Thursday, 31 December 2015


Financial independence is my name for my monthly calculation of my net worth.

I have been counting and noting my net worth since around the beginning of 2010 (when I found Early Retirement Extreme) but since the way of counting has changed with currencies, debt and what is included, the numbers for net worth are not comparable.

During 2015 however, the calculations for my net worth have been somewhat consistent (except when changing banks and paying all what the tax authorities demanded). I divide my net worth with my estimated annual budget, and the result shows the number of years I can live on my net worth without further income (if and if the increase of costs is supported by revenue/interest from the investments).

During 2015, my FI has moved up and down.
January FI 28,9
February FI 31,13
March FI 31,55
April FI 29,13
May FI29,55
June FI at least 28,82
July  FI29,31
August FI28!
September FI27,61
October FI28,89
November FI29,41
and now at the last day of December 2015: FI28,86

The high point was 31,55 but that is before I prayed close to three annual budgets to the tax authorities. The low point was 27,61 when the markets went low and I almost wet myself for a few weeks. (It is really all for the best not calculating net worth more often than once a month.)

The markets are steadily moving up for my select investments and savings options but they are volatile and although I am really happy and grateful for what I have, I may need to secure them further for next year. I have however managed to live within my annual budget yet another year and it has not been painful at all..

I also still hold a job and save almost an annual budget per year. However, I only work four days a week and I keep a maximum savings rate of around 50%. I have promised myself that if the savings rate goes above 50%, I will cut more of my working hours.

Wednesday, 30 December 2015


The task for December was to go through all sewing paraphernalia.

My sewing machine was a gift from my mother and my aunt when I turned 25. They both have sewed their entire lives and they can not imagine anybody without a sewing machine. It was professionally serviced a few years ago. (The man has his own sewing machine. His cheap supermarket machine actually sews better than mine.Yes, we are a two sewing machine household and both will stay.)

Besides that, I have:
- Eight sheets of umbrella-fabric and a bit left over from my running vest (it was going to be a winter cover for our plum tree which it does not need so it will be pack-bags especially for the tent, possibly rain legs to match my sleeves and other light weight hiking stuff)
- Seven zippers (two short, five long), one green to fit the green cotton below and two red which are planned for book covers.
- Two meter green cotton for a summer dress in preparation.
- Two and a half meter very tough beige cotton twill, left over from pattern fitting for the dress making with the rest possibly for summer shorts.
- Light green left over scraps from the pyjamas, left over scraps from taking the sleeves and the bottom off my African top as well as left over scraps from two scarves found on the street and made into a caped top which fitted well but looked distinctly odd (at least I train my sewing skills without cost.)
- Wonderful gold-black striped scraps from a second hand find which was turned into a vest (nice and warm but can only be worn under a jacket).
- Turquoise embroidered cotton, unfortunately only thirty centimetre and some scraps but might be a yoke of a shirt sewed for training. 
- About a meter of golden orange organza to train on, possibly to be the back of a summer top.
- Black-out fabric discovered on the market this fall: four meters bright white (1€/m on the market - imagine that!), one meter grey-white and half a meter cerise. The benefit is that this is the only white fabric on the market that I can find that is both white and non-see through. It will be a white dress with trousers/shorts under (is the plan dream; some more training needed through.
All in all this means I have an absolute buying-ban on fabric for 2016 (at least until everything has been sewn; at least for buying.) 

My sewing box contains everything I ever need:
- Sewing needles in abundance, most in a needle case I made when I was about 10.
- Thimble, primarily used for sewing in leather, like my slippers.
- Scissors of best brand, best quality and never ever used for anything else than fabric. Probably a present from my family in my teens and it will last me a life-time.
- Elastics, bought and used recently.
- Measuring tape (2 and I have no idea where they have come from)
- Box of sewing pins
- Box of safety pins (the box is at least since my mid-teens as it is marked with my then nick-name)
- Rolling wheel for pattern copying
- Copy paper for pattern copying
- Five large rolls of thread; one is green to fit the fabric above. All cheap quality from the market.
- Bundles of left over lace, ribbons, string, patterned patches and thread, most short but hopefully to be useful sometime.
It paraphernalia all sits in an half-an-A4 sized wicker-basket that lives in my wardrobe. All fabric is bundled up in fabric bags and lives on the floor of my wardrobe.

I really do not need to buy anything in order to improve my sewing skills. The only thing I need is focus to sit down and sew as often as I can.
First task is to finish the beige top made as pattern fitting for the dress, but that also will be a body-fitting top with a short zipper in the side.

Tuesday, 29 December 2015


Oh no, I go presents for Christmas! :D Oh yes!

Although I don't celebrate christmas and did not give anybody presents, I did manage to collect quite a little stash this year.
All I can do is to thank the people who kindly gave these things to me, to be properly grateful and to use them up until they die from exhaustion (the things I mean, not the people).

The woman I share an office with, gave me a very pretty card and ... a spatula. She is a dieting consultant so I may be the only one she knows who will be happy for it. It has the brand the company she works for so I am not very special but I am anyway glad I got one. It has great quality. She also clearly gave me the most neutral of them all (as I said, we share office so I know what all the other looked like). I will be happy to use it when the current spatula dies. Until then, it will live in my "your time will come" storage box and I am properly grateful to have more than I need. It could also be a very good present for next year if we go visiting somebody.

One of the guests at the Yule-light party gave us a porridge spoon. It was wooden with a little ceramic christmas tree at the end of the handle. The ceramic thing of course came off immediately and the spoon is of low quality. The wrapping however was beautiful as it came from a very expensive shop. The thought was even nicer and a practical gift like that is never bad. I might give her the above mentioned spatula next year if we get invited for something christmassy then.

My mother gave me a pair of hand knitted finger gloves. She is a master knitter, loves gloves especially and although she knows fully well I already have a stash of them from previous years, I am always grateful for more. I am very happy to have more gloves than I need, especially since she is old and for each year it is more unlikely she will give me another pair. They are also very good presents.

My bosses gave me a generous (as in very-very generous) gift card. For the tax authorities it had to be for something fancy and usable only in their country, but I can live with that.
It is completely unexpected since one of them was in town a few weeks back and took me and the man to quite an exclusive lunch, calling it my Christmas bonus.
Anyway, now I have quite a lot of money to spend in a fancy interior design/creative stuff shop until the end of 2017.
I might be able to do that. I will enjoy planning that shopping spree very carefully.

EDIT: I forgot, we also go a lovely, half a pound mature goat cheese from one of our friends who get a lovely food bonus from work each year and always get the man something tasty for new years. I forgot, because it is almost already eaten...

Monday, 28 December 2015


I have been doing small mending projects lately over a few days.

I invested 1,5 € and got:
- one black and one white cotton thread spools (450 meter each)
- ten meter thin elastics
- three meter wider elastics (two different).
All low quality of course but good enough for these projects.

I sew new elastics on two white fitted bed sheets. There was nothing wrong with the fabric of the sheets but the elastics was completely dead. Each night it would escape the bed corners and party wild and loose. I could buy new cheap sheets cheaply but then I could also spend 20 euro-cents, half an hours work to fix them up without even having to leave the comforts of my own home.

I sew new elastics on a white sports bra. I bought it at the beginning of the summer (yes, this year!) and even though it has been through a rough hiking summer, you would think the elastic fabric would hold longer than that. Not so. Even though I do not have a heavy weight in my bra, it does have a job to do. I measured a length of wide elastics that felt good, sewed it together pinned it in a circle, stretched it to fit the outside of the bra and pinned it in four places and quickly sewed it on stretching it while sewing normal straight stitches. You can tell it is there if you look. However, you will not get to look as you will never see my bra so I do not care.

