Monday, 31 March 2008

Home ~ in my imagination


My husband is still in hospital. Maybe it is his gall bladder & maybe not. Less is known than I previously thought. He is drugged up on pain killing morphine and unable to sleep properly because when you get to certain age you definitely need to sleep in your own bed at night. So he is grumpy because he is in pain and also because he isn;t sleeping. But all the same I miss him. The bed is way too big, even with both cats in with me (okay, there are some advantages - I am never normally allowed both cats.)and I wake up because it is too quiet.

So there is more to a home than keeping house. The occupants make it a home and when someone is removed from it then the balance is all wrong. I say removed rather than just away because he often goes off for weeks at a time to visit family and I can sleep just fine after our bed time call each evening.

When we have time off together we like to do something mildly creative, over Easter it was a day of making sausages and another day of mending ( I notice his input was mostly supervisory rather than practical)so I thought that I would make little list whilst he is away if things we can make try together, I will also include some investigation into 'the best way' of doing these things. I have a couple of things on my list from excessive blog reading of recent.

1)Making Greek Yogurt - I already do this but I think I could do it better and will be trying to recipe on Beans blog spot.
2)Making sausages - our first go was pretty good but we can experiment more and record the successes and failure.
3)Planting some chili seeds to grow on the windowsill ( I usually grown them on the allotment but they don't get hot enough, this time i will try them through glass)
4)Sprouting beans, chick peas etc for our amazing stir fries.
5)Reading up on cheese making. I am sure I can manage a nice 'brie'.
6) Any ideas from anyone??

I also need to dig about in the shed to find his marquetry work box. When he is home he will get bored and I need something very non physical to keep him occupied initially.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

SOS (Super Organised Sunday)

It has to be so today because I have a weekend of work and two visits to the hospital to fit in. Very lucky the hospital is only 1/2 drive away. Not so lucky that British Summer Time begins today so we are already an hour short! (okay, not in reality but inside of my head.)
This morning my shopping is being delivered. I ordered it before beloved was taken into hospital with the intention of really sorting out my cupboard this morning. So the shopping includes stocking up on time tomatoes and other stables which I would not have done had I realised I was short of time. The shopping will arrive between 10am & Midday. Although experience suggests that it could arrive anytime up until 5pm as the guy that delivers it gets lost on a regular basis. Apparently our road does not appear on his Sat Nav but as he almost always makes the delivery I would have thought he learnt where we are by now. Anyway, today we will see.
So, whilst I am awaiting my delivery, I will make our bed and tidy the room. It isn't untidy so that wont take a moment, although there is clean clothes to be put away.
Then clean the bathroom. Just a quick clean of the bath, basin and loo, rather than a scrub of all the tiles. Vacuum right through upstairs and on the stairs. A quick tidy of the downstairs rooms. Again they are not really untidy so this shouldn't take long. Vacuum right through again and then a floor was for the hard floors. If they look okay after vacuuming then this may be put on hold.
Stack the dishwasher with anything which has been collected around the house and anything which is soaking.
Put the last load of washing on and dry the load which is in the washing machine. Dried clothes to be folded and sorted but putting away will have to wait until tomorrow.
Collect baby from my mums house and up to the hospital for a couple of hours.
Late lunch at mums (lovely mummy) and then to the swimming pool to tell the handful of customers that I could not reach by phone that lessons this week are cancelled.
Exchange one child for another and back to the hospital until end of visiting time.
Collapse in a big heap in bed, ready for work tomorrow morning!

Saturday, 29 March 2008

Busy Bunny

Beloved is in hospital again with an inflamed gall bladder. Its possible it is caused by his heart medication. They are treating it with anti biotics now with a view to an operation in about 6 weeks. It would be so good if they would just operate now and then its done.

So as well as working full (and then some at the moment - it is year end), running the swim school in his absence, keeping house and feeding the family, I am also likely to be up to the hospital for most of my free time in a day.

