View Full Version : Avi's French blog (others welcome)
09/01/2011, 06:31 am
So, I've been using the Whatever thread as a blog, but it's a bit... chaotic, to say the least, so I figured I'd start a blog thread here instead. But I want everyone to be able to comment at any time and add their own blogs too, so I figured a thread rather than, you know, an actual blog would work better.
I figure if you have anything to say about your day that's actually descriptive and specific, you can talk about it here (pics are welcome). For more general comments about life, the universe, and everything, the whatever thread is probably still our best bet though.
So. I'll start with explaining my situation. I'm in France on welfare right now. Moneyphobics beware, I'm about to talk about money (and I'll do it a LOT. I love talking about money. It allows me to feel like I have some control over my life when I can crunch the numbers.) The rest of this post is only about money, and it will feature in pretty much every post afterwards. So, be warned I guess.
So, I get €410 a month. My rent is €190, my debt repayment+savings plan (more on that later) is €125 and probably going to get higher, my phone+Internet bill is €32 and my electricity+water bill is as of yet unknown and will be different every month (I'll know how much it is for the first month later today).
I'm potentially able to get help from the state for both my rent and my phone+Internet bill, the latter from the unemployment agency because it finances tools that can help you find a job (and having a phone and the Internet counts) and the former from the welfare place in a different category as the welfare I'm already getting (just like if I had kids for instance I'd get welfare for that but from yet another service).
It is unknown to me if getting these from one side would result in lower payments from the other side, so right now I'm assuming I'm not getting any of it.
The saving plan is because I started a savings plan that you have to pay tax on if you stop within the first 8 years (or take out any money from it), and it's only been six years, so I don't want to stop it, and the debt is over some stupid stuff that happened while I was in Canada, plus some debt of my husband's that I thought had been paid before I left for Canada but hadn't been.
The total debt is €1,500, they're accepting payments of anything or even nothing because I'm on welfare, however I want it paid off. Right now I'm only paying the minimum I could think of, which is €10 a month (the 115 is the saving plan). I do want to raise it though once I've crunched the numbers better and know what I can afford to pay.
Right now with the numbers I have, I'm at €63 a month for my bills plus other expenses (food, laundry, clothes, etc). I'm going to track my expenses for September and see how much I spend so I can decide by how much to raise my debt repayment (which as I understand it has frozen interest right now). Also, I plan on putting any windfall I get on debt repayment.
On that note, so you don't worry too much about me, you should know that when I got married I put €6,000 on an account in my husband's name that neither of us touched since. When we separated, it was part of the separation agreement we signed that he would return that money to me (and I would leave all the Canadian accounts to him). At this time (eight months later) he has not, but when he does I will be able to repay the debt completely and use the rest of the money for the regular 115 payment to the saving account, meaning I will get use of the whole €410 a month.
Anyways. Now that I've crunched the numbers in this post, I'll start my next post about food, with pictures!
(Because I'll be posting a lot, including double posts, mods should feel free to move this thread to the Games forum so that my posts don't count. I honestly couldn't care less about that, but some people might so have at it.)
09/01/2011, 07:32 am
I can't believe it, stupid forum swallowed my post :( Here you go again for a much shorter version.
Got a ziploc bag from my dad to take leftovers in, used it to freeze carrots after peeling and slicing them. I assume you could make your own veggie mixes that way, too, but I only had carrots:
Here is the freezing area of my fridge:
I'll research buying frozen veggies vs fresh produce. The freezing area is small and I wouldn't trust it too much, but it should keep things from rotting for a little big longer :p
Here is what I cooked today (plus carrots. What I bagged and froze was what was left afterwards, I actually did it while the food was cooking):
This is what a portion of food looks like (I know, pictures of lentils tend to look disgusting. I swear it was delicious though):
I pretty much always use that bowl to eat in. My meals usually consist in one bowl protein, one or two bowls grain. I have one or two meals per day, and due to my sleep schedule (28 hour days) I have six days per week.