Again, I could go and buy yet another cheap bra but I liked this. Now, for about 10 euro-cents, it will have at least another summer ahead of itself. And more importantly, I do not have to go through the indignity of trying on bras in public for a while. Not to mention saving resources and the environment. I also sew by hand a few supporting stitches in one of the newer bras where a tiny rip has appeared.

While at it, I also stitched my old black fleece gloves and closed a hole between the fingers as well as a tiny beginning of a hole in my pen case (yes, the brown one showed with the content of my bag the other day).

Now that I know how to do it, I will probably replace the annoying elastic in one of my pyjama trousers. I also need to mend my slippers, but that is a project do do in front of some really good film. I'll save that for the slow days coming up.

Are you mending in front of the television in the evenings too? Are you inventorying your sewing paraphernalia too?

Sunday, 27 December 2015


I have a thing for trains.

With this weekend, the hike, the woods and the steam train, the man is convinced of two things.
I am slightly off my rocker when it comes to trains
that there is something really quite wonderful about trains.

Saturday, 26 December 2015


I am out chasing trains.

EDIT: the video was Albert Hammond: I'm a train (if the link is broken).

Friday, 25 December 2015


I was treated with Eggs Benedict for breakfast today (at 11:30).
We decided that it was Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch (not calling him an egg though). The other Benedictine Saint Benedict we wouldn't even want to have for breakfast.

Our combined skills (at least in theory) can make Eggs Benedict from scratch.
I know how to make bread (and in theory flour and salt although the yeast will be a bit tricky)
We can raise chickens for eggs and the man can poach them beautifully.
We can raise a pig (in theory) and I baked the ham we used yesterday from scratch.
We could I suppose possibly keep a cow for milk and I can make butter from milk.
We can make vinegar (and in theory wine)
We can identify a lemon.
The lemon could possibly be replaced by mustard which I make regularly from mustard seeds (and those I can identify in nature and could at least in theory collect enough of to make mustard with the above mentioned vinegar, and I suppose fat from the pig ham.)

I will be re-treated with Eggs Benedict again for breakfast later today (probably around 13:00).
The hollandaise sauce cut at the last minute and a new attempt will be made to perfect the skills needed.

I know it will work out beautifully (and I have already cleaned the kitchen for the re-start).

Thursday, 24 December 2015


So they say it is Christmas...
It is raining, all shops are open, most have a working day, but the work time requirements of the country of my bosses gives me a day off today. Not that it matters, my only Christmas tradition is to not get dressed and to stay in pyjamas as long as possible.

I sent a few Christmas cards to my oldest relatives. I know it will brighten their day more than it makes mine difficult. The cards without envelopes were found in a give-away box last winter. I made envelopes from discarded printer paper. (Why is there always a page to trash every time I print anything?). Anyway, I paid for stamps and they left here weeks ago to arrive well early.

I also sent my mother a surprise winter flower arrangement through an on-line service, although I am sure it will not be appreciated particularly. She and I will talk over Skype later on today.

We had a winter light-night party two weeks ago with mulled wine, all children, and all close friends. We cleared the living room, got the extra chairs out of the basement, the man made complicated specialities and I went to Ikea for glögg and pepparkakor. A good time was had by all (They also drank all the wine in the house and stayed very late.)

We also walked into a Christmas sing-along concert last week on a shopping street. Not in our town so we stayed and because we got a spot right in front of the speakers, we sang it all until our throats hurt. And although we do not know how to sing, we both have lots of vocal resources (The man used to sing in a disharmonious punk band (imagine that!) and I hold my own with the football claque for my team.) The songs however... I have never ever heard such an inappropriate collection of sad songs for Christmas.
Just listen to this:
Disastrous weather (Let it snow, Winter wonderland)
War (So this is Xmas) - you know the war isn't over
Climate change - no snow in sight (Winter wonderland, Silent night, Jingle bells)
Bullying (Rudolf the Red nosed reindeer)
Broken heart (Last Christmas)
Loneliness (Lonley this Christmas AND A cold cold Christmas)
ending it with an eternal tear jerker (Stand by me).
Well if I wasn't suicidal before...

My culture does Yule and light parties around winter solstice while the religious part of the culture starts mid-November and explodes from exhaustion on 24 December. As self-destructive as you can imagine. As it is Scandinavia, the presents are handed out by what in English is called Santa Claus but actually is more one of the miniature caretakers in the forest and around the farm - tomten - that comes out for Christmas - jultomten. Anyway, presents are given on the afternoon of the 24th. Christmas is over at about 20.00 when the bars open.

The man's Continental culture does nothing for Christmas unless it fits with the person's religious beliefs. It is a church Christian religious festivity, strongly influenced by puritan, Calvinist traditions, thus nothing ostentatious, primarily family only dinners and no presents - although that is now slowly changing and one small present might be given and traded with somebody else's. (The Children get cake and presents on 5 December by Saint Nicholas so not even the children protests.)

We will go visiting family during the weekend, combining it with a weekend away, some steam train riding and some long hikes through the wilderness. I am really lookong forward to the train.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015


I keep an eye out for antique bow ties. The man wears them.

The requirements are very specific and only a few select makes it into our home.
It has become a nice collection over the years.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015


We have had a lot of visions and dreams for 2016. Some could have been used for more concrete plans for things to do during the next calendar year. Most, if not all, have been killed between the vision and the planning phase.

The man was offered a new project to start right after the project during the fall. To endure some  quite difficult tasks and work situations, we made plans of what to do when the project ended. It could have ment that there was a chance that as of April 2016, he would not have had to work again until summer 2017. There almost was the opportunity to take 2016/215 without real financial risks.

Bewildered, we reached quite quickly a few conclusions as to what to do, and what not to do with that fantastic opportunity:
- Something real. Not just going travelling, but doing something, learning something there otherwise is not time for. We have a list of things we want to do, including bag piping, tailoring education and travelling around in a van filled with books.
- Stay in Europe and since I really do not want to start yet another language right now, we are limiting us to Western or Northern Europe.
- Not Amsterdam, not the Iberian peninsula. Otherwise it is quite open. Our favourite cities are Paris, Basel, Vienna, Freiburg, Augsburg, Trier, Antwerp, Stockholm perhaps, Nancy perhaps, Bordeaux perhaps - anyway, a town between middle to large in size. (No, we are not moving out in the greeneries to grow chickens, not our bag.) So tentatively we are looking at Scandinavia, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland. We have free movement so nothing restricts us.
- I have a dream that can fit in a year or so, but only starting August 2016. I have applied and been assured I do not have to worry about not being admitted. The man however, will have to find his own dream first before I tell him (not that he doesn't know) as the geographical location of my dream is not really on the radar for his dreams (yet). It is important that he makes the decision on his own, or it will not be his dream fulfilled.

None of the fantastic opportunities have come true. For 2016, we look at a normal year with normal life (normal for us). With some time spent on what turned out to be day dreaming instead of planning and preparing, we however have learned one thing.
When the financial opportunities or perhaps realities, arrives, we will know what to do. And it is not particularly spectacular. But there is no lack of things to do.
Unfortunately, the project came to nothing, the visions came to nothing and we are back into living our normal lovely although by now, for us, an everyday life and continue to work four days a week, live seven evenings and three days a week. Back to the drawing board. My wanderlust is raging.

Monday, 21 December 2015


 Develop a colour at a time

I like variety. I also own more things than I display. My interests also change over time (although the same topics seems to be coming round quite irregularly).

One way to give variety, change, to enjoy the things you own and if possible, also to initiate clearing and de-cluttering is to develop a colour theme. 
And to change it frequently.
This is the trick. 
Change your display cabinet, your pictures on the wall, your notice board, your window sills and your souvenir shelf continuously.
Things happen. 
You will see.

One way to find change is to do it by colour.
Chose a colour and display for a week everything you own in that colour.
This week perhaps is a good time to be conventional. Find everything red and display it.
Of find everything green for that winter forest feeling if the sun is too strong and warm this week.
Perhaps you prefer your whites and your silvers for a lighter decoration in darker times.

