Hi,

More upbeat this week as a couple of you- you know who you are (and thank you for caring) were worried about my doom-laden approach last week. I think I just judged it wrong- maybe not everyone knows the world as we know it is beginning to end… (just joking).

Maybe I just meant to say something new is beginning. At the start of this all, in all the mix of emotions that everyone had, there was a wonderful new positivity. No cars, no planes, everyone appreciating outside, everyone joining together to help out. I thought it was amazing and it helped get me through the first few weeks and beyond the Easter holidays (that and a whole raft of online courses I did for school). It felt like it was a chance for everyone to stop, rethink and then restart just slightly differently.

So has it lasted? How do we know? Sometime early on I started thinking about what I wanted to keep from the strange world we were living in in lockdown. One of them was walking in the woods more- my son and I still do this, another was more online learning. I had always intended to do some, but 1) never knew where to look, 2)couldn’t find the time -the lockdown provided me with the answers to both of them. At the moment I am doing a  free course on basic accounting and bookkeeping to see if it is worth pursuing as a second income (actually its quite dull at the moment). It has been great to learn something new, even if most of it might not be much use in the long run.

Other things have lasted as well, one of them really good. For the past year or so I have periodically mentioned to my constantly tired husband that he should consider working from home regularly. His commute is 90- 120 mins each way, everyday. On the last day of schools being open and before lockdown proper he came home with a huge monitor and successfully worked at home for the 10 weeks of lockdown. And it was fine, we didn’t argue, the children didn’t annoy him too much, he got work done. He is now back in the office two days a week, but still at home 3 days (hopefully this will continue after the children go back). It is a good thing. He is here for tea when the most important conversations of the day happen, he is not tired, he has his weekends free to do other things than just catch up with the jobs he hasn’t done (Lawnmowing, bin emptying) and the children see him as part of their everyday lives- which for a while he wasn’t very much.

For the children I am not sure what they would like to last from this. Maybe my daughter likes being left alone in her room to do work at her own pace. I don’t think my son is enjoying his school’s approach to home learning as much as he was- there are only 2 weeks left for him. His school has already informed parents of possible plans for September, that in the worst case have him only at school every other week, and seem to still have asychnrous asynchrous  independent learning in the afternoon. Maybe this is the way they should go anyway, I think he has benefitted from more free time – and from being home earlier. I think both my children have benefitted from this bizarre term, my daughter has learnt to manage her time and managing her stress levels (mainly by getting work done so she is not worried about it). However, a huge however, it has gone on long enough!!! I can not wait until September and finding out what the next normal is.

Fingers crossed that the new normal is good.

 

 

 

 

And if this is the end of days and life as we know it is there actually anything we can do about it? I think its probably just a bad week. Obviously it is a bad week, 3 people dead in a random stabbing in Reading. I wonder when I read this back in years to come if I will even remember the circumstances, I hope I do but don’t really know what else to type about it. I don’t think I will feel less safe in Reading when we finally go back into the town, I am not sure we are any less safe in Reading then we were when we went in before. There is a sadness that people can die like that but beyond that we don’t feel the impact unless we knew them.  Hmm, written more than I meant to.

So the end of days is here- isn’t it- aren’t we all aware of this that -this is the beginning of the end of the world. I am not about to go and stand on the street with a sandwich board but surely someone should mention it…. or maybe it’s just me.

To be honest this is probably due to lack of sleep. It was so hot last night; I spent most of it lying awake thinking too much. Mainly thinking about lost time and lost opportunity and how come September I was going to have to get up at 6 am again and go through the first weeks of tears and tiredness with my son as he goes back to school (I hope this will be very much like having a second baby- the first 6 weeks are horrendous but at least you know they will get better). I am feeling a bit down today, not enough sleep and worries left over from last night (mainly about the poor quality learning my children have been doing and if I should be doing more for them- I am not entirely sure what I can do). At the moment my son is on a break, laughing out loud at a youtube video about Minecraft- much more animated then when he’s staring at a screen for lessons. I worry about him being left behind his peers due to my lack of involvement in his lessons and learning, but another part of me thinks this is a valuable way for him to take responsibility for his own learning and help him be built into A Good Man- as that is the Reading Way- lets see if he stops watching his video without me having to remind him. **he didn’t**

My daughter gave a session on resilience to her Brownie Unit yesterday- and is now officially a Peer Educator for Berkshire Guiding- she constantly amazes me as she is braver than I have been.

