Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lazy Sunday

It's a lazy Sunday and although I had a vague inclination yesterday to get up this morning and go for a nice long walk in the woods, the inclination didn't survive the night. It's very gray and windy out, although the rain has cleared up in the last couple of hours - the kind of day that makes me wish I had a fire to light. Not because it's cold, oh no. Despite the rain and generally miserable feeling of the day, it's still not far off twenty degrees, as it has been for over a week now. We had a couple of weeks where I was glad to add an extra cover to the bed and even a few nights where I happily donned my night-cap again. And now we're back to just needing a summer-weight duvet and me throwing that off during the night, too.

If I get a burst of energy later, I'll try and get back to tackling the Table of Doom - I did actually do a bit yesterday and the day before but just small things. I'd like to spend an hour or two on it though and then tackle whatever is left using the same 5 things a day method that helped before.

So far today though, after having slept late, I've mostly been curled on the couch, watching stuff on the internet and knitting a bit. I got myself some more cotton yesterday and have been making myself some more cloths. It's such an easy way to get back into a bit of knitting again and I was really pleased with the ones I made for my sister's birthday. Knitted cloths are the best and for the most part, the only thing I really use anymore. I do still have a few micro-fibre ones for dusting that someone gave me a couple of years ago but otherwise it's homemade all the way. I have a couple of different colours so that I know which ones to use for what. Yellow and green are for the kitchen, i.e. washing dishes, wiping tables etc. Pink and red are for washing myself. Blue and purple are used for cleaning the bathroom. Next up I'm going to try and knit a few very long ones, which I can use with my e-cloth mop. Well, I'll do one anyway and see how it works out.

Apart from that all I've done was prepare a spice rub for the pork neck I bought yesterday. I last bought that in June, when I wanted to make pulled pork in the slow cooker. On that post I have a note that it cost 7.60 per kilo and yesterday it was 8.90. What I bought yesterday wasn't on the bone but that's still a big difference. I'll have to make sure and enjoy every single bit of it. It's resting in the fridge right now, with the spices all rubbed in and later on I'll be trying out my new Romertopf for the first time. I'm not really following any one particular recipe - have used a similar spice rub to those I've used for pulled pork in the past and for the sauce, I'm going to use a cheap pils. I didn't realise I was that much of a beer snob though - I found it really difficult yesterday to pick up the cheapie can of beer (45c) and I spent a good few minutes looking at the bottles of "proper" beer (prices starting at about 89c, only a small selection in the place I was) and even holding one in my hand before I just put it back and bought the no-name one. Hopefully it will turn out alright. I should go now and do the washing up so that I have space in the sink to soak my Romertopf. I may come back later and post photos.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tight but getting there

I had my dentist appointment today, which was the follow-up after my check-up a couple of weeks ago when he saw that a large cavity had developed under an already large filling (and in the tooth right in front of the implant - obviously this is the part of my mouth that's always going to give me most trouble). Bloody painful because as per usual the first lot of anaesthetic didn't quite numb everywhere that needed to be numbed. Nor did the second lot. But after a third round it was alright. So he worked away, taking out the old filling, cleaning it all up and then filling it with some kind of a medicinal, disinfectant temporary type filling. He's is optimistic about the chances of saving the roots and wants to leave it now for two months to see how it recovers. All being well I won't need a root canal and will just have to have a partial crown fitted. Still expensive but not as bad as a root canal and full crown at least.

Unfortunately about five minutes after I left the surgery I started getting intermittent electric shock-like pains in the tooth. Actually it feels like it's on the top of the tooth but I realise it's the nerves inside, even if it doesn't feel like it. I held out for, oh, about thirty minutes before phoning them but apparently it's not all that unusual and I should just wait for two or three days for it to calm down, take ibuprofen to deal with the pain and it'll all be good. I have never, despite my terrible teeth and over the years having lots of things done (teeth out, teeth filled, gum removed, root canal, crown, abcess under the crown, implant, partial crowns - the only thing I didn't mind having done was wisdom teeth extraction, 'cos they give you a general anaesthetic for that!) I have never experienced this type of pain before. I even left work early this evening - and that was after getting the strongest ibuprofen I could from the chemist. Really hope it does calm down as I'd hate to end up needing an emergency root canal or something like that. As things stand, I have to go back in December for him to check how things are and see if the roots are still vital and then he'll make a treatment plan for the partial crown. All going well, that won't happen until January, which also means no bills until then either. Fingers crossed.

