Monday, June 01, 2020

The Organised Mum Method

This will be short, since my phone ate my last return-to-blogging post a couple of weeks ago.

In December a friend mentioned the Organised Mum Method to me. She was very enthusiastic about it and the app you can also get. Note: you don't have to buy the app or the book, everything you need to follow the method is available for free on her website. I was not specially impressed by what my friend told me but a week or so later I checked out the website (mostly so that I could tell her I hadn't just dismissed it out of hand) and actually found it interesting.

I got the app (and the book. And I've pre-ordered the second book.) and am a total convert. But after a bout of depression through most of March and April, it mostly fell by the wayside again. I've been picking it back up over the last few weeks and although I'm not at the stage where I'm doing everything every day, I'm doing something every day. But even if I don't even do all the level 1 jobs every day, every time I do something else it feels good. I may take a while to get to a place where most of it gets done most of the time, but it is true that the cumulative effect has an impact. Would love to get lots of 'you're done for the day' messages but for now I'm just happy every time I tick something off.

Saturday, August 31, 2019


Although I do keep a budget spreadsheet, it essentially serves to make sure I'm not overspending and compared to many finance spreadsheets out there, it is pretty basic. One thing I've never incorporated is a good way to look back at totals at any given time. I can look back and see what my current account balance was at the end of a month but that's it. I just updated the page with the overview of accounts manually on a continuing basis. Perhaps something to work on in the future sometime. I really should do some Excel courses anyway, and it would give me something practical to practice on.

In the meantime, I've decided to just take a snapshot of my sidebars whenever I update them. It's the same story there - I just update them manually on a continuing basis.

I can tentatively say that things are kind of going alright with money at the moment. I do have a small balance on my credit card but will clear that as soon as an outstanding invoice is paid. I could use savings but it's a psychological thing and since it's not a lot of money, I'm going with it. I have been making a better effort to live within my normal salary though - need to stop getting used to having side-income to stop up the gaps. I will use some of my side income to fund a trip or two later this year and to finally do some of that house stuff I've been promising to get done for over a year. Otherwise, I will be using it to pad my various savings accounts and give myself a bit of a head start. And next year, the target will be as far as possible to save all of my side income.

This month, I got to the end of the month with just over €40 in my purse and €45.22 in my current account. So I am calling that the start of the float I have been wanting to have in my current account - well, I have adjusted the totals in my spreadsheet to show less €50 (the 45.22 plus rounding up from this month's salary lodgement). €50 seems to be a good number for me to work with so I'll be trying to add €50 to the float every month by not spending to zero, but rather to €50 and then adjusting my totals to subtract that fifty every month. We'll see how it goes.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Three days in a row

It is almost half-eight and I'm sitting on the balcony (sweltering!), waiting for my dinner to cook. There's chicken and a variety of vegetables in the oven with some lemon jiuce, ginger and cumin. And this after me telling an internet aquaintance today about how I don't really cook in the summer, especially in the oven. In the moment of deciding what to do, however, it seemed like bunging the whole lot in the oven would make me less warm than having to chop the chicken up into bits to fry it. It is still 28° out, after all.

Clouds doing their sunset thing

The important thing is that the dinner is in the oven. Bit of a weird combination of veg since I would have been happy with meat and potatoes but am trying to get back to properly balanced meals. So, I used what I had on hand, grateful to past me for having invested in a few jars of veg. Three fresh tomatoes, the two last mostly fresh onions and four cloves of farlic went in. And then were joined by the remains of a jar of pickled celeriac and remains of a jar of pickled carrots (both well-rinsed) as well as a small jar of asparagus. No theme, no matching flavours, just an attempt to get veg into me. I think it was just over 650g in the end. Along with 200g of leftover potatoes from yesterday. I reckon it's at least two meals and actually three big portions of chicken. Not entirely balanced but it is proper food, cooked by me at home after work.

For the third day in a row. It's a good start!

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Less dust

It has been a good day. I didn't make it to the pool, something that's happening far too often. But unlike yesterday, I didn't need a three-hour nap in the afternoon. So that's something.

