Big Green Summer Rules

I realised in my last-last post that I had forgotten to explain the rules I will follow for the next few weeks of my Big Green Summer.


  • Electricity:

None, absolutely zero consumption for the first two weeks.

In the second two, only power for the modem and when laptop needs charging.

No lights, substitute with use of candles and/or wind-up torches.

No fans, fingers crossed for some cooler breezes.

No fridge-freezer or elevator, which we’ve already been used to for sometime.

  • Gas:

None, absolutely none for the entire four weeks.

  • Water:

As little to be used at home as possible for four weeks*.

Must find some container to help transport water (for plants, dishes and showers) back from the public potable fountain.

Need to fashion (worst case buy) a solar/camping shower, and then finish making something to catch grey-water to use for flushing the toilet.

No washing machine, anything that needs doing to be done by hand.

*This is possible due to signing up for a monthly delivery service for our drinking water, we miscalculated at first and thought we were going to save money (and not to mention tons of plastic). Well, we are spending about the same and feel much greener in doing so. Plus, this has already arrived for July. ;)

  • Food & Cooking:

Buy as little as possible, mostly fresh fruits and vegetables from the farmer’s market.

Am stocked up on dry foods, preserves, pickles, jams, jellies, marmalades, chutneys with as many as possible being home-made.

All cooking to be done with wood fuelled oven, but as much raw food to be eaten as possible.

Supplement as much fresh food as possible from garden and from foraging.

  • Entertainment:

Books, tabletop games, hikes & walks, colouring, own imagination.

Strictly no films, TV, radio or other digital media.

  • Transport:

We always walk everywhere.

  • Exceptions:

Use mobile phone for contact with my partner on his adventures in the Philippines. If necessary, to be charged by solar power or BioLite oven & kettle.

Use of modem and laptop for work in second two weeks. Maybe one quick update here.

Pre-charged camera for odd photos.


Possibly, cat food.


That’s about it. I had thought about removing batteries from two clocks we have (the third is a wind-up), but am now wondering if this is a bit of overkill.

Wish me luck and see you all on the other side, here’s hoping I can keep my sanity.


Power Down

I am going to keep this post short, I am a few days away from my fortnight off and a few hours away from hubby setting off for his motherland for two months.

Over the last few weeks I have been running low on energy, both physically and emotionally. I am much in need for a bit of hibernation. I am not a fan of vehicles, but the analogy of running on fumes would best describe where I am right now.

Switching to a plant-based diet helped keep me going a little longer. The thing is, when you need a break then nothing else will really help you feel better than time to chill and power down.

That said, and not wanting to be too gloomy, I am psyched and prepped for my month free from electricity and just about anything else that needs money. With the exception of my laptop for work in the second two weeks.

I shall resist any temptations to sneakily browse the Interweb between meetings and such. And I have a fully stocked kitchen. I have plenty of books to read and am learning to play some games designed to be played be 1 person (or more). There’ll be lots of sleep, gardening and maybe some hikes too.

I am not as fully prepared as I’d hoped and may not be able to avoid using water as much as I had planned, but let’s see. If I can start cutting back/down/off on water consumption a few days later, I’ll also finish later.

I may allow myself some extra laptop time, to share an update, on my first day back to work. Otherwise I’ll keep a journal with good ol’ pen and paper until August comes round.

Hope you all have a good start to your summer, cheers for now. :)

More Minimal

…onwards goes the march towards a more minimal life.

I’ve fought my way through that paper work and have also tackled the living room.

Perhaps I’ve ran out of steam, or possibly I let my fella win, or maybe I just decided that I wanted to keep a few things that make us happy (for a little longer).

I could hang the telly on the wall and be rid of one more piece of furniture, I could get strict on my hubby and remove yet another, and we could part with our beloved books to lose yet a third. That’s one each of a cupboard, bookcase and TV stand.

We have decided, somewhat symbolically, to sell a shelving unit. The other three can stay for now, while we slowly adjust to this new way of living.

I guess the same is true of our shoe drawer, one day we may try to limit the number of clothes and shoes we have. When that day comes it’ll also go.

What I have also realised/decided is that I do not necessarily like empty surfaces. I have been strict and followed the rule of ‘1 or 3′, when filling in the gaps. Wait, let me go back a step.

This is probably not the most practical, time or energy efficient method of de-cluttering, but it worked for me. I first emptied every room of anything that was not essential or functional. Once this was done, I would rearrange furniture and try to find the most functional or aesthetic layout. Then I would bring back some larger ornaments and non-essentials to inject some of our taste and personality.