So if this is the beginning of the end of the world does it really matter? Would I do anything differently, maybe, maybe not. I would like to see the sea before we all die. Can we do anything about it- sadly I think not, not really. Just carry on as before, trying to do the right thing and trying to keep our little corner of Reading safe, healthy and a little bit more eco than it was before.

At least it’s sunny.

I am beginning to appreciate the beauty of the blog, or of keeping a diary. I have just flicked back through previous posts- both published and unpublished and found myself remembering things about lockdown that I had previously forgotten. I think, much like having a new baby, we easily forget the worst bits, the days of worry and stress and sadness. Looking back at some of the entries I haven’t published yet where I was wallowing in fear and sorrow at the shutting of schools, and the days when I felt scared to go out, or guilty for going out. I forgot all that. Sadly I also beginning to forget the sense of community spirit that (briefly) arose, when everyone seemed to want to help, when a huge amount of people signed up to the government volunteer programme- a task that seemed to be superseded by local Facebook groups, the clapping for the NHS, the trying to still celebrate VE day. It seems to be dying already here, but I suppose it is nice to know that there is a community spirit in all of us, waiting to be called upon.

So back to the title, the return to normal. On the face of it I am back to normal, 3 days a week going to my place of work, a primary school. Of those 3 days one of them is spent cleaning- although I am not sure this is the correct word, spraying everything with anti-bac would be a better description- a classroom and toilet. The other two are spent as a teaching assistant to a group of up to 11 Year 6 students. We have done this for one week, it worked well. The children are pleased to be back, and relieved, I think, that actually social distancing isn’t too hard (it’s harder for the teaching staff as we are now limited to only 3 people in the staff room at one time).  The hardest thing at the moment seems to be them remembering not to share things, their plastic trays are filling up with the pens and pencils they have had to borrow from the school supply.

These 11 children, myself and the teacher are now in a bubble. When we are in school they are not allowed to mix with other children. The playground, field and woods have been divided up so that each bubble has its own space, clearly marked out with cones and tape. Friends in different bubbles can sit one metre either side of the boundary  and talk to each other. Each bubble is in for two days, this meant we could split 42 children into 4 groups (2 attend Monday/Tuesday, 2 attend Thursday/Friday). Wednesday is deep cleaning with anti-bac day. Deep cleaning and anti-bac do not go together in my head. Children have to bring in their own pencil case and stay sat in their seats, they wash their hands as often as possible. Books are marked with stuck in post-it notes- apparently virus stays on paper for a long time and unions were worried about teachers picking it up from books. We have provided them with a white board and pen and a plastic drawer to keep it all in. The Year 1s are also back, a few less of them came in than the Year 6s. All our nursery and reception children have been offered two days to come back, as we take children from the term after they are 3 that is quite a lot of children.

It seems fine, I assume iff  the R number drops then some of the bubble rules will change. The Y6s were allowed back in to help them get secondary ready, I suppose this rigid adherence to rules will help them. It is a start to return to normal, so it is good.

My husband has also started the return to normal, he is going to the office twice a week, on the days when I am not at work. This means the other three days he has to deal with the stresses and joys of home-schooling, which actually for my two is fairly straightforward. For my children, normal seems a long way off, they have now established their own routines- the main part of this seems to be calling friends dead on 3.30 when their school day finishes. I am just going to check what the oldest one is doing right now… (she also has a daily routine of a walk after lunch and being in her room at all other possible times). …. and she was planning a session on resilience that wants to deliver via zoom to her Brownie pack. I am very proud of my children 🙂

I have gone into lots of detail in this, because I know, even  if no-one else does, I will read it again and I want to try and catch a bit of how I feel.

The other thing I have to put down about the first week back is how I, as TA, had nothing to do in the classroom. I am usually sat with a small group, very un-social distanced. So I joined in with their work- here is my lock-down emotions poem- another way to remember how we all felt in these strange times.

Lockdown Emotions

Tired is the colour of rain clouds that gather on the edge of a blue -sky day.

It is the sticky feel of uncooked dough, muddled with walking through treacle.

I catch it waiting for me from the edge of unwatched programmes on the TV.

Tired is me thinking this is all too much.

 

Irritation is itchy, a indigo shiver that runs across my skin.

It is like eating sherbet that fizzes forever, causing tickles on my tongue.

