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    Home life, Live LAGOM

    Live Lagom – and so it ends?

    I can’t believe it’s the official end of the Live Lagom project with Ikea.  I haven’t written about it nearly as much as I’d have liked, but I’ve been busy enjoying the journey – and hoping that a lot of the lessons learnt will continue on.

    Back when I was setting my New Year’s Resolutions, and looking for one that would encourage my sustainability, I knew that for me it would be a case of small differences, so I settled on two areas: cook more, thereby being responsible for, and reducing, my food and packaging waste; and continue to make sure my flat was comfy and cosy, without using energy unnecessarily.

    So how did I do?

    billsI really thought running an award-winning food blog that focuses on dining out, I would really struggle, but I was pleasantly surprised how much of a rhythm I got into with it.  Any excuse for stationery is a good thing in my eyes and I started meal planning, initially a week in advance, but then I moved to a monthly plan – mainly because I was convinced I kept eating the same thing!

    I thought I’d hate the predictability of pre-prepared lunch, but I continued to enjoy them and will keep up with it after the project.  I bargained with myself that I needed ten home-prepared meals a Monday through Friday.  A typical turkey meatball lunch worked out to be about £1 per meal, compared to the previous £3 meal deal.  Breakfasts were a mix of toast or porridge, still working out to be about £1 compared to nearly £4 for a coffee and pastry – saving about £20 a week.

    In terms of the comfy, cosy flat without using unnecessary energy had the biggest surprise around mid-point day when my energy bill dramatically dropped from £78 to £5 – hard to believe I know!  The original cost was likely calculated based on the previous occupants of the flat and I do expect it to go up after the surplus has been depleted, but the energy company is suggesting it’ll be about £25 a month, which is still a monthly saving of £53.

    It’s only an estimate, but if my maths is correct that’s a yearly saving of around £1,500!

    What next?

    long_way_to_goDuring the project there’s been a LiveLagom Facebook group of other people who are also involved in the project with other Ikea’s up and down the country.  It has been a wealth of ideas, inspiration and mainly enthusiasm.  There has also been a couple of meet ups at Ikea and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about everyone else’s journey.

    My main plan is to carry on doing what I’m doing.  I’d also like to start cooking more vegan meals because it seems meat-free meals are better for the environment and I don’t get on too well with dairy.  I also want to get better at writing shopping lists and sticking to them!  And now that the evenings are lighter I want to take advantage of it and walk home from work more.

    I want to say a massive thank you to Ikea for asking me to be part of this journey, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the challenge, not only the saving money but also the lessons learnt and interactive with a vibrant and passionate community.

    Home life, Live LAGOM

    Living Lagom – midpoint

    “Oh my gosh, it’s like the sun!” was the first comment I had when installing the LED lights in my kitchen as part of the Live Lagom project.

    Seeing the bright side of things

    bills

    Okay, so beforehand I’d gotten to the point where there were only two lights working, but when I swapped over the light in my hallway too and could finally see to the front door, I realised that these were useful AND money saving.  Couple that with my snuggly STOCKHOLM blanket, which means I rarely put the heating on, and a new quilt on my bed and my energy bills have dramatically decreased…they’ve gone from £78 a month to £5. Yes five!  I’m fully expecting them to go back up after the surplus has been decreased on my account but even still it’s pretty evidential this project is saving me money.

    Food glorious food

    glass_food_storage

    It’s really no surprise, but my favourite thing from the project so far has been cooking.  I’ve become a master at meal planning and sit down to work out what I’m going to eat for the week.  I really expected that I’d hate this, that knowing what I was going to eat all week would ruin the fun but if anything it’s the opposite. It means that I can legitimately spend time more time thinking about my dinner, not less.

    Failing miserably on the whole staying in to cook and then having leftovers for lunch the next day (which would’ve made this so simple), I’ve realised is that batch cooking is the future.  I’ve become slightly obsessed with the FÖRTROLIG glass food containers which are the perfect portion size for most things, and as well, they move between freezer and oven and also don’t stain.  Honestly, that not staining thing is way more of a plus side than I’d ever have realised, and doesn’t make me look like I’m keeping the local takeaway in business.

    vegan pie

    One of the successes I’ve rustled up was a recipe for vegan shepherds pie, a portion of which fits in perfectly and can be frozen and cooked in the same dish – hurrah for less washing up!  Also, after a bit of a flirtation with soup, I seem to have developed a thing for turkey meatballs for lunch.  I make a batch every couple of weeks, load the sauce up with vegetables and pop portions in the FÖRTROLIG containers and defrost them for lunch throughout the week.  Oh and the Ikea 365+ food containers mean I can finally make porridge without it exploding everywhere – a fate I’d resigned myself to a long time ago.