And, well, I’ll happily let these purely decorative items go when the furnitures’ days are numbered.

We’re both very happy with the results, and my partner is keen for me to get the office and kitchen done. Bloomin’ cheek! haha

I’ve promised to tackle these in August. Meanwhile, he has to sort through some of his clothes, odds & ends and documents.

The finished rooms feel lighter, brighter, airier and more tranquil than ever before.

Other minimalists may find our furniture too dark and heavy and the fact that we have decided to bring out our tabletop games putting them on show, to encourage us to play them more, along with our many books a hellish site. We, however, find it a nice contrast of colour, clutter and snuggliness in an otherwise neutral and empty space.

What makes me feel most at ease is the idea of how little there is/will be to downsize and be rid of when the time comes, or even to pack up to move. It’ll be a breeze compared to the last time.

I’ll have to update you all again on the office and kitchen later in the summer and will write more about my experiences as a new vegan soon. Cheers!


Found my cheek bones today.
Have long forgot I had e’er lost ’em.
Am reminded of others,
the lumps and bumps snuggled beneath stones.
I do love my rounded hips.
But no more meaty-bits shall pass these lips.

My moobs are fading fast.

A little unfinished ode to my knobbly bits, who for too long have hidden under a cushion of fat.

Well, where does the time go? I was so pleased with myself for writing regularly and the next thing I know two weeks have passed!

So, what have I been up to?

I am drinking (black) coffee again after reading it can be beneficial for gout, but I went caffeine free for 10 days. I felt awful for a few days, but felt good in the end. I feel that I am in control of my coffee addiction now.

You’ll be glad to know I saw sense and didn’t drink endless processed shakes for days nor did I do a juice detox (yet). I have however been totally vegan for 14 days. :-D

I have tried to eat most of my vegetables raw, along with the ideas behind the juice detox, and I have drank green juices mixed with healthier snacks and absolutely no processed foods. I am eating little & often but my appetite has already adjusted and so too have my taste buds.

I am enjoying what I eat more and more, I sleep better [tonight being the exception], have more energy, my sex drive is almost back to normal and I look and feel good. I mean, my skin seems healthier and perhaps my vibes/aura are positive.

And, the best benefit is that I am losing weight. My weight is now 102.4kg from 106.

Maybe that’s a little too fast, but I guess I am carrying so much extra weight that it’s not dangerously fast!? Well, I do hope it slows down once I get under 100.

There’s still a long way to go, but I feel very committed to a new eating lifestyle, a full convert, and am quietly confident that my weight should eventually reach healthier levels with relative ease. I am walking more too, but even when at home I am being much more active.

With so much energy to use I have started the process of minimising our things.

I know, another contradiction. I won’t, however, be doing everything and every room right now. I do need to do it now though, I feel like my body is finally free of excessive-crap and I need to do the same to my surroundings.

I will recycle and donate what I can now, and start preparing other things to sell much sooner than I had planned. Well, I did say before I am 40. That didn’t necessarily mean when I’m 39.

I know that the kitchen and garden will likely wait for many more months/years, but if the other rooms and spaces are maximally-minimal than that’s a good compromise.

I’ve already done some of the easier rooms and one hellish space – the wardrobe.

It makes me feel a little guilty when I think about how much we’ve already gifted, binned, recycled and sold. When we moved we shed two normal sized bin bags and one extra large one of all sorts plus we donated a huge suitcase of clothing.

Since living here, we’ve sold a few small odds and electronics, recycled one more large bin bag and a handful more of clothes have gone to new homes.

It’s so funny how we lived with so little in the past, travelling from country to country every 12-18 months and only when we thought we were settled (2008 and y’know what put and end to that) did we accumulate more. Still, even that time the things we had were only things we needed to stay put and was nowhere near what we have now.

We’ve moved from a furnished and fully equipped place to somewhere with nothing, well not nothing. An oven and hob with fitted kitchen and half fitted bathroom.

We’ve had to acquire cutlery, plates, bowls, pans, knives, mirror, furniture, washing machine, mirror, shower screen and on and on and on.

What with us both gathering together everything we’d squirrelled away in family homes, and buying those things we didn’t really need and no longer want, we have filled the empty spaces quickly.

My partner, and to a small extent myself, find it hard not to hoard. Having had so little in the past and having been forced to give up our new married-settled life so early on.

