Friday, 31 July 2015


The July Challenge is Bags.

Find all bags in the house, include suitcases, back packs, reusable shopping bags and all handbags. 

Don’t forget your exclusive clutch for New Year and your grand mothers handbag. Especially if you are not using handbags, perhaps if you are a man or have no hands?

Clean each one of them on the outside. A lightly wet cloth is all that is needed.
Open all compartments, empty the content and brush the lining of each pocket. 

How many bags do you have? Note the number. 
Make a list if you are ambitious. 
If you are really, really ambitious, you note the number, make a list and take pictures.

This task should lead to a feeling of gratitude for everything you have and possibly an overwhelming feeling about everything you have.

It should not generate a need for new bags. If it does, go count the number of plastic bags you have saved. 

I did this today, also inspired by an old post at Händelsevis. I have 34 bags.


Future, n. That period of time in which our affairs prosper, our friends are true and our happiness is assured.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary

I write with the perspective of the past and about now. I make plans and I set targets, but they are concrete and specific. I always follow up on my goals.

I avoid talking about the idyllic future, my hopes and my dreams. There are enough bloggers (and dead blogs) to read out there filled with ambitious plans that came to nothing.
The gold can very easily become sand.

Thursday, 30 July 2015


I enjoy moving.

Not the packing, lifting, rebuilding furniture part of it. But I like the leaving behind and going forward part.

Between 1984 and 1992, if I count correctly, I moved 12 times in 9 different cities and four different countries (oh no, with a re-count there must have been more). Anyway, between 2008 and 2015, I have lived in five different apartments (not counting half a year in numerous hotels) and have had seven different offices. 

The office will now have to move again. Same city, same area, only three roads away. I went to look at it yesterday. (I am the only one from my company in this country, so I arrange my office as I wish.) it is very different but it will be fine.

My evening office room mate is arranging everything, I just have to show up and my boss only has to pay. The actual move will be within three months.

Evening office room mate? No? You never heard of it?
I work in the office 8-16, she works in the office 17-22. I do not work every day and neither does she. However she works weekends and I never do. We are both organised, tidy and punctual.
We never meet.
I clear my desk after every working day (as I have done for years) and she does the same. We each have cupboards for stuff - and we do completely different things. It is a good arrangement.

Do not pay for more than you need and/or use.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Ironing is not an important task in my house. Sometimes and for certain pieces of clothing, it must be done. Consequently, we must have an iron in the house.
(This could however be one of the first items I would be happy to share with my neighbours.)

During the last working week before the summer vacation, the existing iron did not work any longer. It refused to become warm and the lights did not work. There are screws in it but - of course, to avoid the requirement of the European Union that electric equipment must be repairable - the screws have a uniquely designed head which require a special tool to open them.)

That iron has been bought within the last five years. It is probably not the one I bought for the man after my first visit to his house and saw his iron. The fraying cord resulted in almost immediate use of electrical tape to avoid him from electrocuting himself. (Already from the beginning this relationship did not come out of any romance novel.) The iron that just died is possibly a replacement from that iron - or even one after that. I did not bring one when I moved in, my last iron had died just before leaving the previous country.

Together we may have been through three if not four irons. That is too much. We do however have access to excellent collection and recycling systems for electrical and electronic waste with collection right outside the door several times a year. The municipality also collects batteries and light bulbs as well as chemicals and paint. The environmental effect of the waste we are creating is as low as it can be. The environmental effects of the product created and the raw materials developed is however way to high.

A new iron has been bought; the cheapest on the market with a limited two year warranty. We will hang on to the receipt this time, not so much for the warranty, as to remember when it was bought.

If this iron does not last more than two years, a more reliable and environmentally sustainable iron will have to be purchased, regardless of price. EDIT: Or not.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


One of my core philosophies is to maximize the quality of things I spend a lot of time with/in/on and minimize the quantity of things I do not spend a lot of time with/in/on.

Discussion about minimizing, down-sizing, frugal life-style or taking control of financial matters usually starts with stuff. Taking control of the stuff.

