Thursday, November 30, 2006

3 little things and 5-a-day

My 5-a-day was saved yesterday by me remembering that I had some frozen peas so a good handful of them went into the scrambled eggs I was having for dinner and then I mixed the whole lot with some rice I had leftover from Sunday. One of the nicest dinners I've had for a while, possibly because it took about five minutes to make and that makes the difference when you're rushing to something after work.

Not doing so well today, only a banana so far but I have some stewed apple with me for an afternoon snack and with either have pasta with a tomato and onion based sauce for dinner or a big stirfry. Might make it to 5 yet.

My three little things yesterday nearly didn't happen as I slouched in front of the telly for forty minutes when I got home from choir and so it was nearly midnight when I went upstairs. Still, it counts as yesterday!

1. Christmas Yearbook - I bought this last year, a lovely idea (although a homemade version rather than the expensive one I bought in a shop would be even nicer!) where there are four pages for each Christmas, one for a photo of your Christmas day, one for writing what you ate, who cooked, what games you played, songs you sang, who's there etc. and the final two pages for each person present on Christmas day to write in about what they've done this year and what they plan for next. There are enough pages for ten years worth of Christmas and the idea is that you put it away with the rest of the decorations on 6 January and then don't take it out until next Christmas. Of course, I didn't get any photos of Christmas until February and then took it out during the summer to take out one of those photos for an album I made up for my sister's wedding. Still, even though I'll have the Christmas decorations out next week to put up, it has gone back into the box with them until then.

2. Hat and scarf - summer sun hat and a bandana have gone back into my scarf drawer.

3. A small plastic pouch I use for storing sanitary towels and cotton buds in when travelling. This has been well-used and is starting to crack but has gone back into my travel toiletries bag as it's not quite dead yet.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Have to stop finding blogs

I'm trying to keep the list of blogs I read from growing too long. For one I only have access to the internet in work at the moment and I don't want to end up spending all my evenings here making up for work I miss while surfing the net. I usually try to confine myself to lunchtime and before work starts. For another there seems to be little point in trying to live a simpler life, trying to spend more time enjoying "real" things and ending up just spending more time online!

This blog is interesting though and I think one of the reasons it particularly appeals to me is that it's relatively new, just like mine!

On the 5-a-day front today I've had homemade vegetable soup for lunch (1 - it was a fairly small bowlful), an apple (1), a banana (1) and a pear (1). However all fruit was from the platter we get every day in work so non-organic. The apple was French I think (but is Le Crunch a company or a type?), I assume the banana is from far away and I have no idea about the pear. I need to remember to bring fruit in with me tomorrow! So, that's four so far so need to have at least one more this evening. I'm rushing home now to go to choir and won't have much time though - maybe I'll have a hot lemon and honey drink before I go to bed, if I use the juice of a full lemon I might just about scrape by.

3 little things and 5-a-day

My three things from yesterday were a battery charger plus three packets of batteries (counting this as one item) - I bought these at the end of July 2005 and still have never used them. They were a special offer from Lidl and I thought they'd probably come in useful some time. I'm charging the batteries and have a space in my tools drawer for it afterwards. I also want to find a small container to keep the batteries in - the Tupperware I used to keep my make-up in is a good size for this I think.

2 cloth shopping bags - now placed with all the other bags I've found again, beside the door and convenient to grab on the way out.

1 length of gold ribbon - I think I swiped this from a friend who got a present with this wrapped around it and was going to just throw it out. It has now gone into the small bag of ribbons I use when wrapping pressies.

As for my 5-a-day - despite my efforts to eat well I do sometimes find it difficult to eat my minimum recommended 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. There are various reasons for this but I'm going to try and make sure over the next while that I do this properly. I have found the most successful way to lose weight is to do it in stages. For the last couple of months I've been cooking most of my own food. I've also made sure I fill a jug of water when I get into work so that I do drink plenty during the day. So now that those things are habit again I need to focus on making sure that of what I do make to eat, there are at least five portions of fruit and veg in it and building up to more.