Enjoy your possessions.
If they do not enjoy you, let them leave your house to make somebody else miserable (or happy hopefully).

Sunday, 20 December 2015


During the weekend I have put felt feet on all furniture in our living room.

Our apartment is not big and the living room is not very big. It is not small by any means but it is not big. It fits dining room table, book case, two sofas, sofa table and still gives lots of space for ironing, doing exercises and moving around. Besides that we have a kitchen, a bed room and an office.

There is no other space available in our home so we often move the furniture around.
Actually, we move the furniture in our living room around most days and sometimes several times a day. The sofas are turned around to the windows, along the window or away from the windows, in front of the television or next to each other to form a box to snuggle up in. The large table is back and forth to reach into the bookcase, the window, the chargers or the door.

We have quiet downstairs neighbours. I have realised that we are the ones making any noise in the house.
During the weekend, all furniture has been lifted, wiping each foot and cleaning each leg. They were dried and a little piece of self-adhesive felt was placed under each foot.

Now the furniture slides silently over the floor and we quickly rearrange to seat 19 people, to stage a play or to carry out any of our daily activities. We do not need a larger living room.

(If you wonder, we do not have wall to wall carpeting in the living room and only periodically do we add some lose carpets in strategic corners.)

Saturday, 19 December 2015


"Any woman of ordinary prudence (without belonging to the class called strong-minded) can find little difficulty in arranging matters for her own convenience."
                                                                                                       Agnes Smith (1843-1926)

Quoted by Jane Robinson in  Wayward women A guide to women travellers Oxford University press (1991) p 146.

Agnes with her sister Margaret are famous female travellers and polyglots. In the 1870s they travelled in Sinai, Palestine and the rest of what is now generally termed the Middle East. They became scholars at Oxford University and continued to travel to the Bedouin and to visit Mount Sinai.
This is a link to download and read Eastern Pilgrims: The travels of three ladies (London, 1870) directly.
They put all of us travelling women to shame. They are great inspiration for the future.

Friday, 18 December 2015


Money is not true wealth, said González de Cellorigo, and meant that the ambition was to increase wealth by increase in productive capacity rather than the stock of precious metals.

J. H. Elliot, Imperial Spain 1469-1716 Penguin (1963) 1990, p 317.

How have you increased your productive capacity this year?

I have experimented with growing vegetables with the aim to be able to contribute my food with my own produce.
I have finished and been granted an academic degree (although quite useless in it self, it kept my brains going)
I have kept and developed my day job, training not only me, but colleagues and clients for yet another year.
I have developed my sewing skills, especially for clothes and especially using scrap, cheap or discarded fabrics and clothes. I do need much more training before the clothes I make are ready for use in public.
I have kept my weight lower, my health better and my physical activity level up with time and knowledge to improve for next year.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


I was inspired by Cro to show the content of my bag: 
Besides the phone which I used to take the picture below with, currently my bag contains:
A red bike light attached to the bag
Work computer, work note book, calendar for 2015 and my private notebook. 
Some papers I should look at
Pen case mostly containing hair elastics and computer adaptors. 
Wallet in goat skin (instead of pet)
Phone charger for some odd reason, it usually never comes with me.

Mini-bottle with hand sanitiser (refilled a thousand times)
Ear-plugs in case
Mints (usually Fishermen’s Friends but any sugar free mini-mint for when the peckish feeling arrives)
Plastic spoon (for simple snacking when peckish)
Plastic coin for supermarket trolley
Tooth brush and mini tooth paste (refilled a thousand times)
Mini-first aid kit (in an old plastic case for Compeed, including one Compeed, allergy pills (against dying), two paracetamol, two anti-flu herbal pills and a sleeping pill.
Headphones which should be in the small plastic bag that weighs a lot less than the case they came in.
Herbal pills for energy.  
A tea bag 
Shopping bag (always, eastern European raised I am)
Passport. With travel and health insurance documents in a watertight plastic envelope, some business cards for my boss and a used boarding pass.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015


The other night the man and I watched some antiques evaluation television show and kept looking around us, laughing and saying I wonder what we possibly could have that would turn out to be worth a lot of money.

Little did we know.
We went to the modern art museum after work last night. I was in desperate need of inspiration, entertainment and something to shake me up.
The exhibitions were as incomprehensible as they usually are and as usual there is always something that reaches you and grabs you and shakes your thought process  around a little.

We also strolled through the permanent exhibition of modern design.
The man suddenly said: Look at that, we have that.
And we do.
I thought it was a copy.
It is not. 
It is an original.
I did not know.
It is worth a lot of money.

Louis Poulsen manufactured for Poul Henningsen in the 1960s lamps that have become iconic.
Apparently I own one. A white 4/3 pendant lamp with an orange anti-glare insert.
I did not know.

In 1999, I needed a lamp and the office where I worked was renovating. I begged a lamp from the kitchen and was given it although people thought I was crazy to have a thing like that in my home.

It hung in two consecutive bedrooms until the big house clear out when I was about to get rid of it.
The man said he kind of liked it. So it got shipped in one of the ten boxes that survived the clear out.

Now we will look through all our lights and furniture to see what else we might have gathered through our lives.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


Everybody does this, right? Nobody has missed this trick?
Everybody gets everything out of "empty" tubes before throwing them in the recycling bin?
You know that there is more left inside a plastic tube even if you can't squeeze more out of it?

It is not really a question of saving a lot of money as to postpone each necessary purchase as long as possible. Every week your assets works for you, gives them the opportunity to increase.
Everybody has the opportunity to use everything they already have purchased until its natural end.

Plastic tubes for tooth paste, skin cream, even certain food stuffs, are a good use of the plastic that fulfils requirements to be used in contact with food. Their problem is that even if you store them on their top, not all will seep down to be squeezed out.

You can flatten the tube and scrape it down (use the back of a knife) and then put a bag clip over it to keep the content down. Still, in most cases, the tube will still not be completely empty.

If you cut off the tube. about a third of the total length (regular kitchen scissors will do or a knife as you slice bread) you can get all the rest out of the tube. The top end will fit back on it as a lid, keeping the content good until you have used up everything. 

In a toothpaste tube there is at least a weeks worth of paste left, hand cream possibly not so much, but I have had smaller tubes where a good half of the content is left even after both squeezing and scraping. Why would I throw it out when it is good to use and I have already paid for it.

But everybody already knew this right?

Monday, 14 December 2015


Jag har övat inre frid och harmoni.

Det gick sådär.

Bästa sättet att öva är att försöka cykla genom turistområdet utan att pingla med cykelklockan (eller värre). Jag brukar misslyckas för turisterna i Amsterdam är IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIdiooooooooooter.
(djupt andetag)

I alla fall, jag behöver öva mer på att bibehålla inre frid och harmoni.
Jag vill åka till Japan nästa år och jag behöver klara kulturenkrocken.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Dikke poes

Dikke poes means fat cat. It should be written Fat Cat at is is a name.
Fat Cat had a brother called Kleine Poes, meaning Little Cat.

These were the man's cats
They were the large, tabby, fluffy monsters who killed the frogs, mouses, birds, bats and other cats in the house from 1623 where he used to live. The house had not been renovated since it was built (my estimate) so the cats had full time employment.

The cats came when whistled at, except when they had moved into the hotel next door and refused to come home for a week. (I know, I don't blame them; hotel breakfasts are lovely and the lounge is still divine.) The cats communicated with each other and with the man through loud meowing. They all had easy conversations as the man meowed fluently back.
I never knew Little Cat, he passed in a terrible accident when his snack fell on his head and caused diabetes so he passed away when the man was in China. (This is the short version of a very long story.)

