Maximally-Minimal

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. ;)

Sufficient?

What is sufficient? Enough? Neither too much nor too little?

I’ve been on another documentary binge both on Netflix and YouTube. You can see my Netflix list in a previous post.

I’ve most recently watched Four Horsemen and Minimalism (about The Minimalists) and both of these have opened my eyes to new opinions and reminded me of ideas I’ve forgotten already on this short journey.

I guess I’ve gotten too obsessed with the whole money less/moneyless, self-sufficient and greener lifestyle that I have forgotten that simple approaches often provide the simplest answers.

I cannot remember if I ever posted something I’d said to my partner when we moved house, at about the time I started this blog. I declared that I wanted all but the most useful of our stuff to be gone by the time I am 40.

Sure, I am contradicting one of my previous posts when I said that I like building a nest, a well stocked and decorated one. However, like many smart people have said and thought before me ‘your things end up owning you’!

I am happy to enjoy them a little longer, and accept that living in one place means you need more paraphernalia than say someone with a nomadic lifestyle (and one which I now miss more and more). However, we still have more than we honestly need.

Our consumer habits have certainly been buried, not just put to bed, and this is partly from our desire for spending less and being more environmentally friendly. Perhaps though it is time to look at this from a third angle. A minimalist one.

Cooking, baking and growing your own food means you need more ‘valuables’ than someone who simply buys, barters or exchanges for their food. And I accept that wholeheartedly.

The ideal is to see those chattel as the tools they are, things with functions and not bits & pieces that are mine which I must protect and guard from others, causing stress and depression for no-one but me.

Sure, these ‘goods’ may have cost us money to acquire, but once their usefulness has passed we should gift (or exchange) them to others that need and want them. We shouldn’t let them and their original cost be a burden.

I’ve increasingly had daydreams, little fantasies, about our entire apartment being swallowed whole by the earth. Perhaps my imagination was simply running a little wild, in absence of my usual weekend action and horror film marathons.

And yet, this made me think. What would I really miss? If we had to crash at a friends house and only had the clothes on our backs. Would that really be a disaster? What would I risk my life for, in a mad dash to save from a muddy doom?

Well, I came to see our possessions as belonging to one of four different types:

  • Essential
  • Inescapable
  • Escapable
  • Emotional

The Essentials would be those tools I mentioned before, that we neither love nor desire but which our lifestyle dictates we need. Sure, having less or smaller and simpler versions may be a possibility and changes in lifestyle and/or needs should mean we exchange or pass these things onto someone who still has necessity for them, rather than clinging onto them.

The Inescapables are those things we do not particularly want but that we are required to have by law or to be able to operate within society, passports and documentation. I could probably include these as tools, but they are not likely something we should give up or pass on at any future time.

The Escapables are the clobber we have simply because we like/liked them and that may not really provide any use or benefit. This wouldn’t include a collection or something that brings us genuine and long-lasting joy, or which we can build social relationships from. Rather the opposite, stuff we thought would bring us happiness or things that once did but now sit on shelves, in drawers or boxes and merely clutter our homes and lives.

Then there are the Emotionals, these sentimental assets that may very well be irreplaceable. Be them antiques, heirlooms, a necklace gifted at birth, wedding rings and so on. Arguably we shouldn’t need these, and if they are a burden of responsibility, then why not pass them onto other family members to care for?
Still, if they bring us a sense of connection and aid our memories or any positive feelings then getting rid of them can be more tricky and questionable.

My own collection of ’emotional’ belongings was substantial, until I started taking photos of such [re]movables and then let them go both physically and heartfully. Now these number less than a handful.

Funny how some of the gear I once clung to were things I thought my mother wanted me to keep, so I offered them to her. She was surprised and said that she had a small box of trinkets, of little tokens from my early years, she has her memories and her photos and that was all she wanted and needed. So, a click of the shutter and these were off to the charity shop. Liberating!

I can appreciate that the boundaries between these types of gear can be flexible and even utterly different from person to person. The problem for many, formerly including myself, is to be honest and a little ruthless.

Take clothes and shoes for example. I personally see these as merely tools, (unfortunately) with a minimum of them being requirements of society. I don’t care to have a wardrobe full of shirts and trousers. I only need a few of each, or less.

Photos, pre-digital, are even more complex. Is it OK to make digital copies and give up the originals? I am not so sure.