Today's batch yielded 5 portions of protein (3 in the red container, one each in the other two):
I will research buying dry pulses vs canned ones as I can cook just what I need this way, instead of opening a can and needing to finish it up fast. On the other hand the store is far away and many pulses require overnight soaking. I'm also not completely sure it would be cheaper.
Money crunching time:
Carrots: €1 per Kg
Lentils: €0.50 per can (800g including liquid, 500g of just lentils)
Tofu: 200g, got for free from my dad. I don't usually buy tofu so I have no interest in pricing it.
Rice: €0.7 per Kg
09/01/2011, 07:39 am
You have a thread just for your blogs? Fuckin' A. Consider me subscribed.
09/01/2011, 01:50 pm
Ah, I was wondering why your messages always showed up at odd times for your time zone. 28-hour days would explain it. Would you care to comment on why you are living 28-hour days?
(I know, I just gave you an excuse to start with, "Well, on my home planet...")
09/01/2011, 02:29 pm
Would you care to comment on why you are living 28-hour days?
I've always had sleeping issues, from the time I was a little kid. I tried a variety of sleeping schedules, including a "natural" one (going to bed when I'm tired, getting up when I get up). Most were impossible for me to keep up with, and the natural one was impractical because I could never plan anything due to not knowing when I'd be up on a given day (and I really had no clue if any given time would be the middle of my "day" or the middle of my "night").
The 28 hour day has been working, and it has the advantage right now of having me up in the weekends at the right time to spend time with Seamus, and during the week I'm up during the day (more or less depending on which day of the week) so I can do things that require day activity.
If I find a job, I most likely won't be able to set a schedule that can follow that exactly so I'll have to make adjustments, but right now it's been working for me, I can plan things as I know depending on the weekday what time I'll be up or asleep, I can do day things during the week and spend time up at the same time as my boyfriend during the weekend, and I'm neither constantly tired nor unable to sleep.
Also, because I have a schedule to refer to, it's easier to deal with unplanned differences. If I know I have to be up at a time I normally wouldn't be, I can split my sleep by reducing the main sleep and adding a shorter nap (either first or afterwards) and still be up for what it is I need to be up for, and it only "messes up" that specific day, not the whole thing.
It can be a bit weird not being like everyone else, but it does mean I get to enjoy more different things. For instance I can spend time with people in different time zones on different weekdays, and I can spend time up during the day or up during the night depending on the weekday (both of which I enjoy in different ways).
The only thing is that it's sometimes a bit harder to keep track of what day it is, since there are 7 days and I only sleep 6 times, but I just check on my computer so that's not a big issue.
09/02/2011, 06:17 am
I'm now a subscriber. Will read this with great interest.
09/02/2011, 07:15 am
I went to buy groceries, and I'll use that opportunity to talk about eggs in France, since it was done differently in North America.
First, my groceries:
I got eggs, as you can see. So, in France, all eggs that are sold need to be stamped. On that stamp are two things: the date it way laid, and a special code. The code identifies the place where the eggs come from, but what interests me mosts is the first number, which goes from 0 to 3.
0: free range, organic eggs.
1: free range eggs.
2: hens raised inside but not in cages.
3: caged hens.
This numbering is the main reason why the eggs on this pictures are pretty much the only non-eco+ article. (The bread - behind the eggs - isn't either because this store doesn't carry it and the store that does is half an hour away).
I only buy eggs that are 0 or 1, so instead I just get eggs less often.
To my knowledge, the US and Canada don't have such regulations, which makes it a bit harder when buying eggs (for me personally).
What I like with this brand is that sometimes you'll still have hay sticking to the eggs, and they're hand picked and all. These are a number 1 though, I don't really care about eggs being organic, especially on a budget (6 very large 1-eggs are cheaper than 4 small 0-eggs).