It is dozing on a sunny day as the clouds cover the sun.

Irritation is becoming a house-wife again.

 

Sorrow is blue, a deep, fathomless blue shot with sparkles of teardrops.

It is the taste of sweets long eaten and never found again, the remembrance of yesterday.

It is the gradual creep of water from a leaky pipe, spreading under everything.

Sorrow is realising the schooling and experiences my children have lost.

 

Belonging is rainbows taped to windows, it is hopscotches drawn on the street.

It is a warm, vast hug, a soft squishy bubble engulfing me.

It is a litter of sleeping kittens. Individual muddles but an entwined heap of soft.

Belonging is all of us sewing, donating, helping, clapping.

 

Joy is gold, it is silver, it is bronze.

It is eating sweet nectar after drinking bitter cocoa.

It is sleeping in a sunbeam on a cold winter’s day.

Joy is us, altogether, all safe, all happy.

 

Hmm well..

Until next time.

 

 

 

 

 

As I write this we are on the first day of the second week of Phase 2 of remote learning for both of my children. They attend different secondary schools, and the schools have provided them both with lessons for every subject. The approach has been slightly different, my son has to do 6 lessons of half an hour each and has to be doing that lesson at the time specified. My daughter has been given two weeks work and is choosing how to structure her days (a little worryingly she told us on Friday she only had French left to do). But this is not meant to be a post about the schools.

It is a post about my children, I am not sure if they will ever read this blog, maybe one day out of interest (or boredom) but I hope that if they do they will remember these funny Covid 19 days. I also hope they will remember how amazingly well they coped.  So far they have been logged on an working by 9am each morning. They have stayed at their laptops for the whole morning and often going back after lunch. No complaining. Of course there is daydreaming and of course there have been sneaky game playing or extended breaks but generally they accepted this is it and got on. I know I have it easy, my role as home-educator is to occasionally look at their screens and ask if they are ok. I feel for primary age parents ( although a part of me thinks it would be fun). So as far as school goes and doing what is needed my two seem ok. Time will tell if this passive, staring at screen learning has done them any good.

And that was two weeks ago, I didn’t publish it then because later that afternoon my son was crying on the sofa, sad that it had been such a long time and he was away from his friends- he had also had his lightest school day with double games and tutor time, aswell as taken part in his first virtual school club. I think boredom coupled with loneliness had set in. He did agree to phone his friend that evening, I am not sure they talked but he felt better after. In some ways it is harder for him than for my daughter, her friendships have had a few years to develop, his only a few months. My daughter has seen her friends on her exercise walk- by coincidence, there is not a chance of him bumping into his friends. But that was two weeks ago.

And now the gloss of no school has worn off, school has become the chore again that it was. I wonder if it might have become even worse, they whole of their learning is the 2D of the computer screen. The need for measurable outcomes has squashed any actual physicality. Even PE lessons are optional challenges on youtube to watch, do, film and upload. (Son hasn’t done any yet, we tend to go  out for a walk or he plays swingball during PE). It makes me sad that this is their learning experience, this flat, fake screen staring experience, sat on a poorly designed chair with no engagement. That I think is the worst, the lack of engagement, just tasks that need to be done and no choice how to do them. I appreciate schools are trying their best and they can only use what they already had in place- I do wonder what the long term of this will be.  Whether we will have a generation that refuse to work in an office…

It might just be the way we have set our lives up, and that we could make this a healthier experience for the children- to be honest I didn’t believe it would go on for so long.

That was the other thing I was thinking about, the hope taken away by yesterday’s announcement- most children will be staring at screens and away from friends for the rest of the term. I knew this really, but I had hoped something else will be announced yesterday.

(My son has just sat down with a paint brush and two figures to join in with his virtual Warhammer painting club. Upstairs my daughter is reading a series of books whilst doing school work- this is the second week of the two weeks worth of work.)

One thing I have been thankful for and should type about are the leaders of the Scout and Brownie groups. My daughter is a Young Leader, my son is a Scout. We get a weekly letter full of ideas for Scouts and there is a weekly Brownie zoom call. Something to add structure to the days. That these people want to carry on the contact with the children and that they have provided this structure is wonderful. I want to remember this after this is over.