We do have good news though. The pain was such that they thought it might be his heart again but thankfully it wasn't. He is very happy about that when the morphine stops his pain enough for his to appreciate it!

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Two New Recipes

Well recipes might be too big a word for them but two two new 'things to cook'.
A couple of things going a little wrong have created new dishes for our repetoire.
On Sunday I made some yogurt. When I opened my flask on Monday it was sort of set but not very. Rather than 'flask' it up again I decided to us it up as it was. I blitzed it in the food processor with a packet of feta cheese and a couple of green chillies. We had this with a loaf of warm french bread for our supper. Scrummy.

Today I intended to make chicken and potatoes in the oven with lemon. Not something I had for years but I just fancied it. I chopped up my potatoes and layerd them in the bottom of a roasting pan. Placed the boned chicken thighs over the top. Then I poured an inch of chicken stock into the pan. When i went to grab a couple of lemons from the basket they had dried right out. Must have been in their longer than I thought. Instead I found a bottle of lemon and black peppar oil free salad dressing form the fridge. I splashed this liberally over the chicken, sprinked a little salt & oregano and then stuck it in the oven for an hour. The potatoes were in the yummy liquid and so cooked to perfect leaving the chicken to crisp up perfectly on top. This is definitely a new dish for regular use.

The only problem is that I haved raised expectations of the family a bit now and they are expecting another completely new but very yummy dinner again tomorrow! Oops.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Sausage Factory

I had a lovely day yesterday. We didn't go anywhere, inf act we literally didn't leave the house but we had a good day together. Some friends came over to visit in the morning. He is an electrician and did all of the wiring in our extension. He came over to see whether we were ready to connect the power and lights in the entension into the main house. We are not far enough along and must finish the guest bathroom before the power can be connected right through. The bathroom has been used for storage for some months and so we must complete some other works around the place to use up some of the things in storage in there. There is insulation and boarding to insulate the shed roof. There is also wood and tools to complete the doorway and window 'hole' that connects the kitchen with the new room. So now we can priortise our next jobs. After most of the contents of the bathroom have been used up than we can continue with that room.

After our friends had left we started on our sausage making experiment. I really did start with photos but the batteries went flat after the first picture so not a great success. ANyway we had a hand mincer from 'back in the day' when we were first married. We had three small half shoulders of lamb, a breast of lamb and about 1lb of oats, plus spices etc. We boned all the meats and minced them all through the mincer for a first time. We then added salt, black peppar (lots) and pomegranate syrup (very odd stuff but I am assured by the husband that it is essential). I blitzed the oats in the food processor and we sprinkled them on the top as well. This was then all mixed togther and forced through the mincer a second time. By this time my husband has a right arm like Popeye with muscles a bulging. Part way through we minced 4 red chillies into the meat but made sure the mix it all thoroughly before we start stuffing the sausages. After the meat was processed we clean out the mincer and removed any stringy bits left behind. We then fitted, or attmepted to fit, the little sausage stuffing kit. This is essential a tube which fits over the mincer outlet. The skin is pushed onto this tube abd fills up with sausage as the meat is pushed through. Despite being the same make as the mincer everything was slightly too big. We cut down the plastic parts with scissors and left the blade out of the equation already.. I suspect that the mincer is so old that it is on Imperial measurements and the company that makes them has now gone on to metric. Anyway, some how managed.
Before we started stuffing we cooked a small amount of meat in a little pattie to test for seasoning. It was a little bland so we added some salt and tried again, just right. The sausage making itself was great fun. We tied up string after string. They are currently in a bowl in the fridge as I think they would benefit form drying out a little before going into the freezer. We did cook one big sausage though, as a reward for our hard work. It was very good but I am still not sure about the pomegranate stuff. Less may well have been more in this instance.
We have decided that we will save our pennies and invest in an electic mincer because this one is just to hard to operate alone, and not especially easy when there are two of us. We have found a superb one on Amazon, along with a book which looks quite good. I will link to it when I can work out how it is done!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Sloth

Yes, I am officially a sloth. I could get no lazier than these last couple of days. I slept in until late on Friday and again today, and I have done nothing remotely useful for two whole days!



