Back to regular…

Time to get back into the habit of regular writing and finally get round to posting about two big topics that I’ve been putting off for weeks now are:

1. How was my Big Green Summer?

2. What is all this prepper nonsense?

My Big Green Summer

This was a huge success and I am very confident that I can live without a lot of the normal modern comforts. However, whether I can do that while living in more rustic shelter is another question.

Limiting myself to a small space was fine, but I did get rather emotional about it. I think it was partly to do with my partner being away for so long. In the end, I was happy to be able to occupy myself by wondering from room to room and having all that cleaning to do.

If I’d not been alone, well that’s yet another unanswered question. Maybe we would have driven each other mad, or maybe achieved some form of peace.

My water collection outings were very unsuccessful, I soon came to the realisation that I didn’t want to wake up so early during my holiday and resorted to using water at home.

The solar shower worked like a charm, but getting the blasted thing high enough was a nightmare. I think it is designed for hanging in very tall trees, and not inside apartment bathrooms, even ones with high ceilings.

We’ve definitely decided that van life is a possibility for us, but we seriously hope to downsize our living space to something much more sustainable.

Seventy meters-square is far, far, far too much for two adults and a cat. Our last place was 60, and even that was too big.

We’re still happy to be on this path, but there’s a long way to go.

Becoming a Prepper

I found an interesting book online, its free to download as a pdf. It may not be the best but so far I have enjoyed reading it, and for someone totally new to the world of preppers, it is a nice start.

[I’ve been searching everywhere for the link. I’ll share it when I find it!]

It actually suggests building up your supplies over a 12 month period, so no massive supermarket bills or sudden overwhelming amount of stuff to sort or things to learn.
A slow and steady approach.

Here’s hoping Armageddon or nuclear war can wait another 11 months!

The idea is to have a stockpile of food and water for three months, which we will keep in the office/spare room. It’s not been that long since we actually managed to sort out that room, but ah-well.

I’ve posted the ‘after’ pictures before, but forgot the before ones.

We’ve chosen that room because it has the most stable temperature year-round, the kitchen getting stupidly hot in summer. I will try my best to stick to our food goals:

  • be organic
  • be vegetarian
  • be fair-trade
  • be as locally produced as we can find
  • have minimal packaging, especially plastics

Well, that last point is gonna get very tricky. I’ll still make preserves and things at home to avoid plastics and metals, but some of our long term stored foods are gonna have to be in some form of container, in fact it might break most if not all of the rules.

I can justify this to myself, given that this isn’t going to be our daily or weekly food source. Of course when things are due to expire we’ll need to use them up. Our normal food will still be green, clean and healthy.

My goal is for bug-in food, water, medical and necessities supplies for three months, plus bug-out bags to be able to get out into the woods or somewhere safe, with similar supplies for three days.

The next step will be to learn to supplement the bug-out kit with skills and knowledge to substitute our supplies and stay safe outdoors.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’ll have to share updates as I go.

 

What else is going on?

The summer was awful, so unusually hot, dry and windy. Our poor crops have suffered. We’ve had some figs, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, lettuce and spinach. We’re losing hope for the tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions. The beetroot and other leafy things should be picked very soon. The pumpkin-vine is growing and growing, but I’ve no idea how if it will produce anything.

I’ve set myself, or more correctly reinforced, the goal of losing 2 kilos a week, a lot faster than suggested. But I am confident that I will lose that much simply by eating better, i.e. less sugar, salt & fat, and by being more active. Something we’d managed to do before, but my baking and preserving and learning to cook veggie-food has allowed these to creep back in.

Once I’ve lost about 15kilos I hope it’ll slow down to a healthier 0.5-1kg per week. I’m simply not losing any! I am starting to blame my genetics, I simply need to exercise more.

The mind and body are willing, my work schedule and other things are not. I forget now what the original plan of my hours being cut back was, but that doesn’t matter.

Starting this week I will drop down to a minimum number of hours my company will allow. Whoop-whoop!!

More time for being self-sufficient, getting prepped and blogging! :)

Phew, this one post has taken me a month or more to finish…..

Early Update

Hey there, so I am back for an earlier than planned update. I have an interview this morning and felt that a quick check in would be more than acceptable. :-)

I finished minimising our ex-junk room – now spare room. I am hoping that my partner will sort out his art supplies and minimise his two storage boxes to one. Then a quick cover with a sheet, et voila! A beside table. ;)

Phase 2 of minimising will have to wait, we are both so happy with the results.

I felt desperately lonely for the first few days and highly tempted to watch something, simply to have voices filling the house. Sure I still miss my hubby, but I am not so lonely now and am following my own rules more strictly.

My dearest friend gave me my birthday present early, a camping shower. That thing gets to the perfect temperature after about three and a half hours, when half full.

The problem is getting it high enough in the bathroom for the water to flow at a decent speed. I will try cutting the tube short and am thinking about some kind of ceiling hook.

My lovely husband set me an extra challenge before he set off. To live in as small a space as possible. I have taken this up and formed a shoddy looking barrier in the bedroom.