It’s much easier for me to take stock of all that I own since this past April, when for the first time in my life they are all in once place. I even paid to send some ‘junk’ back from my parent’s home in the UK.

Well, I will enjoy them and will slowly whittle away at them. First thing today I am going to seek out all those legal documents and sentimental items, plus the few things I believe I would need to survive – should I ever find myself facing a muddy hole where my home used to be.

I will also take stock of the accoutrements I ‘want’, and question them again.

I don’t see this as a one time action, but something that needs doing every so often. Much like spring cleaning. Removing what is no longer needed, swapping in the new, or possibly adding to the pile, and so on.

I can see how digital photos and e-readers can help achieve a seemingly minimal lifestyle, but a cluttered computer desktop has the same mental effect on me as a cluttered desk-drawer or bookshelf. Stress.

Perhaps having a larger storage space to keep that which only need be accessed on occasion, such as photos etc, would be OK. However, for day to day use I like to keep my digital space clean and small in virtual size. Perhaps something I should in future apply to my physical space.

I know what you’re all thinking. The lifestyle we are following now is hugely in contrast to this. Upcycling and gardening both call for a lot, a lot of things. Keeping the old ready to be repurposed and pots, plants, seeds, gardening tools all add to the list.

I do not regret our decision to move, to invest in pots and soil, water and the plants that bring a splash of green and colour to a once dead and dusty space. Even if we should never successfully grow more fruit or veg, I take huge joy and peace of mind from the fact that we have created a beautiful spot that has already become a home to all manner of insects and a source of food for local birds.

However, when the time comes I will happily leave this behind. I would hope that someone continues to love and nurture the plants and garden we have created. Be that here or in another space. I am confident that I would not feel chained or weighed to the spot.

If the garden I love becomes a burden, I will simply and inevitably have to let it go to a new owner. Much like our attempts to consume less, spend little, be greener and become a little more self-sufficient, minimising our possessions is very much a journey and a process that will take time.

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

Not My Country

I’ve been here two weeks now, trying to remember the post I “wrote out” in my head while flying over and in the first few days here.

I love my family and friends very much and do not wish to judge anyone’s lifestyle choices, but I was literally stunned into silence that first week.

So much waste, consumerism, excessive choices of products, a society driven on spending, masses of people hooked on mobile devices, a lack of care for the environment and more processed foods than you’d ever want to eat.

I had full blown culture shock at the supermarket (well, hypermarket). The sheer number of different brands and varieties of the same thing was ridiculous. The number of aisles and mountainous shelving felt like a canyon of consumer goods.

And tucked away in a far left corner? The small fresh fruit and veg section. With all manner of goods from all over the world. Who needs seasons, right? And of course to make a public used to processed goods feel at ease, everything was individually wrapped or grouped into a ton of different plastics.

I mean, does anyone really want their fresh fruit sat there exposed and naked*?

The fresh bread section was larger, and had lost any sense of being a bakery… instead it felt like yet another factory churning out more than was needed. In itself driven by consuming ingredients and not worrying about what became of the output.

That evil word Brexit had also been let wild, with our idiot PM invoking the (hopefully more than) two year process on the day I arrived. Arrggghhhh!!!!!

If one more person says ‘democratic process’ to me, I’ll explode. Argh again!

I’d argue for them to give me one example in the world today of a true democracy, but they’d look at me with glazed eyes unable to fathom that someone might actually have a different opinion to the brainwashed masses.

That was another thing that had shocked me, the blatant and endless propaganda. Adverts about how great Britain was, is and will be. How Brexit will leave the UK as champions to a competition only it wants to play. How the world envy our greatness and will want to do business with us. How everything (economy, society & environment)  is OK, and needs just a little more care and attention. I’m sad to say that even the BBC seems more biased than ever.

They say travelling opens your mind and changes you, and I’ve no doubt that has happened. But the past 12 years has also changed the country I left behind. Now, no, this is not the country I left. I guess home is where I and my partner choose to be – it’s just a shame that it can’t be the same place as either/both of our families.

 

*Speaking of nudity, being at my parent’s home and stuck in clothing 24/7 has made me realise and affirm two things. Nudity is more environmentally friendly and wallet friendly  (at least in warmer months?!) to help save on laundry. Second, I miss being a naturist/nudist and will try return to it.

