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.

 

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Living Below the Line 2017 – The prep.

So.

It all kicks off tomorrow. I will be living on £1 a way in food and drink from the 1st to the 14th of December, to raise money for the Trussell Trust, by doing the Living Below the Line Challenge.

I have already had a think about what to buy and have bought things in batches this week to prepare myself for the following week. To ensure I minimize the risk of losing food through it, I have made the decision to buy the food in weekly batches. So I’ve spent £7 to cover me for the first week and will spend £7 for the next week.

I have bought the following:

  • 1 kilo of Tesco Everyday Value Rice, 40p.
  • 500g of Tesco Everyday Value Low Fat Natural Yogurt, 60p.
  • Sainsbury’s Fish Stock cubes, 45p.
  • 1 tin of Sainsbury’s Sardines in Oil, 45p.
  • 1 tin of Sainsbury’s Basics Peaches in Light Syrup, 40p.
  • 1 bag of Sainsbury’s Basics Frozen veg, 900G, 90p.
  • 1 Sainsbury’s Basics Lemon Curd, 411 grams, 35p.
  • 1 Loaf of Sainsbury’s Basics White Loaf, 40p.
  • 2 tins of baked beans from Aldi, 23p each.
  • 1 pack of large eggs from Aldi, 85p.
  • The mother of all Swedes, 39p.
  • The grandpappy of all potatoes, a bag of forlorn apples, and two bags of carrots from the greengrocers, £1.20.

This came to £6.99 (so have 1p left!).

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As I was sitting down to work after dinner this evening, I suddenly thought about tomorrow.

Normally while we do shop frugally, when I go to work I just throw something together in the morning and take it with me. It could be a salad with leftover meat, it could be cereal and a small container of milk, and some fruit and yogurt. It could be thins with ham. It could be instant noodles.

Now however I will have to plan everything very carefully. I can’t just get up in the morning and take what I want. Food has to be prepared in advance for the next day’s lunch at work, especially if it’s something that has to be cooked if I am to stay on target. And tea I can quite frankly forget about.

So off I went to make tomorrow’s lunch (and maybe dinner? We’ll see if I have the will to live to make something with the rice and veg tomorrow) after some research. Yes, there are some nice swede soup recipes out there but they all need ingredients I don’t have like oil, salt, pepper and cream.

So I peeled and chopped the whole swede and half the potato into chunks and cooked them slowly in water barely covering them until they were tender, then added one stock cube and used the hand blender. I added some parsley and thyme from the garden.

 

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Prep in progress.

 

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The grandpappy of all potatoes. Look at the size of that thing! 

 

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All diced and ready to cook.
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The finished product. This will keep me going for days. The whole casserole full cost me 58.5p to make.

Finally I want to just say how humbled and grateful I am for everyone who has sponsored me, pledged to sponsor me, shared my posts or given me tips and/or encouragement. You make me all fuzzy. Thank you.

If you want to sponsor me, you can do so here:
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellen-wiley

 

 

 

Catch of the Day: Lovely reduced food.

Went to the train station to get Husband’s train tickets. Once done I decided to walk by the Tesco Express and Sainsbury’s Local in town while on my way to my bus stop.

Found these lovely babies:

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My lovely bargains! Husband was delighted at the potato salads and the sausages have gone right in the freezer.

An Organized October.

So October is over, how did we fare?

Good things about October were:

  • Having Husband’s friends stay over for a night and playing games with them and eating junk. Friends, and especially friends who understand, are balm for the soul. Husband is visiting them this weekend as I am at work. No surprises there.
  • My sister coming to visit me, and us spending two and a half days in London together for my birthday. My sister and her family and my family and Husband’s family have all been go generous. They all gave me spending money and while I initially put things back in the shops, my sister told me to stop doing that, and explained that the people who had gifted me the money would be sad if I didn’t treat myself. So I bought – are you sitting comfortably? Two pairs of shoes, two packs of new tights, three pyjama bottoms and two pyjama tops and! three new bras (let’s face it, when two of your bras are pulled from the washing machine having been ripped apart at the FRONT while being washed, they need to go). We spent two full days shopping, eating good food and talking. My sister also gifted me three pairs of jeans and she also brought….
  • All the food. Seriously, she brought us all the food from home from her and her family! She brought: Two lamb roasts, a whole ham, three big packs of wiener dogs and three packs of bratwursts, a side of smoked salmon, a pack of lean pork and a pack of lamb steak, and a pack of diced beef from the farm. It’s so nice to see the freezer full again and it will help us so much with the food budget.
  • Speaking of which, we were under budget for the food this month – Lidl down the street from us opened after having been closed for a month for refurbishment. They gave everyone a card which got them a free item if they spent £20 a week shopping there so we’ve been going each week.

Things that could have been improved about October were:

  • Husband’s PIP claim being refused completely. We are asking for a mandatory reconsideration.
  • Situation at Husband’s work place still carrying on. He has not had any hours there since the beginning of July and the union solicitors are not sure if they will be able to challenge their behaviour in court. The union are helping us appeal the outcome of the grievance hearing as we were not pleased with the response they gave us. It still seems they have very little insight into how to support someone with Asperger’s Syndrome, and they seem unwilling to take this onboard or get some awareness training. They are saying they will not use casual workers now due to operational costs which is why they say he has not been given any hours. Husband is looking for other work now.
  • Having to deal with some quite challenging behaviour at work from students. Some, who can help it, and some, who can’t.
  • Back at work now full time as uni is back in session as well, and the whole department has had some rather unsettling news about a proposed contract change. I have let the union know a change to my contract is detrimental to me and to us as a family. I will write more about this in a separate post but it has definitely made me and many of my colleagues unsettled and concerned.

All of this stuff, feeling like we are perpetually in limbo, is taking its toll on Husband’s mood and self confidence. It is being slowly eroded, particularly due to the lack of hours and care from his workplace.

Only this week he said he felt blue as he wishes someone had use for him and felt he was of significance. That he can’t ever help out or be useful to anyone.

However there has been one change – when Husband has felt like this in the past (and it has happened not infrequently), he has flat out refused to seek help for it. Now however he has said he will have a few sessions of therapy. Not going to be cheap but if it helps Husband feel better in himself and restore some faith in himself, then it’s worth all the money in the world.

I will end the post on a cute note with a picture of the Cat snuggling up under my scarf.

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‘Oh so this is yours? Cry me a river, human.’

Our back garden after having lived here a year and plans for next year.

Even though we are having a mild October thus far, it cannot be escaped that winter is coming.

We bought the house in February 2016 and our first summer here was spent just getting the house together and coming to terms with that my mother is terminally ill, after we received the news in May 2016 that her cancer is now too far advanced to treat.

So I didn’t do a lot in the garden. I hung washing in it on the line, and that was it.

So this summer I wanted to at least try to grow some things. I decided to try growing some herbs, and I wanted to try some nasturtiums as well. I was also gifted some plants before term ended at the college.

Safe to say, the nasturtiums did very well! But interestingly the ones that did the best were the ones we planted right into the flower bed rather than in the pot. I bought two packs of seeds for £2 and didn’t even use the other pack. I have been eating the leaves in salads and in sandwiches all summer so a very worthwhile investment.

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Nasturtiums just taking over the garden now.
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Look at it! Even the savage sage plant is a dwarf in comparison to the nasturtiums.
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Our bounty; a lone tomato. Gave it to Husband so he could have it in his salad, he said it was lovely and sweet.

Although tomato plants are not perennial, I have decided to try and winter them. I’ll take them to the top floor of our house and cover a section of the floor with newspapers – because they did grow tomatoes eventually and I want to give them a chance.

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Looking a bit forlorn now, I wonder if I can winter them?

For next year I think I will do the following:

  • I have managed to grow nasturtiums (probably through sheer dumb luck); I will try lettuce next year, and sow them as soon as it’s warm enough outside to do it. If my niece can inadvertently grow some by sprinkling some seeds in an unused sink in the garden, then I can do it too!
  • If wintering the tomato plants and pepper plant doesn’t work out I will buy some plants from the garden centre as soon as it’s warm enough. I may also try some cucumber plants next year.
  • Maybe get a fire pit or brazier? We have two deck chairs we have been gifted and it would be nice to sit outside with it in the back yard in the evening.
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The acer in the back yard is starting to turn, looking lovely ^_^

 

A Sundry September.

September has been an interesting month.

Good points about September were:

  • We finally had the PIP assessment and grievance meeting for Husband.
  • Husband has become more confident in cooking and is thinking about more and more recipes he wants to try.
  • We got some lovely bargains reduced at the shop.
  • We were under budget on the old grocery shop. No large part due to the meat and food my sister and her family send with us when we were home in August.
  • We sold some things on eBay, everything helps for the Japan/Good-to-Have Fund!

Things that could be improved about September were:

  • Husband still has not been given any hours at the job where the grievance is. And we’ve had two letters from them which are the most unprofessional ‘professional’ letters we have ever seen, so with support of the union we will appeal their decision. This impacts on Husband’s mental health a great deal.
  • PIP still drags on. We rang them on the 10th of May to get this started so it seems to take a long time. DWP sent us their decision letter on the 28th of September. Their decision is to not award Husband PIP, and in each category, they have scored Husband 0 out of 8 or 12 points, meaning they don’t feel he needs support in these areas. I am changing between feeling tearful and incandescent about this. We are having the mandatory reconsideration and then going to tribunal about this. It does make me wonder what happens to people who don’t have anyone to advocate for them.

 

 

 

Catch of the Day: Delicious reduced food.

Went by the Co-Op yesterday as I had a parcel to collect and found these little babies.

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Got all of this for £1.46! I love the reduced section! Some we had with our soup for dinner and some has gone in the freezer. Bottom Left: The Cat inspects the Catch of the day.
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The Cat enjoyed the Sun yesterday ❤