Tuesday, 21 May 2019

#CCC - one week in

I'm not promising regular weekly updates to this, but I do plan to try to update it on at least an irregularly regular basis, preferably when I feel we have something to say.

We've long been fans of ensuring that not only is our money used wisely, but so is our time, and sometimes a compromise between the two things is needed, or just chosen. MrEH was away over the weekend doing preparation stuff for the Great British Beer Festival (August, Olympia, be there or be less full of really good beer!) so I had the need of finding a couple of lunches just for myself for a change. I already had an idea in my head that I fancied something vaguely burger-y, but also vegetably-y. We had some brioche buns in the freezer, and I had a vague thought of making some of Jack Monroe's 9p burgers (you know, the things with kidney beans, and carrot, and onion) but then while shopping on Saturday morning I spotted a couple of packs of yellow stickered Falafels, and rather than the time taken to make the burgers, they seemed like a good option, also saving me from needing to buy additional carrots for the burgers too. One pack went straight into the freezer, the other was used across the two weekend days stuffed into the buns with mayo and salad. I also really fancied some cheesy nachos - and that again played into the hands of "stuff we already had" as a pack of tortilla chips had been sitting in the storecupboard for a while, and we have rather an excess of cheddar at the moment thanks to bringing half a block back from holiday with us to add to the half block already in the fridge when we went away. While "too much cheese" isn't a phrase that ever bothers us overmuch, it did seem to be a plan to actually use some of it, and I never need much of an excuse to eat cheese. A little ceramic pot stuffed with tortilla chips and grated cheese, and popped into the oven for the last 3 minutes or so of the falafels baking time to melt the cheese, absolutely hit the spot. My lunches on both days were completed with some greek yogurt along with more yellow-stickered bargains - some reduced price British strawberries and some blueberries - both checked carefully to be sure that they were worth the price being asked for them.

As well as trips to one of the budget supermarkets and a larger one featuring the letter "T" in it's name, we also popped to our most local farmers market on Saturday morning. Always enjoyable - we've been going there long enough now that the stallholders we buy from regularly recognise us and always have a chat, and we trust their quality and know what are the best bargains to look out for. This time £19 was spent - we pounced on the lamb man's last pack of sought-after liver, and also nabbed a half-shoulder from him for a roast in a future week as yet unspecified. The beef stall netted a pack of their delicious haslet, for lunchtime rolls, and a piece of beef skirt which will get lobbed into the slow cooker at some stage with assorted veggies for a delicious stew which will probably feed both of us for two nights. The lamb, too, will be used for several meals after being slow-roasted for long enough to ensure that the meat gets an almost "pulled" texture.  Unusually for me I'd not meal-planned in a particularly structured way, opting to wait until after we had seen what was available at the farmer's market - but a plan of sorts was sketched out verbally on leaving there and so my shopping list was formed from that. Without question shopping from a list saves us money and cuts waste - and I like the feeling of knowing when I reach the end of a week "everything has been accounted for" or will carry over to the following week to make meals then, in some cases. So the pack of bacon that was part used for Friday night's fry-up will also feature again as co-star alongside that liver tonight, and in an omelette for MrEH tomorrow. Half of the pack of sausages that were also cooked for Friday's tea have been set aside in the freezer and will  make sausage & onion pasta along with the last of this week's mushrooms and tomatoes, on Wednesday. The last of the YS'd fruit will be eaten after tea tonight with yogurt. The lettuce that was bought on the Aldi Super Six offer will be added to lunchtime rolls through the week. Nothing will be wasted.

I also seized some time over the weekend to go through my wardrobe, musing over the contents. A few bits were selected to add to the charity shop pile - a skirt which is an unflattering shape and length, a top which just feels "wrong" on in spite of being a shape and style that should really suit me. A dress which is just plain too big now - it gapes under the arms and doesn't flatter in the least. For now everything else has gone back - there are a few more items which I have earmarked as needing an eye kept on them - if they don't get worn in the near future then they will also be joining the charity shop pile, and one shirt which I have worn today has helpfully reminded me that the reason I was considering getting rid was that it's really not comfortable, so after a wash that will be heading to the charity pile as well!  Some more wintery items will be making their way to storage in the large plastic box in the top of the wardrobe - it will be interesting to see if I actually remember they are there when Autumn rolls around - if not then those too will be able to go. At some stage I need to reflect on what items I might need for the summer, and what needs replacing ahead of next winter - those will make it to a list and then I'll make a plan for purchasing as I see the right item at a decent price. I already know that winter boots will be on that list - my knee-highs are fine, and one pair of ankle boots are still OK, but my second pair are past the point of redemption and will certainly not see me thorough another winter. By planning ahead now I stand the best chance of getting something that I really like, at a good price, ahead of the point when I need it.