So, yesterday's 5-a-day didn't go too well as I wasn't really prepared for it. I had a big apple (1) as a snack during work as well as two squares of Fruit n Nut (but am pretty sure the one almond and two raisins in that don't count as a portion!). I had a baked potato for lunch but two small sausage rolls for breakfast - all in all it wasn't a huge amount of food and by the time I got off the bus on the way home I was really hungry. I had struggled to convince myself not to stop and get a takeaway but compromised with myself and bought a Mars and a packet of Hula Hoops, which I practically inhaled on the walk from the bus stop home. Once there I got stuck in to some more tidying and recorded my choir rehearsal CD onto a tape so I can listen to it in the car. As my hunger had been abated somewhat I was able to get this done and then cook a dinner at my leisure. I made spaghetti (organic, Irish-made from Noodle House), a white sauce from a simple roux with a white wine ice cube thrown in for good measure and added a gently fried: half a big onion, one leek, four cloves of garlic, four tiny scallions I'd forgotten I had (all organic and Irish, exept for the garlic, which may be French) and a handful of fresh parsley (2). I'm giving myself 2 portions for that lot. So that means that I had 3 portions yesterday. Not great. I'm pretty sure the glass of wine I also had doesn't count as fruit either! Will try harder today. Have homemade vegetable soup with me for lunch so that'll help.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Excellent link on Low Mileage Food today - I'm very excited and will be looking into this to see if I can manage to do it next spring.

3 little things

I spent yesterday evening holepunching masses of paper to file. Most of the completely useless stuff has gone into the recycle bin but once I have everything filed it'll be time for a major cull. I'm a terrible hoarder and convinced I need to keep every little receipt I ever got. While I've worked on my hoard of "stuff", I need to pay some attention next year to papers. It's easy to convince myself that papers are important and need to be kept just in case. I've almost filed everything now. Just have one big pile of things like magazines and cards and notes people have sent me. Most of the magazines are from the AA and the Mountaineering Council of Ireland. Regular newsletters which I often don't even take out of the plastic cover. I'll flick through them and then see if a local doctor wants them for their waiting room. I joined the MCI about a month before I injured my foot and had to stop hillwalking. Typical. Still, I have five more months before renewal and my foot is almost better. If I'm not walking at least every second weekend by the time I need to renew I won't bother.

I finally dragged myself to bed at half-twelve last night (am feeling it this morning) but had to get three things out of my bits and bobs bag to deal with before I allowed myself to get into bed. I took three simple things which were near the top:

Book called Croch Suas E - from my one stint in the Gaeltacht when I was 14, it's a book full of lyrics for Irish songs and also full of signatures of people who were there that summer (none of whom I've ever kept in touch with). Space found on my shelves for it as it's not something I want to part with.

Book called something like the little text book of magic - amusing little book which is about a couple of inches big. It has gone on my shelves with other similar small books. It may still get passed on but that can wait for the Big Book Clear Out in January.

Tupperware oyster - this is a container I used to use for makeup but haven't for a while. It has gone into the dishwasher and will go onto my Tupperware shelf waiting to be used again.

I also gave two of the books from the weekend to my housemate and have brought the four still left into work. I will be meeting a freecycler to get my new alarm clock at lunchtime today (it turns out she works five minutes away from me) so can't make it to the second hand book shop but they are now on my desk in work and away from home. If I don't make it to the second hand book shop some lunchtime this week I will bring them to Blackrock Market on Saturday. I'm meeting my older sister, who for one reason and another I haven't seen for about a year, there for brunch - she wants to treat me for my birthday.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Decluttering and spicy food

I came across a blog recently called The Seven Things Project . The idea being that each week Earthchick is finding seven things to get rid of, without simply throwing everything away. It's interesting and a good incentive to me to try to do the same. After cleaning my room I have a neat stack of things which I've been meaning to get onto Freecycle for a couple of months now. Next week a friend is coming over with her digital camera to take photos and I'll hopefully get rid of them fairly quickly. I'm going to leave them on freecycle for a week and if they're not taken will find a local school who's having a sale of work before Christmas and donate them.