More about that next time. ;-)

Home from Home

So, I am off to the UK for a month.

This has put some extra strain on our dwindling funds. Needing time off and costs and cost-of-living in England being much higher. No complaints though, I am happy to spend some much need and overdue time with my folks.

My partner is in charge of watering plants, but am delaying planting new seeds until my return. I have a few things to share but keep forgetting what I have and haven’t posted.

The most exciting thing is the transformation of our barren terrace, full of cement and dust and stone, into a mini-Eden. We’ve got some flowers in to attract insects, we now have some spiders and beetles in residence and get daily visits from bees. We’ve put out bird seed and get frequent visits from a local bird similar to Blue Tits, Sparrows and a female Black Bird.

I’ve given up on home-made soap, it costs more money and time than supporting a local small business. I’d put tinfoil/card insulators behind the radiators during the early winter, before switching heating off.

What else did I need to say?

I’ve still to properly hang the bat boxes and we are now looking to make a bird bath and some bird houses. We’re willing to have more wildlife friendly plants and flowers until we become better at growing crops.

We’ve found some of the funds we needed but are still too short. Sorry to end on a negative note, but I best get back to packing.

Not wanting to end there, here’s some photos I’ve not yet shared:

The Grim & The Good

I’m about 10 minutes into Peter and the Farm, what I thought would be a nice chilled morning viewing. A rare treat for me to watch some telly. And well, I’m horrified!

If my commitment to vegetarianism was at risk of wavering, it’s now firmly glued into place…

As I’m writing this the farmer is now discussing seeds, so I’ll stick with it. Not exactly a quick end for that poor sheep. This farmer follows organic methods, but not apparently the idealised (or humane?) view of them.

Still, I’m not one to judge. I’ve been out spending money this week. My brother and sister-in-law are coming to visit and I wanted to show that we’re not turning into hippies.

My family aren’t critical or judgemental, yet I was concerned about word getting back to mum of us living in ‘poverty’. Second-hand news is the one second-hand thing I like to avoid. When she and dad come out later this year, I can show them how things really are.

I am trying to balance things a little, and not jump in the deep-end of consumerism.

I got some scented candles, vegetable based, from a local shop that has been making candles for 100 years or more. I ‘m looking to buy a sofa too, i’s one of the cheaper ones I’ve seen and fits our current views and goals perfectly.Well, excluding the 400€ price tag.

IMG_0112

It’s made from old mattresses. The man selling it, along with many other upcycled items, assured me it has been thoroughly steam cleaned. Something I hadn’t even thought about. The little shop has a nice collection of things; typewriter-lamps, suitcase-chairs, clock-tables and much more.

Better yet, is that the items are made by people with learning difficulties and mental disabilities. And even better is that the sale of the items will provide a salary for the workers. This is the kind of buying we should all aim for. When our money helps to empower others and with as little harm to the environment as possible.
The blogspot is fildeferro.

We’ve been buying ‘luxury’ foods too, some cheeses and wines but we’ve be sticking with the five rules I explained in The Big Update.

I’ve also sacrificed some planting space for flowers, tired of bare earth and wanting to feel inspired to get back out into the garden more. I may regret this, if diseases and bugs become a problem. For now though, they have helped keep me busy outside and still leave plenty of space for early season crop-plants.

One last plant, was a heart-shaped cactus. A little gift for my hubby as a thanks for his understanding and willingness to live the way I want. I couldn’t resist a new pot for it either, made from ceramic but designed to look like a crumpled/discarded paper cup.

IMG_0114

That for me has such a significant meaning, a message so powerful. We throwaway so much without care or consideration for the energy needed to make it and what will happen to it next.

 

And finally, a few pics of my new compost bin. :D

The Big Update!

It has been six months since starting this blog, and now feels like the ideal time to give you all an update and help remind myself of what we’ve already achieved and what we want to work towards in the months and years ahead.

It’s also time again to spend a little more, in hope of saving a lot later. I’m also really keen to lessen our impact on the planet some more and in the process become a smidgen more self-sufficient.

Food, Shopping & Waste .

I am working more hours than I’d like, to pay off our little loan. However, we have found ourselves with a few extra pennies each week. Rather than continue to cut our food budget to the absolute minimum, we have decided to take responsibility and have set ourselves a few guidelines for the food we will buy in future.