So until I next feel the need to type. xx

 

y

…gone on a two mile walk through the woods, washed up breakfast dishes, finished sorting my tutoring exam questions, looked at a hard maths problem I have  had sitting around, help digitalise some WW1 American death records, looked at wildlife photos to spot some skinks, watched Bargain Hunt, listened to Pop Master, spent an hour and a half needle felting, cooked tea, washed up the dishes, tidied the kitchen…. and a few more things besides. I am quite tired today.

The silly thing is my day would have been fairly similar if we weren’t on lockdown, the walk in the morning may have been different- and would definitely have involved coffee somewhere. I would also have probably not discovered zooniverse if I hadn’t been in lockdown. Zooniverse really appeals to the geeky side of me, it is basically a website where science and research projects ask for the public’s help in typing up all the boring things that a computer can’t accurately read. I love it. My previous job was data entry based-  and I enjoyed it, there is a sense of satisfaction in doing a job well and accurately- even if you have to do the same thing again the next day- it is slightly akin to my love of ironing. It creates a sense of achievement for quite a low amount of brain effort. If any of this sounds appealing I recommend you look at zooniverse.org . It is somewhere I would happily lose hours of my life- I have to ration myself otherwise nothing else would get done.

The weather is still lovely here, and most afternoons I am going outside, and (easily) ignoring the inside jobs. Inside jobs always seem to be boring- like sorting out the stuff in my bedroom- the only room untouched by the extension work, and the last room that needs to be purged. There are of course other, and many jobs left over to do inside but at the moment the weather is to good to be doing them.

And so to finish off this slightly dull post about the benefits of data entry as a key to happiness I shall add some pictures from my walk this morning. This beautiful woodland is between the edge of Tilehurst-( which is the western most suburb of Reading), and the M4. Walking through it the sounds of songbirds and woodpeckers mingle with the dull roar of the motorway (still noisy even with less cars). Yesterday two deer ran right across our path. Last week there were no bluebells to be seen. If nothing else this lockdown has given me the time to see this spot change almost daily.

 

Wow! Week 1 of extreme social distancing finished here in the UK, at least two more to go. I have twisted and turned this blog post over in my head, trying to capture something of the experience for us and what it is teaching us or me about ourselves. A big part of me just wants to forget it all, get through each day until it is over, another part of me is screaming out to analyse it and find a deeper meaning or purpose to it all. For now that part has won.

The first week has been fine, all four of us (and the cats) in the house. Yesterday I left to go shopping, the first time any of us had left our property in 7 days. Property sounds like we have a vast space- it is not, I am tempted to measure it later- good homeschooling activity (or would be if I was homeschooling, but I am not really). It has been quite hard work, not so much in getting on with each other- the children are old enough to realise we need to be nice to get by- but hard in making sure that we are all content and doing what we need to do.

The children had a taste of working from home before I did, the last three days of the last week of normality were spent at home for my son, and the Thursday my daughter was at home as well. We are incredibly fortunate in that husband was able to bring home a laptop and tablet with keyboard from work, coupled with his laptop and my laptop everyone in the family is able to get online and work at the same time. This gives our day a better shape.

And that was where stopped typing a week ago, a week later and things have settled down. The children, and I, are now officially on Easter Holidays. This means the school work that has given shape to our day has stopped and they can amuse themselves. I feel bombarded with ideas for enriching my children’s time, from school, from facebook, from emails and yet I am sort of ignoring most of it. My son had a list ten suggestions from his school, at least 8 of them are things he would do anyway- he has spent today making origami eggs. I’m hoping tomorrow he will teach me macramé. My daughter has spent her time in her room, chatting to friends, watching videos, listening to music and a bit of sewing. They are happy, they go for a daily walk. I do not think I need to entertain them- let them get bored and find something to do.

So this was titled ‘What we need’. I thought a week ago I had an answer, slightly sickly sweet but an answer none the less. My daughter needs to be able to talk to her friends, she needs music and she needs space to be alone- the first two she needs her phone to achieve. My son needs to do things that interest him, he needs to be able to watch cartoons over and over and he needs to be able to choose what he does. He, more than anyone, needs feeding at regular times and to know there will be food he likes. My husband needs space to work and food….. I think he needs to feel useful. I need to know they are here and safe and happy. I have yet to start on the big imaginary ‘When I have time list ‘ as I spend a lot of time just checking everyone is ok. But that is also something I need. I need to know we have meals planned and that we have enough in the house in case something went wrong. I also need time outside to sit and stare and watch the plants grow. And of course, can let this finish without saying it, we all need each other….

