Thursday, October 13, 2022

No new hip but at least the rug is down and the shark is coming

I was supposed to get a new hip last week. Got a phone call while I was on the way there that too many staff had come down with COVID and all non-emergency operations had to be cancelled. Le big sigh. I got off the train and sat on the platform* for a while, txting people to share my frustration and, I must admit, letting a few tears fall. But at least I was now able to have breakfast so, silver linings and all that. 

It was particularly frustrating because I had worked late the previous two days, trying to get enough stuff finished to make it possible for my bosses to be able to cover my minimum four-week absence,** stayed up late to try and get my apartment in some kind of order and then gotten up really early on the day of the operation to do the washing-up, pack and get on the road in plenty of time. So I was tired. But I turned that into silver lining number two: when I got home, I ate, unpacked one more box of stuff lying around, went to sing with my local choir at a funeral and then spent the afternoon sleeping. 

I had so much stuff to organise in my apartment because I was planning on giving up the studio I rented a while back as an office/extra space*** but unexpectedly, through a friend-of-a-friend type situation, I was able to sublet it to a student who was just moving to start studying here. So, the desired result but at kind of short notice which mean a very busy weekend drawing up a contract for the sublet, trying to find the main contract to attach to it and then finishing the painting that I started......who least a year ago as well as move all the crap that I had moved over there back to my own place. A lot of it was just stuff needing to be sorted that had been thrown into big shopping bags and moved over there out of the way. I did actually give myself the space to move one or two at a time over the course of a week**** and sorted them a little bit immediately. I had some nice spare canvas organiser-type boxes and was trying to at least get all the smaller bits and pieces into them. I do still have quite a lot of stuff to go through more carefully and deal with but at least some of it has gone and the rest is sorted into relatively tidy-looking boxes and baskets. It was nice to find some items and realised that in the meantime, I have actually come up with a proper storage solution/place for that category of stuff. So often it feels like I'm making no progress at all but small little decisions or realisiations do end up gathering pace and resulting in actual improvements. I need to not lose track of that in the future. And I did get rid of three big bags of recycling and rubbish.

Best of all, for me, is the fact that the situation with the studio spurred me on to make some changes to the layout of furniture in my apartment that I have been thinking about for a good while. I bought a rug****** for under my dining table and had unrolled it in the studio to flatten out and air. And then it got rolled up and stashed in the bathroom there because I started painting last year. I do still have moths but, regardless, I brought it over and put it down in the place where I had moved the table to. I lived with that for a week but something wasn't quite right and so I used some of my newly-free time at the weekend to try something else. And what do you know, sometimes just turning a rug so that it's sideways instead of lengthways is just what you need to do. Bonus, now the chairs also actually fit on the rug. In fact, I think this is how I originally intended it to be and had just forgotten.*******

Just a quick photo that I took to send to my sister and a friend to show what it looked like in the new set-up. I skillfully didn't include the row of boxes on either side of that open floor space that still need to be dealt with but even with that, loads of floor space. 

I also finally bit the bullet and ordered myself a Shark cordless upright hoover (ok, a vacuum cleaner, but where I'm from, we always call all vacuum cleaners hoovers). The cheap Aldi version I got a couple of years ago gave up the ghost last week but even though it wasn't great, it was definitely easier to use, which meant more frequent hoovering. I expect great things from myself with an even better tool in my hands. Which increases the chances of me doing yoga and stretching exercises more frequently. It's kind of disheartening to get down on the mat, turn your head to the side, and be distracted by dust bunnies gathering closer and closer. 

I am choosing to think of this past week as one step back but two steps forward.

* Which is to say, I sat on a bench on the platform. Maybe when I do eventually get a new hip, sitting on the platform might not seem quite so impossible. 

** I still feel a bit like I haven't caught up since I had COVID in March and was off for two weeks. Three weeks holidays June/July, some random sick days, then a week off sick in August with a bad cold, followed by two weeks of doing the bare minimum because I was still not quite rid of the cold, followed by a week's holiday in September (went to visit my sister in France for her 50th birthday and it was lovely) and a couple more sick days and time off for doctor and hospital pre-op appointments. So, yeah, not my most productive summer ever.

*** Except for one regular monthly job, my sidegig of translation work has all but dried up and I haven't had the energy to go looking for more. So I have been paying the extra rent but not actually cutting back on any other expenses to make up for it. Debt is building up again. 

