Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Creativity bootcamp starting tomorrow

Just in case anyone might be interested, the marvellously talented Jane over at That Curious Love of Green is hosting a creativity bootcamp for the month of October. I'm not joining in as my October is already more full than I can manage (and I don't do FB either :) ) but I'm going to consider doing my own mini-bootcamp in a couple of months. Still, I thought some of you might be interested in joining in and there's still a day to sign-up (that FB group will be public until tomorrow and then made private with just those who have signed up) so off you go. And if you want to check out Jane's ambitious plans for her month, click on over to this post.

Would love to hear if anyone decides to join in. I have found Jane's blog really inspiring and I think a month-long creativity challenge is an excellent idea.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Moving on slowly but surely

After wrecking my head for a few weeks with trying to figure out websites, domain registration, hosting and all of that, this evening I finally made a step forward. Two really. I have registered the two website names that I wanted (one simply my name, one with a translations focus) and I've signed up for hosting. A few people suggested self-hosting but from what I've read about it, it would be beyond my current capabilities and I simply don't have the time (or inclination) to do that at the moment. The five euro a month charge for hosting will be more than worth it to me. A web developer friend has offered to build me a website at a substantially reduced rate but that will have to wait until the business has made enough money to cover the cost. Until then I'll figure out something very basic with my contact information and that will do. The main thing will be getting the email set up. Once I've done that, I will go ahead and order business cards. And that will be more than enough outgoings for one month.

So things are slowly moving forward. I got a rush job in from a contact who runs a translation agency late last Monday and stayed up very late doing that. Need to meet him soon to confirm rates and payment but it was a good opportunity as it was a new client for him and if they were happy with this job, they would be moving all of this particular business to him. And he, in turn, would give me the largest part of that work. I'd be happy with that. I approached him at an event during the summer to see about getting some work and offered to do a test translation for him. He phoned me a few weeks ago to see if I could do a short legal paragraph, again at short notice. I offered to get it done during my lunch break that day and did so. When we met a few days later and he said we should talk about money, I told him the first one could be free so long as he gave me a second one. So that piece of cheekiness seems to have worked out so far. We'll see how it goes. Working for an agency doesn't generally pay well at all and working directly for clients would pay nearly double what most agencies offer but starting out it's certainly an easier way to build up experience.

I'm now also registered with the national association of translators and listed in their directory, which will hopefully bring in work, too. Side-business seems to be officially up and running.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Contemplating a logo

Just on the off-chance that one of my readers does this kind of thing or knows someone who does (and in the hopes this doesn't end up with me being spammed). I'm getting my sideline of translating up and going and about to order business cards and register a website. All terribly grown-up, yikes!

Anyway, it has got me thinking about the question of logos. And I have no idea how much getting one of those designed costs. I'm not terribly convinced it'd be a good value way to spend money, based on the kind of small side-business I'll have but it wouldn't hurt to gather some information and even pricing options. So, if anyone knows anyone who does that kind of thing or does it themselves, let me know.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Where I was and where I am

I'm finding it partially very therapeutic and partially almost painful to read through old posts. Have only read the first few months of this blog for now. In many ways, I have come a long way since I started all this. But, in many other ways, I'm dismayed to have not come further and, in some cases, to have stayed exactly where i was or even gone backwards. I'm taking some small comfort from the fact that I am about to make a huge change (job - all very uncharted territory until I get a new one but getting closer to quitting day now). Today is my sister's second anniversary and it doesn't seem possible that it has been two years already. I still miss her just as much and go through periods where it doesn't seem possible to feel that much pain and keep going. But of course you do keep going and it passes on again until the next time I find myself thinking "must give A. a ring and tell her about that" or something similar.

At any rate, I do want to continue on with going through some of the old lists I printed to see where I was then and where I am now so here's an update (in red) on one very old list:

Chemical cleaning products at home - I decided when I wanted to switch to eco products that it would not be a good idea to simply flush away the products I already had and am still trying to use them up (a year later! I was always a sucker for special offers, didn't realise how much I of a stock I had built up). At this stage I think I'll try and give them away.   -  If I remember correctly I ended up trying to use up what I had and eventually, months, if not years later ended up bringing them to the recycling centre, which had a hazardous waste disposal section. These days I mostly use vinegar and bread soda, with a handful of eco products (toilet cleaner and washing-up liquid from Frosch, mostly, although I also mostly use vinegar and bicarb to clean the toilet with. I’ve lived here for seven years and think I’ve bought toilet cleaner twice or three times). 