Also note how they're different colours. I love stuff like that. It feels less like a factory and more like picking them directly at the farm.
Oh, and I typically get the biggest eggs I can, this way I only use one in a meal instead of two.
I also got a box of 3 individual pizzas. This is an experiment, as I don't have an oven and have no clue how it will turn out. I like these though because they call it margherita, but it also has z*cchini (edit: the forum won't let me write that word without censoring it. What the heck?), not just tomatoes. It also has very little cheese, probably due to being cheap, but that's good for me as I try to avoid dairy (harder to do on a budget, though).
The other items are pretty straightforward: simple pasta sauce, more rice (different type than last time though, this one is smaller rounder grains), bread and tissues.
I mostly made this post because I wanted to talk about the egg stuff, but while we're at it...
Number crunching time:
6 very large 1-eggs: €1.8
3x300g pizzas: €1.3 (barely more than the single 180g pizza I bought the other day!)
1Kg round rice: €0.7
500g bread: €0.8
150 tissues: €0.55
400g pasta sauce: €0.55
It never ceases to amaze me how cheap stuff can be. None of it is amazing quality of course, but a lot of it doesn't have a huge difference with similar products, sold at the same place, that sometimes cost five or ten times that. In the same city, in the same store. It's pretty amazing, considering I'm already going to a discount store to begin with (at the store where my parents go, the cheapest items will be more than the most expensive ones at the place I shop).
It amazes me how easy it has been to eat for a fraction of what I did. And I'm not trying to tell people who struggle that it's their fault or anything, I realise some areas won't have a discount store at all, and some areas will have discount stores that still charge way more than regular stores do here.
So I'm not talking about the prices themselves, but the range. It's kind of amazing. I used to eat out every so often without so much as thinking about it, sometimes for €5 or so, sometimes for €20 or so, very rarely for more in fancier places. Now that I have to really keep track, I look at it and it's... I don't know, I guess it amazes me how much more I was willing to spend out of convenience when I could afford it easily.
And it's not like I'm having an epiphany or anything, here. When I get a regular income and starts earning good money, I'm likely to upgrade, at the very least to a brand I enjoy more, to junk food every so often, to some more "luxury" items (such as dessert), and to eating out from time to time. And it's normal. But... I'm not doing that now, and it surprises me how fine I am anyways.
Oh, and I checked, the cheapest pack of frozen vegetables was about 150% of the cheapest fresh produce. And I can buy just the amount I want and freeze it myself rather than having to go by packs of 1Kg. So I'll stick with fresh produce.
09/02/2011, 01:16 pm
150 tissues: €0.55
Vaguely related to cheap tissues: cheap single-ply toilet paper. It's always seemed like a false economy to me - surely you just use twice as much?? I wanted to do a comparison of price per 100 squares to see if it really is genuinely cheaper than double ply, but apparently my posh local supermarket considers itself above stocking single ply stuff. :P
So, in France, all eggs that are sold need to be stamped.
Those egg stamps are an EU standard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range#European_Union). I do find the stamps rather amusing - I like to think of the eggs being stamped like that as they roll out of the chicken. :p
The UK codes are a little different, we have no "laid on" date.
I only ever buy free range eggs (like you, I don't much care about organic). There's supposed to be an EU ban on battery cage egg production (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14751522) starting next year, which is good news indeed for poor cage hens.
Something I've been enjoying lately is mini Babybel cheeses (picked some up because they were on special offer in the supermarket).
I love the whole ritual associated with these things. First you unwrap the cellophane, and find the little paper tab...
... then you unzip the cheese ...
... then ...
... you play Pacman!
Or make a half-arsed cheese wax Mary Poppins.
So yeah, I've taken to calling these things Pacman cheese. Most people look at me oddly for that, but obviously everything makes sense within my own little world.
Hey-o kids, this is what responsible adults do in their spare time.
09/02/2011, 02:14 pm
I used to play with the Babybel wax and not eat the cheese because I didn't like it :p
Good to know I'm not the only one... Never played Pac-man with them though.