I also just checked my bank account and saw that we've just been paid so I immediately sprang into action, transferring money all over the place. The bulk has been transferred to my Irish account and most of that, as soon as it has arrived, will go to paying off my Visa. Then I will just have the overdraft on that account to deal with. I'm planning on just clearing a small amount in December and then the rest of it in January and February (possibly into March, but that will depend on what happens with the dentist). It'll be tight going be at least it feels like I'm getting somewhere again.

I have also transferred 100 to my Mastercard. Part of my savings goals is to build up a positive balance on that card. It pays a small rate of interest on any positive balances and, more importantly, if I have a positive balance I don't get charged interest on any purchases (so long as they don't go above that balance). I'm considering possibly going to Frankfurt for the weekend at the end of the month, so transferred less than planned to my travel savings account and put it onto the card instead. Either I'll use it to buy a ticket (also received a ten euro voucher from Deutsche Bahn that I could put towards it) or it can just sit on the Mastercard earning interest.

And then I just made my usual transfer to the savings account I use for annual expenses. My payrise also seems to have come through. After tax it works out to about 40 euro extra per month - I think we got less than inflation this year but still, every cent will be put to good use.

I will be checking my Irish account every couple of hours for the next few days, waiting with bated breath to see the money arriving so that I can clear my Visa and be down to just one debt. Budget is tight enough for November again although slightly more generous per week than October. With a choir weekend away at the beginning of the month, concert weekend the weekend after and potentially a weekend in Frankfurt at the end of the month, I will be too busy to spend much money on the weekends anyway. Says she hopefully!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Cake tins

Just a quick note for myself on what cake tins I have. Just as I decided to post this so I would be able to find the information again, I remembered that years ago I started to tick off the things on the Good Housekeeping Cookery Book list of basics that I already had. So now I'm off to add this information to there, too.

1 x 25cm round springform
1 x 20cm square
1 x Tupperware flower form 21.5cm x 6.5cm (height)

Edited to add: Ha! I knew I had a citrus zester. Haven't seen it since I moved here so if I haven't found it by next weekend, I'm just going to buy another one. This is something I would get a lot of use out of and I'm sick of using the ordinary grater that I have.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Christmas cake

Despite my very sweet tooth, I'm not a huge fan of cake. Well, that's not entirely true. I do like cake. But I don't often have much difficulty in only eating one piece and not wanting more. Except perhaps if it's apple tart that's a little bit warm and comes served with cool whipped cream.

When it comes to christmas sweet things, however, I definitely seem to have missed out on the liking gene. Don't like the traditional cake, don't like pudding, don't like mince pies. Never have. Although to be fair, it's so long since I've been forced to eat one of the above that I might find my tastes have changed and I love them. The fact remains that I'm never tempted - even though several years in a row I took to making masses of mince pies, which always went down very well. I did make real mincemeat with meat a few years ago but then ended up going through a very bad patch and not actually using it up. It still smelled fine when I did eventually get back to it but given that it was raw mince, I decided not to take a chance and threw the whole lot out.