Our food should meet as many of the following points as possible:

  • be organic
  • be vegetarian (but we’re still eating eggs)
  • be fair-trade
  • be as locally produced as we can find
  • have minimal packaging, especially plastics

There’s one exception to buying local, as I’m not aware of any coffee plantations in Spain.

Giving up caffeine is something I’ll work towards, but not before my hours drop back down. It’s also a bit too cold for us to grow olives here, something that has become a favourite snack of ours.

Organic, fair-trade and local produce tend to be a little pricier than normal products found in supermarkets, but we’ll also be supporting local businesses, small shops, and also local producers when buying fresh stuff in the bi-weekly farmer’s market. Which seems like a good compromise.

We’ve already come to accept that going totally moneyless is not a reality for us, not just yet. We will of course continue to reduce our need for money as much as we can.

And of course, we’re hopeful that the majority of our vegetables and some of our fruit will be home-grown… eventually.

Also, we hope to reduce our weekly waste. Something that has already happened without much thought. 80-90% of our weekly rubbish is recyclable and another 5-10% is organic.

After last summer’s worm massacre, we’ve yet to set up a real composting system. This is something else we will address. Having today spent some money on a decent compost bin, both one for the kitchen and one for the terrace.

I’m hoping to get all those rubbish numbers as close to 0% as I can. Composting kitchen waste and using reusable bags not just for carrying our groceries but for rice, oats and anything else I can find bought from larger sacks. Thankfully most of the organic shops have options for buying these plus nuts, quinoa, couscous and more in this manner.

So, we’ll try to make some sacks of our own to avoid using the plastic (supposedly biodegradable) from the shops loose produce section. We’ve also paid a bit more than usual for truly biodegradable bin bags, made from corn starch[!?] or something similar.

We’ve not gone fully vegan, but are still largely vegetarian. We eat eggs and have the odd treat of some cheese. Once in a while we still eat some chicken too.
(More about chickens/eggs in the garden section.)

I’m currently looking into healthier options for our cat, the food we buy her now is expensive and processed. I have found a supplement that can be added to meat. Sure, we’ll still be supporting the meat industry and all the problems that brings, but my cat is a part of the family and deserves a healthy diet.

Keeping Warm.

We’ve given up on the olive oil lamps, not great light sources and yet amazing little heaters. I’ll try to find some way to use the parts and might come back to them next winter. The heating is now off and will stay that way indefinitely.

We’re also using our current small increase in financial stability to invest in beeswax tea lights. I hadn’t really thought about the ones we were using before, it was only when the last batch we bought produced a very nasty smell that we decided (much like our food) to go as natural/organic as possible.

I’ve found some that are sold with the option of not having the aluminium cups/containers. I have actually been keeping all of the ones we’ve used with the idea of an art project or upcycling of some sort in future. So, I can reuse them again for now with the new candles. I should do the same with our other light-candles, but we will use what we have first.

Power.

We found out where our power comes from, a nice move on our power company. Utter transparency and honesty, but not such a pleasant surprise. The breakdown was more or less:

    • 20% renewable (a good start)
    • 25% coal (the horror!!!!)
    • 25% nuclear (oh dear!!)

I still need to translate the remaining 30% which came from several different sources.

Well, finding alternatives to both save money and not use this wicked electricity has become an even bigger issue for me.

Thankfully we have unplugged the fridge-freezer and the only major energy we use is my computer for work. Having eventually failed at trying a tablet and a low-energy computer like the Raspberry Pi.

The other three big items is the washing machine, and my husband’s Xbox and TV. He is very much willing to take on this lifestyle change with the exception of one of his favourite games. I’ve asked him to play less, but have promised not to ask him to stop altogether.

Let’s see how it goes, sometimes he says he wants a new electric razor and this and that. Maybe it’s old habits or maybe he’s just thinking out loud and not entirely serious about getting these things.

Currently we are generating our own power from the wood burning oven and kettle that both use heat to make power, plus the old small solar panels and a some wind-up torches.

In the future I’d really like a small wind turbine, rather than a questionable (environmentally-friendly speaking) solar panel and perhaps more human-powered options.

I’ve decided to donate my Kindle to my father, once I’ve read all the books, as I know he is interested in getting one. I’ll ask that he sells/hands it on in future and so my concerns over its sustainability should have been solved.