Okay, I wasn't quite that bad but I have been a bit of a lazy bones. Today I cleaned all of downstairs but I haven't actually started any of my plans for this break time. I won't be doing any gardening because it is snowing and hailing and the garden (and gardener) are confused.

Tommorrow there is work to be done and no avoiding. I need to colour my hair (currently looking like a large badger). I bought the colourant in Savers today. We intend to try to make some lamb sausages tomorrow. Today we bought lamb from the butcher and also some from Waitrose (doesn't sound very economical I know but Waitrose is cheaper than anywhere for lamb around here)We also bought pomegranate syrup to use in the sausages. We bought this in the International Stores in Southampton today, along with a big bag of chillies. Both very economical purchases.
I also intended to do some sewing tomorrow. I have my mums lovely sewing machine at home but she needs it back as my dads trousers need fixing, SO it tomorrow or much later for my sewing. My husband bought two pairs of track suit pants in Matalan for £8 each. He needs smart track suit pants for work (swimming teacher) so this was a good buy. There are two long and also have a funny leg 'cuff' so tomorrow he is going to sew them (no, really, that's what he said. I bought two reels of cotton to do my little bits of sewing. I need to mend a skirt. to make some curtains and also to make some cushion covers to the chairs. I see in my mind what I want to make but I don't have a pattern. Hopefully that isn't a problem. I want a little cushion cover which has a back which crosses over rather than zips. I will try to take photos as I work. I always intend to take photos but I get too involved in what I am doing and forget all about pictures. If I have time there is still the sewing box which I want to re-cover in the same fabric. Lastly, from the creative view point, I want to make some yogurt. I have tasted a delicious dip which is feta and yogurt with some chili oil. Just amazingly simple but amazingly yummy. Also not garlic, so its okay for my packed lunch!

Otherwise just a little more cleaning, something nice for lunch (maybe lamb sausages if my little mincer is doing its job) and some things taken from the attic as part of the great declutter.

Perhaps I am not as slothful as I thought. Perhaps I have just had two days of doing prep!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Easter Break


Yay, four days at home. Eldest son has friends around tonight and baby is having a party tomorrow evening to celebrate his birthday this week but otherwise we don't have any actual plans and can just do as we please. If they weather warms up then maybe we take a trip down to my sister on the Dorset coast.

Otherwise my only plans are for enjoyable tasks at the home. There are new recipes to try. We are planning to make some sausages. Also some yogurt to make the soft cheese that we call labna. If I can find a second hand hand held mixer then we try to make olive oil soap. I have the ingredients but I really need find a hand mixer to use. I also want to get some more articles from the attic either to use in the house or to pass on to their new home. If the weather is warm, which doesn't actually sound very likely at the moment,then I will begin to clear up the garden. It is recovering from winter but more than that it is recovering from two (or maybe three) years of building work as we built the extension to the house. We build the entire extension ourselves and it is beautiful but it did take its toll on the garden. Before we started we had a smaller house but a lovely garden and now it is time to start bringing it back to life. We have;t lost any of the plants planted in the beds but there are a few which were in pots that have not survived. We don't normally grow fruit and vegetables in the garden because it is quite small and because we have an allotment for our growing. It is also in full sun for most of the say. This year I am considering investing in some patio fruit trees and perhaps also growing some salad vegetables here at the house. I have the beginning's of automatic watering system which I could get in place by summer. Apparently this uses far less water than conventional watering and I can get it set up from a water butt.
So there are many plans and this weekend I can choose the ones I like best to take me through my 4 days off.

Happy Easter everyone.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Household File

At the weekend I started on the new household file I was planning. It started off as one file but I feel it may grow. The sections I had envisaged were recipes for dinners, recipes for other things (soap etc as well as snacks and puddings) and a section with other useful household bits.