The first step is to immediately stop buying things. If you have a shopping need, go to the food store. No more physical items are to enter your possession.
Until you control the stuff you have, you cannot acquire anything new.
Remember: shops are not there to provide your needs! Shops are there to create wants in order to increase their financial profits.

I control my stuff by inventorying them in groups. Usually by function but sometimes by sort.
Through an inventory, I give myself time to reflect each item.

I reflect once when I go through everything to find all the things fitting under the chosen category. I reflect the second time when I make the list of all items fitting the description or the function.
I may reflect a third time when I read the list of all my stuff.

This process also makes me grateful for everything I have. My needs are often already met and there is very little I need and less that I want.

I do not always buy things in order to keep them forever.
I sometimes buy cheap so that I only will have to keep it a few years. In that way I can enjoy change and variety. Sometimes I an very surprised at the quality of cheap. Simple things often ends up lasting a very long time.
It is often well worth a try.

But it all starts with controlling the stuff.

Monday, 27 July 2015


"[David Hume] did attempt a commercial career with a sugar firm in Bristol; but four months of clerking there convinced him that a life in business was not for him. He decided to live frugally on his small inheritance, and went across to France where life in a country town need not be expensive. From 1734–7 he lived at La Flèche in Anjou, where Descartes had been educated at the Jesuit college. Making use of the college library, Hume wrote his first work, a substantial Treatise of Human Nature."
(Anthony Kenney The rise of modern philosophy, p 80.)

This is what you can do too with only a little bit of money and a cheap life style.
La Flèche is today in the Pays de la Loire region in the Loire valley of France.

Sunday, 26 July 2015


I mend things. Primarily, I mend clothes. I mend or reinforce them as soon as I see something starting to break or become worn. This is why I do not buy new clothes. I do not need them (except a few items that are carefully prepared and assessed before buying) and I have a very, very low want (to the point of no want at all most of the time).

Hand or machine sewing is equally quick or easy but does different jobs. The sewing kit only needs to be taken out and the sewing machine (I am lucky enough to have one) is sitting ready in the book case for immediate action (well, no, it has to be taken out, set up, threaded and adjusted for the task, but close enough.)

Today I stitched up my favourite sleeping t-shirt under both arms and in the neck. It has been mended before but it will surely last another couple of years.

All my jeans are reinforced in the seating area (so to say). I grind through trousers on my office chairs and bicycle seats but I also keep an eye out so that as soon as I see wear and tear, some intensive machine stitching is added (usually nobody looks under my bum or between the thighs of my jeans - if they do, they will see that I am cheap money pinching woman and nothing to romanticise over).

Mending increases the life span of clothes. It is one of the several methods of keeping the already bought clothes from having to be replaced by new items (of which you know nothing of their fit and durability). 

Saturday, 25 July 2015


I bought the existing sunglasses out of necessity almost exactly five years ago.
I had just met the man and we went on a hike and I had no sunglasses with me. A quick buy in a cheap shop landed me with something wearable for €2. Wearable but nothing more.

Since then, the pre-existing sunglasses broke, I was left with the cheap buy. I was ok with them, they were wearable, and I had them so they were cheaper than anything else.

This summer a crack appeared in the glass on day two of a three week vacation. By day twenty, there were two cracks but nothing more. I can not see the cracks when using them, but they are obvious to everybody else. I do not care.

When we came home, I realised that what was acceptable on a hiking trail in the middle of or right outside of no where, is not acceptable in town. I needed a new pair of sunglasses.

In the cheap supermarket where we occasionally buy our food, a basket had price reduced sunglasses. An almost exact new pair was found for €0.99 and immediately purchased.
(Annual cost for previous glasses €2/5=40 eurocents/year. The new glasses need to last at least 2,5 year to reach the equivalent cost/year ratio. Consequently, I should also not have to invest in sunglasses in the same time.)

It also turns out I have established a personal style in glasses.
Cracked glasses, new sun glasses and inherited reading glasses are all in the same style.
(The style is faux-Ray Ban, one of the most classical styles around).

Friday, 24 July 2015


Matisse has met me during the summer in two exhibitions.

One permanent in his home town of Cateau-Cambrésis (also known as Le Cateau in Picardy (Pas-de-Calais) and one in Amsterdam at the Stedelijk Museeum.