Today I got confirmation from a friend that they have definitely booked me in to be the house-sitter during the christmas holidays. I have two weeks off and my tentative plans of flying off somewhere sunny for a week have had to be shelved, given my recent large outgoings. So I asked a friend who lives in Frankfurt if she'd be away and if so, if I could stay there over New Year's. Because while I like christmas, I really don't like New Year's. And Germans celebrate Silvester (as they call New Year's Eve) in a big, and very, very loud way. Given that I live on a main street with several pubs and restaurants close by, that means very loud crowds and, at midnight, fireworks zooming past my windows. So instead of letting all that ruin a good night's sleep, I'll be heading south and sleeping in a nice, quiet residential side-street with the only fireworks going off in the distance. It's the same place I stayed in last year for a few days after getting back from Oz so this might just be the start of a lovely tradition (it might help that I used up all the veg my friend hadn't been able to get rid of before going home for the holidays to make a couple of different soups, which I left in the freezer for them. Nothing better than getting home from holidays and realising you don't actually really need to cook for the first couple of days. :) ).

I've also been reading through Frugal Living UK's blog. I first came across this blog about three months ago, then forgot about it, then found it again, then lost it before finding it once more. That happens sometimes when I forget to bookmark things! I've been really enjoying trawling through the archives and since Dan, who writes it, is a professional singer it's even more interesting for me than most frugal, simple living blogs. I'm so in awe of anyone who can make their living from music but also really love hearing about some of the nitty-gritty of what it's actually like, how it's not all celebrities and loadsa money, etc. Dan mentioned yesterday that he was going to start his christmas cake and then today, I happened to reach the place in his archives where he made last year's cake. Coming across that just after having received confirmation of a place to get away to in December I had a sudden brainwave. I might not like cake, but most other people do and what better way to say thank you than with a homemade something. I loathe cucumbers, too but everyone who has ever tried them loves the bread and butter pickles I've made.

So I've dragged out my Good Housekeeping Cookery Book, because although I may have a dozen recipes in various books (haven't looked but I'm sure it's at least that many), I have a feeling that the GH book will not steer me wrong. When it comes to the classics, it's almost always the best. And they have measurements for a rich fruit cake in eight different sizes. Just so perfect, no wondering how to adjust something to make it fit into the one tin you actually have on hand. So I'll be searching my cupboards for dried fruit this week and hopefully get it done next weekend. And in the meantime, I'll be paying close attention to the other recipe I found a few pages on in the book for Bouche de Noel. Now that is the kind of cake that I can get enthusiastic about! I may need to make one for myself.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Places to go, things to see, songs to sing

One thing I really would like to do is to start visiting more places in Germany. So once I am debt free, I will need to decide how exactly I want to do that. I'm thinking something like a weekend away every second month and a day trip every other second month, so that every month I do go somewhere. Every month feels like a lot though so I suppose I'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, I thought I'd start a list of potential places to visit.

Day trips (no more than 3 hours away, preferably no more than 2)
Neanderthal (no excuses, this is only half-an-hour away!)

Weekend trips (no more than 5 hours away, must be reachable after work on a Friday)

Longer trips, minimum long weekend

I'm going to make this stuff into a separate page and keep it updated as I think of new places to go or to tick things off as I start to actually go on trips. Hmmm, while I'm at it, I should add some of the places outside Germany that I'd like to go to and some of the things I'd like to see.

In a few weeks time, choir will be performing Haydn's Creation. Last night, as part of our fund-raising efforts for that concert (the big choral works are expensive to stage - we're talking minimum 12,000, which is why we only get to do one every couple of year or as a support to other, state or otherwise subsidised groups), we performed extracts from it at a very posh old folks' home in town. They have a nice theater in the building (and a pub in the basement, so all the facilities!) and it was very close to capacity, I'd estimate just over 200 people attending. It's lovely to sing for an appreciative group and know they really want to be there and haven't been dragged along because they're family. LOL. We sang with just a small six-piece ensemble, with the piano picking up the slack for most of the missing instruments and had two soloists (the tenor bits were mostly left out, except for one trio when our conductor sang the tenor part.

What was particularly lovely about this concert was that because it wasn't a full orchestra and space was limited, the soloists sat just in front of the choir. Normally they sit at the front of the orchestra and the only time you get to hear them properly is during the dress rehearsal when they might turn around and sing towards the choir instead of towards the empty chairs. It was really wonderful to have them so close.