**** Still didn't want to finish the painting and this was as good a way of procrastinating as any.*****

***** Asterisking and foot-noting are fun. :-)

****** I just looked it up. NOVEMBER 2020. How ridiculous is it that I bought something I wanted to use, loved when I got it, and then left it unused and unloved for almost two years!!!!!!!

******* TWO. YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 13, 2022

Thinking of starting to explore youtubing

The idea of starting to record videos for youtube has come to mind every now and again over the years. Partially as a potential side gig (earn money just for going on about my life? Why not!?!), partially from a sense of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. On the one hand, you look at some youtube channels and wonder how on earth something that boring became so common and beloved. Unboxings were the first time I remember thinking that. I mean, apart from hating that word, it's one thing if someone I follow happens to get something and opens it. That can be kind of fun and interesting. But there are channels out there dedicated to nothing else. I have to admit to finding cash envelope stuffing videos kind of mesmerising and I'm sure there are a lot of people out there who are as mystified by them as I am by unboxings. 

A recent stunning sunset
On the other hand, I do realise how much work goes on behind the scenes and honestly, I don't think I'm technically experienced or talented or interested enough to bother with all of that. So it would be the youtube equivalent of, well, this blog and its photos. Alright but not of the highest quality. That would irritate me while not actually inspiring me to invest the time and money into getting good equipment and learning how to do it all properly myself or paying someone else to do it for me. Although I have no interest in learning to do it all properly, and although I'm not even someone with particularly (or even any) high standards when it comes to photography or sound, I'm very likely give up immediately if everything isn't perfect.



Actually, this is another area where I'd be stepping way outside my comfort zone, which means it could in fact be good for me. Maybe. 

So between technical issues, potentially boring content, and the potential privay issues around putting your real self out there without the safety blanket of anonymity, I've never done anything about it. And of course there is also the fact that at some stage I learned that monetisation on youtube doesn't even start before something like one thousand subscribers and four thousand views. Even when I was posting regularly, this blog has rarely had more than about 50 views in any one day. 

The idea has reared its head again, though, to some extent because I'm working through some very tough issues in therapy at the moment, revolving in part around who/how I was as a child and teenager. The two threads have kind of come together in my head. On the one hand, if I could manage to get the word out and try to get my family to all subscribe to a youtube channel, I'd be well on the way to a good amount subscribers (just my siblings, their spouses and kids is already more than 25 people, if aunts and uncles and cousins started to get on board, the numbers really grow to the hundreds very quickly). More importantly, it might be a way to actually get in touch with some of that extended family that I haven't had contact with for years, and maybe be able to get some of them to share with them what I was like as a kid, thus answering at least some of my questions about my past.*

Anyway, it's all just ruminating for now. If anyone reads this and has any advice to offer one way or another, feel free to comment. And if I do decide to go ahead with it, let me know if you'd be interested in following. It would have to be completely separate from this blog, as it would be my online persona that is essentially my real life one (still not my real name but a real nickname that people who know me would recognise easily). I try to keep the two separate but since I'd be desperate for followers subscribers anyway 😁, I'd be willing to share with those of you I've had contact with over the years.

* I do realise most people, at least most people my age, would reach for fb for this but I can't stand that particular platform and only made it about two days becoming totally overwhelmed. Youtube seems like it could be a bit more like a blog in that it's slightly more in my control, with less input from others.

Friday, May 06, 2022

Subscriptions break the budget

Santis over at The Caribbean Dub posted a question yesterday on instagram asking people what kind of subscriptions they have. I confidently replied:

  1. €7.99 per month for either Amazon Prime or Netflix most months. I'm going to aim to cut this down to at most six months a year but I'm not sure yet how/when exactly to do that.
  2. €30 per month for patreon (supporting The Blindboy Podcast, Laura Kennedy, David McWilliams, Maintenance Phase, Fundie Fridays and Rock the Housework in case anyone is interested)

There was a similar thread on the MMM forums recently and so I decided to read that. I also read  some of the other answers Santis posted and so I've been thinking about the less regular subscriptions I have. It really shows once again that it is a very useful exercise to review this kind of thing a couple of times a year, because when it comes to apps on my phone, it's so easy to just click to see what the added functionality is like (and then never bother to actually decide if it's worth an annual fee or not), or even just to get rid of ads. 