Both times it is not the cut-outs that have touched me the most - although they are delightful, nor is it the photographs of the movies - although I never will forget them; it is the drawings.

We now draw Matisse faces all over the house. One met me in the fogged up mirror of the shower this morning. Most of them watch us with delight from the white-board in our toilet room. Those that  I drew in my sketch-book all look like French cab drivers and they all insisted on a moustache.

PS: I had to go to Cateau-Cambrésis this summer because the peace treaty between France and Spain was signed there on 3 April 1559. There was nothing left to see. I also went to the Abbey (Chateau) Cercamp in the village of Frèvent as the negotiations started there in October 1558. There is more to see there. A visit is recommended if you have any interest in French history - the owner will tell and show all during the visit as all periods are represented there. Open every day.


Call the GhostBusters, the Vatican and the CERN institute. The rules of nature have been broken today. Unimagined events happened today and the world may end.

I went for a run.

Only a kilometre or so, down to the park, around it and back home again. It is a quite small park and we live quite close.

I was a runner in 1988 and later in 1992 or so, I ran quite intensely as I was applying for a job with a physical test included (I passed the physical, failed the psychological, thank heavens for that!)
Since then, I do not think there has ever been any intentional sports running performed.

I am a hiker, not a runner but today, for some reason, when the man said "I think I will go for a run", I said "I think I will too". Shoes, socks, gym trousers, sports bra and a shirt was found in a minute and before I could really think about it too much, I was out the door.

I didn't die.

Thursday, 23 July 2015


I paint toenails once in a blue moon and finger nails ever so slightly more rarely.

A few years ago, when buying tooth paste, I was given five mini nail polish bottles by the shop.
They were left over from that country's not so successful attempt of winning the Football World Cup.
I regretted accepting them almost immediately but truth be told, I have had quite a lot of fun with them.

I wear the gold most often, the blue only on the toes and as a marker, the red only to bed but the clear nail polish is used all the time. I use clear nail polish on stockings, on costume jewellery and as handy varnish.

Right now I have orange finger nails and orange toenails. I feel very flashy.

I noticed I am very trendy. Quite accidentally, I assure you. On the metro today (we went to the see) the woman next to me had green finger nails, the woman on the other side had turquoise and the woman with a broken foot opposite me had blue nails. Blue nail polish blue.
In that company my orange nails were just ordinary.

Sometimes it is nice to be frivolous. Especially when it comes for free.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


Simple things give simple joys.
The more simple things there are to enjoy, the more there is to be happy about.

This evening we have produced novelty vegetables for the Trewlawny - Trelawnyd (somewhere in Wales) Flower Show.

We have had a blast (tomorrow we will have vegetable soup).

Tuesday, 21 July 2015


So how well are you doing so far?
Do you know your costs, have you taken control of the money you spend?
Are you making plans to make as much as possible so you can start saving as much as possible?

Are you working on the big things money-wise:
- House and all fixed costs regarding living (include heating!)
- Food and clothes
- Transport ( keep it low or save extra for something else)

No? Now is time to start. You know what you should do.
It is that one thing you really do not want to do. Yes, that one.

The target is to live as cheaply as possibly, so that the annual budget is consistently as low as possible. With a low annual budget, the savings you need to reach financial independence will be achievable within shorter terms. And with a cheap lifestyle, a financial buffer enough for many years, you could work less, not at all or with something with less financial security.

But then, this is me and my thoughts on my future (or rather, this is how I got to the point in my life where I am right now.) It took me five years but I am financially independent.

Monday, 20 July 2015


During the trip to France this summer, as always, I lost weight.
- 4 kg this time. Although to be fair, it is mostly due to having been a few kilos more than even normally before we left.

Currently I am on +4 to the target of 0. Actually, I will be happy to be down to +2. (0 is a round number which represents what should be my normal weight. No need to be too specific.)

I aim to try and use the new and smaller stomach size and keep my portions small for as long as I can.

