Indecision

Clickety clack! cry the wheels of the train,

Which drag me disconsolate from your haven.

My belly writhes with angry termites who gnaw and scuttle,

My heart feels strangled, suffocating,

And the wisp of grey poison winds ever deeper through the twists and turns of my brain.

My eyes wander listlessly over the fertile green ‘scape,

And catch sight of Freedom herself,

Coasting gently on a silent breath.

Unbound.

Unfettered.

Glorious.

Time dances alongside Freedom to the notes of their own sweet harmony,

As jealous I look on,

And sweet lambs romp together, blind to their lilting song.

But for those dear shades, with kin standing guard,

Against that unknown foe,

They know the tune and answer it’s calling.

But I fear the misshapen sound.

Am I such a slave, bound mute and deaf,

With ties I can not see,

But which shine bright within my dreams,

And mock me through Night’s velvet embrace.

Clickety clack, clickety clack cries out my heart,

It beats to find the question,

And the answer is what drives the wind, caressing Freedom’s wings.

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Day 40 of Project Happiness – Happy Birthday Mum!

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – No
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – No
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 4/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 3/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Can’t believe I have been doing this for  40 days!

Didn’t get to write yesterday as I had a really busy day travelling down to visit my brother and his girlfriend in their new house, and also my Mum whose birthday it is today who came to stay also.  Fantastic.  I don’t get to see any of them as much as I’d like so this is a real treat.

Journey down was not bad, I took the train and it gave me plenty of time to read, doze and catch up on a bit of work.  I’ve just thought I could have done my blog post offline, and then posted it when I got here, but never mind.  Brother’s new house is in a lovely Cornish village, they can see the sea from their window, and it’s a half hour stroll down to the beach.  Absolutely blissful, and I’m so happy for the both of them, as they’ve worked very hard to get there.

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**Non happy portion alert**

However, the laid back lifestyle, and fantastic surroundings, did make me think again about our situation at home.  We moved slightly north some years ago due to personal circumstances, but unfortunately the rest of my family have moved south, and I do feel quite isolated at times.  I also am increasingly questioning the point of what I do on a day to day basis.  I work 40 hours a week (which is a vast improvement on my last job where I worked at least 60 a week), and struggle to fit everything else in, but for what?  Other than my wage?  The work which I do is for a company which provides services for the oil and gas industry, which I don’t believe in.  And for what?  Whatever money we earn, we spend.  Right from the beginning it’s always been the same, and it seems that financial advisers do make that assumption; income = expenditure.  We have changed this, and now are in a position to start saving more (we have no savings to speak of currently), and whilst my goal is to pay off the mortgage asap, realistically it’s going to take 10 years best case scenario.  And then we’ll need to work for another 10 years probably in order to get enough savings to be able to live off the interest.  That’s 20 of the best years of my life that I have left.  Do I want to spend them this way?  Working 48 weeks of the year, to  earn enough for a 2 week holiday somewhere, buying ‘stuff’ for the house, and running round like a headless chicken to keep everything running smoothly.  I sometimes feel like I never stop.

  • I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with the kids.
  • I don’t spend as much time as I’d like with my husband.
  • I’m often stressed, which isn’t good for my health.
  • I don’t have enough time to do the stuff I want to do.  I.e. following my obsession with healthy eating, climate change, sustainable living, gardening etc.

I’ve been reading lots of things, and I have come up with a solution, but I am 99% sure Mr EN won’t be willing to go for it.  My current proposed plan of action is to sell the house and with the proceeds buy a canal boat and move in.  We’d have no mortgage, and although I have yet to do all of the sums, I reckon if Mr EN and I continued working for 5 years, with the reduced expenses, we’d never have to work again after that.  If I wanted though I could do a 3 month contract every now and again to get enough for any extras.  We have a marina near us which is very affordable, but what a life style change that would be!  But for me all the changes seem positive ones.  My main current concerns are around the kids.  Would they be ok with such a radical life style change?  How would things at school be for them?  Would 5 of us cope with the reduced space?  Especially 3 teenage girls(!)  We don’t have enough space currently, but for sure we have  far more ‘stuff’ than we need!

I feel super excited about such a possibility, but at the same time rather low because I know the rest of my family will think I’ve lost my marbles, and it’ll be too radical to contemplate  sensibly.

Lots to think about.  Maybe I’ve just been working too hard, and I’ll look back on this in a few days/weeks/months and wonder what on earth I was warbling on about, but currently it sounds wonderful!!

Plant based diet has gone out of the window this weekend, staying with family who offered me bacon for breakfast 🙂  Done the best I could, but hunger prevailed a couple of times, and my brother’s girlfriend went to a lot of trouble to make a veggie lasagne complete with white sauce, so I wasn’t about to refuse to eat it.