There are one or two places where we could probably do with a little bit more work but overall we gave a pretty good performance. And in two weeks we have a long weekend away to rehearse all day long for a couple of days.

I don't want to start spending money I don't have (even in my head) but I do want to get down on a list some of the things that I feel like I've been putting off or just never gotten around to over the year simply for lack of funds. I may never do all of them but once I have them on a list, at least I can think seriously about them and decide once and for all how important it is to me to give them a go. And one thing that will definitely be up there is singing lessons. I've never really had any proper ones, except for the once-a-year 20 minute session my current conductor insists on having with everybody (and honestly it's a fantastic extra service really, he doesn't get paid anymore for the days he comes early to do this). And I'd love to have more control over what I can do - being able to sing not just loudly but strongly, better breath control and so on. In the meantime, I found a song (don't think it's gone viral yet but it certainly deserves to!) that I think I may need to learn the words for (have already typed them up and printed them out for my books of lyrics) and sing next February during one of our after-rehearsal pub sessions in Halle!

The Ballad of Lidl and Aldi

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Meal plan

So, in an attempt to get out of my head a bit, I need to put together a belated meal plan for this week. I had friends visiting my town this weekend and we went to my favourite Korean restaurant (warning, that website comes with noise :) ) for dinner yesterday evening. They treated me and I returned the favour, so to speak, by buying breakfast this morning in another nice place, Florians. Budget for the week gone but well worth it. I opted for a very big breakfast so that I wouldn't even need to think about lunch and for dinner I've finished off the lentil cottage pie I made earlier in the week. It kept really well in the fridge, although the last portion was maybe a teensy bit dry in the lentil part of it. Potatoes were still fabulous though and heating it up again ensured a really nice crispy top to them. So, the weekend has taken care of itself and I just need to plan for the week. With so much on though, I've more or less decided to have a bread and cheese and cereal week.

Bread roll with tuna
Pasta with tomato sauce from the freezer

Sandwich with the rest of the tuna
Leftover pasta

Lunch out

Fasting but cup of hot chocolate after first meeting with counsellor, which is very early in the morning before work
Sandwich with cheese and dried tomatoes
Scrambled eggs

Lunch out or bought sandwich
Popcorn at cinema (have a voucher to use up before mid-November that includes popcorn)

And time goes by

On Friday it was four weeks since my sister died, today it's a month. A couple of friends have made sure to contact me today to make sure I'm doing alright but I have to admit it was Friday which hit me harder than today. Partly because Friday was also the monthly meeting of the Deutsch-Irische Gesellschaft, which is the meeting I was on my way home from when I heard the news. I really had to kind of force myself to go because I felt like if I didn't it would become the kind of thing that would build up in my head and, as they say in Germany, I'd end up making an elephant out of a mosquito (making a mountain out of a molehill just makes so much more sense. Not sure how German, which is often such a logical language decided to go for elephants and mosquitoes to express the same idea).

At least it was the Germany/Ireland world cup qualifier match and I got delayed in work so I only arrived half-an-hour or so before the match started and so there wasn't much talk to be gotten through. I'm not much into sports but it was a fun match to watch - the fun was cemented during the national anthem when myself and one of the other women spotted that Johnny Logan was singing the Irish one and squealed with excitement. Well, really I was just aiming for a surprised exclamation but it came out kind of squeaky, which made the others laugh so we both played it up for all it was worth. An amusing thirty seconds or so to start us off. And come on, I wasn't quite 13 when this happened, who could resist?

