Living Below the Line 2017 – Day 1 – Day 3.

Holy hell, it’s been a journey.

I started my Living Below the Line challenge on Friday the 1st of December, having spent part of that week preparing for my challenge.

Waking up and going to feed the cat that morning, my first action would have been to put the kettle on and making myself a cup of tea.

Tea, milk and sugar/sweetener were just out of the question for my budget so I just had good old tap water. I know it is a first world problem as the tap water is safe to drink but it just tastes blergh in our area. Thank goodness at both my workplaces we have filtered water. So I could bring my trusty water bottle and fill her up.

Friday and Saturday morning have been the hardest parts of the challenge physically. Friday night I fell asleep watching stuff with Husband and I never do. Saturday I wanted to dash for the bus to get to work, but found I had to walk as I simply didn’t have the energy. I could and still can feel my mood really diving as well.

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Breakfast: poached egg, two toast, half a tin of beans, 29p.
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Lunch: Two apples, swede and potato soup, 25p.
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Dinner: Rice, one stock cube and boiled carrots, 31p.

Saturday however I was at work and we had an open day there, and to say thanks my employer provides all staff work help out that day with a free lunch. This stuff. THIS STUFF! Just heaven sent! And could have tea as well as they provide free hot drinks for staff who are staffing stalls on site! Yess!

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Breakfast: A poached egg, half a tin of beans, two pieces of toast, 29p.
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Tea with milk and sugar, provided by work. I had three full cups of this.
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Lunch, provided by work: BLT sandwich, vegetable soup (had two cups of this), crisps and KitKat.

People have been so generous to me, offering me food and offering me leftovers and offering to buy me drinks. But I have been reluctant to accept because I feel it undermines the challenge and the idea behind it. It does go to show though how people who live like this, probably have to rely on their friends and family a lot to be able to just survive.

I did accept the food given to me at work on Saturday as it is a benefit provided to its employees for working there.

At the end of the day, any food that is left over, is thrown out as the date is quite short. So I went over and asked as Catering were packing up, to ask if I could please have any sandwiches they were throwing out.

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I didn’t want to go overboard as it’s important to share But I got one ham, four BLT and one ploughman’s sandwich that would otherwise have gone in the bin.

Those sandwiches were gifts of pure gold. They have kept me going as they provide just something of substance and more importantly, meat. And calories.

 

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Saturday night’s dinner: Swede and potato soup with free leftover sandwich, 19p
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Sunday breakfast: 1 poached egg, half a tin of beans, 2 toast, 29p
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A pan of soup I made Sunday morning from some of the carrots and half a potato and a stock cube, 47p.

I have tried to restrict myself to have one sandwich a day just to keep me going. It has been cold this week so keeping warm has been a challenge. Normally I would have hot drinks to keep me going but can’t do that right now as no money for any.

The hand blender from my sister in laws’s family has been so useful as I can blend anything I want into soup.

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Sunday lunch: Free BLT sandwich
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Dinner: Carrot and potato soup, four pieces of toast, 32p.

There have been some bumps in the road.

I did not expect my mood to change so suddenly. I feel my patience is thinner what is normally is and I have to pep talk myself more as I get cross about trivial things.

Also, Husband didn’t realise whose loaf was whose so when I came home on Saturday night I realised he’d had FOUR of my bread pieces to make his lunch.

But I have learnt as I have gone through with it. For example, to have dinner ready BEFORE going to work in the morning, as you will be hangry when you get in. It’s no fun standing there fizzling while your rice boils.

I wonder what the rest of the challenge will bring?

If you want to sponsor me, you can do so here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ellen-wiley

 

 

 

 

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Current mood: >:'(

When we moved into our own home in February 2016, the bathroom was ok and worked fine for us. It’s nothing fancy, shower over bath, toilet, sink.

It has a lino floor that is a bit uneven and oddly cut around the toilet. The plan was eventually to replace the floor with something better.

I finished showering today and when I stepped out, Husband shouted up to me asking if I was done. I said yes, to which he replied that ‘there is a leak in the kitchen.’

I put a towel around me and went downstairs to take a look.

Our kitchen is directly below our bathroom, and there is a gap between the lino floor and the bathtub where it doesn’t cover it. I put towels down to soak up water that might go there but it now seems that isn’t sufficient as there was water dripping from the ceiling where I know the edge of the bathtub is, one floor above.

Great. Just great. I had planned to replace the flooring there eventually but not right now as Husband has not had any hours since the 28th of July and things are tight. But I guess we have to now. Can’t have water damage, it’ll void the insurance and become more expensive and hard to fix in the long run if we don’t get it sorted now.

All the same. This together with Husband being refused for PIP last week (I’ll do a more detailed post about this) is sending my mood into a familiar spiral downwards now.

Have been walking around with a lump in my throat all afternoon.

 

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.

 

 

 

The unknown of trying new things. And the delight of finding you can manage.

Husband did something that’s not quite like him this week, and managed it as well.

He made dinner for me! And, he made something that he hadn’t made before, and he managed to do it.

For the uninitiated: Some people who have Asperger’s Syndrome struggle with things that are new and different, and encountering these things make them anxious. Some may also need very clear instructions and support with doing tasks.

For Husband, saying ‘just cook it until it’s golden all over’ for example is not helpful as he won’t understand what that would mean. How long is that for? And what shade of golden? Instead, you say ‘preheat the oven for 5 minutes. After the oven has preheated for 5 minutes, put the food in at 180 degrees for 45 minutes. Set a timer on your phone for it.’

Husband does cook but it has to be things he knows and has made before. Even then he will ask me to come and check the food and check it’s going ok.

I asked Husband if he could cook dinner on Wednesday as it is normally the hardest day at work for me, as it is so busy. He said he would and then said he would cook something new, try something different. I said that was ok and to think about what to buy and to check the cupboards as well, and I said if it didn’t work that we could have a takeout, that that would also be fine.

He said he would try making what he had in mind, and asked me to buy some crusty bread on my way home.

Well! I came home from work and we had this!

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Husband made dinner! Potato, carrot and onion soup with mixed herbs, garlic and bacon.

He was so pleased with himself that me managed to do the recipe first time around with no support. It was delicious and he has said he will make it again for us. He explained to me in great detail how he’d researched recipes, gone up to the Co-Op to buy the ingredients and then peeled and chopped everything.

It might seem odd for some to celebrate it. But I am so proud of him for giving it a go and I can tell he was pleased with it, and that it’s given his confidence a boost. It is a big deal for him and I will continue to encourage him to try new things in future.

 

An Assorted August.

Well! Back to work with a bang now. Term starts at the college on the 4th of September and I’ve been back at work since the 30th.

It’s been a mixed-bag summer and an Assorted August.

Good points about August were:

  • Visited Husband’s friend and fiance for a weekend, something he really needed. Feeling wanted and like he matters is so important for him.
  • Still being on vacation. I had a chance to relax and bar a few things I was able to do most of what I wanted on my list.
  • Visiting family back home in Norway for a week. We were able to visit my sister, brother, my mother and my best friend and her family in the space of a week. We were able to attend my brother’s Summer Festival at his house where he served home made chili and garlic sausages and homebrewed beer and cider. I was able to go to a flea market with my sister, just her and me. Husband had a lovely time and felt very calm when returning home; he spent a lot of time with my nephews which he enjoyed.
  • My sister and her family are so generous. Going back to the UK she sent 11 kilos of food with us and several pieces of clothing that she no longer wanted. Great for our food budget and great for me, as I’ve lost weight and now only two pairs of trousers fit me. Husband was finally given his 30th birthday present from them (it was a surprise) – a new computer they’d upgraded with more fans, space and a very good graphics card. He has spent the time since we got back tinkering with it and installing games on it.
  • We were under budget for our grocery spend again ❤

 

Things that could have been improved about August were:

  • Husband’s mental health and how upset he is about how work are treating him. Since my July post about his work, he has not been given any hours, so as of today he has not been given any hours for over a month. Going in at the beginning of the month with his time sheet and finding new staff there did not help either. So August has been spent spending time with him and family, trying to distract him from how rubbish he is feeling. It is really eroding his self-confidence and his faith in himself now. Words fail me in describing how upset I am about this and how I can tell it’s affecting him.
  • While at my brother’s party in Norway, something bit me on the leg; probably mosquitoes. The inside of my right ankle turned purplish-red and the whole ankle swelled up. The day after we got back it was so swollen and painful I couldn’t stand on it at all and so Husband went to the pharmacy for some advice. He came back with some hydro-cortisone cream and antihistamines to get it to calm down but it was still just as angry the day after, so went back to the pharmacy after work and asked if they could give me anything else for it. They took a look and advised going to the doctors as they were concerned it could have gotten infected. I went and was prescribed Flucloxacillin.  Am on it now and feel better already but buying the medicines has set us back £13.80. I understand, needs must, but not really what we need right now with Husband not working very much at all. Unexpected expenses are frustrating.

We are due to have Husband assessed for PIP on Monday and the day after we are meeting with Husband’s workplace together with the union to discuss his grievance. I would be lying if I said I was not anxious about these things but have to hold it together. For Husband’s sake.

Fly by, July!

Whew, where did July go?

July has been a good-ish month for us.

  • We came in at £133 for groceries which, while it’s good, is not £130! Must get this together for August!
  • Travelling to Wales to see husband’s sister and husband for the weekend was lovely. Very relaxing which is just what husband needed.
  • Our anniversary is on the 31st of July so we went out for breakfast and dinner as my mother sent us some money.
  • We were gifted a lovely garden seat!
  • College finished in the start of the month and as the uni job is largely finished for the summer I’ve had this month off. I’ve been doing self employed work, caught up on eBaying, doing surveys, and jobs around the house I’ve had to put off as I just haven’t had the time to do it until now.
  • We enjoyed going to the foodshare event in our local community.

Things that have not been good about July include:

  • Husband had a cold which he gave to me. It hit me much harder and I spent a little over a week in the house feeling really rubbish and drained of energy.
  • Husband’s workplace are still being mean. Manager has left now and since then Deputy has been running the show; Husband was not given any hours at all last week. When he went by with the time sheet for July so it could be processed, they had two new members of staff in. Looks like the meeting regarding the grievance will be held in August. Husband is very anxious about this and doesn’t want to talk about it, and alternates between being cross and sad about the whole thing.
  • Husband’s younger sister who has a learning disability has been exploited by someone she trusted by asking her for money under all kinds of pretexts. She was not supposed to be able to access her account but can transfer money out via the banking app and she’s been defrauded of £4000, her savings account is now empty. Bank have said they can’t help but we have contacted the police who are considering it to be fraud. Will challenge the bank via the Financial Ombudsman Service – how was she able to transfer the money out of her account if there are two people named on the account (her and her mother who is her financial guardian), without the other person’s authorization?

To end on a more positive note, here are some pictures from the garden.

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Our lovely garden seat. Just need the weather to warm up now that I’m better to actually sit out there and enjoy it.
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The nasturtiums are really growing well now and we’ve used their leaves in our salad for dinner on several nights. If I can grow this, maybe I can grow salad next year?
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Aaaah! We have a solitary tomato! Just hoping it’ll grow now!
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The Cat enjoys Husband’s lap.

The goals of this year’s staycation.

I’m done working at the college and the university for the summer (apart from the odd Saturday 10am to 2pm) as I work term-time. Won’t be back at work now until the 28th of August now, and not back full time (six days a week) until the 1st of October.

Part of me wants to bask in this. You’ve worked SO had and this year has brought out feelings you didn’t even know you possessed, you DESERVE a rest!

But not going to lie, it feels super weird to not be at work. It’s quite unsettling, the lack of routine. It’s been about two weeks now and I feel ready to come back!

Because of husband’s work and the grievance we have decided to pursue, I feel a bit in limbo at the moment as I don’t feel we can go anywhere until this has been settled. We are due to travel home to Norway in the end of August for a week to see my family but that’s everything we are doing travelling wise.

Husband’s workplace have received our grievance and confirmed that they have received it so we will see what they do with it. They have to investigate it and respond in a timely manner, they cannot legally ignore it according to our union, so we’ll see what happens with that. Work itself has been very calm and nobody has mentioned the grievance at all. However the quite frankly infuriating way husband has been treated at work this year is not diminished or excused by this period of apparent calmness. I don’t trust them and am very interested to see what they come back with once they have investigated our allegations, as the burden of evidence is on the employer, it is THEIR responsibility to prove husband has not been discriminated against.

Anyway. Yes, Staycation this year. So in an attempt to make it more structured, I sat down and wrote a list when the staycation started, naming some things I want to do this summer.

I have added to it though as I’ve completed things. I know, I know, I need to relax! But let’s face it, as I work six days a week from September to June, WHEN will I have time to do things like:

  • Visit the Windmill. We have a working windmill that’s open to visitors and in all my years of living in Nottingham I have never been to visit it.
  • Clean the whole kitchen. Cupboards, inside and out. Sort them. Doors. On top of cupboards. Clean oven. Clean outside of oven. Pull oven out and clean behind it. Done! YASS!
  • Clean the windows and windowsills I can reach. Done.
  • Visit husband’s sister and husband in Wales. We are going, this weekend!
  • Write a review a week. Since finishing at work I have written two. I write and publish my reviews here.
  • Go through our clothes upstairs and my clothes in the bedroom to sort and donate/sell/give away stuff not used.
  • Dust the blinds downstairs. Done
  • Visit the park up the street, bring food.
  • Go to Wollaton Hall and walk around the lake.
  • Tidy, wipe down and sort the shelf by the bathroom. Done.
  • Copy down all my reviews and store them somewhere safe.
  • Do our tax returns. Done.
  • Get a will written?
  • Take our duvets and pillows to the launderette. Done.
  • Do 30 minutes on the exercise bike every day. Pahahaha. Not even done this once yet. I am so bad at this whole healthy lifestyle thing:(
  • Clean the covers of the two Poang armchairs. Done.
  • Defrost and clean the fridge freezer.

What about you? Do you have anything you’d like to do this summer? Are you having a staycation?