Cleanliness.

I have been using soaps and shampoos again, and I did need a shave last month.

I had a Xmas treat of a haircut too. I kept the top long, and just had the sides shaved. So, I can still see exactly how much my hair has grown.

I am not changing my mind about not shaving or cutting my hair, this was simply an end of year treat.

I am reading about making my own soap/shampoo and won’t buy new products. I need to be ready with my own by the time our supply runs out, or go a few weeks again without any.

I am still peeing in the bidet to save water, but once our compost bin is established I’ll be peeing there. I’m sure the neighbours will be giving me some funny looks, but I need to set up a screen for me to also have showers outdoors come summer.

It’s entirely possible for this screen to evolve into an outdoor shower and compost toilet cabin. I have been doing my research into compost toilets. And am wondering why these aren’t mandatory in all new buildings?! Well, it’s at the top of my wish-list but being one of the more pricey items, will not necessarily happen this year.

What about the garden?

I spent the princely sum of €0.80 to buy some garlic, lettuce, cabbage and a little more on a new apple tree, raspberry bush and I forget one more. We’ve planted seeds for some insect friendly flowers, more peas (our current ones were badly damaged in gales), cornflower, borage and chard.

I’m finally getting organized and have began making monthly planting schedules that I can refer to again year after year.

I also harvested some onions, but have replanted them to produce more. I was very excited to see five little onions had grown from the one I planted last year. Never have I smelt fresh onion before, wow!

We need to get more soil but have plenty of wood chippings left, and we’re avoiding spending money on more pots by upcycling anything and everything that has no other value or use. As part of our cutting down on rubbish, we now only have one bin, our old coffee maker, which no-one wants to buy, joins an old kettle, old cat litter box, mugs, vases, packets and more.

Having bees is a long way-a-way, given finding them locally has proven a headache. My source of worms has also disappeared, meaning I can’t get some once our compost bin has been established. :-(

And chickens? Given we still eat meat, and that I have found much cheaper starting options than I originally posted? Yes, they are back on the radar – but with no clear date in mind for when we’ll get them. I can always feed the kitchen scraps too, but will there be enough for feed and compost?

What else is new/old?

We’ve still got plenty of old pallets and wood to make more things but have no real need for anything just yet. Maybe our outdoor bathroom/screen or some pot containers. I guess there’s no rush to decide.

Sadly, I am still waiting for my Altered Nozzle, the sooner we get this and save some water the better.

We’re ready to sell on more items such as books and other odds, but having got sick of boxes, we recycled or upcycled them and will now just have to accept less for items than we had once hoped.

I’ve been checking through my social media and have lost access to my Tumblr, but I’m not currently too bothered by this. If you’re messaging me there, I won’t get it.

The future?

Let’s just see what happens with Instagram, vlogging and other social media, but for sure I am excited to continue writing here.

As I said, chickens sometime this year and hopefully bees who knows when.

Willow coppice for firewood is also on my list, but this may not be a reality until we have our own land… along with the wind turbine.

I plan on getting/making a camping shower for free hot water this summer, but in the meantime we will need the boiler and gas for short hot showers.

Other things for the longer future that require we own our home, need more land or basically money are a plant-based grey-water filtration system and that compost toilet.

I don’t expect many people dream and wish for a compost toilet, but I’m one of them now.

And of course, more crop plants.

 

Phew. I think I’ve said enough. Thanks for reading this mammoth post. I’m so excited for the year ahead, and hope you continue to follow us on this journey.

Current currency crisis!

I had a post all planned out in my head, talking about getting back into the swing of moneyless living, or as near as possible, after my relatives had left also updating you all on the end of my personal soap embargo and new ways I’m trying to trim as many pennies/cents as possible from our bills. Then disaster hit!

Yup. I’ve started using soap again but am still saving water from my showers. Now though it is kept for flushing the toilet. I’ve finally given up my long hot showers, using as little water as possible; rinse-stop, soap-up, rinse-done. Another luxury that was hard to say farewell too. The flip side of this is not having enough water for flushing.

So, I’ve taken to peeing in the bidet and rinsing it clean after (with old shower water). That saves a huge amount of water, even with our modern dual high/low flush compact toilet.

Not ideal, and I find myself dreaming of a compost toilet – but that’s something for the future.