Also last week I made good use of a freebie - I buy a monthly gym pass for the gym I use close to where I work - and that pass is cheaper bought through a third party (Hussle) than if I bought it direct from the gym. Hussle have recently re-branded and as a result were offering a click-to-enter competition with the chance of winning various prizes - but just for entering I earned a free day pass to another gym of my choice, which I decided to use on one local to home - the fitness centre of one of the local hotels has a nicely equipped small gym and a little half-length 4 lane swimming pool which I visited at zero cost on Friday morning.  It fitted in nicely as I had missed a regular gym visit earlier in the week due to plans changing at our end - so great timing and always nice to get something for nothing!

Finally for now and also related to the gym, the water bottle I've been using for the last 9 months or so gave up last night - the drinking spout pulled straight out of the top so it wasn't fixable, and rather than taking it home I popped in into the bin at the gym where it will go for recycling. As it's been used multiple times a week since I've had it I do rather feel I have had my money's worth from it!  Instead of going to buy a replacement I will find a spare one at home and put that into use.

Are there any areas that you are trying to focus on being more conscious about currently? If so what are your goals in that area, and how are you working towards them?

Robyn

Friday, 17 May 2019

#MHAW

I HAVE AN AMAZING BODY! Five words I never imagined I'd start a blog post with - and anyone who knows me is probably wondering who's hacked the blog by now, too! Before you all decide that I must have got wildly above myself - or possibly taken a nasty knock to the head - let me explain.

It is currently Mental Health Awareness Week - and the theme this year is Body Image. While I've never been someone who'd describe myself as hating my body, it would be fair to say that for a good many years I didn't particularly like it, either. I looked in the mirror and saw the things most women see, and my internal voice came up with the same negative thought patterns that an awful lot of people do, I'm guessing. Of course you don't realise that the thoughts are forming patterns, repeating as a habit, so you never question it. Boobs too big, could do with losing a bit of weight, legs are too chunky, bingo wings, lumpy bum...until almost without realising it that's all your body is to you.

Generally speaking bodies pretty much just work without us thinking about it - the heart pumps the blood, the lungs provide the oxygen, the muscles move you about and the skeleton keeps the whole show on the road - all without the brain ever needing to give it any conscious thought. Pretty astonishing, eh? No batteries or external electrical supply required. It's only when things go wrong that we have cause to stop and think, and stop taking things for granted. The point at which I had my little brush with mine damn nearly shutting down altogether at the end of 2017 was my warning siren, and possibly for the first time I started appreciating all the things that lumpy, too big, chunky body could do. It wasn't immediate by any stretch of the imagination, but over the course of the last year and a half, rather than thinking about negatives, I've tried remembering about all the reasons why actually, my body is pretty damned special. It can walk or run for miles at a time, those "chunky" legs can leg-press nearly 30kgs more than my bodyweight in the gym and take me up hills so my eyes can see the view from the top. My arms can propel me through the water in the swimming pool, and can carry heavy bags of shopping. I've even started feeling a little more positive when I look in the mirror as a result of those conscious, positive thoughts - I'm never going to end up on the cover of vogue, right enough,but actually, for 46 years on the planet and a fair amount of fun had, it's not so bad - indeed I can't think of too many things I own that are any older and in better condition!

Next time you find yourself running through a silent list of criticisms about your body when you're getting dressed in the morning, or trying on clothes in a changing room, try to turn just one of those thoughts to a positive one instead. Look how you can balance to stand on one leg to pop the other neatly in to your trousers or jeans! Think how cleverly your hands can go from dealing with a zip, to a button, to slicking on some lipgloss all in the space of a few minutes. Focus on the fact that you can brush your teeth, have a conversation with your significant other and all the while still be listening with half an ear to the traffic news, or the weather forecast. Think about all the things your body can do without you ever needing to instruct it to perform those actions - and remember that you too have an amazing body!

