): 17
- Shorts, skorts and skirts: 6
- Dresses: 2 (+ red Paris trash find dress still waiting to be finally fitted). So 3.
- T-shirts (long-, short-sleeved, cotton and functional fabrics, inc. football, music and events): 38
- Tank tops: 12
- Skirts (including blouses): 17
- Jackets (office, winter, spring, summer, rain, and skiing): 16 (one less than in 2017 as the green jacket has been given to a friend who looks marvellous in it!)
- Plus socks, stockings and underwear of various types.
That's it.
-And shoes.
That is it.

The most shocking number is 67. 38 + 12 + 17.
I have 67 pieces of clothing to wear on my upper body, not including sweaters.
Sure, it ranges from the most revealing tank top via proper office wear to printed band t-shirts.
But nobody needs 67 tops, even if they are in 67 different styles.

The only need indicated is a pair of pyjama bottoms sometime before next cold period.
And possibly cycling shorts with padding.
And maybe maybe a pair of jeans that actually are long enough while fitting well.
The rest is covered by an even more extended buy-ban for clothes.

Friday, 30 March 2018


The new bed has been delivered.
The old broken mattress has been picked up.
The old bed is waiting for its new owner.

We built the new bed with industrial efficiency and had it all in place within four hours (including the surrounding shelving and final skirting boards as well as replacing the ceiling light and the curtains).
(Nothing else is considered essential enough at this point.)

The room is beautiful.

Total cost out of pocket about €650 (€250 floor boards, paint, tools, side shelves, curtain cleaning; the rest payment for the bed after IKEA deducted the price for the eight year old broken mattress.) It will be reduced even further when we manage to sell the old bed frame. 

The new bed is heavenly.
Just wonderful.
Pure bliss.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

New floor

Project Bedroom is almost already over.

After three days, all walls has been painted, the old floor is out, the new floor is in.
I am now busy painting layer after layer on the radiator and endless amounts of heating pipes.
Three days! It took only three days (not including mental preparations).
We are so tired.

After all the discussing, planning, preparing and thinking and re-thinking Project Bedroom,
- when the going actually got going, the going went fast.

We have gone from this:
(note the cat-puke-stain, at least over eight years old
from a cat who died over five years ago)

It took one day to browse the do-it-yourself shops in the area via the internet for a suitable floor in a style we liked for a price that was reduced at the moment and with industrial strength (we are not redoing it in eight years), going to the shop, picking, lifting and buying and then with a borrowed in-store cart wheeling the heavy packages of floor-boards home through the neighbourhood in evening rush-hour.
Nobody raised an eyebrow. (This is Amsterdam after all).
It took an hour to drag the whole thing home.
Half an hour to walk the cart back.
Two hours after initial flooring decision, we had everything needed for Project Bedroom in the house. We reused paint already in the house (except radiator paint, had to buy more of that.)
Then it was nose to the grinding stone and just holding it there until it was done.

We now have this:
We are waiting for the bed. It will be arriving any day now.
Except the legs. We'll cycle back out to IKEA to get them separately.
A nice little 16 kilometre return cycle trip but then we don't have to wait for them (something.. something.. delivery problems... never mind, we'll fix it ourselves).
And painting the new skirting boards.
And painting the window frame.