I lived with Fat Cat on and off for several years. Fat Cat never liked me. He loathed me. I will not say that he hated me, but his persistent disregard for me only could be broken momentarily by bacon or trout. He lay on me only once in almost three years. The man was cooking New Year's dinner for hours and I was slouching in the sofa. (I immediately posted a picture of his adultery all over the Internet and it never happened again.)

After any weekend away, Fat Cat demanded and required almost two hours of quiet napping on the man's belly. He also slept on the man's side of the bed (second best choice after he was kicked off my side of the bed where he really thought he should be sleeping). Fat Cat only loved the man. (Personally I think the cat was more of a dog.) Those two had a number of mysterious interaction routines. In order not to not speak ill of the living, I will not mention them (but it might come up in the future as it is so funny).

Fat Cat passed on to cat heaven almost three years ago and we both still miss him.
We have taken to re-enact Fat Cat. And with we, I mean that I am the Fat Cat now.

I lie on the man's belly for two hours after I have been away for several days. I walk around in the kitchen saying meow meow meow when the man is cooking and I am hungry. My hair is everywhere and I will stand in front of the closed door wanting to go out, changing my mind as soon as it opens and changing it again as the door closes.

Somebody just have to be the cat around here!

Saturday, 12 December 2015

BoughtClothes2 2015

This is a list (edited) of the clothing I have bought in 2015.

Cap for hiking and to use in rain, from acquired from the friends in Saint Quentin, France €2.50
Blue cotton t-shirt - €2.99
Petroleum silk wedding shirt - second hand I think €7
White sports bra - €7.50
3 pairs of short socks - €5
3 pairs of thick workmen socks - €1
White running t-shirt - €5 
Rain jacket - €200 
2 white bras with flexi-staps - total €10 a
New jeans finally but impulsively bought - €16 from the second hand shop and the repair man

Totally €257,30 for clothes in 2015 - or more correct: 
One rain-jacket and €57,30 over budget for a year.

The rain jacket is a ten-year investment, the bras were essentially needed, the working socks have turned out to be exceptionally good buy and used every day through the winter and the hiking cap saved my nose during the summer. The short socks will be used several summers and the wedding shirt has already been used again for another party so those have been good investments. 
The white sports bra has not kept its shape after a few rounds of laundry and is on top of the pile to get used up as quickly as possible. The running t-shirt could also have been avoided with some clever thinking. It is just not good enough (see-through white was not a great choice for running even with a vest over it).

The rain jacket is a compete love, best buy in years and years. Everything works exactly how I want it and nothing is annoying. It is black so I wear it almost everyday, it does not look too sporty. It does not have any reflexes and after dark I completely disappear in traffic so I have hung a tiny light source from the zipper to add to that. My bike has both lights and reflexes though.

I have worn almost all clothes this year, but not all and I will need to take a long hard look at them next year to see if I really cannot turn into anther person and actually use what I own. 

Friday, 11 December 2015


I have bought a pair of jeans for 6€.

A pair of brand new jeans for 6€.

A pair of pitch black brand new pair of jeans for 6€.

A pair of thick, quality, brand name, pitch black brand new pair of jeans for 6€.

In my size. IN MY ODD SIZE (requiring an in seam of at least 36'').
They fit like a glove.
A pair of odd sized thick, quality, brand name, pitch black brand new pair or jeans for 6€.
I saw them across the room in the good book second hand shop.  They are labelled with a different size but trust me to be able to spot a pair of extra length jeans across a crowded room.

The jeans need a new zipper in the fly (I noted after I had bought them). However, the repair-tailor in the laundry/dry-cleaner across the street will fix that for 10€ and a few days. Including the price of the zipper.
Total cost 16€.

I was budgeting 90-100€ for a much needed pair new pair of jeans. I was making plans to try and make some money or gift cards to reduce the price and to delay the buying point even further.

Now I will have to channel all that over to some other need.
Still, I blew my budget for clothes this year (as the budget for this year was supposed to be 0, excluding the rain jacket). It is however so worth it right now.
And the budget for clothes for next year can then be 0 on purpose.

And did I say that they fit like a glove? And show off my great ass?
No, I don't say that. I wouldn't because, to quote Karen Miller, I am a lady.

Thursday, 10 December 2015


If you flavour your turnips with cloves and piemento, it tastes really good.
Just saying.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015


As 2015 is coming to the end and as a new calendar is being started for the new calendar year, the plan for 2015 is also coming to an end.

The plan for 2016 is in progress, but not finalised. I have been sketching on a few new or alternative plans for the coming year. No promises have been made yet, they are still in progress. I do keep an eye on my five year plan from 2013 and I know that a new five year plan should be hatched too.

The plan for 2015 has had the following headings:
(These headings have been almost unchanged since at least 2010 although the quantification of the target has been adapted over the years)
Work - the specifics are check except that I have not updated the details in my CV during the last year. This needs to be done (deadly boring although it is).
Studies - I was awarded a B.A. in History and English in August 2015 and am currently, but not satisfactorily studying on a master in History. I have my specialisation but not my academic home so this will be an issue for 2016.
Finances - The financial target of 30 years x a low annual budget will remain, and the target is to hold, keep, increase and stabilise. It has ranged from above 30 to below 28 through the year and I am still working and paying into it.
Pleasures - The target aims at week-end adventures every second month with a longer trip somewhere in the summer and a weekly pleasure, usually intellectual, is check for this year for me. It will remain a target as this is one of the ways I quantify a good life.
Languages - Four languages are on the roster for my attention. Two have been given the progress and update work they were supposed to get, two have not. All four will stay on the list in progress. I will however not adding another one! This is an attention target, unquantifiable.
Health - possibly the most important target. This year weight has been the primary issue, and next year I know an increased activity level will have to be a target. Other specifics are teeth, sleep and balance (my feet are week) but the list is longer. A detailed health plan is in progress for 2016.
Friends-Family - Ein Freundkreise entsteht nich von allein. I have a list of friends and family that I attentively make sure I work through and stay in touch with through every year.
Lifestyle - This is another of my attention targets and is unquantified. It is identified with a few little sayings. Daily intellectual, Daily laugh and Small adventures are examples of this very personal target. These should be reflecting the five year plan goals, and I have a few tweaks to do for this part of the plan for next year.

Which headings do you have in your annual or five year plans?

Tuesday, 8 December 2015


Old people need glasses. The man and I however, started our youth or childhood with glasses and we are just about done with them. Lenses is the new thing.
Due to complications, lenses were only on the market for me around 2008 and the man has had to wait until a few years ago to have anything suitable to be available. Every year or two, we go through an agonising process of visits to an optician, visits to another optician for a second opinion optician and then lens trials that can take weeks if not months to get right for a final prescription.

I am just out on the other side and I have found new lenses that work. Both me and my optician are very happy about the result. The lenses were delivered today (from the cheapest lens provider on-line. I spend money on my optician but not on my lenses.) Total cost per year is about €200, meaning it costs me about 50 eurocents per day to have lenses. This cost is compared every year to the cost of glasses. Although glasses win every year financially, I will stick to my lenses as long as I can. At least another year anyway.

The storage of lens boxes have been inventoried and they are all currently all happily boiling away in a pot of water on the stove for ten minutes to be re-used for another year. My optician gave me a pink lens box this year. She is a sweetheart and she thought it would make me smile. It did. But I am not a sweetheart so I will try to pass it onto the man. He is.

We also inventoried the storage of lens fluids available in the house. There is currently two and a half plus a bit left in a travel sized bottle available so nothing needed. 

PS. One of the lens boxes did not survive boiling water and had to be  thrown away. It makes me note to self to be careful in the future of where I get lens boxes in the future. However, I still have plenty of boxes and do not need anything in a foreseeable future.

Monday, 7 December 2015


Monday is cauliflower day in our household.