I also have a few books which I've read and know I do not want to read again. Two went to my brother yesterday and I'm waiting to see if my housemate wants any of the others before bringing them to a second-hand shop at lunchtime tomorrow. I think one may also belong to my ex-housemate, who's off in Australia for a year so need to wait to hear back from her before getting rid of it. My other task for this week and next is to take three things out of a bag of bits and bobs and either find a home for them or get rid of them. In January then I want to organise my book shelves properly and see if there's anything else I won't read again. I know I have quite a lot of books I bought at jumble sales purely because they were so cheap and I need to go through all of those especially and decide if I will actually read them.

Yesterday I cooked spicy lamb burgers based on a recipe for spicy lamb chops in Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries- . I had mince from Terryglass organics in the freezer, two red chilis I bought a few weeks ago and didn't know what to do with and all of the spices needed (leftover from some other time last year when I thought I'd get adventurous with food but never did). The only thing missing was a lime and some fresh tomatoes. I planned on using a tin of tomatoes but when I called to the market in Ranelagh to pick up a lime I gave in and bought seven lovely Italian organic vine tomatoes. I also bought some eggs while there and am glad now as my brother came over for dinner yesterday evening and ate more than I thought so I only had enough leftovers for one lunch - the eggs will give me two or three meals this week instead.The recipe as I adapted it is as follows:

Fry one teaspoon each of the following seeds (all whole) in a little oil (I used olive, which is what I had on hand) - mustard, coriander, fennel, cumin. After a minute or two add a chopped onion, one de-seeded and chopped chili and fresh grated ginger (from a piece about as big as a walnut in its shell). Allow to soften but not colour and then add six chopped tomatoes and some rock salt. In the original recipe he uses this as the basis for a marinade but I used it as a sauce instead. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile I mixed one egg in with the lamb mince and made small burgers which I fried for a minute on each side so they would keep their shape. I placed the burgers in an overproof dish. When the sauce was finished cooking it came off the heat and the juice of the lime was stirred in and then the sauce poured over the burgers. I left it to marinade for about an hour and once my brother had arrived for dinner, put it into the oven for 20 minutes at about 200c. I served it with some basmati rice.

The smell in the house was beautiful and the dinner tasted lovely. It was very mild though and I was surprised as I'd been expecting to need to add some yoghurt to mine to cool it down a bit. I did only use one chili instead of two though and apparently not enough salt (but my brother always says that!). It was a departure for me to use these kinds of spices and I was pleased with the result. I will definitely do something similar again. I'm not a big fan of coriander or fennel but in this mixture neither flavour came out on its own, rather it was a taste greater than the sum of its parts, if you know what I mean.

How quickly time flies

It doesn't seem like two weeks since the last time I wrote but so it is. It has been a funny couple of weeks though and I have to attribute my lack of writing to a mixture of "time flies when you're having fun" and the sheer difficulty of getting things down on paper when you're not feeling too positive. Strange that I feel that both of those things, which are so opposite, have been going on for the last while. But I'm trying to think of life in a positive way, even to the extent of sometimes just saying under my breath "stop being negative, we need positive energy, positive energy".

On the negative side I have been down and I'm having difficulty adjusting to living with my new housemate (seemed like it would be okay at first and then she decided to change a whole load of things in the kitchen, she doesn't like it to be cluttered and everything has to be put away - although I'm slowly moving some things back as it's just not practical to not have things to hand and I use the kitchen far more than her anyway) as well as having been extremely busy in work and with choir taking up a good bit of time.

On the other hand, I've been trying to stay positive and at least keep going with some of my simple living pursuits. It is great to be able to read other people's blogs even if I'm not posting myself as it sort of keeps me focused. And even though I was upset when my kitchen got "tidied up" I didn't follow my first inclination (which was to head straight out to the cinema and watch at least two films in a row) but did do a bit more work on clearing and cleaning my bedroom. It had gotten to a really bad state and because I always try to not leave stuff lying around downstairs I sometimes end up with a very messy bedroom. So this time I didn't cut my nose off to spite my face and made some progress on my bedroom. That's a couple of weeks ago and I finally have nearly finished it this weekend. I do have a stack of stuff which needs to be freecycled and a few bags of vacuum packed duvets and spare bedclothes which need to go into storage. I'm making use of my sister's storage facility but won't be able to get there till next Saturday again.