So, as well as the two mentioned above, I actually have more than a few other subscriptions:

  1. Irish Times online - I did try to cancel this a while back but was offered half-price for a year so kept it at €6/month.
  2. GoodBudget app - I used this a lot for the first 14 months or so, then got overwhelmed and have since returned to physical cash envelopes. €64.99/year - I need to pull all the information I have out of the app and onto my PC and then I'll revert back to the free version. 
  3. Yazio app - €29.99/year. Only used this for a couple of months. Again, got overwhelmed and have gone back to paper-based tracking, if at all.
  4. Merriam app - €2.19/year
  5. SleepCycle app - €13.99/year for premium. The free version would be ok, but I do use it almost every day and I like to support them. There's one premium feature that I could live without but prefer to have. Can't at this moment recall exactly what it is though.
  6. Wetter app - €5.49/year for ad-free. 
  7. - already cancelled a few months ago. Thought I would use it loads and just didn't.
  8. Flickr - just recently added this due to the changes they're introducing. I have several yahoo email accounts, which means that at some point I acquired several flickr accounts. I've just upgraded one of them and paid the €82.54 for a two-year subscription. That gives me some time to actually think about whether I need the service or not.  

I also have a VPN service but, like domains and hosting, consider that a business expense for my side-gig. I used the two months free youtube premium that was offered to me a while back but cancelled it before it ticked over into a paid service.  The other app I use a lot is Insight Timer. There is an option to support them financially and when funds allow, I will probably start doing that. I do get a lot of use from it.

 Annual costs (rounded):

  1. Netflix/Amazon Prime (target of six months a year!): 50
  2. Patreon: 360
  3. Irish Times: 75
  4. GoodBudget: 65
  5. Yazio: 30
  6. Merriam: 5
  7. SleepCycle: 15
  8. Wetter: 5
  9. Flickr: 45

A grand total of: €650/year or almost €55/month!  Cancelling GoodBudget and Yazio will bring that down by almost €100/year. Patreon is by far the biggest chunk of that and yet supporting all of those is something I'd like to continue doing. Definitely worth making an appointment with myself for once a year or so to consciously decide whether or not to continue with all of them.

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Summer eating plan

In just a few days it will be May and although we had a few cold days again a week or so ago, the sun is finally starting to look like it may be here to stay for a while. I'm not quite in sandals yet, but it feels like it won't be long. Outdoors aquajogging starts up again next week and I can't wait. I was hoping to attend a zen meditation session two weeks ago but couldn't make it and then forgot to even try last week. I've just sent an email to see if I can attend this evening and if not, I'll head to the general open session next Monday. The calendar is definitely starting to fill up again.

A blurry photo of the current view from my office window. The light is too bright to show the amazing colour of the wisteria and since we've no smell-o-vision either, you'll have to use your imagination.


Along with the change in weather comes a change in eating habits. The soups and stews I've eaten so much of over the past few months will be out, salads and sandwiches in. My cooking and keeping an eye on eating properly has been all over the place since I had COVID. My energy, too. And so I decided to take it easy on myself in April and spend what energy I had coming up with a decent meal plan/concept for warm weather eating. I'm just about there but need to still figure out calories and protein for a few of the dishes I've selected. And I've bought most of what I need, except for stocking up on fresh salad leaves or other vegetables every week. 

Keeping it as simple as possible, and because I still do have some Optifast pouches to use up, for May I'll be having quark and fruit for most breakfasts, with an occaisional Optifast chocolate or vanilla drink. Lunches for about three weeks of May will be soup as I do have some in the freezer to use up as well as some Optifast. I'll scatter some spur of the moment canteen/bakery/meeting friends lunches in there to get me through the month.

And dinners will essentially be salads of various kinds. What I plan to do is prepare a lot of Korean-style side-dishes and then each week or two prepare some kind of protein. The salads will then be made up every day depending on what I feel like from each of the following categories:

Salad: mostly salad leaves (oakleaf, lambs lettuce, chard, spinach etc.), sometimes lentils or chickpeas, very rarely maybe potatoes or pasta

Side-dishes: a small amount from two or three different ones

Protein: chicken, tofu, meatballs, eggs

Sprinkly toppings: seeds and/or nuts

Dressing: vinaigrette or yoghurt

To start me off, I've planned on the following:


  1. Kimchi (still need to buy this)
  2. Spicy braised green beans with feta
  3. Pickled red onions 
  4. Spicy Korean coleslaw
  5. Creme fraiche coleslaw (Found on instagram. I've always claimed to not like coleslaw but really, it's mayonnaise I don't like. Anyway, I figured if I'm going to chop cabbage up small, I might as well try more than one recipe. Will probably use cream cheese and/or yoghurt and/or quark rather than creme fraiche.)
  6. Pineapple salsa (although I'll be using a tin)
  7. Tomatoes (unplanned but they had local tomatoes in the supermarket yesterday and I couldn't resist - they must be from a heated greenhouse but I'll bet they're still very good for a salad - might mix with some onion or scallions)


  1. Korean pancake with scallions
  2. Panfried tofu in garlic soy sesame sauce
  3. Super crispy tofu (recipe from Little Lou Cooks on instagram - I can't manage to log in at the moment from this pc but I highly recommend checking her out. Also on tiktok and FB, I think)
  4. Broccoli fritters (also from Little Lou Cooks)
  5. Chopped omelette
  6. Spicy chilli and honey pork (Pinch of Nom recipe but made with the veal I bought months ago)
  7. Chicken and apple (another Little Lou Cooks recipe that I'm going to try in the slow cooker)
  8. Lentil and chickpea salad with feta and tahini

Sprinkly toppings (I plan to just mix everything into a small jar to use for the week)

  1. Pumpkin seeds
  2. Sunflower seeds
  3. Hazelnuts
  4. Walnuts
  5. Sesame seeds


  1. Standard olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  2. Olive oil and lemon and garlic
  3. Going to try a few different yoghurt dressing recipes - to start off easy, I've bought a packet of pre-mixed herbs that you just mix with yoghurt and vinegar
  4. I also bought pomegrante molasses to make the dressing from a Plenty recipe I love

I think that's more than enough to keep me going. The aim is to prep everything on a weekend and then just be able to help myself during the week.

Monday, March 21, 2022

Almost a new quarter

It seems like every time I decide I'm going to start blogging regularly again, all that happens is a series of post, ever further apart, starting with something along the lines of "how can it already be [x amount of time] since the last time I posted. I was going to start journalling, thinking maybe putting an actual pen to actual paper might help me to sort out some of the swirl happening in my head. And then I remembered that that was part of what I first loved about blogging: that typing allowed me to get more of the swirl out of my head since I can type so much faster (and more accurately, not to mention legibly) than handwriting anything. There is definitely a lot of swirl happening in my head though, so time to do something about it. Perhaps I'll start wearing a beret and strolling around with a notebook and pencil to jot notes and ideas in. I'm not quite sure why a beret is essential to this activity but it feels like it is.

I got through January well enough. Didn't do as well with the 30-day Yoga with Adrienne challenge as I would have liked to but on the other hand, I did a whole lot more yoga in January than I have otherwise ever done. Food is starting to get a bit out of control although on the whole is also better in general than it has been for a long time. And I was really glad to have a freezer with quite a lot of batch-cooked food in it when this happened at the end of Feburary.




Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, January ended up kind of going off the rails because there was a shooting close to where I work. I wasn't immediately under threat in the sense that I had no gun pointing directly at me at any stage but I was close enough to see the shooter and be one of the people calling the police. Not an experience I care to repeat any time soon although I'm pleased enough with how calmly I reacted in the moment. 


At the start of February then, I was moving pretty slowly in general. I had texted a friend on the day of the shooting that I was definitely going to do TOMM that evening and the entire 30 minutes was going to be dedicated to clearing off the table. So, yeah, that didn't happen that day.







It took me a couple of weeks to get back to doing anything much at all other than work and sleep but finally I did manage to make it look like this (after three evenings worth of work!) I even managed to keep it that way for several weeks. 

