A jovial June.

Gosh where does the time go? We’re already in July!

Good things about June were:

  • The weather has been lovely and sunny – well, that is, for me. Husband doesn’t tolerate the heat well. It does help my mood, I can really tell, when it is bright and sunny outside. We had a lovely morning in Wollaton Park and I got a chance to see NTU’s Brackenhurst Campus. I have done so many loads of washing as I can just peg them out.

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    At least the Cat is enjoying the sunshine.
  • We’ve tidied up the front garden and had bespoke cupboards fitted in the bedroom, lots ot lovely storage for us now!
  • After waiting more than a year, we now have a date for Husband’s PIP tribunal date. It will take place on July 13th. They have asked us to send in anything else we would like to court to consider, so last week I sent in two letters from the hospital, one letter from Husband’s therapist and one from Husband’s employment support worker.
  • We have continued to stay under budget, food-wise. This has been due to Foodprint, buying reduced bargains and saving food from being thrown out. Twice at work this month I have come into the staffroom to find people throwing food away, simply because it was beyond the expiry date – as in they didn’t check to see if the food could still be eaten. They were being dictated to by the date on the pack. I immediately volunteered to take the food home where it was a welcome addition to our meals.
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    Lots of lovely bargains, helping our budget, and more food saved from the bin from Foodprint.

Things that could have improved about June was that Husband’s dose of Epilim was reduced to help some symptoms he was experiencing – this we had agreed to but it was to be done in a way so I could be at home and support him with it.

As it was, it was done suddenly and it meant he had to stay home from work for five days, and I for three, as he felt too unwell to go in and I didn’t want to leave him that way on his own. Husband is better now but I am quite cross that we were put in this situation as I was very worried about him and there wasn’t really anyone who I could ask about if this was normal and could be expected. In addition to this it meant I lost three day’s worth of wages as dependents leave is now unpaid at my weekday job.

My weekday job seems to be imploding now, with more and more people leaving or looking to leave as it’s becoming harder and harder to work there. I am in the same boat now.

July should be very interesting.

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The last two weeks in review: A test of patience.

We’ve made some changes to the house the last two weeks, both inside and out. Not without its challenges, as the gent doing the work for us took much longer than he had forecast and so we spent a week on the sofabed downstairs while he did this to our upstairs bedroom:

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Before. Two awkward spaces, one on either side of our bed…
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….aaaand after! Just have to find all our clothes and things again now and put them away.
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Lots of lovely storage.

So pleased with how it has turned out. Just need to find the will to live to apply some varnish to it now.

I have also been doing some stuff around the garden at the back. Husband’s Dad surprised us by coming by one morning and bless him helped us cut the hedge for us. Our next door neighbor has said we are more than welcome to use their hedge trimmer when we need to, so that saves us buying it for the garden.

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Our back yard. I’ve managed to weed it now and clear some of the dead plants. I am so pleased so many of our plants seem to have survived a cold winter.
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Our sage, still being savage. I have cut it back a bit not as its size meant I couldn’t get in through the back gate.
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Aaaah! A wild tiny tomato plant appeared!
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A nasturtium has also sprouted, hope it’ll do as well as the one we planted last year did.
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Our front garden desperately needed a tidy. Before…
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…aaand after! Husband and I weeded and swept it and Husband’s father very kindly cut the hedges for us and helped us pull the last of the chickenwire out. We may get the front garden landscaped next summer.

Half term was very relaxed. The first half of the week was spent just with Husband and I enjoying it. Had dinner with his family and celebrated his birthday by going with him to see the new Solo movie and having breakfast out. I also travelled to London to see my friend and her sisters, and got some badly needed bras as several of mine are just unsightly now.

Last week was very different however, it was unsettling for us both.

Husband has been discussing lowering the dose of Epilim he is on as it is starting to interfere too much (seizure control ok, but impacting him in other ways). It was agreed with the consultant that the dose reduction would be done with his approval and with us discussing it first with the GP.

Naturally we went to get his prescription last Monday to find it had been lowered from 2300mg to 2000mg. Husband and I were both cross at this as it had been done without properly discussing it with us, but Husband was prepared to give it a try.

Husband and I ended up staying home for most of last week as his withdrawal symptoms were quite strong. Husband felt shaky constantly, tired all the time and felt like he couldn’t focus on tasks; he also felt on edge and tingly which he has explained is how you feel before having a seizure.