    Is that it?

    Because all of this was a bit too easy, I decided that I might as well take the whole Lagom ‘the right amount is best’ philosophy one step further.  As I’m already planning what I’m eating Monday through Friday, I’ve also invested in a fitness tracker, which I joked was a chic new version of an ankle monitor, as it’s definitely controlling my life but in a good way.  I’m much more aware of how much (or not) I’m sleeping and often find myself going out for lunchtime walks to get my step count in…it’s definitely a case of ‘the right amount is best’!

    Honestly, I thought this whole Lagom project would be a lot harder.  The saving on my energy bill was a wonderful surprise and other than change the lightbulbs I haven’t really had to do much.  Even the food thing hasn’t been a massive effort and the pay off in how I feel has been worth it.

    Home life, Live LAGOM

    Living LAGOM

    Screen Shot 2016-01-30 at 23.32.57Six months ago when I finally moved into my own flat I had high hopes of rolling all my New Year’s Resolutions into one and being a better person.  I started off pretty well; I made sure it was near a pretty regular bus route, then dutifully filled it with mainly pre-owned furniture and started bothering anyone who was involved about the lack of recycling.  I told myself eventually I was going to get back into cooking, after a year and a half of not really doing so, partly due to a previously tiny unworkable kitchen and partly due to running an award-winning blog that centres on dining out.

    Live LAGOM

    And then, an email dropped into my inbox inviting me to take part in IKEA’s ‘Live LAGOM’ project to make changes to lead a more sustainable life.  Coming from the Swedish phrase “Lagom är bäst” which seems to translate roughly as ‘the right amount is best’, IKEA were offering to help improve my sustainability with a bunch of products – and advice.

    And so as read through all the stuff they sent over about the project and chatted about ideas with my IKEA Live LAGOM project leader Kevin, I remembered telling myself that once I’d settled into the flat I’d start cooking again.  That was six months ago, and if anything I’d gotten worse.  With no housemates to guilt my into going to bed at a reasonable hour I stayed up late and breakfast became a rushed take-out coffee and pastry eaten at my desk at work, lunch was a meal deal from the supermarket and food was whatever I picked up on the way home.  It was neither particularly sustainable for my overall health, bank balance and, when I totted up the amount of packaging I was throwing away, the environment either.

    My Resolution

    img_5124.jpegSo when IKEA asked us to create a New Year’s Resolution relating to the Live LAGOM project, I figured I’d do two.  The first was I a challenge to cook more, thereby being responsible for, and reducing, my food and packaging waste.  The second was to continue to make sure my flat was comfy and cosy, but that I wasn’t using energy unnecessarily.

    I wanted to make sure that the resolutions would be improvements to my life, but also ones that would last beyond the usual January “New Year New Me” period.  So I decided that Monday through to Friday I had to eat ten home-prepared meals, which would not only force my to cook but also to make sure I used the stores of spices I had. I’d also use a blanket if I was a bit cold and break my nighttime dependance on my electric blanket with a thicker quilt.

    What Next?

    Well. this is hopefully the start of a fun few months settling into the challenge. I’m aiming to do a few updates here, as well as the occasional recipe over on my food blog Full to the Brum.  Fingers crossed it’ll go well!

    Stationery

    National Stationery Week

    NSWbloglogo2It’s pretty common knowledge that I’m partial to a bit of stationery, so I’m really excited to be part of National Stationery Week, or #NatStatWeek as it’s known on Twitter.

    National Stationery Week runs from 27 April to 3 May 2015 and aims to celebrate the written word – and, of course, all things stationery.  From pens to paper, stamps to rulers, stickers, note-lets, erasers and everything in between.  It’s pretty much my idea of heaven.

    Expect lots of stationery related blogposts shortly!

     

    http://www.nationalstationeryweek.com/

     

    Stationery

    National Handwriting Day

    IMG_1395.JPGEagle-eyed readers will notice this is actually an American day of note, but it seems a shame to miss such an opportunity to talk about the joys of writing – and I can’t find a British one to celebrate!

