2016 Goals Update – August 2016

I had August off from setting new goals or writing about them. I didn’t have August off from sticking to them. In fact August has been a really good month, which is mostly about having a week off work and a birthday. So let’s recap the big goals and where we were.


  • Decoration. In 2016, I need to paint the bathroom, bedroom and living room again. I’d like to tackle the bathroom before June but the other rooms will have to wait until I have full use of my foot again! I haven’t done any of this, I think this is going to have to wait until after the summer because right now, the allotment is where most of my time and money will go.
  • De-clutter. I want to have another clear out of the cupboard of doom and have a serious look at what’s in the kitchen. Kitchen was done in January and the cupboard of doom is more tidy than I thought my current plan is do this when I have a week off in August, because one of things I really need to do is sort out some more suitable storage for things like the spare duvets etc
  • Deep cleaning. I will assign a weekend every three months to deep clean the flat. In this weekend I will scrub the floors, clean the oven and windows and all that stuff I’m not good at remembering to do! This is going well, the flat is tidy and at time of writing I have a clean oven, defrosted fridge, clean windows and floors!

At the end of August this is all as it was, I didn’t get to the cupboard on my week off and everything in the flat is pretty clean and organised. I did notice that because I am trying my very best not to buy new clothes and to use what I own that the chest of drawers in the bedroom is becoming more organised.  This I think will go into Sept’s Little Goals list.


  • Tracking. I’ve been using a spreadsheet, that Ma (the queen of the spreadsheets!) helped me set up. It tracks what goes in and out of my bank account and what’s left. It also helps me plan for the year. In 2016, I will be consistent about using it. I’m totally on the tracking thing. Still there, I still don’t have any money but I know how much money I don’t have!
  • Food Budget. This one is already in play, in 2016 I will set a food budget of £15 a week and I will record my spending and eating on this blog each Tuesday. Any money I don’t spend each week will go into the change jar, which is sealed and won’t be opened until 1st December 2016. I’m still doing well with this, the allotment has helped because there is loads of food (mainly courgettes) coming from it so it’ll be more of a challenge as we go into autumn.
  • Overdraft. I have one and I want it gone, so I will pay it off in 2016. My overdraft is still halfway gone and I’m ok with that. It’s been harder to get it down in the second half of the year because my rent went up. I’m going to start trying a bit harder in Sept but I’m not going to be devastated if it doesn’t happen this year.
  • Credit Cards. I won’t use them in 2016. I reserve the right to use them in an emergency but I can’t plan for those… Less success with this target, they have been used, it was sort of a family emergency and I’m not saying anymore than that!


Home and finance all contribute to how I feel about myself but the focus of this category is on health, exercise, mental well being and ease of living.

  •  Walking. Walking more was a game changer for me in 2015 and I want to get back to that, obviously that will depend on how my foot recovery goes. So I need to have small, long term goals for this, a) by the end of March 2016, I would like to be walking either to work from Paddington Station OR from work to Paddington Station, that’s about 35 minutes a day. b) by the end of June 2016 I would like to be walking both ways and getting my 10,000 steps a day. I’m calling this one, it’s not happening (and I lost my fitbit at the allotment!). I will make an effort in the winter to walk to Paddington from work but at the moment, between the allotment and the pollution walking is not happening because I don’t have time and I can’t breathe.
  • Body Balance. I love doing this when I do and my work gym membership resumes in July. So I’d like to go to one class a week in July and August and then resume 2 classes a week from September. This isn’t going to happen. I don’t think my foot is at all up to it and the money for gym membership is for this year going to be used on the allotment. That’s how it goes but I’m shelving Balance and will look at it again in 2017.
  • Yoga. The evening routine is good for me so by the end of February, I want to be doing this at least twice a week. Funnily enough without the goal, I’ve achieved this in August. It might be because I put it out of my mind but I think it’s more because the increased time at the allotment has made my muscles tighten up and things hurt in a way they didn’t when I do yoga, so I started doing 10 minutes before bed, so that I could sleep and get up in the morning, without shuffling and staggering about!
  • Volunteering. I want to start attending the volunteer allotment days in June and this year use the two CSR days work gives me. I’m sure that my Mum can find a use for me either at the foodbank or the homeless project! I’ve managed to miss July & August (I don’t know what I was doing in July but it was my birthday for the August one!) days and I’ll miss Sept because I’m in Watford to nephew-sit. However, I’ll be back in October, Ma will probably need assistance at the Food Bank after Harvest Festival and I’ve also volunteered to marshal at the Ealing Half Marathon at the end of Sept.
  • Books. The 12 book target was good but restrictive last year, I’m going to give myself a bit more leeway and have 24 books this year. I’ve bought 15 books so far this year (I went a bit crazy in August!)
  • Work Uniform. This year I want to have a work uniform, but not use it as an excuse for buying more stuff. I need to wear office clothes 4 days a week so I will create 6 outfits for work make sure that 4 of them are clean and ready to go for Monday morning. This is still one of the best ideas, I’ve ever had and it works brilliantly for me, although I’ve had to be a bit more creative over the summer as clothes I love (looking at you linen shirts) have got to the great clothes bin in the sky!