Robyn

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

#CCC - virtual decluttering

I decided that there was no better place to start blogging about my Conscious Consumption Challenge than by talking about some decluttering on the blog itself!

I love my "cloud" of tags on the right hand side here - it makes it easy to find posts on a particular theme easily, but over time the cloud had become rather more widespread, let's say. Sometimes I blog something that needs a particular tag because I'm joining in with others. Sometimes I start a tag thinking I'll do more round it, then in my usual style get utterly distracted by something else and never blog about that thing again. Sometimes I forget exactly what tag I might have used before for something and use something that seems about right - only to realise afterwards what the "standard" tag for the subject was. Either way it has meant that I had quite a lot of tags over there that had only one or two posts on them, and quite a lot of others which while they had a good few posts, duplicated almost totally with another, similar tag. So in a few minutes of spare time I sat down and began methodically working through the tags, getting rid of quite a lot, and adding additional tags to some posts where I felt they would fit better. It's a bit of a work in progress really - there is more to do, but already it is starting to look a bit less cluttered.

In the process of working through the tags I also found posts with expired links which I have deleted, and even a few full posts which for various reasons are now irrelevant, so those have been deleted as well. Again - a work in progress, I suspect there is more to do, there is after all 10 years of posts on here, even if some of those years have been less prolific than others!

Another task I undertook while I was at it was to go through my reading list - some of the links on there were to old blogs that no longer exist and look unlikely to ever make a reappearance. Others are from people who stopped blogging some time ago, or now blog elsewhere. Then the real nitty gritty and where the value in this exercise lies - those blogs that I still have on my list because I enjoyed them at one stage but now I just skim past. Some others that I followed out of duty to particular people who were in my life at the time, but who I have now drifted away from, removing the need for a "loyalty follow". That done I added a few new ones that I had gleaned from the sidebars of other blogs that I DO still follow, to add value to my list. This should mean a less cluttered reading list and blog feed, and not missing stuff that I actually want to see amongst a tide of stuff that sparks no joy or interest whatsoever.

It's another step towards remembering that decluttering can happen on all sorts of levels - a while ago a friend told me how she manages a "zero inbox" for her emails - and while I've not managed to get mine to zero, I drastically cut down the amount of stuff sitting in both my personal and work emails, and do a weekly "filing session" tidying up both and making sure that anything that needs attention, gets it. The result is far less clutter, less stress over the possibility of missing something that needs a reply/action, and items being put in folders meaning that they are easier to find later if needed.

While the classic perception of decluttering is about physical "stuff", the virtual clutter can also serve to drag us down mentally, and should probably be considered as worthy of attention as the books, CD's, clothes etc that we usually picture in our minds when the concept comes up. when was the last time you undertook a virtual spring clean?

Robyn

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

The Conscious Consumption Challenge



I'm feeling a little in need of a non activity based challenge at the moment - so far this year a lot of the challenges I've set myself have been around exercise, or specifically running, but this time I wanted something different, and it feels like a while since there has been a food/home/money type challenge on here, so that steered things a bit too.  Also I have recently discovered that Sue formerly of Our New Life In The Country is blogging again - and blogging ALL about challenges, in fact, so I'm further inspired by that!

We've had a few fairly big but very necessary expenditures recently - electrical works on the flat, followed by a long outstanding and fairly chunky bill which has been being argued over becoming payable as the dispute was resolved, and then my 12 year old car started showing signs of some nasty corrosion so needed replacement - and while we bought pre-loved, obviously, to get what we needed going forwards with things like Ultra Low Emission Zones creeping across London over the next few years required a spend of just over £8,000 - ouch! Some of that spend was cobbled together from surplus in our car expense account and elsewhere, and a chunk got put onto a 0% credit card to be paid off slowly over the life of the deal, but there was still a big lump taken out of our emergency fund to cover it. Of course this is why we HAVE an emergency fund - but it still leaves us feeling a little vulnerable as the level in there has fallen so much, and is one of the reasons for the challenge being, at least partially, money focused.

My challenge is not going to be "rule driven" but instead goal driven. Some of it is about using what we have, so saving money on not buying things that aren't needed. Some of it is about making better choices and getting back to the basics on stuff that we used to do, and have drifted out of the habit of a little. All of it is about trying to stop and think, and make better, more conscious, choices not only for our pockets, but also for the environment and even for ourselves.  I intend to scrutinise what we spend again, tackle any frittering that has crept in (not much I don't think, but generally when you start looking, you find odds and ends!) and look to target the money we do spend as well as I possibly can. Any surplus in our joint account at the end of each month is going to be directed at the ISA to start the rebuilding process on our poor depleted EF, so anything saved will speed the process up. Again I have no hard and fast figures in mind about where I want to be with this - indeed the challenge itself isn't really one with a fixed end point, either!