There is a number of reasons for it (somebody is doing sports on Monday nights and needs to eat but not too much and no, of course not, it is not me) and it is a no-brain dish that does not need thinking about. It can be very cheap but it is seasonal so be prepared to pay through your  nose certain times of the year. Anyway, we eat a head of cauliflower on Monday evenings and on Tuesdays I eat sad veggie soup.

Boil a head of cauliflower. Just cut of the hardest, greenest parts but keep the head whole. Place in large pan. Pour hot water over it (of course you always use the electric kettle to boil the water first and not the gas, right). Add a bit of salt if you think that makes a difference (it does but not for the flavour). Boil and keep boiling on low temperature about 10 min. Turn the head over if it was not submerged entirely (use a spatula or a ladle to do it, messy in the beginning but you'll get the hang of it). Boil another 5-10 min, probably ten if it is winter cauliflower but less for summer cauli.

I have noticed (because I tend to serve either too mushy or to hard cauliflower) that the cooking time varies over the season. Winter cauli's need more time, they are harder and more compact.
Poke the stems with a knife or a fork. It is done when the knife goes through.

We share a head of cauli for two. Just half it, let is drip a second and then put it straight on the plate.
Grate cheese on top.
Done. Eat. Sleep. Dream.

Sometimes I make stewed onions, possibly with bacon when the weather is particularly grim or I think the man looks too thin. Sometimes I just add a little Japanese soy sauce. Sometimes we save a nice sauce or broth from a dinner in the weekend and pour that warm over the cauli. Most little left-overs can be heated and added to cauli.
But cauli is really very nice on its own and very little is needed for flavouring.

(You don't like the smell when it is boiling? Open the window or wear perfume.)

Sunday, 6 December 2015


I have hair.
It costs me money to have hair.

The total cost is probably around €20, which includes one 300 ml bottle of expensive shampoo, four to six bottles of shampoo costing 38 euro-cents each, some hair brightener for about €2 and some hair spray to hold it down, about €2. Per year. Total. No, I am not joking.
This is my budget for the year on hair.

I save small bottles of conditioner from hotel visits for my hair which it likes in the summer. They also provide some additional shampoo. Yesterday I also got two trials of hair conditioners in the shop when I bought a new toothbrush and toothpaste. Score!
I cut my own hair.
I have a pair of scissors that are at least twenty years old but never, ever at all, are used for anything else than cutting hair. I use my lovely hand held mirror hung on a hook in the bathroom so I can see the back. I use my long arms and I cut small, small, small sections of the hair at the time.
I have straight hair so every flaw shows. It usually turns out fine.
I cut the top layer last and slightly longer than the rest to cover it all.
I have a style, I stick to a style. I let it grow out and re-cut it every five-six months or so.

How much do I save?
How much is a hair cut? 15€ 60€? 90€ with highlights? Tell me, what is normal these days?
Spaarolifantje has a monthly budget of €20 for haircuts and clothing which she stays within. I have not seen anybody else budgeting hair costs separately.
How often does normal people cut their hair? Every six to eight weeks?

Wait - am I saving €60 six times a year, €540 a year to cut my own hair?
That is a lot of money! That is rent for a month! Or food for almost two. Or quite a nice vacation.
Or with 4 % interest rates, over €20 a year for ever.

My hair cut makes me look as if I am just about to start my last year in an all boy's choir (think Wiener Sängerknaben). Instead of looking an old saggy almost 48, that I suppose, is worth a bit too.

Saturday, 5 December 2015


What do you wish you could say that you have done?

Do you wish you could say that you have a child? (Maybe you could say it anyway if it is about you and not the child?) Use French in a conversation? (This is harder to fake and really does actually require a lot of hard work to pull off.) (Unless you are born with it.) (French I mean.)

How do you want to be perceived? As an intellectual, as the one who is always as they always have been? As an interesting person? As an unexpected person? As someone who has new things to tell?
Listen to some of the more pedestrian, mundane, everyday persons. They all have something new to tell (except my grandmother who tells the same stories over and over.)

What do you want to associate yourself with? Do you want to be a Levi's person, a Clinique customer, an oatmeal eater, a runner, a historian, an engineer or just a person who knows everything about the Grateful Dead? Or something else? You can choose anything - except what you do as your job!

What do you want to be known for? Or what do you want to be known as?
The one who went to Guatemala in a beat down car and came home on a plane having forged a credit card number? (Not me!) The one who went to Guatemala and lost so much weight they lost their trousers in customs when the belt had to be taken off. (Yes, me.)The one who never went to Guatemala? The one who never went anywhere? (That's fine, as long as you like where you are.)

Do that. Dare to come out.
Be who you want to be. Do what you dream off.
A lifestyle change does not have to include all parts of your life.
Only what you want. 
And one step at the time.

Friday, 4 December 2015


Be a do-er or be a be-er, but try not to be a consumer.

Use what you have, do things, create things, be and exist.

Consumption is necessary but usually connected with doing or being.
The getting is not necessary.
The having without doing is not fruitful.

If you are planning gifts for this coming weekend - geeftijd - do give someting to do or something to be, rather than something to have.
Such a gift easily becomes a burden for the recipient.

Thursday, 3 December 2015


The sweater season is upon me.
I will use the season to use all my sweaters and indoor jackets.
There are 12 thin sweaters, 7 thick sweaters (fleece primarily) and a total of 8 indoor jackets available. Consequently I really do not need any more.

Did you notice that there is one more sweater than when I went through my wardrobe earlier this year even though I have not bought any sweaters nor have I sewed or knitted one??

Indeed, free clothes! I found one in a pile of clothes outside my new office a few weeks ago. Actually, I found lots but I only took the two I liked the look of. A pink long cardigan (that has gone to charity after having been washed as I just can not wear baby-pink) and an off-white long lose long-sleeved v-necked sweater. It was brand new as the tag was still on it. I washed it and now it is mine.

during the sweater season, while using all sweaters and jackets and sometimes both, I will also try to focus on using all not so great t-shirts, tops, tank tops and camisoles. Sweaters can hide a multitude of bad t-shirts, and adding a scarf increases the disguise. It is time to out-wear some.

Tops are divided in four piles in my wardrobe. Tops hung on hangers, the good t-shirt pile, the bad t-shirt pile (mostly stained or silly, but also includes sports shirts and band t-shirts) and a pile with tank tops and camisoles.

While wearing sweaters I can wear all of the bad t-shirts, and with the help from tank tops and camisoles for warmth, the hanging tops can come out too, even if it is winter. I plan to leave the pile of good t-shirts almost untouched until the warmer season.
Then I will be happy to have something (new) to wear that does not need to be hidden.

Hooray for winter weather when I do not need any clothes.
I even have a warm winter coat that will take me through yet another winter. 

Wednesday, 2 December 2015


The December task this year focus on sewing and sewing paraphernalia.
How much stuff for sewing do you have? I hope you are not going to say nothing; everybody needs at least a needle and basic coloured thread (and know how to use it).

I have sewed all my life except the past five-ten but I did get back into it this year.
My interest is back up and my skills are way down. It has become easy to think that if I just get threads, needles, magazines, books, fabric, trims, zippers - especially more zippers, my sewing skills are going to increase.
They will not.
The only thing that will increase my sewing skills is to sew. Again and again, from start to finish and gradually more and more difficult items.

My sewing always starts with adjustments of the pattern. Nothing, no pattern and very little clothing will ever fit me directly. My body is out of standard measurements and sizes and everything has to be adjusted (or used ill-fitted as is more common).

After pattern adjustment, I go on with fabric sourcing. I dislike buying expensive fabric so I source it from the street, the cheap end of the market where the fabric smells a bit and is faded from the sun and of course from broken umbrellas. The fabric usually needs quite a bit of preparations, washing, ironing, trimming, slicing and adjusting.

Then the fabric is ready to meet the adjusted pattern.