I have taken out a very limited number of clothes to use, I’ll have to wash more often. I will retrieve more supplies from the kitchen as and when needed. If this were to be a permanent arrangement, I think I’d need better seating for work and some kind of cabinets or drawers for the “kitchen”.

I don’t know if I’ll do this for the entire month, but I am doing fine. Admittedly I am using the entire terrace and aside from the bathroom and storing foods I don’t need in the kitchen, well… the rest of the house remains unused.

We went from 60 square meters to a little more when we moved last year, which is far too much for us. All we had wanted was a spare room that didn’t look like a hallway and need specially designed ‘thin’ furniture and the outside space too.

Anyway, I am getting off topic. Things are going well, I am happy to continue for the remaining three weeks.

I have decided to have a small tweak in the blog name, something a little easier to say & type and something more appropriate to living in Europe – although less British.

Not Two Pennies will now be Now Two Cents. Alright best go prepare for my interview, see you in early August.

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.

Emergencies.

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. :)

Distorted Digit

I am at danger of wishing away the entire year, and it’s only May!

The problem is paying of a significant chunk of our loan, which ends with the New Year, at which time our monthly repayments drop by more than half. Meaning I don’t have to sit biting my nails that I’ll have enough hours each month to just get by.

Next year, I can accept less hours and even save some money!

But, to wish away all this time is a problem I’ve had for too long. I need to enjoy the here and now and be prepared for tomorrow, but not to think or worry about it excessively.

This was a post I’d started before injuring my finger, which is as crooked as you’d like but healing up well and not painful any longer. Funny how being forced to take a step back changes things.

I am no longer worrying away my time, I was itching to get baking and gardening again and after two weeks or so off I have now utterly exhausted myself trying to catch up on chores.

My morning wasn’t so great either, discovering that the cat has decided to dig up our planters once more. All my wild flower seedlings and most of the new veggies (just planted out last week) have been utterly devastated. I can’t be angry at her by I am damned fucking disappointed. I was really looking forward to those wild flowers and the potential wildlife they’d attract.

No idea where I even got the seeds from. :-(

I’ve now staked out the bare patch to form a strange piece of garden art. I secretly hope that something grows back, but the reality isn’t so promising.

We are making progress towards my Big Summer Plan we’ve unplugged more electronics, but won’t let them go just yet. We’ve sold off some more things, but I have also decided that I’d like my home to feel like a home once more.

All the ornaments are back out on show. I won’t acquire any new and may let a few more go, but I’ve always been a nest builder. Maybe I was a Bowerbird in a previous life. :)

Shortly after injuring my finger I did show weakness and get myself a month of Netflix, but I am proud to say the few things I’ve watched/will watch are all documentaries and are mostly related to food, environment and health. Here’s a quick list in no particular order:

  • Gas Land
  • Requiem for the American Dream
  • Inside Job
  • Resistance
  • Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (Part 1 and 2)
  • The Human Experiment
  • Sustainable
  • Super Size Me
  • Forks Over Knives
  • Food Choices
  • Terra
  • Live and Let Live
  • Foodmatters
  • Minimalism

Some insightful, depressing, intriguing, worrying but mainly though provoking stuff.

I have much more to tell you all but will have to leave it here for today. Time to work, only one more month before the first step down in hours, & salary. Cannot wait!

I’ll leave you with photos of the oh-so-delicious cherry tomato chutney I made this past weekend. YUM!

The Big Summer Plan!

My Big Green Summer.

I had decided on this plan sometime ago, but my time here in the UK has made me more determined than ever to go ahead with it.

My partner will be heading home to the Philippines for six weeks this summer. I had decided to take two weeks off during that time, as we won’t be able to find time for a holiday together until Christmas at the earliest.

Wanting to save money during my holiday rather than spend more, especially as my time-off is unpaid, I will stay home and set myself a challenge.

So, for the whole of July I will avoid using any electricity. That means the first fortnight literally using none, but I will need to charge and power my laptop and the modem (only) for work in the second-half of the month.

I will fetch water from the local fountain for watering the plants and also for my showers. Which I will take on the terrace, using the sun to heat a bag of water – much like a camping shower.

I will hopefully have a good crop by then and will in the coming months preserve food we grow and from the market. The only thing I will spend on is my drinking water and will try stock up on dry ingredients like oats and rice and possibly stuff for baking bread.

However, I will have to cook all my food on the wood burning stove or eat it fresh. Additionally, I will try going vegetarian during this time. Excluding the eggs, I guess I’ll be vegan. We’ve already unplugged the fridge-freezer, so preserving is going to become essential in future. And what with only eating local we’ll need to stock-up for winter too. So this should be good practice.

That also means using only candle light once more, reading or playing tabletop games for entertainment during daylight hours plus going for long walks and hopefully some foraging. Cooling the house will not be an option, aside from opening windows and hoping for a cool breeze.

Who knows, all being well this could easily become a permanent/long-term switch. Heating in the deepest of winter would still be an issue and keeping my partner off of games consoles another. Well, let’s not worry about that for now.

I am very excited and eager to try going back to basics as much as possible. :-D