So he didn’t feel well enough to go to work, and I did not want to leave him on his own, so I stayed at home with him. Saturday one of the neighbours checked up on him while I was at work at my weekend job, and Sunday friends came by so he wasn’t alone for too long.

It’s been a week now and Husband is feeling more himself thank goodness. We just didn’t expect this to just be dropped on our laps.

We have however had a court date for PIP which I am pleased about.

I’m also quite happy with myself for getting some good reduced bargains these past two weeks. Buying yellow sticker items just helps us so much and has saved us so much money, especially this month.

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By going by four shops on my way through town after work on a Sunday night I managed to find us this food. Couldn’t believe the lovely fresh chicken we got for £1.31!
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Lots of lovely food, saved from the bin by Foodprint.
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Really chuffed with these finds, 24p for the punnet of plums! ❤

This week: Back with a bang!

Whew, back to the grind this week!

This first week back at work full-time has been really odd. I have been feeling quite off all week, all tired and spaced out, even though we’ve had time off since the 22nd of December.

Part of this is because I’ve had quite a bit to do on the self-employed side this week. CES which is a tech event has been on and brands use this event to showcase their new products. I do media analysis for a few brands (read articles in Norwegian about the clients, write a short summary, flag products/events/features/spokespeople/campaigns/etc/) and there has been a lot of coverage generated by this event. But what the client then does is that rather than sending out one large email they keep sending several smaller ones throughout the week, adding to the list of what products and messages to look out for, spokespeople, and so forth.

Add to this that they have reduced the turnaround time to the next day rather than 48 hours for this week, and the threat of that any analysis that doesn’t meet their demands will be returned to the analyst, it has made for a quite stressful week as I have come home from work, had dinner, and then carried on with my self-employed work before going to bed, every night.

And it wouldn’t make me so miserable if it was something that I was interested in reading. But when I had to analyse articles about, for example, TVs and nits (apparently a unit for measuring light, who knew!), then I just lost the will to live a little. Thank goodness the event ends on the 13th. Mergh. Mustn’t grumble, it’s a valuable side gig and we need the money now.

Husband had his first session of counselling this week. I waited for him at the office as it was his first time. Husband came out being very quiet. I asked him if it had been ok, and he nodded, and when I asked if he would like to go again, he also nodded. So this will be a thing now. Husband was very quiet after his appointment and I think it’s given him a lot to think about.

We have not yet heard back from Husband’s workplace about our appeal and what we discussed during the meeting at his workplace about the behaviour of the staff. While I was doing an online jobsearch today, I did come across two vacancies at the workplace – one of which is the kind of position Husband had! Very odd that they are hiring two new staff there, when they have said the reason why they have not given Husband any hours since the end of July is because they are underwater financially and cannot afford it.

Husband’s parents are coming by this evening after I finish work which will be very nice.

I did get these lovely things at Foodprint on Friday, which really made me happy:

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My delicious bargains! Clockwise from noon, two bags of carrots, 5p each, two bags of potatoes, 10p each,  garlic, 15p, crumpets, 10p, six bags of sundried tomatoes, 5p each, bread, 5p, shortbread, 15p (disappeared now, no surprise there!), tea, 10p, onions, 20p, two cartons of juice, 30p each.

 

They have added a fund option now as well – if you can they ask if you will donate money to it. If someone then comes by and is struggling for money or can’t afford stuff, then their food shop is already paid for by the fund. So I donated money and will go again and donate next week. The gent who served me said that the Post had been by that day to write an article about them and that business is picking up. I do hope they stay as it’s a brilliant idea.

Here’s to next week hopefully being a bit less manic and doing more work – the other firm I do self-employed work for asked if I could do two hours of voice prompts, so that means more money in the pot.

Catch of the Day: Food from Foodprint.

While I was doing my Living Below the Line challenge for charity, I saw on Facebook that a shop I’d been eagerly waiting for, was now open for business.

Foodprint is part of the Enactus society at University of Nottingham. In a bid to reduce food waste, they have opened their social supermarket where they sell food that would otherwise have been binned due to it being short dated or out of date, at very reduced rates. All income is then ploughed into the business to keep it open and to fund projects in the community.

When doing my challenge, Foodprint were heaven sent and provided a lot of food for very little money on day 10 of my challenge. Those naan breads I managed to buy just added some desperately needed flavor and variety to my diet.
And if the shop hadn’t snapped the food up it could very well have gone in the bin. I got two lovely bags of sweet, juicy pears for example, 7 in each bag, for 10p each at Foodprint. Looking at the label it said these were from Portugal. So a farmer had grown these pears in Portugal and they had been shipped to England – and all that labor and resources would have just gone in the bin if Foodprint hasn’t rescued them.

I decided then that I would make an effort when I had time to visit again.

This was my catch today. The gent staffing the shop bless him apologized for the lack of fruit and veg but explained it is hard to collect and distribute during Christmas.

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Lovely food, all rescued from the bin. Two cartons of diet cranberry drink, 30p each, two tins of tuna, 50p and 70p each (where were you when I was doing my challenge?), two jars of salsa, 10p each, two tins of baked beans, 20p each. six bags of sun-dried tomatoes, 5p each (!), two loads of onions, 20p each.

I couldn’t believe the bags of sun-dried tomatoes! I can see a lot of pasta dishes with these stirred in, in our future. I can also see myself having jacket potatoes with natural yogurt and salsa for dinner. I was so chuffed with this and it only cost us £3.10 so a great help to the food budget.

Foodprint is on the other side of town so getting there is a bit of a trek, but I will endeavor to go again when we need to shop again. It’s a bit of a treasure hunt really, you don’t know what you’ll find there, and you just have to work around what you can buy there.

I’m so pleased this is a thing – great for the environment and great for people who can shop there.

 

Living Below the Line 2017 – Day 7 – Day 9.

The challenge marches on! With or without me, I guess.

Thursday – halfway point! Day 7.

Many are asking me how I am feeling and how the challenge is going. I think my stomach has shrunk as I don’t feel as ravenous and fed up as I did. This is down to me planning however as I can’t imagine I would be very pleased if I would have to wait for my food. Perhaps it’s even the idea that I know food will be available later that is keeping me going.

I weighed myself today. When I started the challenge, I weighed myself on the 1st of December and the scales showed 77.1 kilos (12.14 stone according to Google). Today I weighed myself and I clocked in at 74 kilos (11.65 stone). That’s three kilos or half a stone I have lost in 7 days.

Husband did not seem that impressed with this until I pointed out that the weight I have lost on this challenge equates to three bags of sugar.

I know the challenge is called Living Below the Line but I can imagine for people who have this as their reality, it’s not really living. It’s just existing.

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Breakfast: Two pieces of toast, half a tin of beans, two poached eggs. Can afford two eggs as I bought the cheaper eggs this time. 31p
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Lunch: Carrot sticks and two and a half apples. 16p.
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Dinner: vegetable soup, two pieces of toast, 29p.

The end is in sight.

Friday, the 8th day of the challenge.

A group of students came by the library where I work and let us know they were doing free tea tastings as part of their Lifeskills cafe. I was asked if I wanted anything as they can deliver. I asked if I can have an Earl Grey with milk and sugar and a little while later a student came back with a mug of steaming, glorious gold. I savoured every drop of that tea!

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Breakfast: two poached eggs and two pieces of toast, 20p.
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Lunch: Half a tin of baked beans, three apples (the last ones!), 20.5p
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Dinner: Time to break open the sardines! Two sardines in oil, two pieces of toast, 31p.
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Snack: Four pieces of toast, lemon curd, 15p.

The beans, bread and eggs I bought Wednesday night are keeping me going. Having a proper breakfast is so important as I feel much better equipped to face the day if I’ve had something proper to eat.

I also didn’t expect to like the sardines so much. I have never had them before until this challenge but found them to taste similar to mackerel. It just had so much flavour in it, something I have really missed as I haven’t been able to season anything (sure, I could BUY seasoning, but food is more important). I used the toast to mop up the oil and have saved the other two sardines (there were four in a pack) for later. Might have them on Monday.

Saturday, day 9 of Living Below the Line.

Saturday I found it really hard to get going. I kept hitting the snooze button meaning I only had a little time once I’d gotten out of bed actually get something together. I think it’s the combination of feeling tired and it being so dark all the time that does it. I made toast and lemon curd and inhaled these while waiting for the shower to warm up (hey. don’t judge me!) .

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Breakfast when Silver is in a hurry: Two pieces of toast, lemon curd, 7p.
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Lunch when Silver can’t be bothered: half a tin of beans, 11.5p.
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Dinner: I decided to have breakfast. Two poached eggs, half a tin of beans, two pieces of toast, 31p.