We actually made a start on this process before we went away, when I firstly checked our electricity use against our suppliers projection and discovered that the direct debit could be reduced a bit, and second got on the phone to Sky to tell them (again!) that our TV/Phone/Broadband was too expensive (again!). That resulted in a reduction down to pretty much a "bare bones" package at £33 a month, which does everything we need and more, and saves us a good chunk of money each month. The savings from both of those, rather than being transferred to the "money we didn't know we had" account, as we have traditionally done, will instead be left in the joint account to form part of any surplus that is there at the end of the month, and will then be transferred on to the ISA, where our EF lives.

Several of Sue's challenges on her blog have been about using up stores of goods, and as we seem to have been caught in a never ending cycle of that for a rather long while now that was also a natural focus, so we will be turning our attention to the larder, fridge, freezer and cupboards as well. I'm also intending to do some decluttering - items that have been stored "in case" we need them for too long, food items that either need using or binning, clothes that realistically I'm not going to wear again because in many cases they are too big, books, CD's and DVD's that can go to the charity shop to do someone else a turn for some cheap entertainment. In many ways this is going to be fairly similar to some of the challenges I've done before so don't expect anything ground-breaking here - you might get some reminders of stuff that makes you think "oh yes, I used to do that, too!" though!

Another thing I'm not setting any targets for is how often I update this on here, either - all I'm going to say is that I DO intend to update on here,. So while the blogging mojo is strong, there may be a lot of posts, when it wanes again, or life gets busy, less posts. If that happens though feel free to give me a nudge on twitter (@Essexhebridean) and I'll at least reassure you that I'm still alive!

Robyn

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Plastic -v- the world...

I mentioned in my last post that one of our "big challenges" for this year was going to be to reduce our consumption of single use plastics still further. We've already made good progress on this - on the rare occasions that we buy a bottle of water (or more often, get given one free when MrEH purchases his newspaper in a location that offers a bottle for free) that bottle will be refilled many times before it finally goes into the recycling, effectively turning it into a reusable bottle. Mostly we use one of our  purpose-bought re-useable bottles - I permanently have one on my desk at work, and we have others for the gym, or for taking on days out. Similarly although not a "buy a coffee on the way to work everyday" people we do use refillable cups on occasions when we know we're likely to buy hot drinks out - I've got a couple of the bamboo keep-cups, and we both have insulated mugs which get used regularly on longer car journeys, often with the back-up of one of our trusty thermos flasks!

Within the home it can often be quite tough to break the old plastic habits - we have made a start here by re-using plastic takeaway containers for freezer storage, not purchasing cling film at all, and using our RSPB magazine wrappers as compost bags for green waste. We also always take our own bags to the shops, and indeed I have invariably got a shopping bag or two neatly folded in my handbag also. It's been bugging me for a while though that each working day we bring lunches from home, and each working day that is 2 plastic food bags, and 2 wire ties, used between us. We re-use the wire ties, in fact they often get used until they literally fall apart, but I bet when they DO end up in landfill they're not great, and as for the bags, well...! So we turned our minds to alternatives, and solutions...

Firstly we started thinking through alternatives that we already had. Things are complicated by the fact that standard sandwich boxes tend not to fit our home made bread well, and that sometimes we have sandwiches and sometimes we have rolls (also home made - so again, non standard sizes). Fruit we just carry loose in our respective bags, so it was just the question of transportation of bread-based food that we were looking into initially. Of course it wasn't that simple as having thought about it we then started seeing all the other places that we use the flimsy food bags we habitually buy, too... Cheese gets wrapped in them, opened packets of crackers get put in them to stop them going stale in the tin, we use them in the freezer for portioned out raw meat, and sometimes for blanched vegetables as well, The last few slices from the loaves of home made bread get put into a bag in the freezer as well. Greaseproof or waxed paper came to mind immediately for at least some of our applications, but they wouldn't really solve the issue of wrapping sandwiches as there would be no way of ensuring they stayed fastened, plus waxed paper doesn't recycle, and greaseproof is the subject of a whole other minefield on the compostable/recyclable/biodegradeable questions (It might be, but then it might not, basically covers it so far as I can find). Foil - no, not really - firstly it tears too easily and secondly it's just creating more waste, albeit recycleable waste. Then we found these:



Beeswax wraps. Available in a variety of sizes, positively recommended for cheese, sandwiches, veggies etc...not cheap, mind, but worth the trade off of NOT putting possibly over 400 plastic bags into landfill every year? Well, that has to be worth a try! Of course they should also work for cheese, random bits of veg, for covering leftovers in the fridge and maybe even for those random ends of loaves in the freezer too? A pack has been ordered and we will report back.

Lovely as it would be, the wraps won't work for everything - so we set our minds to a bigger plan. We'll continue to have some of the flimsy bags available for the time being - things like raw meat are difficult to store well for the freezer - often a portion is too small for the re-useable containers we have, and we don't want to be using electricity essentially freezing empty space. We will buy a supply of sturdier, heavier grade plastic bags for use with dry goods, where they can be re-used. Where we can use plastic tubs that we already have - or those that we get with takeaway foods - we will do so. I'm looking to source re-useable produce bags instead of picking up those annoying flimsy bags for loose produce in the supermarket, too. So far I'm struggling to find many options on those that tell you the individual weight of the bags themselves - as I often buy quite small quantities of loose items this is not an insignificant point! More research needed!

Robyn

Monday, 7 January 2019

Now for 2019...

So time for a new page, a fresh year, and also a good time to make some decisions about what I want to achieve this year. Last year feels like a tough act to follow in some ways - and indeed this year's aims are going to be loosely based on what I set out last year with some additional bits thrown in for good measure. 

Personal/Health & Fitness:
- I will aim to keep up a good level of activity, averaging at least 13,000 steps daily across a year.
- Continue with eating well, using the FitBit to log foods some days to keep on track.
- Exercise at least 3 x per week - more is fine. Gym, running, swimming, circuits, HIIT Sessions - all good, also a brisk paced walk of at least a mile/15 minutes counts.

- Stretching - I had one injury last year partly as a result of not doing enough of this so an area to focus on.
- Bullet-ish journal - weekly lists, monthly planners, general to-do's.
- Aim for 500km total distance run in the year - I'm signing up to a virtual challenge for this one!
- Assuming they do the series again run 3 RunthroughUK "Chase the Sun" events
- Sign up and run a full 10k
- Bring running distance up to 10 miles
- Either get back to cycling or get rid of the bike
- Run the Dartmouth Regatta Road race in August - a terrifying 5 mile course with some horrific hills!
- Run/walk up Rueval - my favourite hill in the Hebrides

Home: We need to get back to sorting out the remaining works on the flat this year - from the more major stuff that still needs doing, to simple decluttering:

- Establish whether the electrician we were planning to use still wants the work, and if so get a firm start date from him.
- Find a new plasterer - lovely Geoff has retired!
- Plastering in Hallway and around windows - investigate whether we can do smaller areas ourselves?
- Hallway to be refloored/redecorated
- Decluttering at a low level - focus on seeing items within the house that we don't use
- New coffee table for front room - put measurements for this on the phone so I have them to hand and research and actually buy something.

Financial:

- Start to look towards replacing Ben's car - either just "at some stage" this year or earlier depending on MOT result.
- Joint savings to continue as they are
- I will keep a good eye on interest rates - if good deals come up we will switch money around to capitalise
- The "extra" savings will pay for a short holiday with friends in the spring - and will probably subsidise the holiday savings a little too as we have a short gap between the 2018 & 2019 Hebrides trips and had moved a previous surplus in that account across to long term savings
- Keep the focus on not frittering, and getting best value from our money

General/Random:

- Continue social stuff as last year
- Learn from the lessons I learned last year on friendships, and people who add value to my life rather than sucking the vibrancy from it.
- Try not to feel hurt or upset when other people behave unpleasantly or unkindly - I can't control their behaviour, I can control my reaction to it. (This one stays - SUCH a good life lesson!) Sometimes my reaction to it may be to simply step away from them as a regular part of my life - this works exceptionally well!
- Be conscious and mindful. Try to stop and think through choices and choose my path accordingly
- Brutal tidy and organise of laptop
- Sort out new power cable & battery for laptop
- sort out problem with desktop
- Keep up the momentum with the Beer Order stuff and don't let the workload pile up
- Another "big" walk - perhaps done in stages 
- Finish the Thames Path walk
- Finish the Jubilee Greenway walk

