Live Simple - January 2019

Every month I write my ‘Live Simple’ plan, dividing up tasks, goals, purchases or changes of habit, into manageable pieces. I like to be able to concentrate on one thing at a time, whether it’s painting a wall, reducing my waste or saving up to buy something special, the plan helps to keep me focused and stops me from feeling overwhelmed. I’ve written about my reasons for working this way here and you’ll also find a free PDF printout on that post if you want to make your own plan. If you are joining in, I’d love to hear about your own ‘Live Simple’ plan.

My aim is to share my plan on here every month detailing what I’ve managed to get done (or not done!). Below is my plan for January:

Decluttering:

Set intention - Be more organised

January goal - Put up new hook in porch for brushes/dustpan etc

We have a small entrance porch to our home and it’s essentially a dumping ground. We don’t really use it for coats or shoes, instead it’s normally stuffed full of gardening equipment, half used paint cans and several golfing umbrellas (why we ever had golfing umbrellas I don’t know as no-one in my household plays the game and we all have raincoats with hoods!). I spent some time clearing out the porch, donating the half used tins of paint to Seagulls Reuse in Leeds and moving the gardening equipment to another cupboard. The golfing umbrellas were donated to a local charity shop. All of our brushes are kept in our tiny kitchen and take up valuable space, so I planned to move them into the porch and hang them on the peg rail. I ordered another simple birch peg rail by Swedish company Iris Hantverk as we already have two in our bathroom. They are easy to install, look great and are relatively inexpensive. I bought mine from Trouva. I’ve added a bunch of fresh eucalyptus to the hook which will dry out nicely and keep the porch naturally scented too. It’s so much neater and I don’t feel stressed opening the front door now.

Money:

Set intention - Save for home improvements

January goal - Use envelope system for groceries, fuel, entertainment etc.

We have quite a few things we want to do to our home this year and we need to up our savings in order to do this. Last month I started using a smartphone app to detail my spending rather than simply writing everything down or looking at my online banking which was my normal way to keep track of things. The app can be linked to your bank account, but I don’t use this option. Instead I simply add things to it as I spend, withdraw or make a bill payment. In my head I have a budget for everything - food, fuel, bills, entertainment, stuff for the moody teen etc. What was really interesting and shocking was the totals at the end of the month for each category. Not one of them matched what the budget was in my head. Groceries were £250 more than what I had budgeted for (it was Christmas, but that’s a heck of a lot more than what I’d estimated). Now I’m using the envelope system and it’s working well for me. I withdraw cash at the start of the month, divide it up and then put it in envelopes marked groceries, fuel and entertainment. It helps keep me organised and stops me from overspending as I leave my bank card at home and only take enough cash with me to use at the supermarket or petrol station. Anything you don’t spend goes back in the relevant envelope. This month I’ve actually saved over £200 from simply not overspending on groceries. The envelope system is a really good tool to use if you are trying to get rid of debt too.

Home:

Set intention - Finish off jobs in the home

January goal - Paint the porch.

Before we added the peg rail I needed to give the porch walls a bit of a freshen up. It tends to get damp in a couple of places due to condensation, so firstly I cleaned all the walls down with some multi surface cleaner (my Castile soap recipe which you can find here) and then left it to dry out for a while. I gave it a couple of coats of Earthborn’s clay paint which is brilliant for damp walls.

Sustainable Changes:

Set intention - Reduce food waste

January goal - Convert leftovers into new meals.

We haven’t been eating a lot of bread in our house other than sandwiches for packed lunches. Space is tight in the freezer, so I looked for other ways to use up those last few slices that always seem to linger at the bottom of the bread bin.

  • We had some leftover minestrone soup which was mostly veg and pasta as the liquid had all been used up. I turned it into a pasta bake by popping it into an oven proof dish, topped it with some breadcrumbs and added a little grated cheese before baking it in the oven for about twenty minutes.

  • I used breadcrumbs instead of nuts to make a homemade pesto and tossed it through some spaghetti.

Eating:

Set intention - Make two out of three meals a day vegan.

January goal - Choose vegan options for breakfast and lunch, dinner is optional.

Back in November I tried going vegan for World Vegan Month. It worked pretty well for the first two weeks and then due to some family illness it simply became impossible for me to keep up with it. One thing that was clear for me though was how much extra preparation, cooking and expense there was being the only vegan in a household. I was having to cook separate meals every day as my husband works on shifts and often has to eat later than us. I want to continue eating as many vegan meals as possible so I’ve opted to make it simple - I’ll eat two out of three vegan meals a day as I’m only making those for myself. Breakfast and lunch are completely dairy free but I’ll eat the same as everyone else at dinner time. We often have vegan meals for dinner like curries and pasta dishes but we do also like frittatas and veg chilli with cheese and sour cream so I will continue to eat these when we are all having the same meal. These are my current favourite simple vegan meals:

Breakfast - I start with a bowl of oats soaked in oat milk and I add a little cinnamon, maple syrup. Stir well and then pop in the fridge overnight. In the morning I add a sprinkle of flax seed, chia seed, pumpkin seeds, almonds and a chopped pear with a few dates. It’s unbelievably tasty and fills me up until lunchtime.

Lunch - mini naan bread pizzas. I spread a little tomato puree on a mini sized plain naan, add a sprinkle of dried oregano or dried basil, top with some roasted veg (I prepare a big dish of this on a Sunday and then keep it in the fridge for quick meals) and finish with some nutritional yeast flakes (or add cubes of feta or mozzarella if you prefer). Bake in the oven for about ten minutes. I tear a little fresh basil over the top once they are cooked. These mini pizzas would be perfect for a quick supper or popped in a lunchbox. Great for kids too!

Wellbeing:

Set intention - Exercise more

January goal - Walk everyday and swim twice a week.

Okay, this one I’ve failed at! I have walked several times and did one really long walk into Leeds City Centre along the canal towpath but I have not been swimming once. I’m not going to make any excuses, I’ve simply been lazy about going. I’ll aim to do better in February.

And that’s it for January with lots of good things achieved and tasks accomplished. I’m pretty pleased with my progress so far. x