Shower gel/body lotions etc. - as above, I've been using up what I had. Nearly finished.  -  Well, a few months after this I gave up shampoo altogether. Nowadays the only one you’ll find in my place is the leftover bottle from when my brother came to visit. Handy to have something when visitors are looking because they’ve forgotten their own and/or only had hand luggage so didn’t bring many liquids. As for shower gel, well, I mostly use proper soap nowadays (will get to making my own soon, really I will). I do also have a Weleda lemon shower gel to use – just ‘cos sometimes it’s nice to have something different. And, again, if I have visitors, some don’t like to use soap. I had the body lotion thing sorted by starting to use the hemp oil and body butter from Innocent Oils but then Helen closed the company in order to focus more on her family. Still miss it and haven’t really found something good to replace it with. Mostly just grabbing stuff when I’m desperate. I currently have the following lying around. This is definitely one I need to work on.

The Elizabeth Arden stuff was a birthday present last year. So far have only used it once because, quite frankly, it has a horrible smell. The aloe vera lotion and bio-oil I bought last year when I was in Ireland in June and it was unexpectedly sunny - I needed something to soothe my nearly sun-burned skin and got the bio-oil because there was one of those buy two things get second half-price offers on and I'd heard about it being very good. And the marigold tub is a German traditional type of moisturiser - vaseline based and I use it on my feet.

Deodorant - tough one this. May use some holiday time to experiment with eco products - it took me years to find a "conventional" one that works for me. – I went all around the houses on this one. Used rock crystal for a long while, found it mostly great and then at some stage it just sort of seemed to stop working almost all the time and I was frequently quite stinky. Then I got a skin infection under one arm so I dumped the rock crystal (it wasn’t the cause of it but had to get rid of it in case there were any nasties lurking, better safe than sorry and all that). I switched to Weleda lemon deodorant and it was pretty good but not consistently so and for the most part, I’m back to just using a conventional one. I do still use the Weleda sometimes but mostly when I’m off work and it’s not such a big deal if I end up a bit smelly. The whole thing is a bit of a mystery to me really – no matter what I use, I will still have occasional days where within a couple of hours I stink. And other days are completely fine. It’s all a bit strange but I’m not inclined to spend the time monitoring my life/diet so closely that I’d be able to find any patterns. For the most part, I know that cleaning myself properly once a day is the best way to not smell unpleasant.

Toothpaste - need to replace soon and will try Kingfisher or similar brand.  – I now use the Weleda ratanhia toothpaste. Tried a couple of the others but didn’t like them. Sometimes miss the minty-fresh feeling of your standard toothpaste but then when I use a standard one it seems so strong and you end up with so much foam in your mouth that I’m happy to go back to my Weleda.

Make-up - I don't wear much so will stick with what I already have and think more about it if/when I need new stuff.  – I dumped almost all of my make-up before moving to Germany. Kept lip-liners and eyeliners but pared them well. Also kept a few lipsticks that I’d never actually used (bought multiples trying to get a good match for when I was a bridesmaid for my sister’s wedding). About four years ago, when I first started seriously thinking about getting a new job, I got a few basic bits again (and got a few as a christmas present that year, too). But given the price of make-up these days and the fact that I still almost never wear any, I’m not really putting any thought into this one. I wear a very small amount for choir performances but just eye make-up and lipstick. The less I have used over the years on my skin, the more sensitive it seems to have gotten and I’d rather not aggravate it by slapping on foundation and multiple layers of whatever it is you slap on these days. In fact, I think the last time I wore full make-up was for my sister’s wedding (in 2006). 

Face wipes - so convenient. Have been reducing use but can't quite give them up yet.  – Have totally given these up. Well, I say totally but I do have a small travel pack that comes into service on those rare occasions (i.e. choir performances) when I need to remove make-up. Or just to freshen up between performing and heading out to celebrate all night long. But, I’ve acquired a couple more small Tupperware containers and started knitting my own cotton facecloths so just need to be a bit more organised in bringing a pre-soaked face cloth with me when needed. MFin3 also had a good idea that I might try out. Although if I buy the stuff to make those I'll have to make mega amounts to give to people as presents, I think - otherwise I could end up with more bottles hanging around for years.