Sewing is a great way of meeting needs for clothing and other items cheaply.
But it is important to know what I already have so I know what I do not need.
I also need to finish the projects that have already been started and of course, mend and fix anything that needs sewing. 
That is the task for December.
(Yes, I am giving myself an easy one after the hard work done in November.)

Tuesday, 1 December 2015


The waves of the market and therefor also of my money investments are back up and high again.

All bills, costs, and fees have been paid and I am safe financially for another month. There is money for food the entire month and there is money for eventualities.

Actually, there is money enough for eventualities for 29.41 years at this rate.
It is amazing. I am so grateful.
The budget I am currently living on, that I have lived on for almost two years, and that is well and enough for my lifestyle, can be provided by my assets for another 29 years (unless prices goes up and my investments does not generate another monetary income the next three decades.)
I could also lose it all but I will try my best to hang on to it. 

I could stop working, I know. But after the day I had today, the meeting I had with some new important gruff clients who turned into purring kittens with the help I could give them, I do not know what I would want to change.

I cycled home through one of the worlds most beautiful capitals, I went for an hour walk through town with a person I like (and love most of the time) talking about the day and then hobbled home for a warm meal, a good book in the sofa, a game of Trivial Pursuit, a fruit, a cup of tea and some engaging conversation.
The curtains can be drawn against the rain and there is a warm bed waiting.

It does not sound like much, but I call it a good life.

Monday, 30 November 2015


The task for November was to count my books.

I had only Yael's number to start with: more of less 400 books.
As suspected, she turned out to be more controlled than I am.

The total amount of books in my possession is:
Dictionaries and language books: 31
Books in the little apartment: 33
Fiction, including Peter Wimsey: 179
Non-fiction: 250

In total, all summarized I currently own 493 books.

I just realised, I forgot the shelf with cooking books (11), psychology and management (6 + 8),
survival, outdoors, hiking and nature books (19) and interior (including sewing, furniture, interior design, zen and feng shui) (9). So now I have to add another 53 books

In all, the final number, all summarized,
the fact of the matter is that
I currently own at least 546 books.

I make no promises for the future.


I count my money once a month. Occasionally I add up the major assets in between just to see how bad things are going - or good.

I have counted my assets semi-regularly since 2009. Now I always count my money the same way but I do change it every now and then. This makes it impossible to graph the assets over a long period of time. But at least I am able to compare one month to the next. 

I have no debt and have not had since 2010.

I only count assets that are mine. The man counts his own assets, and in his own way. There are a number of reasons for this, all private. We also have lived and earned and saved more years apart than we have been together. We are also fundamental individualists so counting assets as a family makes no sense for us. (He is doing very well though and this last year has been amazing for him financially.)

I also only count assets that are mine right now. I do not include state pensions, locked assets that are only to be available after certain years, and assets that are currently not in my control. I do not distrust the pension systems etc, but it is out of my control so I will just count them as blessings when I get them.

Right now I also only include assets that I do not live in. I do not include the value of my apartment.
Because I live in it. I need it. I can not get rid of it without buying something else. It is therefore not an asset. If you have your assets locked into a house, I do not know what you would do. I realised those assets a year ago, reached FI and started living within the budget that my assets allow me to keep for thirty years. But you must make your own decisions.

I also do not include the value of items I still own. I may one day sell them, but the value of them then is completely unknown so incalculable. I might say the same thing about stocks and shares, and it would be a fair and just statement, but I have chosen to invest my money that way and I will just have to accept that I do not make sense all the time. 

All my assets are counted (minus pension, minus property I live in, not including any unrealised value of items) and then divided with my annual budget.

My annual budget is higher than my annual spending, my annual costs. Why? Because I am not stupid. Budgeting as low as you can go will get you into trouble. You must include all what if's and just in case's that are reasonable for the coming year. Not budget a year on the stingiest non-spending you can make yourself endure. Budget a year where you pay all the occasional costs of dentist, optician, health care, some kind of travel, clothes, heating, food and insurances to a reasonable level. Then you LIVE WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.

Every month I count my money (my assets) and divide it with my annual budget. The number tells me how many years I can live on my assets, as long as the costs stay the same (which they do not) or the assets do not increase (which they hopefully do). Dividing the assets down to a monthly sum only makes sense if you live hand to mouth and never pay anything in advance.

There are thousands of budgeting tools out there, and I use none of them.
I make notes in a note book.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


I met a man at the bus stop the other night.
He was carrying a large unframed oil painting wrapped in clear plastic. I saw him already when we got off the train and then I saw him again at the same bus stop.
We chatted. He was what if he had been a woman in his age would have been called tipsy.
The paining was by Franscesca something-letti and he had won it in a raffle in his art club. The painting was very nice and I admired it greatly. I fought a coveting feeling.
He thought it reminded him of early works by Gerard Richter and I said I agreed even though I didn't. I thought to my self how far back do you have to go to make that look like Gerard Richter's work? I thought it reminded me of carpets I had seen made inspired by areal photos of Dutch flower fields.
It was a nice chat with a stranger about things I often think about bur rarely talk about with people, except the man lately.

Currently I own only one original piece of art. It is an oil painting I bought in a small antique-junk shop in 1998 for €2, if I remember correctly. I tracked down a son of the painter recently and saw more of the painter's work. The painter is accepted an in a small group respected but most certainly not famous. I still like my painting the best. It is painted in 1957 by Palma de Majorca in Spain, and it is clearly fauvist. It depicts a scorching hot day in a small village. A cart with a donkey. Blue mountains in the horizon. Siesta.
It is a very peaceful painting and I love it very much.
This is an item I will keep for a very long time still - but I do not need to keep it forever, and it could be a lovely present to somebody one day.
Not yet though.

Saturday, 28 November 2015


I read mostly non-fiction.
I also love books.
Consequently, I own a lot of books that is non-fiction.

In the great move of 2014, I got rid of 4/5 of all existing books and before that, in 2009 when the tenants took possession of the house, another half was sent off. Through my life, I always have had a long-term relationship with my books. (In feng shui terms they were in my relationship corner both literally and figuratively).

Currently (as it is a fluctuating number) I have the following amount of non-fiction books per shelf:
41 books on art and Scandinavian history.
33 books on poetry including a few volumes published by friends.
30 books on 16th century Scandinavian and western European history.
42 books by Arthur Quiller-Couch and on British poetry of the 18th and 19th century.
46 books on architecture, history of science, science and history.
33 books on Western European 16th century history, especially Alison Weir.
18 books of comics including Nemi, Arne Anka, Jan Stenmark and Sempé as well as books on music and brass works.
41 books on historiography, sociolinguistics and other things and a little hidden are the collective works by Alain de Botton (which might be on its way out relatively soon if his current attitude does not change).

In total that makes 244 books of non-fiction.
I might have forgotten some by the bed, on the dining room table, by the sofa, and borrowed by the man. I probably should make that an even 250 just to not make my madness seem any better than it is.

Friday, 27 November 2015


We store our chargers and cables in a cast iron wok that sits in a large flower pot on top of an old plate. The juggling balls live in there too. It also holds our camping batteries.

Hear me out, there is reason in the madness.

The chargers need to sit in the open air and even better in something fire proof. This is important. Chargers are notorious fire starters, especially older ones but new electronics can also cause over-heating and internal fires. Battery chargers too can short-cut their circuits so they should not be packed down with the camping gear. Besides, we use them for all trips and as in-case-of for emergency cuts too. (And for when someone, yours truly, has forgotten to charge her phone and finds this out on the way out the door. She plugs in the charger to load it on the run. Amazing what lessons can be learned by making the same mistake over and over again!).

The cast iron wok that sits in a large flower pot on top of an old plate is placed near two electrical outlets. It is very conveniently placed where we usually come in and empty our bags and pockets. It looks organised as it was thought out in advanced but it really was not. The whole thing sits under a fixed low hanging light where a plant used to sit. The space can not be used for anything without rehanging the lights and we are way to lazy for that (it really would be part of a major project, I promise, it is more than being lazy, but still...)