Word for the year

I picked the word authentic at the beginning of the year and although I’ve been working it into how I do things, I really haven’t unpacked that here, so I thought I’d do that now!

Do I feel that 2016 so far has been about being authentic? Yes.

The reality of being single in a world of couples and families is that sometimes, even if they don’t realise it, people in couples and families don’t consider the life and dreams of single people as valid. (Like the Christmas I was told that I was brave because I bought a Christmas tree, even though I didn’t have a family of my own!). It’s not intentional and it’s not malicious but it means that I have to define what it important to me and demonstrate to others that although I want to be a friend and support them when I can, I can’t, won’t and shouldn’t prioritise them over the life that I have.

My worry has always been that I’m not enough and that if I’m not supporting others then I have no value. That concern honestly fell away last year but some of the behaviour remained and this year has been about stripping some of that out and not being worried about it. It’s not that I don’t want to support the people in my life as I am supported by them, I do (I’m not a monster!) but I have put myself in the list of people that I need to support. So while I do still see and support my friends, I’m also honest about the capacity I have to do that, which means that if I say I’m going to do something I actually have the energy for it!

Being authentic has helped me be a better friend because I’m not flaky and resentful because I’m not doing anything I don’t have the emotional energy for. Equally, I’ve stopped stressing and trying so hard to be liked, I’m a good person (more or less) and it’s honestly not a problem if I’m not someone’s cup of tea, I like who I am, my family (mostly) like who I am and that’s enough.

So August is almost over and we’re heading into the last four months of 2016. Anything anyone wants to cross off a list between now and December?


Posted in Goals, How I Live | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Friday Links

Happy Friday! And it’s a Bank Holiday weekend, hurrah for the three day weekend!

Be happier at work, get a hobby. This has basically been me this year. Find something outside of work to make me happy.

The tragic story of Sheffield Park Hill bridge.

The new science of single people.

Sara Benincasa explains to an internet troll why she’s fat. You should read this if you haven’t already

“Wine. Immediately.” The depressing reason so many woman drink. Could be.

The anti-tyranny case for the 2nd Amendment. It’s interesting but I’m still not convinced that British government of the colonies was actual tyranny!

The US Govt is buying $20 million worth of cheese. And all I can think is that it’s for a big block of cheese day…

I’m fascinated about the US reaction to the idea of health care and I look at their system and worry that this is what Jeremy Hunt wants here. Because it’s nuts that they don’t even have a way of controlling the cost of drugs.

Canada and The Tragically Hip. I know the name but I couldn’t name one song by them, and although this is about Canada and a moment. At some point in our lives we all have this, this sense that something is happened to the whole of the country. Lovely.

Posted in Links | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Courgette Bread – Three Ways

Have I mentioned that I have a glut of courgettes? img_4760I never go the allotment and pick just one courgette, last week I picked 27 over the week, which is excessive. Lesson learned for next year, we’ll limit ourselves to just the two plants! However, this year I’ve been trying to find ways to cope with the excess.

