Archive | December 2012

# 138 Farewell 2012

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So here we are. The last post of the year. The last day of 2012.

My blog a day didn’t quite match up to expectations but I have enjoyed it. I’ve averaged about 14 hits a day and exceeded my 5000 total hit rate so I must be doing something right. I’m going to carry on in 2013 because ‘why not’.

Again, it’s unlikely to be a ‘blog a day’ but I know from the comments I’ve had and the way I have used it that it has served a purpose.

I was considering migrating everything over to WordPress. I’ve already moved my business page over there. But I like this format for a more personal approach. So I’m just going to leave it where it is. I hope that those of you who were reading this year, carry on. And that I gain some new readers as well.

So happy new year everyone. See you in 2013!  

# 137 Gluttony

And so the annual festive gluttony comes to an end. We’re all rolling around from too many mince pies and turkey and promising ourselves never to do it again (until next week anyway) and even more of us have made a new year resolution to get fitter, healthier and cut down on the food and booze.

No doubt Weight Watchers will be inundated with its usual new year numbers who, a couple of months later, will be conspicuous by their absence at meetings. The same goes for gym memberships. By March, the good intentions have worn off.

Will Self wrote an article for BBC News this week on just such a subject. Food is good, of that there is no doubt but it can get terribly out of hand and we do as a nation eat in unnecessarily huge amounts and waste food at a shocking rate. I am disturbed at how food orientated we all are now. Even a visit to a shopping centre will see customers stopping for coffee and cake breaks. What, you couldn’t manage two hours of shopping without a snack?

Living on a tight budget has given me a much greater respect for food. Nothing is ever wasted. If too much is cooked, it’ll probably be served up the next day and I have learnt to curb my shopping habits and stick to my modest list, bake my own and keep things simple.

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It’s been several years now since I instilled this way of eating. I’ve noticed a huge natural decline in my appetite. So much so that when I go home for visits I struggle to manage on the quantity and more often the range of food presented to me. In restaurants ‘all you can eat’ buffets are wasted on me these days.  And I struggle to process a lot of the convenience foods and preservatives slipped into precooked products.

Resolutions are great, but they tend to be short lived. The key is changing lifestyle habits permanently and that isn’t something you can do over night. Our obsession with food is an addiction like any other – smoking, coffee, gambling. You have to reprogramme your brain.

There is nothing wrong with feeling hungry, you won’t starve or drop dead and you don’t have to cram your cupboards full of every deal you fell for in the supermarket. (something I used to do). We’re not going to get snowed in for 3 months and you won’t die from skipping the odd meal.

So in 2013, think twice before you reach for that extra biscuit. Did you even need the biscuits? Do you need to eat between meals? Really?

# 136 Bucket List

One of my most poignant presents this year was a gift from the ‘food aid’ fairy. Yes we get them most years in my family – a bag of edible treats. But this year it was full of the basics. Gratefully accepted of course, but it made me question just what it was I was doing.

I expected things to be hard. Running your own business, existing on what you can make from commissions is not easy. And I picked a bad time to do it. But do I really need to put myself through this amount of hardship and stress? Is it going to pay off? And why should I punish myself like this when really I could take a back step until things ease up.

I stopped making new year resolutions sometime back. Rules are made to be broken. But I came across the bucket list in a film reference the other day and thought this would be a better way to go about the same process with less rigidity and hopefully remind me that there is more to life than working to barely get by.

So instead I am making up lists of things I want to do before I die, rather than things I have to do in the next 12 months. You can keep track of your own success or use a website like Bucketlist.

My list is small right now but that’s because I have an immediate list that needs more attention. More effort towards the business and to find a job to help ease things along.

Because a little bit of me if currently wondering what I am doing this for and whether it will all be worth it in the end.

# 135 Playing catch up

I have spent most of the last two weeks lying on my back, on a sofa, in my PJ’s wishing I could die. Yes, I’ve been ill and since I don’t do ill very often, I also do it badly and without grace.

Christmas was almost cancelled but somehow I was granted an 11th hour reprieve and at 3pm on Christmas Eve I jumped in the car and whizzed off to Kent to see my family. It’s going to be a short break however, since I have 10 days of catch up which includes housework, business admin and general getting back to normality. No rest for the wicked it would seem.

I don’t know whether it was being ill or the general foisting of Christmas upon us at the ridiculous season of ‘summer’ but I really wasn’t that bothered about the festivities this year. I never got that Christmas feeling at all. And I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. I’m sure it’s a combination of incessant advertising morning noon and night, and the general air of recession upon us which hasn’t helped. It’s hard to feel jolly about Christmas, feasting and presents (well Christmas IS the most materialistic time of year) when you don’t have the funds to spend and all around you stores are vying for your money.

I blew my entire December profits on the meagre offerings I could make to friends and family this year and it felt like a real let down. All I can think about now is how I’m going to make it through January, the longest month between paychecks and even longer when you’re the business with a niche market.

I don’t expect for one minute I am the only one feeling the apprehension of what lies ahead in 2013 and I will think of more positive things to write about over the next few days but for now, it’s an overriding thought in my head. It’s very hard to switch off.

But for now, back to the turkey sandwiches. 

# 134 War Of The Supermarket Brands

Asda’s took a rap for their blatantly stereotypical tv advertising campaign this festive season. I was dumbfounded by their lack of ingenuity. Apparently it came as a response to surveys carried out on their shoppers. Perhaps, but it didn’t ring true with everyone. Whilst I did think it was a sexist viewpoint, sadly it is also true in many households. I know it will be in mine.

In case you missed it (and if you did where the hell have you been???), here’s the advert in full:

The John Lewis campaign apparently came in tops. I don’t like this one either. For no other reason than its sickly sweetness – typical of John Lewis advertising. See it here:

If I had to pick the most skillful campaign I’d go with Tesco. Not because I am a Tesco shopper (which I am) but because it successfully manages to avoid the pitfalls of the other campaigns. They have produced a range of short adverts with a variety of scenarios to cover all their customers. And they all feature well recognised not so Christmassy music. Here’s their one for Christmas Day – not a Christmas song in sight.

But top award has to go to Aldi for its sense of humour. Is it me or does this seem suspiciously like a take on the John Lewis advert?

So there you have it. All different approaches. But all with the same motive at the heart of their campaign. To take your money and improve their profits.

But did you change your shopping loyalty based on any of these campaigns?