What I did manage to do is clean the bathroom good and proper. It has been several months, if not longer, since it has had more than the basics done. And I dusted and cleared off several surfaces that have just been gathering stuff and dust for a long time. I gathered all the recycling into one bag, rubbish from every bin in the place into another, and bottles that need to be returned into another. I collected all the dirty dishes into another bag and am going to bring that into work tomorrow and use the dishwasher there. You have to pick your battles. And then I hoovered.

It was about 32° today so all of that took me the best part of twelve hours to do. I'd manage thirty or forty minutes and then have to stop until I stopped sweating and cooled down a bit. So I probably only got half an hour of work done in any two hour period. There is still a lot to do but at least my place now has a substantially lower quantity of dust than it had yesterday. I'd feel ok with inviting someone over and only having to apologise for the mess, and not dirt, too.

I managed to hit the shower by nine o'clock and now I'm sitting outside a restaurant at the town square and waiting for my dinner. It has cooled down to 23°. When I get back home, I'll collect the stuff I put in the washing machine before I left and hanf it tio dry. And then I'll head to bed only a bit later than I should. It has been a good day

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Back from holidays and changed some targets

I've had such a lovely time the last couple of weeks. First up was a day visiting a friend in nearby Stuttgart, including hanging out with her grandkids, which earned me the name of "the funny lady" (die lustige Frau) from her four-year-old granddaughter (she couldn't remember my name and wanted to know if I'd be coming back to visit again, I think). That makes me smile when I think of it.

Random sculpture in Halle  

Then it was back home to pack for my annual visit to Halle to sing Messiah for the Happy Birthday Handel event. Once again, it was a long weekend that was fun and laughter and singing and friends from just about the second I arrived and until we all headed off to the train station together on the Monday afternoon.

After that, my friends flew home to Ireland while I went on to Leipzig for the day and then Dresden the following day until the end of the week. It was really interesting to see Dresden but I was surprised somehow that I loved Leipzig so much more than Dresden. I will definitely have to go back and spend more time in Leipzig.

I felt so comfortable walking around there, just like I'd found one of those places that makes me feel at home straightaway. The monument you can see in the background of this photo is called the Monument to the Battle of the Nations and it pulled my eye toward it immediately. Definitely want to go back and see that up close. I was amused to realise after staring at it for about quarter of an hour that it actually was that particular monument, as my friend had kept telling me about this monument in Leipzig that he found amazing and it turned out to be exactly this one. I have to say, I completely agree with him. Even from a distance, it was fascinating.
From the panorama tower in Leipzig

Panthers, Semper Oper, Dresden

I arrived back late on Friday night and then got up to head off to aquajogging yesterday morning, with a quick stop at the supermarket on the way home. Otherwise, I have not gotten up to much this weekend. Did one load of washing before I ran out of underwear completely and I've kept on top of the washing up, even actually giving my Brita jug a really good scrubbing, which it hasn't had for, well, lets just call it several months since it's had anything but a bit of a half-hearted swipe.

I am not looking forward to going back to work, though and have faced up to the fact that I really am not enjoying it. So, among other things I did this holiday, I applied for a new job. It was only advertised internally, which is usually a sign that they actually have someone internal in mind for the job, but we'll see what happens. I think it could be a good fit. Even if I don't get it though, I'll keep an eye out and need to move this to a bit more of a proactive issue now.

Coming home was at least a bit of a chance to catch up on my finances though and I've just updated my savings targets on the sidebar. Annual savings are down to almost nothing again and will be completely depleted next month after paying an insurance bill. Can't wait for a few months then to build that up again but that is what it's there for, after all. I have also upped the total target for my emergency fund and my investments, so that my percentages have fallen even though the totals are slowly increasing. But for a couple of reasons, I decided that €5,000 is an amount that I feel better with for my emergency fund than €2,000. For one, it's pretty close to six months worth of expenses - well, it's five months of barebones expenses anyway, which feels close. And for another, it is approximately how much I would need if I wanted to move. So even though moving would not be an emergency, it feels like having that much put away no matter what just gives me options, which kind of takes the pressure off a bit. So, I'm aiming to continue adding at least €50 per month to that account but also going to try and add as much as possible of any translation income I get in the coming months.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Envisage your life - part 2

Just a short one this, and one for a weekend day, not just for every day. Matinee film. I loved this as a kid. Every Saturday there would be a film, often a black and white film and/or musical, on television at around half-one or two o'lock. That is something that deserves a place as a tradition in the life I would like to lead.