When I first started sharing pictures of my abundance of courgettes, lots of American friends told me to get on making zucchini bread. So I did. All three of the recipes below freeze really well and I’m going to try freezing the grated courgette, in 2 cup measures for cake emergencies when I don’t have a glut!

I started with this recipe. Replacing walnuts with raisins and reducing the sugar to 2 cups. It’s also worth noting that American and UK cups are slightly different sizes but I just use UK cups and it’s never been a problem.

Then someone else pointed me to this recipe for Lemon Zucchini Bread. This one is the lightest of the three (and my mother’s favourite!). I used sunflower oil instead of olive oil as my olive oil is quite flavoured and I felt it would interfere with the lemon flavour. I’ve not frozen this with the glaze on but added it after I’ve defrosted, which is still good but not as good as putting it on when the cakes are still a bit warm.

And finally, I got a request for a chocolate version so I adapted the first recipe a bit and this one surprised me most. It’s light and chocolately but not overwhelmingly rich. The guys at work liked this one best!img_4790

3/4 cup cocoa

2 and 1/4 cup plain flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup sunflower oil

2 cups sugar

3 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups grated courgette

1/2 cup chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter chips

  1. Heat over to 165C and line two loaf tins
  2. Sift cocoa, flour, salt, bicarb, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl
  3. In another bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract together.
  4. Add the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and courgettes to the egg mixture and combine, then add the flour to it.
  5. Once it’s all combined, scoop into the loaf tins and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
  6. Allow to cool and then eat!


Posted in Cooking, Food | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Day at Kew Gardens

London in August is interesting. Unlike Paris, the city doesn’t empty of everyone who lives there the other 11 months of the year to make room for the tourists. Although, it’s a bit quieter because the schools are out, the life of the city continues on with the addition of the tourists. (If you are a tourist and in London, here are my top tips!)

All that to say that I am very rarely a tourist in my own city, which is a waste because London is full of good things.

One of those things is Kew Gardens. It’s one of the largest botanical gardens in the world and it’s only a bus ride away from my house. So in my birthday week, Ma and I went for a visit.

This is The Hive, which I was fascinated by, I’d like to go back another time when there are less small children. I like small children and I loved the little girl running around shouting “I’m a bee, buzz” but it was hard to absorb the lights and noise and get into it when you are trying not to step on the small people running around!

 Although I loved how excited they were about it.

We also wondered around Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens. The Palace is run by the Historic Royal Palaces, which also run Kensington Palace, The Tower of London, Hampton Court, the Banqueting House and Hillsborough Castle (I remember when the Tower was run by English Heritage, which dates me!). Kew is mostly associated with George III, so was quite nice for Ma and I to wonder around.It was just the sort of day I needed. I love that Kew never seems crowded and always seems peaceful.

It was just lovely to wander about, looking at flowers and landscapeThey have vegetables gardens too…

Posted in How I Live, London, Photos, Things I Like | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Food and Budget Update: 13/08 to 19/08/2016


I did manage shopping this week but not until Sunday, split between Lidl and Sainsburys it came to £10.98. I did not manage to remember to photograph it, I can more or less remember what was in it though. Milk, eggs, flour, cheese (feta and cream cheese), sugar, butter, onions, carrots, baby tomatoes, an aubergine, tortillas, mushrooms.

Not a lot of surprises, the allotment haul was courgettes, peas, french beans, plums and salad leaves. The usual!img_4760


We came back from the allotment on Saturday, tired and hungry. We ate cheese and then after showers and champagne (birthdays are a week long celebration this was the end of it!). We had lamb burgers and grilled courgettes.On Sunday, Ma left before breakfast and I wasn’t really in a food mood, which translates as ‘it was hot and I was tired and it was easier not to eat than have to cook’. I did eventually make some soup for work lunches this week so I had some of that. It was awesome soup. Courgette, pea, green beans and mint. The only things in it not grown by me were the butter and the onions, but that’s not only why it tasted so good!