We have also agreed on some joint things to focus on for the year :
 - avoiding products with non-sustainable Palm Oil
 - Breaking the habit of procrastination (We're BOTH guilty of this!)
 - Working on cutting use of single use plastics even further


That seems like some good stuff to work on through the year, and a nice mix of "quality of life" stuff alongside building for the future. Social stuff will take a different turn this year in any event as there is likely to be less airshows partly due to taking up more responsibility within the National beer festival - the role we have taken on is a big one and there is absolutely NO room for not doing it well, so other distractions will need to take at least a bit of a back seat this year I think. There will also be meetings off the back of that too - which as a flip-side means more time spent with friends from that area of our lives which is great! 

My mantras for this year then:

Activity
Planning
Action


There WILL still be challenges - and I'll still be looking to see what I can achieve, but the focus this year will be more on maintaining the things I've achieved already within the running/fitness stuff. Last year started forcefully on the exercise front but tailed off later in the year - I found running in the heat of the summer quite challenging and as a result took more of a step back from it than I really wanted to for - this summer will be about finding a way of keeping going - hopefully the Dartmouth Road Race might be a way of keeping the momentum there!  

Feel free to join in for the ride - I'm starting out as I did last year with a challenge to do some form of exercise every day of January and so far, so good on that one. I think Frugal February will not be happening this year but I am intending to keep a focus on spending as I've said - we have more works on the flat to pay out for and lots of social stuff planned and intend to compromise on our longer terms savings as little as possible for those things. 

Has your last week been about planning challenges and goals for the year ahead? 

Robyn

Monday, 31 December 2018

2018 - done!

Where did those twelve months go?! I know we say this every year but it really does seem to have positively flown past! At the start of the year I confirmed that I was going to shun "new years resolutions" as usual, and instead set out a long-ish list of things that I wanted to see if I could tackle/focus on through the year with the following overall aims:


So I guess it's now time to see how I've done with this!

Personal/Health & Fitness:
- I will aim to keep up a good level of activity, with no fewer that 6,000 steps in a day It's been an incredibly rare day when I've not achieved this and my daily average over the year is currently sitting at over 13,000 so I think I can call this one done! 
- Continue with eating well, using the FitBit to log foods some days to keep on track. This has continued to work really well and I've maintained my weight through the year using this method - so again this will be repeated for next year! 
- Exercise at least 3 x per week - more is fine. Gym, running, swimming, circuits, HIIT Sessions - all good. Aside from points when injury has got in the way I've maintained this one pretty well and over the year I have regularly taken part in a good range of different activities too. 

- Stretching is good and helps facilitate the exercise. Ideally a full stretching session at least once per week and mini sessions scattered through as well. Going to "amber light" this as needing to be more of a priority for 2019 and beyond. I have done a fair amount but have also identified areas and specific muscle-groups where I could benefit from a lot more.
- Continue using my Bullet-ish journal to help with planning and general organisation WIN! Again use of it dropped off a bit during the very busy summer months though so something to focus on - I've also refined the way I use it to a degree which in itself helps with actually making sure I DO use it. 
- Do Parkrun - either our local one or another, it doesn 't matter which, just DO IT! Yes - done our local one in Harlow a couple of times and also nearby Gunpowder park in Enfield.  Have established that I don;t like Harlow much because of #ThatHill but as I have a certain hill-related challenge for 2019 already in mind I may need to make use of it a bit more for training for that event, if nothing else! 
- Visit the local climbing wall for a session. Finally did this in November and I'm inclined to say that it might be the one single achievement that I was most proud of from my year. 

Home: We want to continue with the works on the flat, initially to make it a lovely place for us to live, but also to add value. No - thoughts below

- Hallway to be refloored/redecorated No - thoughts below
- Plastering to be done in the front room and bedroom No - thoughts below
- Electrical works to be done over the first third of the year No - thoughts below
- Decluttering at a low level - focus on seeing items within the house that we don't use This has happened but probably needs to continue to happen as an ongoing thing. 
- New coffee table for front room - this is a quality of life thing. We have now established that the one we saw previously MrEH is not that keen on so the hunt continues. Back on the list...! 