It still doesn't seem quite real though and I'm still very much at the stage where almost everything I do or see or think about ends up in a memory of my sister or having to deal with the "must tell her..." issue. And I know that it will get better as time goes by, etc., etc., etc. But hate the fact that the reason I know that is because I've been through it before what feels like just far too many times. Have an extremely busy week ahead of me this week so again that'll keep me going. At least there are no dentist visits to deal with until the week after. Yep, I have a giant cavity underneath an already big filling so that's going to have to be dealt with. He doesn't think I'll need a root canal but can't come up with a definitive treatment plan until he's opened it up and tried a disinfection of some kind. So it'll be the end of the month before I find out what kind of costs I'm facing in that regard. Murphy is quite welcome to pack his bags and leave me the fuck alone now.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sunday night chit-chat and sealed pot/stretch it out October update

Three down, two to go.  This is lovely cotton I have to admit, soooo soft and the colours are so nice, too.
 What are you:
1984 - haven't read this for years and it's one of those books that, although I remember the story and what happens, I don't really remember all that well. The writing is blowing me away and I know my changed views of the world, not to mention the ways the world has changed in the years since I read this (I think it was in the late 90s), are also having a huge impact on my reaction to this great book.

I've been watching Nashville. Tried and didn't even make it through the first episode a couple of months ago but I think sometimes you just need to get something in the right mood and it makes all the difference. Really enjoying it now but then again I do love some country music. Even if I don't keep up to date with it.

Listening to
Not much of anything. Just quiet at the moment before getting up to do the dinner. Might throw on The Creation while I'm doing that since our concert is coming up soon.

I prepared carrot, cumin and kidney bean burgers earlier so just need to fry a couple of them up. Going to have them with pumpkin wedges with a parmesan lemon crust (Ottolenghi recipe) and I've already chopped the pumpkin so just need to put together the rest of it and get them in the oven. I also made soup with the other half of the pumpkin earlier so lunch for tomorrow is all set.

Happy you accomplished this week
Made it through another week of work. And I managed to pull myself together enough to phone a psychologist to try and organise an appointment - I don't think I'm dealing too well with the grief since ignoring it isn't really the way to go, at least not for more than a week or two. This week was definitely better than the week before so I also got a couple of other things done that just seemed so overwhelming then. For example, I read through a friend's husband's first few chapters of a book (he wanted to know if his English was good enough to justify going on with it as it's a particular type of humour that he thinks only really works in English) and was glad to get that done, too. And I kept to my Stretch it Out October goal, too.

Looking forward to next week
My friends from Frankfurt will be up to watch the football in Cologne next Friday evening. I will watch it in the pub here (it's the German/Irish Society meet-up) but we will do something together on Saturday.

Grateful for this week
My lovely brother, who has been extra good about phoning to make sure I'm alright. And that although he dealt with things by going on a bender it seems to have been of relatively short duration and over now. Also my lovely colleague, K. who I share and office with and has been very understanding the last few weeks. And who also came to help me choose new glasses when I was being indecisive. And my lovely blog followers who have also offered me lots of support from a distance.

Bonus questions: What are you doing tonight?
Knitting more dishcloths for my sister's birthday present.

That's it for Sunday night chit-chat - if you want to join in post away and then head on over to Half-Daily Dozen to link up.

Sealed pot and SIOO update
Feeling very pleased with myself for having kept to my goal this week. I wanted to try and spend just what was in my purse (it was about 12 euro), keeping my planned budget of about 25 euro until the weekend so that I could spend it at the material market in a nearby town. And I did it, including still managing to go out one night (it's amazing how long I can make one cup of mint tea last. LOL), spending just over 5 euro from my allotted budget and still having a few euro leftover in my purse which went into my sealed pot on Friday evening. So when I went to the market yesterday I really enjoyed having that 20 euro in hand and being able to buy something just for fun.

For next week I have a 30 euro budget but that needs to cover two nights out (only one if I decide not to go out after choir). I spent nearly 10 of that yesterday on food so I really need to try and not spend anything at all if possible. I'd like to still have at least 10 left by Friday - that's enough for three pints (well, the 0.4l that they serve here) plus tip in the pub, which would be enough for the length of a match, I think. Now I just need to make sure I get up in time every day to eat breakfast at home and heat up lunch to bring in my flask, I'll be sorted.

