First Check-In: August Achievements

This is my first newsletter. Grab a tea and lets catchup!

Photo of a toddler sneaker on a couch with cluttered room in background
Photo by T, 4 years old

One month has passed since I wrote my first blog post. I only wrote one more blog post since then, but a lot has happened behind the scenes so I wanted to reflect on the progress.

To recap the 5 year goal is a 3 bed home so the boys can have some privacy during their teens. I've been thinking a lot about this goal and how to achieve it. I came to a few conclusions:

Adjusting Expectations

The 3 bed flats in our area that we have been dreaming of are most likely out of our budget. I did the calculations and we would basically have to earn over £4000 a month (net) extra to afford that kind of mortgage comfortably.

Let's be real, that would be some SERIOUS "side" hustle. Even with some suspense of disbelief I can't see myself getting to that point within the next 5 years fast enough that it would contribute in a meaningful way without breaking the law or selling my soul.

So the new top priority is downsizing. I realised I wanted a bigger house, because I want less mess. The mess is correlated to the living space, but mostly it is a result of our bad habits. Money can't fix our bad habits. We'd probably fill up a bigger house with even more stuff and be in the same position in no time.

If we could cut down on all the clutter, I can see us happily living in a house with 3 bedrooms that is the same amount of square meters as we're currently living in - which means it's much more affordable. This makes the 5 year goal a lot more realistic. I am still intent on starting a side hustle, but this takes the pressure off.

Another realisation I had this week:

The quickest solution to a problem is simply taking yourself out of the equation.

Because we've got big dreams, but we have to remember it's a marathon not a race. Never to forget the here & now and being present with the family. So pick your fights, conserve your energy and keep directing every step towards the best return on investment for our family.

Baby Steps

We started a Trello board to keep track of all the plates we have to keep spinning in order to run our household: life admin, house maintenance, but also our bigger 2023 goals like decluttering, creating family core memories and "the hustle". Here's what we've achieved in August towards these 3 goals:


Created a separate Trello board of all items to get rid of.

I love adding new cards to the board by simply taking a pic of an item. Adding them to the backlog that way and then deciding which list to drag them in to makes it satisfying before getting the job done. It makes the task fun to start on!

Family Core Memories

I started working on T's baby photo album, using Mixbook. It will cover the 3,5 years between his birth and that of his little brother.

To make the task more manageable I've set the goal to curate and layout all photos spanning 4 month periods per week - at this rate the photo album should be finished by the end of this year.

The workflow is as follow:

  • First make a selection of photos from the relevant 4 months and put them in a separate album
  • Having the pictures in a separate album makes it easier to do a second pass and further cut down the amount of photos. I aim to have around 150 (and that's still a bit to much, but it's so hard to curate photos of your loved ones I swear)
  • Then I upload the pictures from that album to my Mixbook project. Again I use this as a third pass and try to once more reduce the amount of photos.
  • Lastly I select 5-7 photos at a time and drag them on to a blank page. Mixbook has added a great new feature that will automatically lay out the pictures for you!
  • As we have 3,5 years to cover in this one album, I try to be mindful of how many pages I'm creating for 4 months, trying not to go over 3 per month (because there's 42 month in total, so that would already come down to 126 pages in total, not including the special events like holidays that would easily fill up multiple pages on its own). But honestly, at some point I just cannot choose anymore, and I'll just pay for the extra cost or it would simply never get finished.

The Hustle

Jay has signed up for catinaflat and is slowly becoming a popular pick for this area getting lots of catsitting requests to look after cute kitties! For all my talk about starting a side hustle, he is definitely the most successful at actually hustling. My blog shenanigans have only cost money so far.

Speaking of the blog, the dream is not dead - obviously, or you wouldn't be reading this update. Here's what has been going on behind the scenes:

  • Changed the CMS (content management system) from self-hosted Wordpress to self-hosted Ghost.
Why? Because I could not get on with Wordpress. It feels very outdated and unintuitive to use. Ghost was much more of a challenge to set up, but it is an absolute pleasure to use! Content creation in this system is a fun experience.
  • Because I wanted to self-host Ghost, I also had to change my hosting plans, as it would require a VPS (Virtual Private Server). I might sound like I know what I'm talking about at this point, but I had never heard of that before promise. I had a friend who told me about Ghost when I was struggling with Wordpress and was kind enough to talk me through some of the basics to get started, so I just followed her lead. I cancelled my multi-year subscription with Hostinger (they were great about it, excellent customer service) and decided to go with Ditital Ocean, because it was recommended by Ruby and it came with a "1-click" Ghost installation.
  • The Ghost Installation still required a lot of research and trouble-shooting to get to work in the end, I feel like I could write an entire blog post about that! There are definitely easier ways to start a blog, but because in the back of my mind I still have ambitions to learn web development (some time before retirement), I figured I wanted to get comfortable with these kind of tasks.
  • I also managed to set up the member subscription (subscribe now so you can comment and be the first to receive my newsletter if I have anything interesting to update you about!)
  • And Mailgun to handle newsletters (hopefully)
  • I somehow (I got distracted) also ended up setting up buymeacoffee account (to be able to receive small donations) and a Stripe account (for the transactions). I have literally nothing worth charging for yet, but hey these are the means of an "indie hacker" to make money, so I figured I might as well figure out how to do it and just get started.

That's it, you're all up to date!

Let me know if you have any requests for what kind of content you'd like to see covered in this blog. Do you like these kind of personal "in the trenches, figuring things out as I go" posts, or would you be interested in more detailed, in-depth breakdowns like the mortgage post?

Also this is my first newsletter, if you're a member I'd love to hear if you received it!

x Xan