I also need to finish a big pile of filing but most of this is sorted and just needs to actually be put onto files. I have one sports bag which had all the last little bits and pieces shoved into it and I plan to take three things out of this every day and either find them a home or get rid of them altogether. I rearranged the furniture in my room a bit and have my armchair positioned better to catch light from the window and have moved a tall boy in front of the non-functioning-but-sometimes-windy fireplace which will cut down on the draught. I didn't notice it last year but the last few weeks have been extremely windy and the room has felt a bit cold sometimes. If this doesn't work I'll cover the fireplace with newspaper as well.

I feel like I'm starting to ramble again and find myself feeling bad for writing such long posts. In the end I have to remind myself that while I love that some other people read this blog it is first and foremost for me and so I can be as longwinded as I feel the need to be. :-)

I finished knitting the scarf for my brother and I also knit a hat for my sister last week. I have to sew it up (note to self to buy darning needle or similar) but am very impressed with myself. While clearing out my room I also dug out a small bag I had with some material remnants - I started buying a few bits of material a few years ago (the last time I decided I wanted to learn how to sew) and they have just been sitting there since. I realised when I opened it that I had the programme from the last time I tried to start making things and went to the Knitting and Stitching Show for inspiration. 1997. If you'd asked me I would have said it was three or four years ago. Not nine! How and ever, I've started now and think this time I will keep it up. I'm about to start on a hat for my brother next. He is thrilled with his scarf. I found a booklet in my 1997 programme with knitting basics in it and finally decided that I need to pay attention to tension. The ribbed scarf I made didn't look like the one they had on display in the shop although I still think it looks good. I think it was because my tension was way off - I always start knitting and check the tension after a few rows. It's usually way off but since I've only done simple things like scarves and they've looked fine, I haven't bothered trying to correct it. I now know about knitting a sample swatch so will try that for next time. As a general guide I'd say I'll usually end up knitting with needles about two sizes smaller than what's given.

Well, that's another long post and I still have much to say. Thanks to Becky I'm going to the craft fair in the RDS the weekend after next and I'm really looking forward to it. I won't have much money to buy things but am eager to go and have a look and maybe chat to some of the exhibitors about what they do. I've promised Becky that the money I've saved on the ticket I'll spend on their stall and am really looking forward to choosing something beautiful that I hadn't planned on. This weekend I'm heading away for a couple of days for my birthday - I'll stay with a friend on Saturday and then am having two nights in a hotel. I've had the money put aside for months and it has been hard to hang onto it - that's enough for the hotel and meals. I'm getting paid this week as well and as I'll be getting paid for a few hours overtime I did I'm going to use the extra money to treat myself to a massage and facial. And oh, one more thing to make my Monday good - I just got a phone call from a freecycler to say I'll be getting a radio alarm clock tomorrow. This is fantastic as I'd been thinking of getting one for a while but kept putting off as an unnecessary expense. However, on Saturday in my cleaning frenzy I knocked over my old alarm clock (which I've had for almost twenty years) and it finally broke to pieces so it's brilliant that I'll be getting a freecycled one to replace it. And I read this post from Stonehead which made my heart feel warm. Not your typical Monday morning so far!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Bits and pieces

I've added another two blogs to my sidebar list. I've been reading them for a while and really enjoying them as well. Emme from Simple Living has some good thoughts on the whole issue of enforced versus choice frugality. I think I'm closer to where she was a couple of years ago. I have huge debt and don't have much choice but to try and live as frugally as possible. But I also realised a couple of months ago that actually, given the choice i.e. even if I had plenty of money available to spend I would still want to live this kind of life. And so that kind of takes the pressure off because I don't feel quite so restricted.