I was really happy to head off to Halle at the end of the month to once more participate in the Happy Birthday Handel performance of Messiah. A far smaller choir and smaller crowd this year, given the Corona restrictions still i place. Not that those restrictions (everyone testing everyday, masks on when not in seat, everybody vaccinated) helped much in the end because on the day I left I had a bit of a scratchy throat so while waiting for a train change, I decided to do another test just in case and that's the first positive one I got. The picture above is from day 10 after first testing positive and it was another three days before I managed to get a negative test. I had what they call a mild case but it still fairly knocked me out for two weeks. Fever the first four or five days, coughing and sneezing and blowing my nose a million times the entire time, and a week since I've been testing negative I'm still coughing. It's just not fun. And that's a mild case in someone who's vaccinated and boosted. Le big sigh. Ok, that's enough for now - I'm supposed to be working so I suppose I'll go and do a bit of that.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Debt, word of the year, and a motto

Time to take stock and admit to myself that I am in debt again. I haven't been denying it, just pushing it to the back of my head really. There are a couple of reasons but mostly just being careless and spending whatever I felt like over the past month or two, along with one or two bigger ticket items. €320 for an injection into my hip? Yay. Anyway, time to get back of track. I bought a budget calendar from PositiveReduceMyDebt (who I've been following on instagram for a couple of months now) and have filled out some goals for January. 

  1. 15 no-spend days
  2. Stick to €25/week for food (given I ended up spending just over €90 already, this will be very tight)
  3. No-spend year - exceptions for January: step ladder and watercolours

I have taking some money out of savings to cover some of the bills and will work on getting the overdraft back down to zero over the year while building my savings back up. I do technically have enough in my investment account to cover all of it but I want to leave that where it is if possible. Head down and onwards. And the same applies to food and eating and meal planning. I let things go completely to pot in December and while I enjoyed it, I also badly need to get that under control again. 

So, over the Christmas break, I made a meal plan for January, wrote a shopping list and on Sunday I cooked. My aim is to mostly only have to cook every second week or perhaps twice a month. I think time will tell on that one. On Sunday I made a big pot of vegetable soup, lemon chicken with veg and potatoes, and a chicken and spinach curry. 

My meal plan is not one planning exactly what to have each day but rather a rough outline and then I can choose what I want to have on each day. 


  • Butternut squash and ricotta frittata (6 servings)
  • Chicken and spinach curry (4 servings)
  • Oriental lentil stew (4 big servings - new recipe, depending on what it's actually like, this may make more servings than 4, I think)
  • Cauliflower and broccoli gratin (4 servings)
  • Lemon chicken with potatoes and veg (6 servings)
  • Honey chilli pork (4 servings) - except they had no pork in the butchers so I took the suggested veal instead. Without checking the price first. Veal is expensive. How carelessness leads to yet another drop on the debt puddle!


So that's 28 dinners. For lunches, I planned for potato and leek soup, spicy lentil and carrot soup, pumpkin soup, and vegetable soup. Since I didn't even use half of the cabbage I got in the vegetable soup I made at the weekend and still ended up with 10 servings, I don't think I'll need to make all of the rest of those this month. I am also having a week or two of eating some of the meal replacement pouches that I should have, but didn't, use in December. Essentially starting over with a couple of weeks of the transition phase that was supposed to end just before Christmas. That will actually take care of some lunches, too.

The only word I could come up with for a word for the coming year was support. It made me kind of uncomfortable though, so I tried to think of something else. Before realising that I was feeling mostly uncomfortable with the idea of needing or asking for support. Probably a good indication that it really is the right word for me this year. Support it is. 

And then on Saturday I read something in a tweet that I am also adopting as a kind of a motto for a while. If the right words come along at the right time for me, I'll grab on to them: Discipline always trumps motivation

Thursday, December 16, 2021

The day has started well

I went for a PCR test* this morning, which meant a badly-needed 20 minutes extra sleep. Then I got there 10 minutes early but they were already set up so they swabbed me immediately. They swabbed my throat instead of my nose and my very difficult to swab nose is very grateful.

Because I was finished there so quickly, I had time to stop at the clinic in town on the way to work and pick up the prescription I thought I might not be able to get until the new year. The shop that actually makes the orthotics wasn't open but when I asked the porter if there was a letterbox, not only did he show me where it was, when I said I'd need to go and buy an envelope first, he gave me an envelope. Such a nice, really lovely man.

Then I just missed the bus to work so crossed over to the other side of the square to get the other bus and while I was standing there, a friend came over to say hello. She was on the way to a work meeting and running late so there was no time for more than hello and a very quick hug but I still got to get the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing that even though she was late, she still took a minute to walk the less direct way so she could say hello. And a hug. There have not been enough hugs these past couple of years. So glad I got my booster already. 

All that and I'm just about to get to work, just a few minutes ahead of the time I said I'd be there. What a lovely first hour or two of this Thursday.

* One I'll pay for myself but I have a ticket to fly to Ireland on Saturday so better safe than sorry.