This lockdown has slowed down our pace of life, we eat tea together as a family, husband and son play badminton in the garden in the evening.  A dream life- and yet we all spend most of each day waiting for it to pass. A strange, strange existence a kind of stasis I suppose.

It has been far too long since I last posted on here. No excuses really, I suppose life got in the way. I have been spending the last few weeks (possibly months) trying to write this post in my head, and kept getting too bored by it to turn on the computer. It seemed to be a whole load of self congratulation and sounded quite fake. So I have tried to approach it from a different angle and talk about what we don’t, but could, do. Hopefully if you are stumbling across this from the IKEA live lagom project you might take some comfort in this and lose some eco-guilt that we are all so quick to build

up.

So, lets go back to the beginning to the messy home I had, unrecyclable and recyclable rubbish piling up and not enough room to breathe for a familiy of four. For a while we kept on top of it all, but in the last few months it has begun to pile up again. Have a look at the two pictures above for evidence.

In my defence the things around the washing machine are all recyclable, the things by the microwave are not, but I use them as paint pots, fat pots, rubbish bags etc. As you can see we are far from plastic free.

And we are far from plastic free in the bathroom as well, I use a shampoo bar for my hair but could not get on with any conditioner bar so still use the Pantene I have used for years. The children (and husband) still use shampoo and conditioner in plastic bottles.

I am still (as photo of washing machine tells you) using fabric softener, in plastic, although I am buying the biggest size I can find- this is partly  due to cost and also having not found any alternative. I have tried variously vinegar, soda crystals, soap nuts and even no conditioner at all but was not happy with the results.

Other cleaning products are either ecover (that I now buy in 5litre containers), Iron and Velvet ( plastic free, dissolving sachets that reuse old plastic bottles) or method shower spray ( I need something that works to try and cut down limescale build up) I did use to make my own shower spray with rinse aid and vinegar but that then just got through a lot of rinse aid bottles, the method one appears to last longer. I do use non-eco disenfectant on the the toilets and non-eco limescale toilet cleaner because I can’t get it looking anything like clean without (not particularly clean looking when I use it, but that’s another story).

I am hopeless at growing my own veg which I didn’t achieve at all during the time I was on the project. I will try again this year- I am aiming to at least grow some brussels, sweetcorn and peas. Maybe too ambitious- watch this space……

Other fails…..the major one is 6 months ago we adopted two kittens. They have no idea about being lagom. Their food comes in plastic packets and , despite it being made of newspaper pellets, their litter is not compostable- or at least not in my bin as we use the compost for veg. The solution is to start another compost bin for non-veg areas of the garden. This will happen but not just yet. (The cat food packets are recyclable via terracycle and I have a collection point I take them to.  )

I walk whenever I can instead of using the car, although this past term and a half I have been doing a ridiculously short 1/2 mile (half not 1 to2) trip to pick my son up from his bus-stop rather than him walking in the dark. The days are lighter, and he has got more used to his school now so hopefully we can stop these short trips.

We have tried, half heartedly to be honest, to eat less meat, at the moment we are probably at 2 days out of 7 meat free. This has been very hard to do as meals have always been planned around meat, I am also becoming increasingly frustrated with the lack of vegetables my children are willing to eat.

And finally, energy consumption- this hasn’t been too bad. Electricity is just over 3000 units a year, gas is 12000. I have no idea how this compares with the average home but it has not increased very much for us over the last 3 years. However, for reasons I can not explain, I am still not on a green tariff or with a green supplier. Surely that is one of the easiest things to do in this quest to save the world.

That I think is it, a few things that after 3 years of living lagom we still aren’t doing but probably should be doing. Of course there are many more changes we could make, but these are just the main ones I brood over! First world problems really.

Hopefully, if you have read this far, you have found this interesting. Sometimes we dont need a list of the good things others are doing, we just want to know we are all doing things wrong….

 

Till next time.

 

 

So today I have (almost) finished my Christmas shopping, a bit later than usual this year and even now I am doubting many of my choices. Every year, despite the increase in lovely gifts in the shops, it is getting harder and harder to find things to buy.

I blame the lagom project for this.

I’m sure you have guessed (or think you have guessed), the content of this article, a reluctance to buy from unethical high street stores and a distaste of the unnecessary, unrecyclable packaging on so many products. In part it is that.