I used to be known as "the girl who cannot get fat" but then 45 happened and the metabolism slowed down. Now, I need to keep my need to loose weight in control so that I do not one day need to loose 20 kg or so. It is time to take action, and think about my food amounts and its contents. The health plan for the rest of the year needs to be re-evaluated. I know it will be based on fibres and vegetables, low fat rather than low sugar. Exercises must be included and increased.

The man of course lost his usual 2-3 kg and will now have to go on his fat-diet to regain it. A few years ago, he lost so much weight we made the doctors evaluate it. Nothing wrong, just high metabolism and not a high enough calorific value in his food. It is not an easy task to gain weight. It actually requires just as much work to gain as to loose, and isn't something to envy.

Sunday, 19 July 2015


We are back home in the world of flushing toilets, clean floors and good tap water. It has been a good trip, we have seen a lot and thought even more. We, our backpacks and their content have endured 16 nights in the tent - with one night in a hotel in a town without camp sites.

Pack list 2015 was this year an improved and updated version of Pack list 2013. It is intended for a two person hiking/busing-training/tramping trip to northern France in the summer, but is easily adjusted for one person and different climates. Do bring warm clothes also for warm climates. That hat is very nice to have on a cold and wet evening.

We put the tent in one backpack (60 l) while the cooker and all the food go in the other (50 l). Each person carries personal items and water.
For clothes the system is Pack 2, Wear 1; this is enough once into the rhythm of camping. Long sleeves and trousers are needed in warmer climates, they keep you cool in the heat. 

Sleeping bag and sleeping mattress
Cooker contains pot/s, gas burner, grip, lighter, scrubber, washing liquid, drying cloth, gas canister adaptor, and repair kit plus eating bowl, spoon and drinking cup (all fits inside cooker pots with strap)
Repair kit contains needle, thread, metal thread
Gas canister as not flying (2 half-filled ones to use up)
Water bottle system
Day pack
Seating pad
Large Garbage bag (the lightest lifesaving item for wet camping, also used as tarpaulin inside the tent if needed)

Walking shoes + shower sandals
Trousers (long + short) Rain trousers Long underwear Belt
Tops (short and long sleeved) all quick dry
Warm sweater
Rain jacket
Pyjama top and bottom (bottoms are the long underwear, top is viscose dress also wearable in public)
Underwear (non-white) + bra (all quick dry, no cotton)
Bathing suit (also used as emergency underwear)
Hat (warm and/or cold, make sure you can sleep in it) Gloves Silk scarf to protect neck from wind and sun.
Compression bag for clothes

Hairbrush Hair elastic (if you have hair)
Toilet paper (or paper hankies) Soap Deodorant Skin cream Sun cream Bug-bite-anti-itch-cream (skip the bug spray, dress properly instead; try it on skin for three days before you go)
Toothbrush Toothpaste Shampoo Razor Clothes washing liquid (for wool/cold water)
Silk towel (silk scarf from flea market in unsightly colour) Small quick dry towel (for hair)
Lenses Lens box Fluid and possibly mini-mirror (if seeing is needed)
Hand sanitiser (pocket sized, in pocket)
Plastic bag inside Toiletry compression bag 

Mini first aid kit contains Blister plasters Antihistamines Ibuprofen Lip balm
Sunglasses Nail file Tweezers Earplugs Watch
Notebook Pen Book Maps Dictionary Reading glasses
Mobile phone Charger Extra battery Flash light
Knife (as not flying)
Small clothes pins (use tent lines as laundry line)
Lots of good quality woven duct tape (Always bring as much, as much, as you can carry)
Compression bag for stuff 

Food bag with Porridge with salt, Instant coffee, Sugar, dry food meals and muesli bars

Wallet with money papers (water proof-ish)
Passport with travel papers (water proof!)

For our equipment, our packs weigh well below 15 kg each (including weight of backpack), usually down to 11 kg without water.
It is easy to pack and unpack as everything either goes into a dedicated compression bag or a specific place in the back pack (for example: shower sandals live in one of the narrow outside side pocket)

That is it. Now go! Be safe.
We'll be safe.
This is also the report from the April-Sport challenge.

Sunday, 5 July 2015


We're off for France early tomorrow morning and I will be off line most of July.

Enjoy yourselves, don't take it too seriously, wear sun cream and don't get too fat.