Garden, gone.

That time has come, we are having to say goodbye to our garden.
And just when nature seems to have discovered our little eden.

There are all manner of friendly, helpful insects making a home here.

Sadly our letting agency is rather greedy and have put our rents up (well above inflation rates) for the second year running. In the same week our good friend [more like a sister] told us she is leaving her job and returning to her hometown to care for her father.

She offered us her apartment at the cost of her monthly mortgage payments, crazy cheap. There is a small outside space, but it isn’t suitable to growing much more than a few pots of fruit and veg.

She’s basically packing her clothes and most treasured sentimental items and is leaving everything else. Which means it is fully furnished.

We decided to sell all of our furniture, to raise funds to clear our debts faster. That’s also the reason we couldn’t turn down her offer. Not to mention the fact that I’d rather pay to help family and friends than some faceless stranger via a heartless company.

Well, that faceless stranger gained a face last night. Our landlord came with a letting agent to view our furniture (on our invitation). He agreed to buy the whole lot and for a few hundred more than the minimum we had hoped for.

Such an amazing, bliss-filling feeling. Having a huge injection of cash, having shed the ownership of so much stuff and having not to worry about moving so many large items.

He did want us to include most of the pots and plants, which only made me happy to think there’s a slim chance of our garden surviving. I know there’s every chance the new tenants will not care or want for a garden, but at least the bugs have a  slim chance now.

Here’s to the next chapter on our adventure.

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Happy Blogiversary

Happy Blogiversary to Not Two Cents, aka Not Two Pennies.
One year old today!

Looking forward to what the next year brings. :-D

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Crooked

Went to the specialist today, and we were told that the doctor we had seen 4 weeks back didn’t quite get it right.

I should have worn a different sized splint and not taken it off 24/7. So, he’s now extended my sentence by another 6 weeks! And, well, after that my finger still won’t be normal and there’s nowt to be done about it. :-/

He applied a mock splint there and then, but even that couldn’t keep my crooked finger straight for long.

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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!

A bloggin’ break.

I am afraid that I will be taking the next 5-6 weeks off from the blog, baking, cooking and most gardening as I can resist.

While stupidly using a penknife to stab holes in pots (will post about that when am back), it snapped shut and cut deeply into the back of my right middle finger.

Well, shortly after I tried moving my finger to asses the damage and heard a loud pop! The pain in my finger was deep and made my stomach churn.

I also was unable to fully straighten my finger.

Off t the doctor has results in being given some strong painkillers/anti-inflammatories, a fetching plastic splint to wear for 5 weeks (possibly more) and words of warning from the doctor; I may never have a fully functional finger again, and am facing the possibility of little to no movement.

Right, that’s far too much typing already. I need to see if I can take the next few days off work too.

Finger Mouse

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. ;-)

B-Day

Yesterday I updated my budget, something I still do in a spreadsheet and will continue to do until our loan is paid off……

Sometimes these quick checks help bring a smile to my face. When realising we’ve got a few more pennies than I’d thought. Then there are those times when I end up feeling physically sick with apprehension.

Yesterday was a dizzy-sick day. Somehow we need to find ourselves €1,000 to survive through ’til June. Come June we’ll be back in the black, having either a few euros spare or have that 1k saved up.

The problem is that between now and then we will be one thousand overdrawn, and without an agreed overdraft. Yikes!! :(

Thankfully we hadn’t got our new sofa yet, as the situation would be even worse.

The problem with getting paid in the middle of the month has reared its ugly head once more. Too many bills to pay weeks before I have the money to do so.

The problem with trying to go ‘moneyless’? There’s not really anything left to cut and try save a few pennies or cents.

I have just six weeks to find €887.

Hot or Not?

Getting back into moneyless, or even money-less, living after our Christmas break has proven difficult. Having to work more to pay off a loan and having a few extra treats has pushed our ultimate goal a little further away.

The trick is to not stress about growing food, instead I need to sit back and enjoy the process and learn from it… no matter the result. I also need to relax a little on the electricity side of things. The odd lamp or light isn’t such a terrible crime.

Although I now know where our power comes from. :-O More on that next post.

So, I have double checked about the house once more. Searching out those little sneaky plugs that have crept back toward reunion with their beloved sockets.