Christmas patchwork cushions

Since Sarah was asking what I planned for some of my material purchases I thought I'd hunt out the magazine with the pattern. Photos, again, aren't great but that's alright since I'm sure if they were good enough to make out the text properly I'd be in breach of copyright or something. The magazine was a special cushions supplement to Magic Patch, which has a copyright date of 2008 and that means I bought it even longer ago than I thought, way back when I had only just moved here and obviously still thought I would get sewing within a couple of months.

It's a French magazine and I visited my sister early in the December of 2008, just four months after moving here. My French isn't great and neither is my sewing so I reckoned I could kill two birds with one stone and improve both at the same time.

I did actually come back to this idea a couple of years ago and bought the beige material and a couple of different greens. With the new greens I have, I think I'll be able to make a good attempt.

Still not sure about the sequins though and might end up just using some gold ribbon instead. Or maybe, if my machine even still works, I'll figure out how to use one of the fancy functions and do some nice stitching with gold thread. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Spend, spend, spend

It doesn't take long to get rid of money at a market like the one I was at, that's for sure. Unfortunately I forgot to bring my camera so I have no pictures for you but Dortmund is a nice town with a lively centre and as well as the material market the normal weekly market was on, too. I didn't see much of that as it was all shutting down when I got back to it but it did seem to be more the retailer type of market than the local farmers' market type like the one near where I live. I did see a at least a few local places though so it's probably a mix, as most of them are.

One thing that definitely wasn't local was the flowers. As I was passing by one stall though one of the guys was throwing some out of the buckets into piles on the ground. I wandered a bit closer, as did a couple of other people and he told us to just help ourselves. They were the flowers that were already past their prime and definitely wouldn't be saleable anymore by Monday. Free flowers. That's my favourite price and probably about the only time I would actually take flowers that were grown in Africa (fair trade or not).
The orange ones are a bit best their best but there was only one that was beyond hope - and even if they only last for a day or two at least I'll have them for a day or two

As for the market, I enjoyed an hour roaming and looking although the first two rows I wandered up and down weren't really very inspiring. And even the so-called scraps were fairly expensive. Then I found one of the Dutch stalls, were there were dozens of bundles of 100% cotton, rolled up in half-metre pieces. One for 3.50 or 3 for 10 euro. Despite having decided that I was definitely going to walk all the way round before buying anything I was too tempted. The stall was absolutely thronged as well and I had to wait a while to get to the front to be able to rummage and it seemed like a waste to just leave what I saw there and try coming back later.

 So since I spied a nice green one right away and pretty soon had gotten my eye in and was having difficultly deciding, I just went for it. I was only going to get three and leave myself with half my money to spend elsewhere but I couldn't choose which one of four to leave behind and decided to just go ahead and get six altogether. Of course a few minutes later I spied the main stall run by the same people, which was all the same material at a price of just 6 euro per metre. Typical. Although I did hear him saying that half a metre was 3.50 so the lower price was only for purchases of at least one metre. I'm still happy with my three metres for 20 euro though.

The photos aren't the greatest but the middle one of these three is a gorgeous turquoise colour. I thought the purple one with the bunting was very cute, too. The one at the back is red with yellow polka dots.

I have a pattern for some christmas cushions that I have been meaning to try for at least two and I think three if not four years. Green material, for whatever reason, tends to be quite expensive so I was delighted to find a whole selection at this stall. One woman spied the middle one of this lot in my hand and sounded very irritated that I had found it and she hadn't but she wandered off down to where I had found it to look for more, leaving her daughter standing holding a large basket full. People are funny.

