I’m a completely different person

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Courtesy of Huffingtonpost.co.uk

This must be true because my Mum told my son, and he told me.

Four months after I gave up the day job, I look back at Office Me and I begin to understand what was up with her.

  • She was big on security and routine, but so hungry for distraction and human interaction that she had to self-impose a social media ban during work hours.
  • She was generous with money but mean with her time.
  • She had always put all her energy into doing things well, but regularly felt that nothing was ever good enough.
  • On waking, she would instantly be alert for the next thing to dread.

Now I don’t have material riches, but life is richly varied. I’m in control of what I do with my time, and I can afford to be generous with it.

I have plenty of work now, but I managed not to let it bother me when I didn’t have much, and that is the real achievement.

At the Café where I volunteer, it struck me this week that everyone leaves happier than when they came in. I love being part of that.

I spend time with people who need to talk. I sit in cafes with my parents, just watching the world go by and shooting the breeze.

I realise that in my previous existence, busyness was eating away at my humanity.

I have spent concentrated time working lately, enjoying the task with the windows open, birds singing and bees pottering in and out.

When I went into the office for a meeting, my lovely ex-colleagues looked oddly immobile, as though someone had clamped them to their chairs. When I asked how they were, they all said, ‘busy’.

I know that many people don’t have the chance to give up their day job, and that it wouldn’t suit everyone. But it seems to be working out for me.

And now my frugal tip of the week:

Join the library!

Having not been for years, I went in, joined at no cost at all and on the spot ordered a thriller that had been published that very day: When She Was Bad by Tammy Cohen. Within a couple of weeks, an email came to say it was ready for me. I have it for three weeks, but it isn’t going to take that long to finish it, because it’s gripping – and all for free! If you’re looking to make a saving on books but don’t want to miss out on the latest titles – what could be better?

And if you’re into cheap eating, have a go at this frugal recipe:

Roast cauliflower with black pudding and olives

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This is adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from the Guardian. I always think his food looks tasty but lose interest when I see the 13 obscure ingredients and a pan I don’t have. This, however, is dead easy and  really cheap.

1 large cauliflower separated into small florets

150g of black pudding, skinned and cut into big chunks

A large onion cut into wedges

A handful of pitted green olives (buy them in big jars, in brine – try Lidl)

2 tsp smoked paprika (cheapest in Asian shops)

A handful of pumpkin seeds

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

3tbsp olive oil (doesn’t have to be extra virgin, again, Lidl or Asda)

Salt and pepper

Handful of chopped parsley

Heat the oven to Gas 7, 220C, 425F. Put everything except the parsley in a bowl with salt and pepper, mix well and spread out in a roasting tin lined with greaseproof paper. Roast for 25–30 minutes until the cauliflower is golden and soft. The black pudding will be cooked through and this is healthier than frying. The original recipe had chorizo but I have discovered a passion for black pudding and it’s so cheap!