Sanitary towels - have used organic ones before and they're okay, need to try and get them more often but they are more expensive.  – Well, long-time readers will know that I first switched to washable pads (love!) and then finally, a few years ago, to the Mooncup (love!!!). Won’t ever go back to disposables and will try and encourage anyone who cares to listen to consider switching to non-disposable options. Actually, just looking at that old post again, Liz from Pocket Farm suggested the Diva Cup to me - that was the first time I had ever heard about it (and I actually thought she was sending me to a joke website at first). 

Petrol - until I can afford a hybrid/runs on vegetable oil type car the only thing I can do about this is minimise my use of the car. Already use bus for to and from work. Must get fit enough to use bike.  – Got rid of the car a few months before I left Ireland and don’t have one here at all. Have a monthly ticket for public transport, got a second-hand bike and am a member of several car-sharing programs (and even so haven’t driven a car here for more than two years). May someday need to get a car again, especially if I manage to end up living in the country or a small town but for now it’s just not necessary.

Philadelphia light - a Weight Watcher's necessity. I have a serious weight problem but eating more fresh food and less processed food will help a lot. There are certain products that are very useful in making low-fat meals and this is one of them. – And how very far I’ve come since writing this. Still very overweight but have learned so many new dishes and, more to the point, have changed my eating habits quite a bit so that what I do cook involves far more vegetables. And if I do use something like cream cheese it’s more often a full-fat version from a local farmer but using less of it. My use of processed foods has gone way down.

Colour catchers - can't afford to keep buying new white underwear. – Still use these. Feels like I really should find out what exactly they’re made of, do they decompose harmlessly and so on. But, as long as I’m only washing for one I think I’m going to continue needing these because I don’t feel like starting to only wear one colour clothes for the rest of my life.  Actually, a quick google leads me to conflicting information. The company claims they're environmentally friendly (because of less washing mostly, I think) and that they're fully biodegradable. Comments from various other people online claim to want to stay away from them. However, without any actual information to back up their actions, I think I'll stick with them for now. I generally use one a week for the two or three small loads I might wash.

Clothes - don't buy many and because of my size don't have much choice anyway. When I lose weight I would also like to start looking at buying more organically. – Same here as well. I try to avoid buying clothes at all and when I really have to, can’t really afford to do anything but buy cheap (which in my size means C&A or M&S Mode, and occasionally on a trip back to Ireland Marks & Spencer (although they don’t do long in my size anymore so that’s less and less until I lose enough weight to get back into sizes that do have long versions) or Evans). Actually am reaching a stage of badly needing to get some new work clothes but hopefully the weightloss will continue this time and in a few months I’ll start fitting into other stuff I already have again.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Another post of prices

Just to keep a record, some of the prices of what I've bought today:

Putenfarm Ritte
Chicken (974g @ €4.90/kg) - €4.77
Turkey salami (97g @ €25.50/kg) - €2.47

Feinkost Turan
White beans (1kg bag) - €4.99
Ground coriander (55g jar) - 99c
Dried tomatoes (230g @ €9.99/kg) - €2.30

Hof und Feld
2 small red onions and 1 large leek (500g @ €1.99/kg) - €1.00
1 head garlic (55g @ €12.00/kg) - 66c
1 packet cumin seeds (40g @ €24.80/kg) - 99c

Johannes Thees
Organic tomatoes (1.124 kg @ €6.00/kg) - €6.74
4 chilis, 2 long red ones and 2 red/green round ones (62g @ €18.00/kg) - €1.12

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Things I learned from my first flea-market experience

  • Bring a chair (my lovely friend's hubby gave me one to use and I was very glad of it). 
  • Always have someone around (next door stallholders if nothing else) to look after your stall while you nip off to the toilet. 
  • Bring food and drink. No point in blowing your entire profit by eating from the inevitable food stalls and chip vans.
  • Bring some kind of transparent plastic sheets to cover stuff if it starts raining (or a pavillion type thing if you have one). The cheapie plastic sheets you can get for covering furniture while painting would be good for this - I saw lots of people with them. I did think to bring rubbish bags but that mean my stuff was covered when it was raining and no-one could see anything, even though people were still walking around under umbrellas.
  • Almost as soon as I arrived to start setting up I was approached by a man asking if I had any jewellery for sale (I didn't). Then a few minutes later another one. And then another after that. I assume they're traders of some sort who do the rounds first thing hoping to snap up any bargains. Must ask someone with more experience of flea markets whether it's a good idea to deal with these guys or better to keep the stuff and sell to the general public.
  • Having a float of some change is a really good idea. I probably overdid it with 40 of notes and 45 of change but at least 20 or so will make life much easier. 
  • Decide whether your priority is to make money or to get rid of stuff. If it's the latter, just price to sell. Yes, everyone says you have to haggle but not everyone likes to and if the point is to get rid of stuff...I admit it, I'm a bit like Brian in this respect.