The whole thing also keeps cables and chargers away from other flat surfaces needed for other things.
It also makes use of the empty flowerpot. The plant now lives in the window. It is a she and she has a name because she has her own story. The cast iron wok is too nice to just hurl out even if we are not using it,  as nobody buys a cast iron wok these days.
The juggling balls? Well, if we are ever going to learn to juggle, they must be available when the talent hits us. And besides, they keep the sound of chargers dumped in cast iron down.

The heads of the chargers all look similar (hey, what happened to that EU regulation requiring electronics placed on the market to have interchangeable chargers??). I marked some of them with a dot of nail polish on two sides in order to make them differentiable in the full snake pit.

It really works well, almost as if we had thought about it.

Thursday, 26 November 2015


The total amount of books in my possession has not yet been counted, but I own the following amount of fiction (This is the smallest and most countable subsection of books I own as I am not really a lover of fiction literature. Reality is so much more varied and unexplainable than any story that can be invented. Why? Because an invented story has to make sense and reality really very rarely does. But I digress...):

Besides the 41 books related to Peter Wimsey, I own 138 other fiction books and novels.

Per shelf they are:
18 books primarily by Marian Keyes.
39 books by authors from the antiquity, the anarchism, and by Tony Hawks etc.
41 books by primarily Virginia Woolf, Josephine Tey, Agatha Cristie, Fredrika Bremer and John Donne.
40 books by C.J. Sansom, Frederick Forsyth, Michael Montaigne and a bunch of books I just want to read before I give them away.

I suppose John Donne should be on the poetry shelf and that Michael Montaigne isn't strictly fiction, but they are both my go-to reads for when I want to read something nice and easy to make me feel good and if I want to read something just for the pleasure of reading.

In total with the Wimesy books, that makes 179 books on fiction to be added to the total sum as a part of my task of going through my books this month.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I am in love with Peter Wimsey. Not even a little bit. I really do love him.

I met him in a taxi many years ago.
He was going to an auction, but had forgotten his catalogue and the first thing he said was:
"Oh, damn". How can you not love a man like that?

Lord Peter Wimsey is the main character in Dorothy L. Sayers detective novels published from 1923 until the beginning of the second European world war.
In 1998 an unfinished manuscript was edited and published by Jill Paton Walsh who since then has continued publishing a number of books based on Sayers writings and now, quite independently, extends the story about Peter and his wife Harriet Vane.

I own - currently, I might add - 41 physical books about Peter Wimsey. All titles, most first or old editions, and in several languages. This is not too many and none will get cleared out in the November Challenge.
I also have all books as electronic versions to dip into when bored, and to reread several times a year.

There used to be many more physical books in my possession but in the great clear-out in 2014, I got rid of many of the lesser good editions and translations (including a horrid German translation of Busman's holiday, that skipped all sentences with words too difficult to translate!).

Books that you have read so many times that you almost know them by heart, are a wonderful way of training your new language. While the original text runs in the back of your head, you can read the translators version on the page. New words will become connected to old phrases. Although a translation always will present a character in a different light (which is why you never really want to read a translation if you can read the original), it will always aim to retain some of its original flavour.

(The man has read most if not all the Wimsey books too.
He had to; he had to know who the competition was. A fictional character!
I was horrified to hear it. But I know it is true. Often I start a sentence with: "Oh, this reminds me of what Peter said..." adding a long quote.
The man claims his other competition is Emperor Charles V whom I also constantly refers to.
I should be utterly ashamed of myself - but I can't be. I know that to be true too.)

Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Living the Good Life? This is an example of what I consider a Good Life:

"Cosimo, the head of the family, was particularly fond of living in the country and used his time in his villas to demonstrate to the rest of the world the simplicity of his republican lifestyle. Clad in simple garb of a country dweller, he loved to cultivate his own garden. He would prune the wines while his in-house scholar, Marsilio Ficino, read aloud to him from the works of the Greek philosopher Plato." (page 95)

This is the way Cosimo Medici is described in my book about 15th century paintings by Rose-Marie and Rainer Hagen. In all reality, it is more a book about 15th century culture than about art. They describe life from perspective of what you can see in 15th century paintings.

The text on the price tag indicates that the book was bought in Lithuania so I guess I got it in the spring of 1990 when I was in Kaunas at the University. After all the run-ins with the remnants of the Soviet Army (Lithuania was declared independent then by everybody except the Soviet Union so tanks roamed the streets.) I probably needed art to calm me in the evenings. (I also suspect it was the only book I could get hold of written in English. It was common in Eastern Europe before the change to provide only very inconspicuous literature in English.)

Now, the man and I read it out loud while drinking coffee in bed on Saturday mornings.

If I ever get filthily stinking superfluously enormously rich, I will rather have an in-house scholar than a live in maid. Possibly reading Plato, never ever Aristotle, although preferably Epicurus (not to anybody's surprise.)

Monday, 23 November 2015


There is snow.

I love it. I really absolutely love it. I love the way it lights up the nights and the way it muffles the sounds of traffic. Beautiful. I love the sound under my shoes.

I went out and listened to the sound under my shoes. I walked with my tongue out trying to catch the snowflakes. Beautiful. The snow came last night and I am by now done with it.
Thank you. Good bye. I am good for the season, thanks.

Could you please go back to where you came from - please?
I really hate travelling with snow on the ground, in the air, in the weather prognosis.
Everybody becomes skittish and me especially. 

Sunday, 22 November 2015


Vad är det för fel på hotell?

Mitt hotellrum är så kallt efter klockan 10 att jag sover i fleece tröja, mössa och strumpor.
Ljuden från hissen går genom väggarna och jag är ändå inte närmast.

Personalen är antingen alldeles för krävande artig eller inkompetent ointresserade.

Fast just detta hotell har goda äpplen, bra tvålar (att ta med hem) och mjuka handdukar (som man inte ska ta med hem). Det finns dessuom en pizzeria om hörnet och en domkyrka över gatan.
Internetuppkopplingen är stark och stabil.

Det bästa av allt? Jag kan äta havregrynsgröt med gravlax till frukost.

Och efter en vecka kan jag åka hem med minst en månads förråd av tvål.

Friday, 20 November 2015

No, no I still do not like ice cream and no, no freezer function at all. My freezer compartment is not even at fridge temperature.

Well, at least I have advanced my total knowledge about the world around me.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


My neighbours have renovated again. This time by the look of it, a bathroom.
What they put out to trash was about two litres (in a five litre bucket) of high-hygienic water-based medium-gloss white paint. Exactly what I need for my kitchen cupboard in my little apartment (there is only one kitchen cupboard).

Painting is easy but it is not the task that provides the good final result.
To get a good result from the easy paining, the preparations are essential. And those are not easy.
The preparatory work takes time, as there are several steps with drying time between. It does not help, that I seem to only paint in houses where the previous painter has been an amateur (the man included).

For the kitchen cupboards, I wrote a list of all steps so that I could cross them out one by one and feel good about it. This is the list and it has now been executed:
- Wipe down everything with washing liquid to degrease it.
- Scrape or scrub off all paint the previous owner painted on handles, tiles etc.
- Scrape with a hard scraping iron off all bubbles, drips, spilled plaster, brush hair and all and anything stuck in the paint.
- Wipe with dry cloth the dust off. Here I also had to remove seven thumb-tacks under the paint. (Why would anybody cover thumb-tacks with paint?? (effing amateurs grumble mutter…)
- Sandpaper everything. Don't be shy about it. If you can see it now, you will also be able to see it with the paint covering it. Paint does not fill cracks.
- Wipe with dry cloth the dust off.
- Scrape again as something will undoubtedly be found that is easier to scrape off rather than sandpapering it down.
- Wipe the dust off with a wet cloth.
- Wash with paint cleaner (soda) in the suitable strength.
- Let it dry. (Takes longer than you think).
- Wipe with dry cloth.

- NOW it is good to plaster anything uneven. I had no plaster at home so I ....
- added the base coat first to all inner sides and shelves (three, and I painted it with an old radiator brush – perfect actually).
- Wait for seven hours minimum until it stops stinking and is completely dry. (A little tea light burns the smell particles and helps a bit if you as I have to sleep in the same room.) Opening the window only helps with the smell but slows the drying time if the temperature outside is less than about 15 degrees C. When the shops opened, I bought plaster, and touched up all little cracks and unevenness with my smallest plastering iron.
- Wipe the plaster even with a wet sponge to get as many of the ridges off as possible. Let plaster dry, sandpaper, wipe, dry.
- Repaint with base coat.
- Dry while waiting seven hours.

- Add top coat. This was so easy because my neighbour uses really good, brand-name paint and my base-coat was some supermarket quality.
Because it is inside a narrow cupboard with overhang it took three quarter of an hour to do the base coat with a brush. I used a small sponge-roller for the top coat, even if I then had two tools to clean. It still saved so much time.
- Wait to dry the top-coat. (I went and used the remaining paint on trimmings, rails in the wardrobe and some other details around the house. When I came back the top coat was dry-ish.
I will add another top coat of pain(t) tomorrow because I have it easily available. The sponge-roller rests in a plastic bag until then and it will make it look not only OK, but really good.
Then finally, I will be able to put everything back into the cupboard (of course going through everything, washed it, and got rid of a few plastic buckets at least.) Puhu!
Total cost for a newly painted, hygienic, fresh-looking inside of a kitchen cupboard - the cost of plaster. All the rest were tools I already have (and have too much of) and the left-overs of my neighbours.

This was the final result:

Ice cream

I am not really keen on ice cream and eat it very rarely (sorbet is ok though). 

Yesterday though, in the shop (milk, pasta and hard bread) the bing-bong announcement said they sold ice cream cheaply. Holiday special (no, as far as I know there is no holiday this week.) They might be referring to christmas - still six weeks away, and not really an ice cream event. And before I digress into my hatred of christmas (no capital letter on purpose!)... where was I?

So yesterday - I bought cheap high quality brand name ice cream.
I took it home.
I put it in the freezer to eat my dinner first.
And I forgot it!!!

I was reminded by John saying he had found treats in his freezer!

Now I want to go home from work. I have an urge to just leave and go home and eat said ice cream. Straight out of the tub with a spoon.

Today day will be remembered as the day I really, really, really wanted to eat ice cream.

(I hope it lasts until I come home so I actually eat the tub before my sad freezer destroys it.)

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


In my little apartment (my personal hide away, the over-nighter close to work, my bug-out apartment, my safety net or just my personal home), I have 34 books and 11 maps and guides of different kinds.

I have now been through them all, flipped the pages open in all of them to see which emotions I would get. Surprisingly many went straight out to the charity shop. (Some because I have an electronic version too.)

There are 19 novels. (I always imagine that I will sit and read novels in my little apartment when the rest of the world is on fire and the euro zone has crashed.) I don't really read them, but it is relaxing to see them. Most of them are old favourites that I almost know by heart. There is also an adventure book about somebody who paddled the entire Amazon that I read in the fall of 1990 (bought in the US.) that I have always thought I will re-read.

There are also 5 cook-books, 5 books about interior design, feng shui and renovation projects, and 2 books about history and historic buildings. I also have an old school book about Scandinavian literature with mostly poetry that I read most frequently.

That makes 33 books in total. The last one is a booklet from a magazine in the mid 2000's about wellness and living the good life. It has numerous exercises in it to do when there is a need to feel better. I am thinking that one day I might feel really really bad about the world around me, so I'm keeping it as a precaution.

With one person after another breaking down mentally around me and one after the other of our common institutions threatened, I will keep it.

Saturday, 14 November 2015


Souvenirs are for people who:
- don’t trust themselves to remember
- go to places to tell others about it (meaning they live in the face of others)
- don’t take time to enjoy the place while they are there (also only takes pictures without people on them)
- think they will never travel ever again (so everything has to be collected for the future). 

I have souvenirs. I have a nightgown bought while at one of my German university still in use, a key chain found on the street outside my house in Shanghai and of course my lovely hand mirror from Hungary. Are they not souvenirs? I have a short memory, like telling people about my travels, usually work hard while travelling and never expect anything nice ever to happen again. 

Friday, 13 November 2015


You know what the fellow said - in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgia's, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace - and what did that produce. The cuckoo clock.
Orson Welles at the Prater in The Third Man (1949, directed by Carol Reed)

Except that Switzerland never produced cuckoo clocks.
Clocks, yes, and very fine ones, but never clocks for people who miss their budgie and wants an hourly memorial service.
At the time of the Borgia's, there was also no Italy. The area was a multitude of kingdoms, princedoms, dukedoms and bishops-doms mixed with independent cities and private estates. The Borgia's were also not Italian in any sense. They descended from Valencia and are mostly famous for producing a number of Popes with despicable morals in the 14th-16th centuries.
The thirty years possibly refers to the period 1476-1507 which is the lifetime of Cesare Borgia, also known as Duke of Valentinois or possibly his father pope (yes, Pope!) Alexandre VI.

And when the Borgias were in power, they and their contemporaries used the Swiss as mercenary armies. The Swiss federation at that time consisted of only the eight cantons to the west. Their fighting power were famous at the time for beating Duke Charles (the Bold) of Burgundy several times in the 1470s. Even today, the popes and the Vatican have mercenary troops from Switzerland to defend the Vatican, called the Swiss guard (and in uniforms resembling their traditional costumes).

In the Swiss Federation at the time, the valleys had self-rule. At the time, they had relative democracy in comparison to everybody else. Democratic societies for non- nobility at the time but not quite in our sense of the world.
The brotherly love in the true familiar sense of the word it was not. You had to be a born in a local family to be included in the democracy, compare today's Swiss citizenship regulations. Peaceful it was not. Not the times, nor the place.

But I love the film and I know the quote by heart.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


Oh, dear, I seem to have lost my will to leave my job.
Which is Dreadful.
I am supposed to be only working for fun and until my FI-number solidly reaches back up to 30.
(Which is a silly waiting period as my retirement funds starts paying out in 18 years, but anyway.)
I am supposed to retire early am I not? Not? No.

These are the reasons:
- For the first time in my life, ever!, I work for a manager and owner that I not only respect but also like. Shocker! I am not certain how to handle this. I like the management as well as my colleagues. We are a truly odd bunch and cooperate in very unusual ways but I really like them. I am as shocked as you are.
- I like what I do. I do not work full time and no over time but it is at a very high level, requires an unusual set of competences and provides a service for clients which is truly appreciated. The bossier I am, the better they like it. How can I not like that?
- I get to travel a little bit for work which is nice when I am not actually doing it. It takes me to places I would not go to otherwise, forces me to be innovative with what to do and see and I get to look into a part of society not generally open.
- I have managed to set up a life-work balance, home-away balance that calms my restless wanderlust and satisfies my need to safe. My office is anywhere I want it and right now it is set up nicely.
- I truly have the nicest clients who are the kindest people in the world and seems to be quite impressed but what I know and
- I will also get new project involving the China-offices and if technology and diplomatics works out the way it is planned, I will be going home to Shanghai this spring. How could I possibly leave before that? The man also likes China so he would be coming too.

I am a smug cat on a pillow, I know, but I am old and I have worked very very hard to get the qualifications to take the chance that I went looking for, which placed me where I am today.
I am grateful and I have finally had some luck. I have however paid very highly for it. I have done my dog years as well as almost two decades of hard labour. I bloody deserve to have a job I like.
For a while.