Sunday, February 03, 2019

More weekend cooking

Another weekend draws to a close and it has been a busy one. After aquajogging yesterday it was a rush into town for choir rehearsal and after that I hung around town for an hour before heading into one of the Irish pubs to watch the rugby. The place was packed, with most tables reserved so I ended up standing the whole time, which is one of my least favourite things to do. After it was over, I headed home, cycling part of the way. I had my bike with me as it wasn't raining and it had meant I'd be a few minutes quicker getting to the tram from the pool and be able to cycle straight to the church we were rehearsing at in town instead of having to change onto the bus.

Then this morning I was up at the crack of dawn to get into town on time for another short rehearsal before singing at ten o'clock mass - the end of semester mass for the university. The trams only go once an hour on Sunday mornings and it often seems to come down to arriving 45 minutes early or 15 minutes late kind of thing. After a reallllly long mass, I headed back home and declared the afternoon one for the sofa. I even managed to doze for about 40 minutes. And then it was up and on the run again as I was performing with my little local choir at a 95th birthday party. Small town life. Before going to that, though, I sped around, chopping up vegetables and opening tins and throwing everything into the slow cooker. So I'm waiting for the last half-hour of that to be done and then I will declare cooking done for at least the next week. In the slow cooker: 275g leek, 250g onion, 75g chard, 150g carrots, 175g kohlrabi, 1 tin of tomatoes and 1 carton of passata, a small 130g tin of peas and carrots, and a 400g tin of white beans. Along with enough water to cover the lot, a couple of spoonfuls of veg stock powder, a teaspoon each of cumin and tumeric, and three teaspoons of smoked paprika. Forgot to add garlic but I can live with that.

When I got in this evening, I also chopped up the other leek (225g) and an onion (100g) and sauteed them along with a small packet (just over 100g) of lardons. That's now in a Tupperware container in the fridge and I can use it to give a quick and easy veg boost to meals over the next week - adding it to a cheese sandwich, for example, or scrambled eggs. I also bought salad again this week and have that washed and ready to use in the fridge as well. Along with the two portions of cabbage soup I still have left over and the one portion of leftovers curry, and some sliced ham and sliced cheese I bought, I should be well able to get through the coming week of far too much extracurricular activity. I have choir on Tuesday (rehearsal), Wednesday (singing at another uni mass then concert rehearsal with the orchester), possibly going to a Wikipedia monthly meeting on Thursday, final rehearsal on Friday, and concerts on Saturday and Sunday. And on Saturday I have aquajogging and want to try and get to see the rugby before heading to choir. On Sunday, I will be sleeping in and then I have signed up to go to dinner with choir after the concert that evening. So, a far too busy week and I think it's safe to say that I will not be cooking much of anything next weekend. But what I've done this weekend should last at least into the start of the week after next. The aim is as little canteen or takeaway food as possible.

The leftovers curry I made yesterday deserves a mention before I sign off. I may never be able to replicate it but it is very good. I had a half a tin of coconut milk in Tupperware in the fridge and wanted to use that up and decided to do a quick curry with everything else that needed to be used up. So I actually got out of bed relatively early yesterday and, after bringing a wash downstairs to the cellar, started cooking. In went: 25g chard plus the leaves from the kohlrabi, 75g onion, 1 portion of cabbage soup, the coconut milk, 1 generous teaspoon of almond butter, 1 teaspoon of Thai green curry past, 100g cooked cabbage, a good handful of green beans from the freezer, a good splash of lime juice, and the last of the older potatoes and sweet potato that really needed to be used up. That ended up being 450g potatoes and 175g of sweet potato. Definitely not at all a balanced meal in terms of proportions of veg to carbs (even if you count the sweet potato as veg, which I'm not supposed to) but oh so good. I put some in a flask and brought it with me and ate it in between choir and going to the pub yesterday. That was a huge win because they serve Irish breakfasts and proper chips (with vinegar!) in that pub. Maybe next week.