This is one major area where we did FAR less than we were intending to. Several reason - the electrician that we found who we *thought* was going to be a great person to use seems to have let us down - we will have one last attempt to get him on the case early next year and then will have to look elsewhere. The hallway and plastering can't be done until the electrics are dealt with - so this loops right round on itself. I'm inclined to say that I suspect we could have pushed this one forwards more too - but I rather feel that perhaps it was just too soon after all the upheaval with the kitchen to go through another lot of household turmoil - more recovery time was needed!  

Financial:

- Joint savings to continue as they are Yes - really good progress on savings again this year!
- I will keep a good eye on interest rates and make the most of any access we have to higher interest savings Again - we've kept on top of this changing the account that was going to lose it's bonus rate at the right time and keeping up with money going to 5% interest rated regular saver accounts within the limit that those have imposed on them. 
- 0% card must be cleared by the end of October, and again as far as possible this needs to be done without touching savings. This was done, and in the end it was cash neutral to within about £40 if I recall correctly. 
- keep the extra savings ticking over to ensure that our Lundy trip in the spring doesn't have to be paid for from savings. The account which was formerly our "mortgage OP account" has indeed been ticking over on a monthly basis - we still use it for the "money we've saved" on utilities, Sky, that sort of thing, as well as the small surplus from my monthly salary, and sometimes a small surplus from our joint account too. This has actually paid for TWO Lundy trips! 
- Refocus on the small stuff - the odd frittering, and the impulse spends that have started to creep in a little. Frugal February helped with focusing back on this and we're back into the habit of spending mindfully now. We certainly aren't "frugal" to the extent that we used to be when paying off the mortgage was a priority but we've discussed this and are happy with where we're at - we are in a different place financially now and the work we put in at that time has enabled that. 
- "Frugal February" to assist with the refocusing on the small stuff. Yes - covered above.

General/Random:

- Continue to work on gaining confidence in friendships Yes - thoughts below
- Learn to be more tolerant without letting myself be used, and a little more patient without taking unnecessary amounts of sh*t! Yes - thoughts below
- "Let it go" and "This too shall pass" Yes - thoughts below
- Stop and think before acting This also comes under the heading of "mindfulness"
- Try not to feel hurt or upset when other people behave unpleasantly or unkindly - I can't control their behaviour, I can control my reaction to it. Yes - thoughts below
- Be conscious and mindful. Think about the choices I have, and those I make going forwards In part this is again to do with the conscious choices I have made. 
- Tidy up laptop in readiness for the new Airshow Season. I did. And now it needs it again! 
- Continue with volunteering stuff Yes - although it went in a different direction mid year. We also took on a new commitment which is going to mean an adjustment of our free time for the next few years I think.
- Try to tick a couple more items off our big "We want to..." list. Yes - a helicopter ride and also visiting a specific RSPB reserve that we wanted to get to. 
I'll talk about the items above relating to other people as a single entity I think. I made some very conscious decisions this year - to remove some people from my life and to spend time with others, sometimes instead, other times as well as. I've refined those I see as "friends", and there are others who are now definitely in the "acquaintances" camp - and that suits me well. Bridges have been built in one area also and some misunderstandings hopefully now ironed out which is good. My conscience over a particular situation now sits more easily and comfortably. I have a far clearer view of the sort of people who add value to my life - those who are genuine, who do things to experience rather than to be seen to be doing them, those who actively seek to spend time with me for me, not because of other factors, those I actually like more, the more I get to know them! I've also remembered that the more you spend time with people like this, the less you need to worry about your reaction to unkind things said by others as the situation doesn't really arise, so another win there.

All in all I'm calling it a pretty successful year. On the running front I had a vague list of places I'd like to run - the Olympic Park, in central London, and on a beach were key ones, and I have ticked off all of those as well as "on Lundy" which was pretty good. Part way into the year I was also challenged by a social media pal to see which of us could get to 365km for the year first and I was delighted to record my tally by the end of November. Also said I wanted to run in a regular group with others and RunTalkRun has given me the chance to do that - and that is something I definitely want to continue with in 2019! 

Now it's time to start thinking through plans and challenges for the next 12 months - I'll be posting on that in the next few days. Some things will be a straight copy across as they are just as valid to keep up with. Some stuff will be new and I have some solid ideas there already too.