February 2016 Simple Living Review

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After two years of writing our blog we’ve been through lots of changes, the biggest of which was Brian leaving paid work almost 6 months ago. February has been the first month where our new budget has really settled in, as we’ve been running it for a while now and have proved to ourselves that we can live well within it.

February Finance
We spent an average of £13.72 per day on food and drink, quite an expensive month, but it reflects the fact that we were busy in lots of other ways and did less cooking from scratch.

Our other main purchases were:
– A bicycle cover to make rainy days easier
– One fill of petrol
– Bus season ticket and a few additional trips
– Hairclips (Christmas money purchase)
– Postage stamps
– Thermal tops
– Gifts
– A pruning saw, latex gloves and clips for fixing in the windows of a greenhouse.

This greenhouse was probably our biggest challenge of the month. The building itself has not cost us anything. It belonged to our neighbour, who has had it since the 1980s but no longer uses it, and gave it to us in return for Brian maintaining her conifer hedge. A few weeks ago we climbed over the wall, removed all the glass panes, and then lifted the aluminium frame over into our garden.

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Brian has since cleaned all the moss and dirt off the frame, and at some point we will put the panes back in, and decide what to grow in it. Its not a priority, and Brian now needs to recover his back as he is currently paying for the more strenuous tasks which he did during the month.

In other news, we thought we might have to replace our fridge. Brian pulled it away from the wall in order to remove the final kitchen floor tiles, and found it had been leaking. Then we noticed the door was wonky, and today the door fell off completely. Brian put it back on and modified the hinge, if anything it is now a bit stronger than before. So we may have got away with that for the time being.

Next month Lucy will share her progress on a goal she set herself: to overcome shyness about singing before reaching the age of 35 (not long to go). Today she took the biggest step so far and went to a free singing workshop and learnt a lot about her voice (particularly that it is quite a low alto and she should stop trying to sing along with Kate Bush). This may result in a budget substitution, as the cost of joining a choir is something to consider. If that comes in, something else will go out.

This close to the spring, things feel naturally positive and although it has been a challenging month in terms of Brian’s pain and mobility, we know we don’t have to rush through life ticking off one task after another, and can take the time we need to look after ourselves and enjoy the world around us. One thoughtful wander around the garden this month led to this discovery:

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We have a mistletoe in our apple tree! It may have arrived naturally, but Brian also made lots of attempts to apply the gelatinous seeds to the bark himself in recent years, so it could be a success from this!

This month’s books and music

With lots of rainy/icy days and bus journeys for Lucy, there was plenty of reading and listening going on this month:

Books (I only finish books I enjoy, so all my listings are recommendations):
Rose Tremain – The Road Home
Patrick Gale – A Place Called Winter
Sarah Winman – A Year of Marvellous Ways
Elmore Leonard – 10 Rules For Writers
Brene Brown – The Gifts of Imperfection

Music:
This month I got back into Madonna in a big way! I’ve been listening to my mp3 record collection A-Z, so I must be about in the middle. Songs of this month:
Madonna – Vogue / Deeper & Deeper / Hung Up
Manic Street Preachers – I Think I Found It
Martin Simpson – Dark Swift and Bright Swallow
Neko Case – Prison Girls
Suede – It Starts and Ends With You

 

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One thought on “February 2016 Simple Living Review

  1. Pingback: On Holiday… | More of What Matters

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