There is also the question of what to buy. Everyone these days has so much, we can go out and buy almost anything we want or need. A lovely packaged present is obviously appreciated but then goes into the pile of other lovely packaged products. I know this is what happens, even when the present is genuinely loved by the recipient and well thought out by the buyer. So unethically sold, over packaged and adding to the excess of life is the story of most Christmas presents.

Being aware of all this, but still feeling the need to buy presents for family and friends I began to look online for some solutions to the dilemma. I found somewhere a recommended buying triangle for eco friendly gift giving.

The top of the triangle (the most eco friendly) was to give gift vouchers, so I have done this and bought love2shop vouchers for my nephews and niece, they can then spend them in unethical stores and buy overpackaged toys- but at least they will be exactly what they want.

The second level was to buy second hand- this is a tricky one as not everyone on my list would appreciate a second hand present. My children might even begin to question why Father Christmas has had to resort to buying in charity shops (actually they wouldn’t as they are a bit too old for that). You are also limited only to second hand things, so you can not always buy exactly what you want. I have managed to buy several second hand gifts, I think they might go the same way as brand new presents, added to pile of lovely presents, but at least they have been condemned to that pile twice and not just once! It has also helped save money.

The third level was to give something edible, that way it isn’t adding to the clutter of the house and the amount of things in the world. However, a lot of edible comes in plastic and so adds to general waste. Other than that I have bought edible gifts for many on my list, mainly people who I know wouldn’t appreciate second hand and I don’t have a clue what to get them.

The fourth level was to buy local and handmade- the article suggested visiting a Christmas market. These are the ones that drive me crazy. The increase in Christmas markets really confuses me. It is lovely that so many people are able to make beautiful, saleable things at home, and I accept that to make a viable business they need a platform to sell these things from. However, where I get confused is whether or not they are needed. I went to a Christmas market at the weekend, and I did buy one thing, an extra stocking present for my son. But I do find that the beautiful things you see at Christmas markets draw you into buying things you don’t need and just get consigned to the clutter pile when Christmas is over.

The next level was to make something.( I would have put this higher up if I was designing the triangle.)  I have made presents for some people this year. I am not sure how well they will be received so they are for people I won’t see at Christmas so they can write polite thank you letters or texts and I will never know their reactions!

And then finally, the last resort was buying new on the high street. This is how I have done most of my shopping, because I knew exactly what several of my gift receivers wanted. It is very hard to find second hand or locally made corn-on-the-cob holders (my sister in law’s request) or a small size cool bag (my mother in law’s request) or that orange tiger from Ikea and a wireless speaker (my daughter’s request). I bought these people exactly what they wanted and yet thinking about these presents makes me feel more guilty than all the others I have bought.

I don’t know what the solution is – I do know I have agonised this year to find the right balance between buying things people want and buying things more ethically/ environmentally. Next year I will try harder.

Now the next dilemma is how to wrap them.

Anyway , hope your shopping is easier than mine!

 

Wow, has been a long time since I blogged, I think I had bloggers block for a while. Oh well here goes……

One year on from the end of the project and I am finally sitting down to write about the legacy that it appears to have created for me and my family.

The word legacy is perhaps a bit too high faluting (as is that word,  because I can’t spell it). Lasting changes is maybe better, but doesn’t sound as nice.

We are still recycling and being careful about what we buy (to a certain degree) on a day to day basis. The major slip ups come when we have to buy for special occasions (which are few and far between) or if we are out and desperately need something. The second doesn’t happen that often, my reusable coffee cup is nearly always in my bag, as is a bottle of water and now I also carry metal and plastic reusable straws. It is amazing how many times the children need a straw now they know they aren’t meant to use single use ones. We are not angels though, the children love to have fizzy drinks in single use plastic bottles when they are out, we don’t often bring the bottles back with us for recycling, my daughter has started requesting hot chocolate to drink when I have coffee- she does not have a reusable cup, my husband scarcely ever takes his reusable bottle with him.

***********************************************************************************

So that was typed back in June, and not published. I have found the draft and reread the virtuous actions, actually since June all this, and more is still going on. We are a long way from being completely waste free, and I don’t think this will ever be achievable without major lifestyle changes- which we aren’t going to do.

However we have made a few more small changes that should have a positive impact.

  1. Switched from clothes washing liquid to powder- no longer using plastic packaging.
  2. Collecting the cold water from the tap when I am running hot water- this was used in the summer to water my plants.
  3. Using shampoo bar and Lush conditioner instead of liquid shampoo. This has taken a lot of getting used to, but I think I finally have it sorted. I thought it might be more expensive but it is not noticeably so (one shampoo bar lasts me 3-4 months).
  4. Use cold water to wash my hands instead of turning on the hot tap – it is never on long enough to get hot and saves firing up the boiler.
  5. I have started ebay selling again to get rid of some of the things that are too good to throw away.
  6. I have reduced the number of black bin liners I use in the waste bin- it is usually just film and plastic wrap in there so I reuse a larger bag and fill it up  with the packaging instead of a black bin liner.

Slow, small changes are still the way to go for us.

I was always aware that there is more to Lagom than just recycling and getting organised, we have made one large change over the course of the past  fourteen months and that is to extend our house. I don’t think I can accurately describe how positive this change has been for us. We now have a lovely house with plenty of room for everyone. We are no longer tripping over people and things. Apart from the increased mortgage and the bombsite of our garden- which will be next year’s project I can’t find any negatives.

Maybe a post about that will follow- though I would rather start posting again about crafting with rubbish…

Who knows, now my bloggers block has broken, what delights will follow.

It has been a while since the end of the Lagom project with IKEA, exciting things have been happening here in my little corner of  Reading.

Firstly I am in a proper IKEA catalogue- one I can actually touch and see.

As you can see I am not a great photographer, (and I couldn’t get the flash to work properly) but here is proof they came here to my house.  In a very non-lagom action I asked the lady at IKEA customer services if I could have 4 copies so I can hand them out (maybe even signed) to my family.

Of course we are still living Lagom, it is very hard not to after thinking of not much else for 6 months. Energy usage is still down- over the 6 months from April to October we used 30% less gas (a real saving of £26.76 over 6 months) For the 4 months from  April to August (the smart meter has not been working properly since we moved it) we have used 15% less electricity, a saving of £19.82. So we could possibly save around £110 over the course of a year- although this of course depends on how cold it gets this winter.

The other thing that has been happening is we have extended our house. The builders came in mid August and have added about a 6 foot wide, two storey extension to the side of our house.The main work is finished and we are   my dad is doing the inside- which is a lot work than I realised. Lagom ideas have been forgotten at the moment, because apart from a bit more insulation, we are just pushing on to get things done.

Although thinking about it the follwing things have happened. We have kept some of the things that have come out like  the old front door and  extra windows, we might reuse them to go on the shed my husband is dreaming of building, if not we will freecycle them for someone with more imagination to build something out of. Through facebook we got some free radiators that came out of someone’s house. We have kept some of the bricks from the knocked out walls so we can build a wall in the garden, the extra roof tiles we needed turned out to be second-hand as they don’t make them anymore and the insulation put in as a matter of course has some good green credentials. Obviously all the waste and rubbish created by the builders has gone away in a skip to be recycled at the skip hire end. From a purely monetary point of view we are trying to create as little waste as possible and reuse what we can where we can.

So maybe the extension which at first seemed like an extravagant way to create more space rather than get rid of things is more lagom than we first thought. (If nothing else we are using less gas at the moment because husband has taken out half the radiators). It has already created a better bedroom for my son and a  better ventilated (and bigger) bathroom. The downstairs space will have more light in it and the large open plan room downstairs, that had to be partitioned by curtains in the winter just to stay warm, will be split into two smaller and easier to heat rooms. The stairs are being turned so they are no longer in the lounge, which means the heat and sound will not escape up them anymore. I am hoping it will make the children’s rooms quieter at night and create a cosy room for us to be together as a family in (or watch TV). Upstairs the laundry will have its own room and radiator, so no more socks blocking the heat on radiators downstairs and no more damp clothes in front of the telly. The laundry room was an afterthought really as we had a space with no use, but  I think it might be one of the best changes in the whole thing.

There is still a long way to go until it is finished, the builders have gone and my dad has come to live with us for a while to get things done. The extension has been planned for a long time, one of my reasons for applying for the lagom project was because we knew we would be starting the extension this year- as it happened we did not start until after the project had finished. I do, however, think that some of the lagom principles might help influence the finish inside – especially when choosing curtains and furniture that might save energy and time.

But that is enough for now, this was just meant to be a quick update of all I had been thinking about- maybe for another blog I will add some photos to compare changes (although I will have to work out how to get them on the computer from wherever they are…).

Until then, stay warm.