I am happy though, that he is seeing the sense in what I am doing and enjoying the positive results. Less mess to tidy, how quick it is to clean and less emotional and physical baggage.

So, here’s a few quick snaps of the before and after for our entrance hall, bedroom and my side of the wardrobe:


Right now I am working on a monstrous pile of paper work, something I had started to sort and bought new folders for before we even moved and have never gotten round to do. Next up will be another “easy” room, the bathroom.

Then over the summer I’ll work on my office, which is more of a junk room and has never become the spare room we had hoped for, and on the living-dinning room.

If I haven’t exhausted myself, I’ll have a go at reorganising the kitchen but not with any plans to minimise it for now. Let’s see how the other rooms go. ;)

A Little, Big Confession

So, it’s time to come clean and admit that I am fat. Real fat.

I tried running a second blog to focus on that, but found that my heart was here and on all the things Not Two Pennies is about.

Sure, the home-made foods that were increasingly vegetarian and the fact that I am generally more active have helped to stop my weight from climbing higher and higher.

That though is clearly not enough, I am a walker but not someone who generally seeks out exercise. I love food, and even though we have dramatically cut back on processed foods, fast food and snacks… well, we haven’t cut them out!

With my change to working from home about 14 months ago, I had become increasingly aware of my lack of any activity. Somewhat foolishly we earmarked and stored the very things that were supposed to help.

In our new green, clean and cheaper lifestyle the pedometers, running apps, smart weighing scales, exercise bike and so forth had to go.

I was regretting that decision and was planning to retrieve them from storage. Telling myself that when the day comes that I have instilled the habit of exercising, eating right and have reduced my weight to healthier levels then they can be sold, donated or upcycled.

Thing is, can I trust myself enough to have a smartphone for the purposes of tracking my daily activity (something that worked well for me in the past), to prompt me to move and teach me to run? Ha, never thought I’d be a runner.

Our electricity consumption would certainly increase a little once more, but what a small price for my [hopefully] guaranteed health? Heart disease, diabetes and gout run in the family and it’s time now that I take better care of myself.

However, I am glad to have reached a much more sustainable decision. Doctors all speak about time spent doing exercise, not miles or steps or anything else. When I was healthier in the past, all I simply did was walk.

And that is what I’ll do. I will walk and walk, and aim for a minimum number of daily minutes of walking. I’ll walk slowly, briskly and quickly. Yet that is all. Walk.

From the time before we stopped spending we have a cupboard full of this weird nutrient shake (Joylent) that I will now use-up to ensure I am getting all my body needs for the next 20 days. I will struggle with the headaches and shakes as my body adjusts to a world without sugars, salts, all manner of chemicals and most of all caffeine.

I won’t be buying more of this stuff, and will switch back to the diet I have previously explained here before. Local, organic, wholesome. A meat-free diet with some dairy and eggs.

In the past 24 hours since drafting this post I have had a change of heart, spurred on by some documentaries and some reading. I will in fact go fully vegan.

If the only way to reverse damage done by a western diet, of processed foods, meats, dairies and who knows what else, is to go 100% plant-based. Well then that is what I’ll do.

After the slightly sinister sounding nutrient shakes are gone (cannot waste food, even processed foods) I will try to do another 30 days. A reboot, a month of green juices similar to that seen in the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Seems that the guy has done well and has expanded and improved on his detox, which will be my guide.

So long as we can beg, borrow or steal a juicer that is.

These are only a means of escaping the negative cycles I am currently trapped in, and in 50 days I will revert to that local, organic, wholesome and vegan diet I had previously wrote about – minus the meat, eggs and dairy.

I do not mean diet in the sense of a painful and dangerous weight-loss course, but as a way of eating and as a lifestyle that helps me to lose and then maintain a health body.

I have set myself out a few aims, firstly to get under 100kg as fast as healthy and sensibly possible. Then to lose another 15kg, to reach 85 and then in the future an additional 15 to reach the upper limit of a healthy weight for my height – 70kg.

Today my weight stands at 106kg. I know other body measurements but surely weight is the thing that matters most. I cannot promise in the future that I won’t turn to running, training, cycling, weights and so on nor can I promise that in order to reach my ideal weight I won’t turn to smart devices for help and encouragement.

Yet, right now, right here, I can promise not to do these things and hope to show that being healthy can be done for less. Less money, less environmentally damaging methods and less consumer driven approaches.

Wish me luck. :)