Sunday, 25 November 2012

Coping with unemployment...

Greetings, allow me to introduce myself, I'm Colin or the famed Mr. CB that has appeared through these pages and the wonderful Mrs. CB has allowed me to write this little piece and post it on her blog.

The first thing to try and cope with is the culture shock.  I've spent most of my adult life in one job or another - that's 15 years of solid employment.  I was a driving instructor and closing my business has forced me to lose the car.  Not good - it makes me feel quite isolated.

The second thing to cope with is rejection.  I've applied for quite a few jobs in the past few weeks - it's not so much rejection that gets me, I'm sick of being ignored, of not even being acknowledged.  Unfortunately, that's just the way it is.

The final thing to cope with is boredom.  Work was quiet for a while before I closed my business so this has become the easiest thing to cope with.

Culture shock

I miss my car, I just loved getting into it and seeing all of lovely Yorkshire.  Getting around isn't easy, I hate buses but my legs are doing me proud!  We're getting used to doing all of our shopping online and it's stopped the impulse shops, the trips to Waitrose bargain bin and so on, so this has actually saved some money!  I just need to stop getting into bad habits like sleeping in and staying up late and get up like I have a reason to.  This is purely a psychological things but I'm getting better.


Clinging onto hope is not easy.  I have sent off more than ten job applications or enquires in the past week and heard nothing.  Why should I not give up hope?  That's a damn good question and one that I am struggling to answer.  I don't give up hope because I have to cling onto certain things - holidays, a nice house, a couple of football matches every season and a reasonable car - I don't ask a great deal from life.  There are plenty of jobs out there but I want to think about career over a job.  Arrogant I know, but after working for myself I just want to progress and a backward step is a tough thing to consider.


A number of things have stopped me from going stir crazy.  The Gym is one of them, Judo is another.  I'm about to take my first grading in Judo and I'm in the best shape for years.  I recently paid the princely sum of £8 for ten trips to a little gym in Horsforth called Park Centre Fitness (courtesy of popular cheapskate site, groupon) and I've impressed myself.  I got on a running machine and ran for a whole mile in just under eleven minutes - not bad for someone who weighs in at a cuddly 17st!  I managed to get that down to 9:05 on my next go so it's really coming down.  I'm now able to go on walks without being out of breath (take that, car!).

Writing is another thing that's keeping me going.  A friend and I recently started a site called The Dodo Times, a site of daft news stories and writing for this has been a lot of fun and really brought out my creative side.  I won't tell you what my pen names are but there are two Colins on there and one of them is not me.

I'm turning into a male domestic goddess.  I've always enjoyed cooking and recently I've been doing more and more.  Sausage Rolls, Cheesecakes, Scotch Eggs and Chocolate Mousses are my specialities but recently I did a homemade Chicken Satay and it was pretty darn good.  Basically, you just mix some Sesame oil, Peanut butter, Sweet chilli sauce, and Coconut milk until you have a gooey sauce which is simmering nicely then you add some chilli powder - 2-3 teaspoons is plenty for a little kick between the two of us.  Gently part cook some chicken or any other meat you wish to use (or not, if you're a veggie), sizzle some veg (onions, carrots, peppers and anything else you wish to chuck in), drain your meat, add it all into the pan with the sauce, simmer and come back in half an hour with some rice.  Yummers!

All in all, unemployment is shite but we're both making the best of it and I think we'll come out of it better than before.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

A change of perspective

For a couple of years after moving to this house with it's tiny kitchen me and Mr Crafty Blueberry would grumble that we'd do more cooking and make more things if we had a more spacious kitchen with better storage and more work space, a better oven and so on. It struck me this week how much our perspective has changed since then. Last weekend we made, between us, a huge batch of beef ragu sauce, spicy butternut squash soup, homity pie, caramalised onions, chocolate moose, 3 1/2 jars of mincemeat, a wholemeal loaf, and a sweet breakfast loaf. We've also bottled two batches of wine and started off a new one. So really that kitchen was big enough all along, we just had to stop moaning and focusing on the problems, and get on with it instead!