EN

Keep bee-killing pesticides off our fields this year

Image

bumble bee on flower (1)

Click here to sign the petition

Why is this important?

Our bees are in danger and strong evidence points to particular pesticides – called neonicotinoids – being to blame for killing them. They’re currently banned across Europe – but powerful lobbyists are putting together plans to get the UK ban on bee killing pesticides lifted.

Last year pesticide companies persuaded Environment Minister Liz Truss to let them use neonicotinoids in certain fields across the UK. Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again this year!

Day 38 of Project Happiness – Summer Fairs and Soy cream

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 4/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Another lovely day, despite the rain forecast.  Fingers crossed it holds off as Mini EN has a summer fair at her school this afternoon/evening and she’s manning a stall which her and her friends have designed.  They were given a £15 budget to design and make the stall, and were taken into town earlier this week to buy all the stuff for it.  Last night I loaded up her ipod with her current favourite tunes for her to play there, and she’s gone off very excited about it all 🙂

Last night we cooked Rigatoni pasta for dinner.  We haven’t had this in a while as traditionally I made it with onions and tomatos, added in ham, and then once the pasta was mixed in stirred in cream.  It was delicious, but not vegan.  So last time I did my online shop I discovered they did soy cream, which meant last night we were able to split the base sauce in two, add ham to one and mushrooms to another, and then I would be able to use soy cream at the end.  Except, it turned out the ‘normal’ cream for them had gone off, so they ended up using my soy cream too.  Everyone agreed that it tasted no different at all, and all plates were polished.  I didn’t miss the ham at all, and felt that it was just as tasty with mushrooms.

Really need to look up some good vegan garlic bread recipes though.  I’m thinking a nice flat bread with olive oil, garlic and rosemary would be lush.

Plan for tonight after the fair is to cook some cakes and cookies to last through next week for mini EN and myself as I’m going to be away all week.

I think I will try these two recipes from ChocolateCoveredKatie’s site :

I had planned also to watch some of the EU debates on catch up, but I’m sceptical as to whether I will get time.

Good deeds have been :

  • Friend was having difficulties with her horse, so ran back to her stable, got her keys for her car so I could get her body protector for her to wear, then led the horse down the road and through the gate which was bothering it.
  • HR/Admin lady in our office has gone home sick, so picked up a query which came in for her and did it.
  • Mucked out the stable of the lady who loaned me her horse to ride yesterday.

Plant based diet today

  • Breakfast – Home made bread, toasted with marmite
  • Snack – Crisps
  • Lunch – Pearl Barley salad (no avocado today 😦 ) and sweet potato falafel (I’m going to look like a falafel soon!)
  • Snack – Carrot cake (last piece)
  • Dinner – Vegan Pizza

Day 37 of Project Happiness – Pearl Barley

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 1/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 1
  • Total car miles saved – 70

I am so pleased with myself today, I have made a fab salad for lunch.  I’ve never tried Pearl Barley before, and I have discovered it’s scrummy!  I put in it –

  • Pearl Barley
  • Black Beans
  • Sweetcorn kernals
  • Orange Pepper
  • Sundried tomatos
  • Cucumber
  • Mixed lettuce
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Avocado

And then I made a garlic and lemon olive oil dressing.  Absolutely gorgeous!  I would have taken a photo, but by the time I thought of it, it was all gone 🙂  Actually, I do have some in the fridge for lunch tomorrow. Result!

I have just heard from middle sproglet that her Maths GCSE went ‘REALLY WELL!’ which I’m very pleased about, and will be taking her for a nice gallopy hack later to celebrate.

I have splurged out on the book from the blog I linked to yesterday.  It should arrive tomorrow, in time for my week away (which starts with a 6 hour train journey) so I’m hoping I will be able to take it with me, and will actually have some time to read it.  Really want to get some proper ideas on how to properly start on my road to financial freedom, and looking forwards to putting together my plan.

I’ve spent some of the morning chasing up my life insurance people again, but have finally got it sorted today – Yay!  Vitality customer services really are appalling.  It’s taken me numerous emails and phone calls to get the points from my fitness assessment in early April added to my account.  They have offered to refund my health assessment checks, and the cinema tickets we bought because our codes didn’t work which is nice, but this isn’t the first time I’ve had problems.  Fingers crossed things get better, as I love the concept, and am definitely all about a healthy life style.

Last night I took middle sproglet to an NCS meeting.  It seems like a fantastic (government run) initiative, which gives young people the opportunity to go away from home and take part in things they might not otherwise get a chance to do, get them thinking about community issues and what they can do to help, and teach them all kind of useful life skills; planning, communicating, budgeting etc. which will be useful to them personally, as well as potentially in their career.  It’s run over a number of weeks, and seems well organised, with enthusiastic and dedicated staff, and Sproglet seems quite excited by it all.  It will be interesting to see what she gets out of it, other than an amazing week doing zip wiring and kayaking etc. 🙂

Only a quick update today as I’ve already used up my lunch break.