I had planned vegetables, hummus and an egg for breakfasts this week, but I didn’t get to making the hummus and on Monday morning I didn’t get to eating breakfast. I know it’s important but I wasn’t hungry and if you’re not hungry why eat? I had some grapes mid-morning and soup for lunch.

I was determined to make a dent in the courgette surplus this week so on Monday night, I had grilled courgettes with salad and feta. I also made a courgette cake to take into work and a couple of back up ones for the freezer!Tuesday night dinner was a roasted veg and salad tortilla.img_4788Then it all went a bit wrong. I caught some kind of tummy bug and it wasn’t pleasant, I left work early on Wednesday and the only thing I ate was plain tortillas.

Thursday I ate soup for lunch and plain pasta for dinner (oh and some Jelly Babies!)

Friday was more or less back to normal but with no appetite during the day, pizza for dinner.


There is still too much food in the house but I’m running through flour, eggs and sugar like there is no tomorrow! This is largely due to my courgette cake baking habit. I’ve made 6 courgette cakes (I’ll talk more about later) but I’ve given away 4 and have two in the freezer. I’ve noticed that, tummy bug aside, it feels like I have lots of food options at the moment and although that’s great, I’m not being as structured about planning my food for the week. This is no bad thing there’s always something I can eat but I am aware that sometimes my food choices aren’t as good as they could be. I’m doing a lot of preserving food though, pickled courgettes, plum jam, all the courgette cakes, frozen green beans and soup in the freezer. With any luck the tomatoes will probably start to come in and I’ll be working on those too. I need to be a little more focused in the kitchen but overall things are good.




Posted in Cooking, Food, How I Live, Money | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Happened

Welcome to a new week! Last week was all about being back at work, which obviously disagreed with me because I caught a tummy bug. Anyway apart from working from home for two days during the week so I could be in my own bathroom, it was a pretty standard week. Highlights below

Things I liked:

Belated birthday card from my teamEvening sky while watering on Monday

Things I Made:

Courgette Pickle. Much nicer than it sounds and was part of my ‘Operation Use All the Courgettes’ which helped me reach zero courgettes on Saturday.

Courgette and Chocolate Cake. If you see me this week and I don’t give you either courgettes or courgette related food, something is very wrong. I made 6 courgette cakes this week.img_4790

Things I ate:

A raw tomato, which I grew. It tasted pretty good and the five year old me who ‘wouldn’t have a tomato on her plate’ is astonished.img_4808


The raspberry beds are weeded and we just need to finish mulching them.


Gin and tonic

Posted in How I Live | Tagged | Leave a comment

Friday Links

Happy Friday! The first week back at work after a holiday is always tricky (well for me) I’m tired but less able to sleep, mostly because I need to adjust to being mentally instead of physically tired! Here are this week’s links.

Olympics. I can’t tell you how not interested in the Olympics I am but Andy Murray’s response to John Inverdale was brilliant!

Also while we’re on gaffes, Simone Biles has parents and she knows who they are.

And to anyone here because I share a name with silver medalist in windsurfing…..sorry!

Gruesome and fascinating. Why humans have periods

Last week was National Allotment Week. This is from the Guardian

How to make rich people pay more tax. I don’t object to paying tax, I do object to rich people and corporations not paying tax or being able to pick and choose how much they pay.

This is why people like Jeremy Corbyn. And this quote

“Is it fair that I should upgrade my ticket whilst others who might not be able to afford such a luxury should have to sit on the floor? It’s their money I would be spending after all.”

16 things learnt from Georgette Heyer novels. 8 (A man too frequently in his cups is more trouble than he’s worth) is spot on but my favourites are 3 (Don’t waste your time on a man who can’t handle his whip) and 10 (Manners matter, but reputations are overrated)

How to ripen tomatoes. I’m currently in a race with the weather and the blight, so I may need to start implementing some of these!img_4761-1



Posted in Links | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment