Stoptober & Go Sober for October Challenge

Well it has been another busy few weeks here with the start of the new school term and lots of changes taking place at work. I have been feeling pretty rough & tired and the anxiety has been bothering me, so I have decided that it is time to make some changes.

I have wanted to stop smoking for a long time now and with Stoptober coming up I have decided that now is the time to do it. I also saw a campaign on Facebook to Go Sober in October and raise funds for Macmillan Cancer research, which is a charity I like to support where possible due to the effects that cancer has had on a number of my friends and family. As I find it much more difficult to avoid smoking if I have had a drink I am going to join this challenge too and hopefully raise a bit of money in the process. If you would like to support my challenge and donate to Macmillan you can do so here.

During a visit to the doctors this week I was also advised to cut out caffeine so I am going to give this a go as well as trying to eat my five portions of fruit & veg a day, as at the moment I can go for the best part of a week without seeing any fruit!

Quitting smoking is definitely going to be the biggest challenge. I have quit on a number of occasions before, mainly around the times that I had my children but I also managed to stop for a few years before I started my current job. Smoking is part of my daily routine and going out for a cigarette from work is the only time I get any daylight during the winter months. I have ordered my kit from the NHS website but as there are only two days to go until the start of the challenge I need some other strategies to support me. I have tried nicotine replacement of various types before but these all make me feel ill so this is not an option this time. I have succeeded in giving up before after reading Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking book. I still have a copy on the bookshelf so reading this again is going to be my first step. You are supposed to continue smoking as you read the book so I will need to read it quickly!

I am a regular visitor of the forums at moneysavingexpert.com and have used their excellent demotivator tool to work out how much money I will be saving and how long I would need to work for to pay for my smoking over the course of a year. I will save approximately £3000 per year if I manage to stop smoking which would make a huge difference to our family finances and allow me to buy myself a few treats!

My second biggest challenge will be cutting down on caffeine. I drink a lot of tea and carry a full travel mug with me everywhere I go. I suffer from headaches if I don’t drink caffeine so this will be unpleasant for a few days. I do like some herbal teas and I also like water infused with fruit. I think I will use some of the money I save on smoking to treat myself to a fruit infusing water bottle like this one and a selection of expensive fruit teas!

Giving up alcohol will be less of a challenge as I do not usually drink heavily but I do go to the pub twice a week and have a pint or two and I have the occasional bottle of wine at home. Giving up the wine will be easy as I just won’t buy any but I will need to find an alternative to beer in the pub. I am not a fan of fizzy drinks so most soft drinks are not an option. The pub does serve hot chocolate though so I will give that a go. (Hot chocolate does contain a small amount of caffeine but this is much lower than a cup of tea).

The main reason that my diet is somewhat lacking in anything nutritious is that I am often grabbing food on the go. If I am to eat more fruit then I need to make sure that I have it available at work so then I will eat that rather than the usual diet of chocolates, cakes and sweets that are often available. As I will be saving so much money I think I can stretch to an organic fruit box that I can have delivered to work. We have had organic food delivered in the past from riverford.co.uk so I will set myself up a delivery and then I have no excuse!

This seems like quite a daunting set of changes to make all at once but I am determined to give it a try and see if cutting out the stimulants has an effect on my anxiety levels and my overall wellbeing. By sharing my plans I am now far more likely to actually achieve my goals so I will be updating the blog with my progress as the month goes on.

If you are planning on joining any of these challenges then let me know in the comments and we can try to keep each other motivated!

Junk Mail Plantpots

A few days ago I received a pack of tomato seeds from Heinz from a competition here: https://www.facebook.com/HeinzKetchupUK/app_300380653443730

I decided to plant them this weekend as the kids love growing their own plants, but when I went to get the seed trays they had all broken over the winter. Not to be deterred we decided to make some pots of our own from stuff that we had lying around the house. The first plan was to make some paper mache pots from a pile of old newspapers. Unfortunately this plan was thwarted as someone had thrown them away! All we could find was a pile of junk mail so we decided to have a go at making some from that instead. First we gathered together some PVA glue, some plastic cups to use as moulds, some vaseline and a bowl. We covered the outside of the cups with the vaseline, watered down the PVA glue and tore the junk mail into small pieces.

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It was then time to get dirty! No 4 had a lovely time dipping her hands into the mixture and plastering it all over the cup (I quite enjoyed it too – there is something quite addictive about peeling dry PVA glue from things)

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When we had coated the cups with a thick layer of paper mache it was time to leave them to dry. It had taken us the best part of an hour and at this stage we only had two pots.

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We decided that we would never have enough pots to plant all of the seeds at this rate so needed a quicker method of making them. I remember seeing small pots made of newspaper and looked up a method for making them. Unfortunately most methods required pieces of equipment that we didn’t have but we did find one method that used a wine bottle. We made one of these but the pot was far too big for our purposes. Having search the crockery cupboard for something smaller that had a big enough hole in the bottom we were almost ready to give up when we thought of trying to make them using the inside of a toilet roll. We were really pleased with the results so I thought I would share how we made them:

Step 1

Cut a thick strip of the junk mail that is long enough to go around the toilet roll middle at least twice. Place the toilet roll middle on the strip, leaving enough paper at the bottom to tuck into the end to make the base.

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Step 2

Roll the paper around the tube and tuck the loose paper into the end.

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Step 3

Turn the pot the correct way up and flatten the paper inside to make a base. (We used the end of a spoon to help with this).

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Step 4

Remove the tube and there you have it!

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We had far more fun than taking a trip to B&Q, we reused some of the junk mail and it didn’t cost us any money.

Hopefully the paper mache pots will be dry tomorrow as we are going to paint them before planting the seeds. I will post some pics of the finished product when they are done.