EN

Day 36 of Project Happiness – Storms and stuff

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 1/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 70

Wow!  Just wow.  Our world is such an awesome place to live.  After a very muggy day yesterday we had just the most amazing storm.  Crazy crazy rain like a monsoon, and thunder and lightening that was indeed “very very frightening”, or so mini EN thought anyway.  Eldest EN sproglet and myself were at the yard so she could have a riding lesson with my trainer, and the thunder was so loud the walls were vibrating with it.  Fortunately pony was very well behaved, and just his ears showed that he was a little apprehensive at times. When we went to put the horses back out in the field, there was a lightening bolt which forked across the whole sky.  It made both of us ‘Wow!’ out loud (WOL?) and made sproglet muse where thunder comes from.  What a silly question!  It’s storm giants of course!!

Today, the weather has been calmer, as has work.  I’m actually feeling on top of the world currently.  Lots of positive things happening at work which has really turned things round for me, still as busy as ever, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel now.  I’ve started doing some of my meetings as walking meetings to make the most of the sunshine which I’ve been really enjoying. sun1 At home, I have so much to look forwards to, visiting friends and family, a training course next week which involves boats 🙂 , and I’m taking the kids pony out to an event to hopefully prove that he is a good boy and can do it, so next time they can do it on him.  Fingers crossed.  Also, all the rain from the storm has really perked some of my plants up, and they seem to have grown twice the size in just a couple of days 🙂

Tried some more of the quinoa chips from Eat Real today, this time the sun dried tomato and roasted garlic flavour.  Delicious.  So much so that I went and left a positive review on their website.  Random act of kindness – check! 🙂  Much better than the packet Ainsley Harriet cous cous which I took in a panic as I hadn’t prepared anything in time.  Very meh.

I’ve also been a bit concerned with some of the studies on vegan diets which I’ve been reading, and the lack of certain vitamins (B12) and iodine in the common diet.  On reading the natural ways of putting them back in your diet, I’ve decided that iodine I’m going to struggle with full stop, and the other vits will be hit and miss, so I’ve started taking a multi vitamin supplement from Healthspan, which is specifically for Vegetarians and Vegans.  One of the claims it makes is that B12 can help with :

the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and the production of energy-yielding metabolism.

Sounds mighty fine to me 🙂  I’ll report back if I notice a difference.

tired

I’ve also found this Early Retirement Extreme blog, which looks fascinating.  I’m really really keen to become FIRE, but Mr EN isn’t as motivated as me.  I’m hoping this blog and forum will help us on our way.  It’s tricky as without the ponies we could do things so much quicker, but the kids just get so much from them, and it gets them away from the computer and out into the real world, that I’m just not willing to give that up.

Today’s plant based diet has gone well, however, I have a small dilemma as every now and again I like a couple of squares of chocolate with a cuppa in the evening.  I have some very low fructose chocolate but the milk obviously does have milk in it.  I need a low sugar, dairy free milk chocolate – any suggestions?

Today :

  • Breakfast – Bagel with cream cheese – how long does the violife cream cheese last?  This is our second week now(!)
  • Snack – Eat real quinoa chips and an apple
  • Lunch – Half a baguette and some packet cous cous.  Not the most nutritious!
  • Snack – Carrot cake
  • Dinner – Fajitas with peppers, mushrooms, onions, black beans, spices, salad and rice. Yum!

Day 35 of Project Happiness -Working from home

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 0/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 70 (10 today)

I worked from home yesterday.  It’s something I do every now and again because I have a health appointment, or one of the kids are ill, or maybe something needs doing on the house.  Yesterday was because I had another osteo appointment.  I spent the first part of the morning working from the kitchen which felt cold and dull, but when I went out for my osteo I realised what an utterly glorious day it was.  So, on my return I cleared off the outside table, put the parasol up, and set up camp outside.  What a revelation!  The parasol we have for that table is a good size, and shielded the sun nicely meaning for once I could see my screen properly.  It was so good to be sat there, with a gentle breeze, the birds tweeting, the rabbit stretched out on the grass sunning himself, and my plants all around to admire.  Very relaxing.  I did get a few comments on conference calls about my very noisy budgies(!) but other than that just envy if I revealed where I was 🙂

It also meant I could go for a walk at lunch time with Mr EN in the sun.  Almost felt like I was on holiday!

When the kids came home they immediately joined me outside.  Mini EN persuaded varying people to play giant chess with her until dinner time, and the elder 2 either obliged her or revised for exams.