Downshifting-path to simplicity is another blog I've been enjoying recently. I love some of the ideas I've found there, such as the conversation SockknittingMama had with her children at Halloween to discuss what they wanted winter to bring them. I think this is a lovely idea and plan to make a conversation like this part of my Halloween in future.

I also meant to mention in my last post that making the herb and barley broth at the weekend I decided to just go ahead and buy the fresh herbs needed from the supermarket. I got Irish parsley and an Irish bay plant which I'll try to keep alive and mayabe plant out next year. Basil for the butternut squash came from Israel. I can't remember where the sage was from though. Couldn't get any fresh thyme so used some dried. I really wanted to make this recipe though so decided it was okay to buy supermarket herbs as I could feel I would just end up pissed off if I didn't make this dish. I'm adding herbs to the list of things I want to grow next year - parsley and bay are certainly two things it should be possible to keep going. And only when I was actually making the dish did I realise I had just picked up the packet of organic barley in EcoLogic and not noticed it was from Ecuador. Another reminder that I need to pay more attention. So, my healing herb and barley broth was almost at least half non-local. It is very tasty though. I probably will make it again but will definitely use less goose fat. I should know by know that any recipe I have ever done which calls for oil or fat of any kind will probably use about twice the amount I would consider necessary.

Monday, November 13, 2006


Well, I'm still tired. And a bit head-achey but I'm trying to ignore that for the moment.
After the beginnings of yet another sore throat on Friday I had an early night and decided to sleep till I woke on Saturday. Ended up sleeping for about ten hours and then stayed in bed for another hour or two reading. Got up to have a glass of water and chatted to my new housemate for a while then went back to bed to read for another half an hour. A friend rang just as I got there and I ended up on the phone to him for just over two hours. Wasn't planned for (and boy was I glad he was paying) but was great to talk to someone I haven't seen much of for years (he lives in Belgium). Was tired after that though so ended up sleeping for an hour.

Finally got up and cooked as I'd taken mince out to defrost and had to cook it. It was probably a good thing because I would have been tempted to get a take away otherwise which I really couldn't afford. I made half of it into shepherds pie sauce which tasted delicious but got frozen straight away for lunches. The other half became meatballs which I put into a tomato sauce made from some tomatoes I had left which were starting to get a bit soft. Added shallots and red onions, garlic, basil, oregano, parsley, black pepper and a tin of tomatoes to bulk it out a bit. Once I'd fried the meatballs just enough to get them to hold their shape I added them to the sauce and left it on a really low heat for an hour or so. Spent twenty minutes on the phone to my sister in France and then almost an hour on the phone to my sister who's travelling and is now in Florida. I was paying this time though and I really shouldn't have. I'm going to get hit with a huge phone bill this time round and should know better. Next time I get paid I'm going to buy some of those international call cards so that I have them already there on days I end up feeling like chatting to people miles away. The meatballs in tomato sauce were delicious with some boiled potatoes and enough left over for a couple of lunches this week too.

Had another early night on Saturday and slept nearly twelve hours. I have to watch this. I need to sleep a bit extra because I'm obviously run-down and keep getting sick and was trying to forestall that sore throat getting worse. However it's a very fine line between looking after yourself and getting lost in the kind of lethargy that results in/comes from depression. Especially in the winter, it's too tempting to just roll over and stay in bed all day. I did get up and have a shower and made a start on cleaning my room by putting away all the laundry that had built up over the last month or so. This involved moving all the stuff (mainly spare duvets and bedclothes) which was blocking my wardrobe so yesterday evening I also managed to get most of that stuff sorted out and it now just needs me to move the tallboy blocking the cupboard to put them away. It's all quite complicated but this is what happens when you live in a small rented house and have some of your own furniture. I have a tallboy which I don't want to part with and which I do use but it sits in front of a built-in cupboard in my room. I only use that cupboard for storing stuff that isn't used very often but sometimes I end up with a mess because I'm waiting for one thing to happen so that something else can happen, which means something else can happen and so on and so forth. And while waiting for all those things to happen (all of which are waiting for me to do them!) everywhere becomes messier and messier and more difficult to deal with. Anyway, I've made a good start on it and will hopefully finish it up next weekend, including scrubbing the newly found surfaces till they sparkle.

I did go out yesterday and ventured to Blackrock Market where I had a nice chat with the woman in This Is Knit and bought some wool to start on a scarf for my brother. I also started on that yesterday evening but since it's my first time doing a rib it took me four attempts before I got the hang of it and didn't end up with four or five extra stiches each row. Doesn't look quite as good as the one they had in the shop but I'm pretty impressed with myself regardless.

Yesterday I finally made the healing herb and barley broth I've wanted to make for ages. Very delicious although I may have left it in a bit long as there's not much "broth" left in the pot. Still, tastes good and is very filling. I also finally cooked the butternut squash I bought weeks ago and have decided I'm still undecided about whether I like it or not. I cooked the recipe which was on River Cottage Treatment last week, roasting the halves with butter and garlic in the hole and then mashing the squash with some feta and shredded basil and putting the whole lot back in the skins and roasting for another 15 minutes. It was nice but I found it a bit sweet or something. I'd probably cook it again if I found local squash but I don't think I'd go out of my way for it. Glad I tried it though. If anyone wants the proper recipe it's in the Sieved Tomatoes thread on the River Cottage website:

Booked my car in to get the brakes done next week. Might need to leave the car in over the weekend so am psyching myself up to live without the car for the weekend. Really, unless I'm going away for the weekend I could manage without it fairly easily. I'm going to phone a few contacts and try and book some Tupperware parties this week but if I don't manage to do that I have to seriously consider whether to keep the car or not. Other than for the handiness of it that is!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Still busy

This week has just flown by and I am exhausted. I ended up going for a drink with some friends (who I hadn't seen since summer) after the performance on Wednesday and although it was just one drink we stayed till closing time and I didn't get home till midnight. I was still on a high after singing though and couldn't sleep. It was after half-one before I did I'd say and yesterday and today I have been shattered. Heading home from work now (my boss was out all day and let's just say I haven't exactly been productive despite my best intentions) and will probably be in bed before eight because I can barely keep my eyes open as it is. But want to wait till about then so there's a chance of me sleeping through the night.

I called to EcoLogic yesterday and picked up some meat from the farm who I normally buy from at Marlay Park Market on Saturdays [update: finally remembered it's called Terryglass Organics]. Bought enough for the rest of the month and it'll save me a trip there tomorrow. I'm going to head to Blackrock Market instead. I haven't been there for ages and want to visit This Is Knit ( who I saw at the Knitting and Stitching Show last week. I had a look at their website earlier and this really strikes me as the kind of place I'd like to give my custom to. Blackrock Market doesn't usually have any food stalls but it would be great if it did as I could do with buying some fruit. Otherwise I'm going to have a week or two of just eating what I already have on hand - I think I have more than enough for a decent variety and I have a good bit of tinned fruit as well if I don't see any at the market.

I'm going to try and start building up a stock of scrap bits of material to use for quilting the way I learned last week. I'd like to just lay into it and start making those little squares and then wait for a while to decide exactly what I want to make. This may not be the correct way to go about planning a quilting project but I know myself and if I don't just get stuck in and start doing it I'll never get back to it. There are a few steps involved. Cutting the circles and squares of material and batting is first up and even if I can start on this and build up a supply then it'll make it easier to just pick it up some evenings and just sew a little bit at a time. I definitely need to buy a decent scissors though and hope it won't prove too difficult. I'm left-handed and do have one left-handed scissors my uncle gave me about 20 years ago but it's not good enough for proper cutting of material really. Will have to check on prices and it may need to wait till I get paid at the end of the month. I'm not managing my money well this month at all and really only have enough left for basics for the rest of the month.

While at EcoLogic last night I aslo bought some lentils (something I have eaten and enoyed before but never cooked myself), some barley (want to cook the barely broth to bring you to health from Nigel Slaters cookbook) and some Irish-made organic pasta. Am very excited to have found this even though he only had the spaghetti and I don't really like stringy type pasta (due to being traumatised by my sister as a very young child who told me I was eating worms and the red sauce was their blood!). If I like the taste though I'll get him to get in other shapes as well. I was able to find out online that they do use local free-range eggs but am not sure if the organic flour they use is Irish. However I'm not sure there is any Irish organic flour around so this is probably the closest to fully Irish organic pasta I'm going to get. It's produced in Sligo by two Germans who moved there ten years ago or so and set up the Noodle House Pasta Company. I don't think I'll end up staying in Ireland but if I do I think I would move to the north west - it looks like there's a very healhty eco-conscious, organic community up around there.

Have a good weekend everyone.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Busy times

While nature is slowing down (and my nature really wants to as well!) life seems to be getting busier and busier. I sing with a couple of choirs and am on the committee of one. Between organising and rehearsing for an early December concert with that one and rehearsals for a concert this week with the other choir (a much larger, well-established choir - we're singing in the National Concert Hall and I'm still quite intimidated and nervous about that) as well as three performances of Messiah in December a lot more of my time is being taken up with choir related stuff than I thought would be the case.

Work has also been hectic the last few weeks with a possible big change in the works over the next few months.

To top it all off I got hit with another bad cold two weeks ago which I am still trying to get over. That's two colds in about five weeks. This happened to me last winter as well although didn't start as early. It's so frustrating that it's happening even though I've been making such a huge effort to eat properly and well. Still, only four weeks left and I will have a long weekend away and then a few weeks after that I'll be off to Florida for Christmas. I booked those flights in early summer before I started to seriously think about things like my ecological footprint. It's probably a good thing I'm so broke as I think airline travel is one of the things I'll always find most difficult to have given up. If I had the money I'd love to go and visit friends in Germany, France, Belgium etc. for the weekend - I've done it before and it can work out well. But it's definitely very wasteful to be flying somewhere just to spend a day and a half. At the moment I don't have money to be booking flights anywhere so it's not an issue I need to trouble myself with too much. It's probably one reason why I'll eventually move back to mainland Europe though.

My sister (who I'll be visiting in Florida) and her husband are both big into skydiving. I keep promising I'll do a jump (actually had wanted to do one for years before she did, just one more of those things I haven't gotten around to doing) but do want to lose some more weight first. I'm just about at the limit of what's allowed and would feel much safer knowing I'm not pushing the boundaries on that. But in a way I'm hesitant to do a jump as I don't want to end up loving it. It must surely be one of the worst hobbies from an ecological point of view.

One hobby I may take up is quilting. I was at the Knitting and Stitching Show in the RDS yesterday. Managed to resist buying stacks of wool just because it said "special offer" as the prices really weren't all that special. I did talk to the guy from the Wool Shop in Bray to find out exactly where it is and opening hours. And spoke to a couple of lovely ladies who run a website business and also have a stall at the market in Blackrock every weekend. It's handy to know there are a few more options for buying wool around. And on weekends too.

While I was there I signed up for the Japanese Folded Patchwork workshop. They said in the leaflet the workshops were for every level from complete beginner up. Well, I'd say I was the only beginner they had. The woman looked a bit dumbfounded when I asked her what she meant when she told us to sew with the material right side up. I don't think she was entirely prepared for a complete beginner. Although I was able to thread the needle all by myself. Finishing the project, which involved quilting a four inch square, took me the full hour and I didn't get to do the last bit of decorative stitching and beading but I ended up with something that's almost a perfect square (I thought it was a perfect square but when I took it out last night to look at it again realised it's a bit pointy in one corner). Am feeling very pleased with myself. It's not perfect by any means but I think it's pretty damn good for a first effort. Must borrow a digital camera from someone and post a picture here. I think this is something that I will be able to do although I can see it being a very slow process. I do like the idea of creating something over a long period of time though and have thoughts of having an entire double bed size throw by...well...maybe by my birthday in 2008.