    • Tuesday, September 08, 2015

      Flea market

      Well, it all ended up being a rush and a hassle in the end. Perhaps a better mood overall might have helped me react a bit better to several irritations but at least it's all over and done with now. On the morning, although it wasn't due to start until 10, there were people coming around at eight o'clock already. So instead of a nice neat stall, with nicely folded clothes in lovely piles, I ended up with something looking more like this
      I'll add more photos to the what's on the way out page - really couldn't get any good ones as I was trying to take photos and set up and fend off the eager early customers all at the same time but it's important for me to have a visual reminder so that I don't start panicking about not having certain things anymore.
      Oh well. I did sell some clothes, and the women who bought them were all happy to see larger sizes for a change, since you don't necessarily always get that at a flea market. And, since I priced to sell (50c for one, €2 for five), people weren't too hesitant. I also got rid of a few other bits and pieces and some of the stuff a friend had given to me. She was going to get rid of some stuff anyway so told me I could have it to sell instead. I didn't manage to sell the hand-made lace edged white linen bed clothes that her great-aunt made in about 1860 - that was one of two things that she wanted to have money for (€50, in case anyone is interested in some antique Swiss bed linen). No-one was interested in the singing bowl either, even though she was prepared to let it go for €30 (about half what she paid for it). Apart from those two things almost everything else that wasn't sold at the end of the day didn't come home with me again though. We detoured to the charity clothes collection bank and then to a local Give Box to leave the rest of the stuff.

      It's getting shorter (each ring represents €20)

      It was a cold and rainy day and I managed to get myself a cold over the weekend (not helped after Saturday's market by spending Sunday afternoon at an open day on the farm I get my vegetable delivery from) but all in all, I did come out with some money. Not a huge amount, but enough to tear a couple of rings off my paper chain.

      All up, it came out to €28.10 profit. I paid €25 for the table and €20 for a deposit. Got the deposit back and made enough to cover the cost of the table and €28.10 was on top of that. So, €60 gone to savings and the rest into my purse, since I needed money anyway. I raided my 50c tin (which isn't actually sealed) for change for a float so that money also went back into the tin. I am thinking of cashing all of that in to add to my savings, though. It was intended to be the start of a moving fund but making sure I have enough money to cover a month off work is more important now, I think.

      So, I've had two days at home to try and shake off this cold because I decided trying to drag myself into work and letting it drag on for weeks would be counter-productive. I haven't been able to do much so I still need to get all of the clothes I'm keeping back into the wardrobe but I have managed to get the stuff I had put to one side into the washing machine with some dye, which means I have refreshed a few things back to being wearable for another little while.
      The light is not cooperating but I might do more photos at the weekend. For now, here's what I dyed yesterday - all of these things were dyed either black or dark brown. I love the way colours interact with each other.
      The tiniest of babysteps but it's something at least.

      Friday, September 04, 2015

      The mess always gets worse before it gets better

      At least, hopefully, it will get better eventually. I have a stand at a local flea market tomorrow and am kind of regretting now that I said I'd do it, as I haven't done the slowly but surely gathering of stuff over three or four weeks that I had planned on. A ridiculously bad mood has been plaguing me since my last post and I've totally lost my good eating, cooking, exercising and keeping things going mojo. Well, I have mostly managed to keep on top of the washing-up, only leaving things lying once or twice for a day.

      Throw in an upgrade to Windows 10, a resulting/coincidental issue with my anti-virus followed by an hour or two searching the web for a solution and an incredibly frustrating 45 minutes interacting/trying to interact with Microsoft's online tech support during which I managed to burn the white beans that were going to form the basis of my first healthy lunch for two weeks, not to mention leave me leftovers for tomorrow, and, well, bad mood all over again today.

      But I'm trying to get through some stuff at least and trying to be as ruthless as possible in deciding what to get rid of. So a lot of clothes that have survived previous purges are on the pile - even some that actually would fit in to the KonMari standard of "does it bring you joy".
      A lot more are staying, many that don't actually fit at the moment but once again I was faced with the fact that I have quite a lot of good quality clothes, better quality than is sometimes available these days and, the last two weeks notwithstanding, I am losing weight and will be able to use them again soon enough. Still, I have a fairly big pile going and more to sort through so it's something at least.