The biggest “splurge” we’ve allowed ourselves is heating. Not that our alternatives didn’t work. It was purely laziness, not having to worry about wrapping up and lighting candles, and being stuck in one room had proved much more of a challenge. Perhaps if we weren’t working so much and could have more time to enjoy being outside, walking, gardening or anything that helps keep you warm, we might just have succeeded.

Today though, the heating is being cut back and will go off for good in about a fortnight.

Having taken a week to write this post, I’ll leave it there and write again soon.

Sustainability Bites!

And so too does the cold!

Yeah… I’m back. I didn’t mean to be gone for so long, but, well, what can I say? Life gets in the way. Especially when you’re enjoying living a simpler lifestyle.

We did however take a break for three weeks, from the week before Christmas and the week after New Year. Covering both my and my partner’s holidays.

During those few weeks we ate traditional home-cooked food which had partly to be bought online, included excess meat & sweets and has now added some extra insulation to our waists.

We also turned on some lights, lamps and decorated the house (with decorations we already owned). Yes, we relaxed all the rules we had previously set ourselves.

The best thing of all was central heating and hot baths. Especially as the winter here has been one of the worst in a decade. Not exactly white, unless you count the thick frost and even thicker fogs.

We’re prepared though, and have effectively ‘closed down’ more than half of our apartment. We are living in the two bedrooms which are relatively easy to keep warm through non-power or gas hungry means.

There is however a new challenge coming our way, this winter is about to get even worse. With local temperatures dropping below -10°C, at least during the nights. Something that is really not common here at all.

What with the added inability of local builders to make decent insulated walls, I am concerned. We may need to awaken that gas behemoth yet again and let it breathe hot air once more. Otherwise water pipes may well freeze, and the walls will crumble altogether.

What else has changed? Still working more than I’d like to, what with our mini-loan.

And given a third of my salary goes to the government, as there is a flat tax rate for self-employed people, I will only need work more.

If my salary goes down my tax rate does not. In fact, I am not yet paying the full amount due to discounts for the first 3 and 9 months. :-/

My ideal salary breakdown would go something like;
Rent 61% – but until we can find land we can afford, this will never be gone.
Bills <8% – the closer to zero the better, but had best plan for more. Just to be safe.
Mobiles/Internet 8-9% – need these to earn money in the first place.
Food 22% – things we cannot grow/provide for ourselves (yet).

I didn’t include saving any money for rainy days, because in an ideal situation there wouldn’t be any! :-D

We all need more holidays and less work to be productive, the systems we live under now are totally flawed. Having a fortnight off has given me the boost to get through a few more weeks or months, but this cannot go on indefinitely.

Oh! I’ve been considering a change of name, liking the idea of Selfish-Sufficiency, with the hope of attracting people looking to save some pennies but who otherwise wouldn’t be interested in choosing sustainable or green solutions for their need to cut back.

I fear though that I am falling into the trap of old habits, getting bored and changing names or abandoning blogs entirely to start something new. I am pretty much going to drop social media. If nobody finds the blog, so be it.

I’ll leave it there for now and promise to write again soon.

Bloomin’ cold!

It ain’t easy to resist that thermostat on bitterly cold days, when the sun doesn’t shine and the temperature outside barely hovers above zero.

We’ve had some recent successes, after severely pruning my cherry tomato plant it has sprung back to life. Given that we had 20 degrees-c just a fortnight ago, it has even produced some flowers and tiny fruits. Our peas started flowering too, and looks like the daffodils or tulips have woken up.

The weather this year was stranger than any previous.

We had new mushrooms appear, but some that I do not know. More that arrived with the locally sourced soil, but none of my crop.

To be honest, I’ve somewhat neglected our garden and crops. I have big plans for the spring but need to make a winter schedule too. We’ve been donated even more seeds from a friend and friends-of-friends. When the time comes we’ll have plenty of little seedlings to tend to.

The vegetarian, and some days vegan, diet is going well and I am controlling my gout with natural means. This has really helped, not being able to walk is a real downer for me. I was stuck inside for so long that I started going a little mad.

Our little loan was another heartbreaker, but inevitably it has made me even more determined to escape the joke we call the financial system. It’ll be a struggle and will mean we need to play our part of little pawns for a little longer, but in the end I hope we can escape.

My big dream is for us to get a small bit of land, enough to be fully self-sufficient. These next few years will be the test run for then. I know that’s not the exciting adventure you’re all hoping for, but it’s sure to be fun, challenging and thrilling for us.