Fruity breakfast loaf

Homity pie and caramalised onions

Beef ragu, spicy butternut soup and mincemeat

Saturday, 10 November 2012

101 Goals in 1001 Day - November 2012 update

Completed goals: 12
Goals in progress: 15
Days so far: 88
Days to go: 914

I've not done a 101 goals update for awhile but have been working away on them in the mean time. I have to confess that I've changed a couple of them; some of them, in hind site were 'fillers' - there because they seemed like an ok idea, but not something I really want or need to do. So I've made some revisions and I'm happier with my list now.

Completed (the ones that spring to mind)

12) Make a one page SAD action plan for Winter 2012; I'm glad I put this on my list as it pushed me to get it done. I've learnt more about SAD and feel better able to cope with it this Winter. Still worried though as despite my efforts I think. It's creeping in, but time will tell if any of the stuff I've found out makes a difference this year. I'm keeping a track of it so I'll see.

37) Make bread instead of buying it; I dusted off the bread maker (literally) for this one.My bread maker belonged to my sister, then my mum and finally me, so it's certainly earned it's keep! We havn't bought bread for three weeks and I'm enjoying trying out different recipes. The bread's so tasty and I can make little 1lb loaves in the machine, which is the perfect size for two. It's good being able to control what goes into a loaf too; I hadn't thought about all the crap in a commercial loaf until I began using my bread machine regularly.

49) Have a Winter trip away for one night in a cosy B&B; We did this last week with a cheap voucher we bought a couple of months ago. We stayed in The Red Lion in Burnsall in the Yorkshire Dales. The wind howled, the mist fell and we felt very cosy and relaxed.

87) Register with a dentist and have a check up; I put this off for 14 years! I set this goal and still kept putting it off because I was scarred of getting told off by the dentist for not going. Then a big chunk of tooth broke off so that decided it for me! It was all fine, the surgery was sort of shabby but clean and comfortable, and I had a kindly dentist who played relaxing classical music.

My main priority at the moment is goal one - 'Begin astrology course and work towards qualification'. So far so good, it's a very interesting course but I need to settle down and write my essays sooner! I tend to put them off as I never know where to start. Well there's no time like the present so I'm going to finish here and go and get started. Grrrr, here I go!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Stoptober - an eye opener

Mr Crafty Blueberry's sausage rolls - these used up sausage meat left over from making scotch eggs
 and  have gone into the freezer for a future picnic or lunch.

How was your Stoptober? The first two weeks went really well for me, the third was pretty good and the fourth was OK but could have been much better.I didn't throw money around but I did slip back into the 'I may as well' spending habit towards the end of the month and I can think of a lot of things that I could have happily gone without buying. I'm not going to beat myself up over it though because although I've not reached the standard I want and need I've learnt a lot form Stoptober 2012:

  1. I can comfortably do without 3/4 of what I buy in a normal month
  2. I can firmly say 'No' to the consumer in me, and it feels good.
  3. I'm skilled at making meat stretch a surprisingly long way!
  4. Shit happens; sometimes unexpected spending can crop up that is unavoidable. Best to be prepared with a little money set aside if possible.
  5. Batch cooking makes a huge difference to how much we spend on food, so I'm going to do more of it.
  6. Stockpiling at the start of the month cut down on supermarket visits and impulse buys in a big way.
  7. It really helps me to have my reasons for reducing spending, and my aims, stapled to a noticeboard at the front of my mind because it keeps me motivated.
  8. In a normal month I waste a shocking amount of money!
All in all it's been a worthwhile experience and I've enjoyed reading about other people's Stoptobers too. It's given me some ideas on how to move forward and has come at just the right time for our house as this month we have to tighten our belts and keep it that way for the foreseeable future due to some changes in our finances.

I hope you had a good Stoptober, reading people's posts about it has been truly motivating.