In total today I spent nearly 35 euro, 20 at the marekt and the rest of it broken down like this:
Reformhaus (independently-owned health food shop)
Cider vinegar 2.29 (for hair conditioning)

Tischdame (new small delicatessen nearby with a focus on sourcing from small, family producers)
Pecorino cheese (about 110g) 3.60

Charge for using the toilet in a department shop

Kiosk at train station
Ham and cheese baguette thing and small bottle of water (so annoyed to have forgotten to bring water with me) 4.85

1 litre organic milk 95c
2 tins kidney bean @ 39c each = 78c

And, confession time, I had a quick look last night and couldn't find the cotton I am sure I have to start knitting my sister some cloths for her birthday. Since it's next week and I wanted to use the time on the train today to start I also went into one of the bigger department shops here, Karstadt, and bought four balls of cotton, which cost 8 euro. I do like the colours though and at 2 euro per 50g they weren't too expensive either. And I'm halfway through the first of what I hope will be five cloths, which isn't a bad achievement either.
Not sure there's quite enough for more than one cloth from each ball so if I want to make five altogether the last one might end up being stripey!

Meal plan

Let's try this whole meal planning thing again so.

Something on the run for lunch
Quiche (tomatoes, feta, bacon)

Kidney bean and carrot burgers with pumpkin wedges
Make pumpkin soup with other half for tomorrow

Burgers with potatoes
Make enough potatoes for leftover mash and prepare lentils

Quiche (snack before class)
Lentil cottage pie


Lunch out or cottage pie
Pasta with tomato sauce

Lunch out or soup
Chips in town before DIG meeting

So, for all of that I need to buy a small piece of Parmesan cheese and a tin of beans as well as butter, milk and bread. Everything else I already have on hand.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Is Thursday too soon to be declaring the week a (qualified) success?

It's a bank holiday here today. I'm glad as I needed a day to myself I think. I decided on Tuesday evening that today I was just going to take it easy, possibly stay in bed all day and that I was definitely NOT going to think about doing the ironing, or the floors, or the dishes, or any one of the other hundred things that need to be done around the house. Actually, I ended up getting up to go into work early on Wednesday but instead of going into work I used the time to get the pots and the last dishes from Tuesday night washed so at least all that needs to be done at the moment is my bowl from breakfast and flask from lunch yesterday and the stuff I used for lunch today. And I think I will do them shortly, especially since I want to use the flask again tomorrow. It's often that way with me - as soon as I give myself permission to not do something, it doesn't seem like such a big deal to do it.

I woke up at around eight this morning, turned over and decided to see if I could get back to sleep. I think I had barely formulated that thought before I was deep in the land of nod again. Well, I was up until after one last night. So I slept late, until about half-ten. Then I read for an hour or so and texted with my brother for a while. I got up to get a DVD and my laptop and was planning on getting back into bed to watch that film and somehow just ended up pottering a bit then and since it was nearly one I decided to make lunch. And then it was cool enough that it seemed silly not to throw some clothes on. So I never did end up going back to bed. Although the couch probably isn't all that much better.

Lunch was the last of the curry sauce with some oven cooked chips. Much as I love real chips, or possibly because of how much I love chips, I don't have a deep fat fryer but every few months I buy a packet of frozen chips and enjoy them out of the oven. As long as they're smothered in salt and vinegar, it's all good. Today, of course, they were just smothered in curry sauce. Actually, I remembered that I also had some leftover roasted veg and rice from the other night so I just tipped that into the curry sauce while I was heating it up and did a few less chips. It still ended up being a very big meal so I don't think I'll really need to eat again today. It was delicious though - it was nice weather earlier, bright but cool and this was just the right meal for that cosy staying in all day feeling.

Staying in all day has the advantage of almost automatically being a no-spend day, too. Which means I'll be arriving at Friday with only having spent the 12 euro that was in my purse (and that includes being out with choir for a couple of hours yesterday) as well as just over 5 euro in the supermarket last night. I actually only wanted to buy milk and thought there was a 5 euro limit on using my EC (debit) card so had grabbed some crisps (on special offer) and chocolate, too to bring my total up. I'll bring one of the bags of crisps into work tomorrow anyway and that'll please the girl I share an office with. Going over my budget during the week I realised I hadn't updated the amount for my phone bill so that brought my total available per week closer to thirty than twenty-five, which is good. 

So, it's Thursday and I've spent just over 5 euro this week. If I get up on time to heat soup up for lunch tomorrow before work and to have breakfast at home, I should be able to spend nothing tomorrow, too. Which will leave me with 25 on Saturday. Officially, I run my budget from Saturday to Friday anyway so I'm thinking of calling this week a success. The market I thought was on Sunday is actually on Saturday so although time-wise it's going to be a bit more rushed trying to fit that in, I'm still planning on taking some of the money I didn't spend this week and blowing it on some nice material for my stash. The one I will get around to actually doing something with one of these days!

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Stretch it out October

I’m not really much of a one for joining in with challenges, or else I join up and then don’t actually do much to actually join in. SFT did a Stretch it out September challenge and found it so good, she’s going ahead and doing another straightaway. Given the excess amounts of money I’ve had to spend over the last few weeks, trying to focus on spending less is fairly critical for the next few months anyway so why not join in with Stretch it out October.

And of course a huge part of any budget, or at least a huge part of non-fixed expenses, is food. I bought the fixings for the roasted root veg with caper vinaigrette recipe from Plenty a while ago – it’s typical of where my head is at the moment that I have no idea if I had already had the stuff for one, two or three weeks before everything changed but those carrots and parsnips have definitely been there since at least the 8th of September and I suspect possibly longer. Thank goodness for Tupperware and fridges keeping things fresh. I got some of the last of the local tomatoes at the market this weekend as well as some fresh herbs so I was good to go. And then I remembered that I still had one chicken piece left over from the barbeque I was at on Sunday evening. And then I ended up working till nearly eight as well as walking home (at least that’s something good to have done though) so that it was quarter to nine before I was in the door and able to even think about doing anything. And even then I didn’t get farther than deciding that first off, after putting the kettle on to boil, I was going to sit down for a while. I found a packet of spicy rice crackers I bought a couple of months ago so I had something to nibble on but I did get up eventually as the chicken absolutely had to be used up.

I used some of the water in the kettle to put rice on to cook and then I chopped parsnips, onions and garlic, mixed with the oil and herbs and put that lot into the pre-heated oven. Then I chopped some carrots, courgette and sweet potato and put them to one sid to wait until the other veg had had their 20 minute head-start. I had reserved some of the onion and courgette and I fried them gently in a pan before adding the chicken to that. The rice had cooked really quickly so I just put that to one side until everything else was ready. When I was in Ireland my brother gave me a jar of curry paste that he said made the kind of curry you get in a takeaway. It’s lovely to have a homemade curry but sometimes, and especially since I can’t get it here, I crave the spicy, gloopy type you get in a Chinese takeaway at home. So after adding the rest of the veg to the roasting dish, I got out yet another saucepan, added the curry paste and the requisite amount of water and started stirring. It made far more than I thought it would actually but it was yummy.

All of which is to say that although I ate late, I did have a properly cooked meal last night, which is a step in the right direction. Chicken curry with onion and courgette and boiled rice. With a small side dish of roasted veg with caper vinaigrette about half an hour later. Most of the washing up is done, except for the last two pots and the roasting dish and I even managed to get up early enough this morning to heat up some of the roasted veg and some rice and I have that with me for lunch. With a small amount still leftover in the fridge. I might just heat that up this evening and mix in some of the curry sauce, too.

My budget for this month is not huge, I have between 20 and 25 for spending each week. I also still have just over ten euro in my purse so I’m really trying to not spend all of that this week, which will leave me with this week’s budget still available at the weekend. One lunch out could throw all of that off so I’ll need to be on my toes. I may take some soup out of the freezer this evening to heat up for lunch tomorrow morning and then we’ll be good to go. With perhaps a small tomato salad for my snack in the evening before beginning my usual fast. If I manage to save most of this week’s budget, I may treat myself by going to the Dutch material market on Sunday. It’s in Dortmund, which is covered by my monthly ticket on the weekends so no extra cost to get there and I suspect spending a few hours browsing there and perhaps a small amount of money could do a lot to calm my current spend-spend-spend impulses. So that’s my first SIOO target – don’t spend this week’s budget until the weekend!