I've wondered about toilet paper, too... The different kinds, and also which is cheaper of TP and tissues... I have handkerchiefs but when I get bad allergies they get used up too fast, and since I hand wash stuff and then they take a couple of days to dry... that's not the most practical.
09/02/2011, 02:25 pm
Must have been the scorn of the school cleaners, since that wax sticks to the ceiling like a motherheffer.
09/02/2011, 03:27 pm
Wow, I never knew z*cchini was so obscene! You'd think it was the plural of Winslow or something!
Anyway, there is no requirement to label eggs based on origin in the U.S., but if they are labeled, they have to be labeled correctly. So you can get organic, free-range eggs, but they're a lot more expensive than the hide-their-origin eggs. Unless you go to a farmer's market (where you trust the farmers), or know someone with a chicken. Or ask Mr. Featherly.
I have a job that pays enough to eat out frequently, and also drains enough energy that I prefer to either do that or eat something really simple to make (which is usually more expensive than raw ingredients). If I ever find myself unemployed with lots of time on my hands, I'll definitely be more adventurous in attempting to cook with cheaper ingredients.
09/02/2011, 03:29 pm
I love Babybels! I used to peel them just for fun as a kid. Will play Pacman with them from now on. They're expensive though, so not ideal for Avistew's budget (or indeed mine, when I eventually move out). There's usually some Babybels in the fridge for my teenage sisters but I still munch sometimes and get moaned at. No more of that though, as of yesterday. God I hate being on a diet.
09/07/2011, 04:36 am
So I just spent an hour writing a post about the most terrifying experience I've had in a while, and the forum ate it, and now the first time drained me too much and scared me too much for me to muster the courage to do it again.
It sucks because I've been wanting to talk about it with someone for over 24 hours and well I never got a chance to, and I thought maybe I could do it in this thread and now it's not happening either.
I hate it :(
09/07/2011, 06:12 am
Copy it to clipboard first just in case. That's what I always do now.
09/07/2011, 06:50 am
Copy it to clipboard first just in case. That's what I always do now.
Yeah... I used to do that, but then I stopped posting here for a while, and the posts I did make weren't taking long enough to write to hit the time limit (it seems to me when you take longer than a certain amount of time to write a post is when it bugs) so I lost the habit.
I'll definitely try to pick it up again.
09/07/2011, 07:48 am
MMMHMM! That looks good! You're speaking to my stomach! I'm really starting to love you! XD
Thanks for sharing. That looks good! I love this thread, reminds me how much I love to eat! Let's get it on in here! I got to try some of these recipes. I wish it wasn't just French, but I respect that it is. MMMHMMM.
I approve this thread, as a cooking thread. MMMHMMM!
09/08/2011, 07:00 am
My appointment with a psychiatrist is tomorrow.
I lost the paper from my main doctor directing me to a shrink. In France, that means I'm not eligible to be reimbursed completely because I didn't follow the proper steps (or rather can't prove I did).
I asked my ex-roommate if she found it (which was a bit embarrassing. I hadn't told her I was going to see a shrink) and she didn't. I contacted my main doctor for a copy but my appointment is tomorrow so it's likely to be too late.
The full cost would be €75, which you'll remember as more than I have left after my rent but before food and bills. I don't know how much of that would be reimbursed anyways.
I'm just thinking, maybe I can ask him to fax it to the shrink. I'll have to see about that.
EDIT: Good News, EveryoneTM! My main doctor's secretary called back. He is out of his office on Tuesdays and Thursdays because that's the days he goes to people's homes rather than them going to his office (I can never remember which days it is) but he'll have a new copy ready for me to pick up on my way to my psychiatrist.
It was also my first time speaking to the secretary and not the doctor directly (I've never seen her either). She sounds awesome.
So, problem solved it seems. That's a relief. Now to find my tweezers.
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