Earlier in the week I had read that a shop that was featured at Sharing Sherwood one night, Foodprint, was due to open. It sounded just right for me on my limited budget and so I decided to visit them on Sunday before work to see if there was anything I could use to save myself some of my limited budget. I’ll write about that in my next post. As it stands now I have £5.27 left to last me for food and drink until Thursday.

I am currently Living Below the Line for the Trussell Trust – I am living on £1 a day in food and drink for 14 days. If you wish you can sponsor me here.

You can read about my prep here, and days 1 to 3 and 4 to 6 as well, to see how I got on.

 

Sharing Sherwood – meeting new people in our community and avoiding food waste.

Sharing Sherwood hosted their meal again and Husband and I went along – this will be the last one I will be able to attend for some time as I work on a Sunday while the event is on, term time. It’s a shame as I have really enjoyed the previous two times we have been. We are meeting people in the community where we live, and some people who we’ve seen previously came and said hello to us which was lovely as well.

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The menu – All delicious. The French onion soup was lovely!

The food served at Sharing Sherwood is given to them by FareShare; this is food they have collected from Supermarkets that would otherwise have been thrown out. Diners pay a donation when attending and they can also for a donation have some of the surplus food there. The money made from donations and the entry fee is then given to foodbanks in our local area.

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My dinner! Clockwise from noon we have rice, mushroom pasta, onion bhaji, vegetarian curry with quorn.

The next dinner will be held on the 8th of October – maybe Husband and Neighbor will go along.

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Got some lovely food for our donation; think the leftover bhajis will be part of our dinner tomorrow.

 

Avoiding food waste: Dining at the Sharing Sherwood project.

One afternoon I had a look at the library notice board after collecting some books, and I came across this notice:

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It said that for a suggested donation of £2.50 per adult and £1.50 per child, anyone was welcome to attend and eat food that would otherwise had been thrown out by the supermarkets. Food is collected by FareShare that supermarkets need to get rid of due to their use by/best before dates, and Sharing Sherwood cooks the food and serves it to people who donate to eat. The funds are then donated to food banks around Nottingham.

Husband and I have lived here for a year now after we bought our house but want to get more involved in the community so we decided to go.

In addition to this, I am very passionate about food and food waste – wasting food is criminal in my opinion is a waste of precious resources and labour.

We have a food, toiletries and clothes bank at the college for hard up students – it is surprising and shocking to see how deprived some of our students are. As a department we also collect food for the food banks every summer as children who normally get free school meals have to be fed in the summer as they aren’t at school putting extra strain on people’s household finances.

Sharing Sherwood meets at the church up the street on the 2nd Sunday of every month at 6pm.

Husband and I went along, and paid at the door before finding a seat.

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Our menu for the night.

We had a lovely time there, trying the different food – there was loads of food to be had and everyone could have seconds if they wanted. 70 people attended and it was nice to see how varied the group was, from people with families to students to pensioners.

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Delicious food, rescued from an untimely end in the bins! Going clockwise from 12, we have carrot and parsnip fries, tortellini pasta bake with tomatoes and feta, asparagus and edamame beans, salad cream, green salad with feta and falafel. All delicious.

Everyone pitched in with cleaning up and putting stuff away afterwards, and this session we were told raised £155 for the foodbank. People are encouraged to bring a drink and a container when they come as they hand out the leftovers afterwards, so as to not waste food.

The food was delicious and there was plenty of it; we wouldn’t have realized this food was ‘out of date’ if we hadn’t been told. We think this is a brilliant idea, and husband and I said to each other several times how unbelievable it was that this food had not been snapped up by FareShare, it would have gone in the bin as it was past it’s ‘use by’/’best before’ date.

I spoke to one of the volunteers and they said that the only thing they did not get a lot of was meat as it’s hard to store and keep fresh until they use it. But with all the food that was available, it didn’t even occur to me that the meal needed some meat, it was fine as it was.

They also had some food laid out on one of the tables where you could help yourself, for a donation. We made a donation and took this home:

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More food saved from the bin! We may or may not have already quality assured the Special K biscuits. Can’t wait to try the soups.

The next dinner will be held on the 13th of August and I’ve already put it in my calendar so husband and I will go again!

If you want to read more about the project and join their FaceBook page you can do so here.