What else did I want to tell you all? Oh, we’re still really considering a microwave, but I couldn’t convince my other-half to get a secondhand one. Still not sure that I want or need one.

And – we’re finding it harder to resist turning the heating on. Currently the boiler is set to hot water only, the radiators are all off and we are using candles as a source of heat.

 

 

Luckily we had previously bought two Egloos, one for the living room and other the bedroom, due to the poor insulation in our old flat. These do a fantastic job in the new place, giving us a nice toasty home (well, two rooms), but the mornings are so chilly that I have to wrestle with myself not to start the gas-powered central heating. Maybe it’ll be a Sunday morning treat.

So, yeah. Back to that disaster. A friend who’d previously lent us some money, also a way of thanking us for help, which had helped us payoff our few mini-loans and credit card bills, suddenly claimed life or death and needed a big chunk of it back.

Our only option was to borrow more money, we’ve put it on the credit cards for now and have applied for a normal loan… we’re currently waiting to be finalised as we were pre-approved. Not a real disaster, but emotionally, spiritually and in respect of the way we want to live this is a fucking nightmare.

Well, what we had planned to save each month may now have to go towards clearing this debt for the next year or two. I was ready to quit, until realising I had no way out.

I’ve calmed down a lot, having accepted that personal loans from family and friends are as risky as bank loans. I’m not ready to give up and am even more determined to fight for my freedoms and rights to live without money.

Tick, tock

I feel like bit of a yo-yo, determined that I don’t need or want a smartphone and any gadgets, gizmos or devices that consume more than is necessary.

Then I swing, like pendulum?, back to thinking maybe a smartphone and some devices that allow me to communicate for free isn’t such a bad idea. When I do the maths, if I had no mobile contract then I would make my money back in a little over a year!

Not bad, given the mobile I am looking at is designed to be repaired and live 5+ years. As for the portable-personal antennas, well I’d hope they could last just as long with proper care.

If I am going to spend my days wandering, foraging and losing myself in the forests and mountains, then there is a lot to be gained from an emergency communications system too. I can already negate the need to charge these, having sorted my renewable/free supply of power for a handful of things.

A ‘less-money’ lifestyle is very much a balancing act, sometimes spending in order to save. Ideally a little investment for a big return.

I wish these companies would make a repairable dumb phone which worked with your own antenna network, that would be ideal. So many of these new ideas for socially, environmentally and sustainable technologies all have one too many gimmicks, an app for your smartphone. Common, society needs to sort itself out. People need to divorce their mobiles and re-engage with reality.

At the moment I no longer have many electronics, less than I started with and the list is steadily growing short. The number of devices I use daily has dropped dramatically.

I use my camera when the mood to snap photos hits me, this was my partner’s camera so I feel that I should get brownie points for having a secondhand one. I only have my dumb phone now, having sold my tablet and smartphone, which I use a lot for work. And I have my computer (laptop) which I use for work, watching videos, reading the news and blogging. Then of course there’s the washing machine, fridge-freezer and occasionally the electric hob. Oh yeah and my eReader, I’d read about the environmental benefits of these once before. Given that any books I want will need to be shipped to me, often from the UK, I am very confident that once I’ve finished all 48 books, previously bought, then the carbon footprint has been balanced out. That said, I would in future prefer to buy secondhand books. Can anybody recommend a cheap-yet-green courier?

Having previously used a smart weighing scales, pedometer, fitness tracker, smartwatch, smartphone, tablet, laptop, printer, wireless mouse & keyboard, smart lights, TV, games consoles (one portable and two regular), VR headset, internet radio, action camera, coffee machine (2), kettle, oven, microwave*, hairdryer and a landline handset. Phew! What a list.

Don’t worry, these have or will all be sold, donated or recycled. Hence another swing to this indecisive pendulum, I do not want to increase my impact on the environment anymore, especially in terms of e-waste.

It’s not too late to pledge again on Kickstarter, but the clock is ticking. What to do!?!

 

*We haven’t bought one since moving house, I am yet to do some research and find out if it is a good/cheaper/greener option than the oven and hob. Although not as good as the wood stove, but sometimes starting a fire to heat milk is such a pain in the ass.

A few pics…

A few pics of the furniture we (mostly my husband) made from a selection of wood, pallets and old furniture parts that people were literally about the throw in the bin when we stopped them and asked for it… who doesn’t love free furniture?