    I’ve always loved to write; from stories as a child to articles for local publications and, of course, blogging.  Being left-handed my handwriting isn’t always as neat as I’d like, and whilst I was one of the first in my class to be chosen to learn to write in pen (a claim to fame I’m very proud of), there have been struggles with smudges, stained hands and the worst – desks designed to discriminate against us!

    Nowadays I still do a lot of handwriting, even though I spend the majority of my day in front of a computer.  I’m a big fan of the ‘to do’ list, with triangles for bullet points you can colour in as a completed task, which is unspeakably satisfying.  I also like the satisfaction of seeing a page of handwritten notes; the way the paper crinkles when you’ve used biro on notepaper.

    But my favourite handwriting exercise is something which feels like a bit of a dying art: the ‘Thank You’ note.  I think this stems from my pleasure in receiving letters in the post which aren’t just bills or junk mail and the hope others share it.  I try and write a thank you note whenever I get the chance – or sometimes just a note to friends to say hello.  I’m lucky that my friend Anni feels this way too and whilst we still rely on all the modern technology methods of communication, a note from her in the post always makes me smile.  We also handwrite thank you notes at work to the people that speak or host things as part of our course and often get thank yous for our thanking them.   And of course there are people who use letter writing for much more impressive reasons, like Amnesty International and Jodi Ann Bickley of One Million Lovely Letters.

    My enduring love of stationery means that I love having an excuse to buy cards, nice pens to write with, and a particular weakness is notebooks.  I’m massively excited that there’s a UK National Stationery Week in April/May and I’m already trying to come up with reasons to indulge!

    So, who wants a letter?!

    Birmingham, Cooking and Eating

    Where have I been?

    I haven’t been posting on here as often as I’d like, as I’ve been concentrating on my food and drinks blog.

    fulltothebrum_wFull to the Brum is a Birmingham-based blog which celebrates the exciting food and drinks scene in the city.  Since I restarted it in June I’ve been focusing much more on the personal experience side of it – restaurant, cafe and bar reviews as well as product reviews, news and info about events and even the occasional recipe.  I wanted to celebrate the great food and drink adventures I found in and around Birmingham.

    This means that Ants in Her Pants has taken a bit of a back seat, but I’m hoping to update more often on all the other adventures I’ve been on – and maybe even occasionally mentioning some of the stuff from Full to the Brum too.

    http://fulltothebrum.co.uk/

    Birmingham, Home life, My Thoughts

    A little peace in moving house

    Over the last couple of months I’ve come to fully appreciate why it is they say moving house is one of the most stressful things you can do.

    From our lovely Colourful House, my (now ex) housemates and I divided up 4.5 years’ worth of things and moved our separate ways.  To most people three girls moving out should be easy but we lived like a little family, so much of our stuff was shared.  In the end I devised games to make the ownership of miscellaneous items that we would probably need at some point easier.

    But some things we couldn’t justify taking.  All three of us were big readers, myself probably the most ferocious.  We were lucky in our old house to have a room almost solely dedicated to books with fantastic in-built bookcases.  But, as is whenever I move, I couldn’t take them all.  Two boxes of books went to a local school and a car boot-full or books and comics went to a local charity shop.  A box of cables and a chair went to work, anyone that came to visit in the last month went home with something.

    But my favourite story about our move was a phenomena that exists in Kings Heath, something I’d never noticed in anywhere else I lived; doorstep freecycle.  Amongst the maze of suburban streets in this suburb of Birmingham you will often find little piles of things with notes attached – “I’m free, take me” or “looking for a good home” or sometimes no note at all.  They’re always perfectly good items that are no longer needed in the house they sit outside.

    We left a few items outside; a collection of glasses, decorative plates and an uplighter.  The glasses disappeared to a new home without us knowing, but we hope the wine glasses are providing an interesting anecdote to a party.  The oversized gold plates palmed off on me by my mother, were picked up by a woman who told us that she worked for a charity which did a massive tea party for disabled people each year and they never had enough plates, these would be perfect.  And the uplighter went to a man who had been meaning to go get one for months but never had the time and was so genuinely pleased with his freebie I think we made his day.  If we didn’t, he and the charity lady certainly made ours.

    Moving house is hard; stressful, tearful and a slog of a marathon.  I had some great friends and family members whose help was invaluable – and some strangers too, who will probably never know how much.