I took eldest EN sproglet for a ride in the evening, and the ponies were in a very chilled out mood as well.  Back home I planted out the rest of my plants finally, so at last feel the garden is all sorted.  My raised bed is a bit of a disaster, I think it needed another 5 bags of compost on top, and more digging in.  Add to that the slugs and snails have had a field day despite my best efforts to stop them, and it’s looking a bit sad and sorry.  But I’m sure I’ll get something out, and it’ll be better next year.

Dinner was my first ever courgetti spaghetti.  I cooked it with some extra veg and left over pesto, and I’m going to be honest, it tasted a bit weird.  It’s a ‘free from’ pesto, but tasted fine the other night, so I’m not sure if it had gone a bit funny, or if I just don’t like courgetti spaghetti?!

Have to update quickly too on my carrot cake.  It is LUSH!!  Definitely the best vegan cake I’ve made so far.  I found the recipe here -> http://www.veganricha.com/2016/03/vegan-carrot-cake-recipe.html#comment-353758 and modified it just a little to have less fructose, by swapping out the maple syrup for brown rice malt syrup and the sugar for dextrose.  Absolutely fabulous 🙂

Last time I went shopping I bought some (vegan) Sour Cream & Chives flavour Quinoi Chips to try as a snack from Eat Real.  I can report back today that they are very tasty, and will definitely buy them again in the future.

quinoa20chili20lime2080g

Today I’m back at work.  I made the most of the lovely weather again and cycled in, but just took the short route due to being slightly concerned for my neck still.  It was sore by the end but nothing major.  Hoping it won’t keep me up again as I’m struggling to stay awake currently due to not sleeping brilliantly.  However, it does mean I go for more walks in the sun to wake me up which is a nice bonus.  Have to admit to wishing I was back home in my garden though 🙂

Plant based diet (Yesterday)

  • Breakfast – Bagel with cream cheese
  • Snack – Green smoothie – spinnach, blueberries, banana, peach, summer fruit
  • Lunch – Leftover nut roast and cauliflower cheese, plus tortillas and humus cos I still felt a bit hungry(!)
  • Snack – Carrot Cake!
  • Snack – Tortillas and hummus (I’m addicted)
  • Dinner – Courgetti Spaghetti

Day 33 of Project Happiness – Homestead

Status (Yesterday)

  • Meditate for 2 Minutes – Yes
  • Write about something positive for 20 minutes – Yes
  • 5 random acts of kindness per week  – 3/5
  • Take 3 x 30 minute walks per week – 1/3
  • Unnecessary items bought today – 0
  • Total car miles saved – 60

What a busy day I’ve had today!!  Today I had earmarked as a nothing day.  I had visions of me sat on the sofa with a cuppa and my book, maybe nibbling on some home made cake.  Well, I should have known better! 🙂

I *did* get a lie in, as I didn’t wake up until 9am so that was a great start.  A quick brekkie and then it was straight down the yard with mini EN to give her a lesson.  We spent a bit of time with the ponies first, gave them a good groom and fuss, and then into the school.  Mini EN didn’t feel as well as she hoped, so her ride was cut a bit short, but all in all a lovely way to spend the morning.

Home for lunch, then prep’d for Sunday lunch which is a bit of a marathon atm because :

  • Mr EN is coeliac
  • Mini EN is veggie
  • I am trying to adhere to a plant based diet

So we had a roast chicken, bacon and chipolatas for some, a nut roast (my first ever) for mini EN and me, a gf cauliflower cheese for everyone other than me, a vegan cauliflower cheese for me, roast spuds, and a selection of veg, plus two different types of gravy.  Got that in the oven and then nipped out to buy some plants as my tomatos haven’t grown so well.  Ended up buying a bit more than I anticipated and after dinner planted some tomato plants, potted out the cucumbers that mini EN has grown, and sewed some beans and squash.  Still have some lettuce to sew, and the courgettes and peppers to plant out, and a purple sweet potato plant that I’m very excited about!

cukes.jpg

After that I’ve made my first ever low fructose vegan carrot cake which is in the oven atm and smells divine.  Fingers crossed!  Also made some vegan smoothie ice lollies with rice milk, banana, peach and summer fruits.  Looking forwards to trying them.

During all of this the sun shone, and mini EN and middle sproglet played giant chess in the garden.  Blissful Sunday 🙂

Plant based diet today

  • Breakfast – Weetabix with rice milk (very sweet, like I had sugar on it!), bagel with vegan cream cheese
  • Snack – Half a vegan smoothie left over from making ice lollies
  • Lunch – wrap with avocado, falafel, spinach
  • Snack – Home made ginger oat cookies
  • Snack – tortillas and humus
  • Dinner – Roast