I don't need to keep recipes for food which I often make of course or for recipes which don't have to be too accurate. Anything complicated I usually keep so that I can come back to it for a refresher if I need to. I gathered all my paper recipes from friends and laminated them individually. I also laminated recipe cards from Waitrose which look like we will enjoy them. 2 cards get laminated togther into an A4 size.

However as I was digging through an old filing basket I found a leaflet which had a photo of my son playing basketball. Laminated too and into he file! Then it occurred to me that this was actually a really good way of preserving some of the memories that are about the place. Wedding invitations, ababy arrival notes, the time my husbands photo appeared on a safety notice at his then workplace. This isn't scrapbooking. This is much more appealing to me because it is functional but also interesting.

I am expecting this to end up as my favourite reading matter.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Was done

Review of the list - not bad at all. Looks like I might be able to fit in a trip to the car boot sale tomorrow...if the raning ever stops.

Cooked breakfast (aha, a cunning ploy – no-one will want lunch!)Complete
Stack dishwasher Complete
Empty all bins for recycling & rubbish Complete
Wash clothes Complete
Clean worktops Complete
Wipe cupboard doors and appliances Complete
Wash floors Complete
Vacuum carpets Complete
Clean bathroom Complete
Clear ‘hotspots’ that accumulate junk;-
Bedside table Oops,nope
Kitchen worktops Complete
Book case in sitting room Oops,nope
Sideboard Oops,nope
Dining table Oops,nope
Take 12 items from the attic First 4 done
Clear additional items from eldest sons bedroom (used to be my study and still has lots of my junk inside) not so easy as he is still snoozing.Oops,nope
Dry all clothes Half complete
Fold clothes and return to owner or put away.Oops,nope
Dust and quick tidy where needed.Complete
Pay for some advertising for the swim school (stickers which will be applied to the car doors and spare wheel cover).Oops,nope

What to do


Saturday & Sunday ‘to do’ list

I usually have a Saturday to do list and then anything not completed might go onto Sundays list, or maybe the following Saturday, but this week I thought I would try a list for the weekend to give my self a little more flexibility.

Cooked breakfast (aha, a cunning ploy – no-one will want lunch!)
Stack dishwasher
Empty all bins for recycling & rubbish
Wash clothes
Clean worktops
Wipe cupboard doors and appliances
Wash floors
Vacuum carpets
Clean bathroom
Clear ‘hotspots’ that accumulate junk;-
Bedside table
Kitchen worktops
Book case in sitting room
Sideboard
Dining table
Take 12 items from the attic
Clear additional items from eldest sons bedroom (used to be my study and still has lots of my junk inside) not so easy as he is still snoozing.
Dry all clothes
Fold clothes and return to owner or put away.
Dust and quick tidy where needed.
Pay for some advertising for the swim school (stickers which will be applied to the car doors and spare wheel cover).

Extras if I get time (fun time options!);
Carry on with making my household folders.
Start sorting out the photos – currently in a huge box but I have the albums to really sort them out.
Walk around the town charity jobs and/or Sunday morning car boot sale – still looking for a food mixer for soap production
Make new curtains for baby’s room – I have fabric but not header tape.
Mend favourite skirt for work.
Recover sewing box in remnant of material which I have had since the children were small.

The Budget (the chancellors not my personal budget)

I have also been checking what the effect of the chancellor’s budget will be on our household. The main headliner increase seems to be alcohol. That wont effect us as we don’t drink very much and when we do it is normally wine brought back from holiday or home made wine (better that you might think).

Secondly additional cost for drivers of gas guzzlers. Okay again, for although our car would gas guzzle it has been converted to LPG, low emissions and so low cost and less engine repairs (in theory)



Third thing down in the headlines was a plastic bag tax next year if retailers do not take action this year. Whilst that is excellent news it is not so useful until our councils accept that rubbish can go straight into the black bin. At the moment non recycling rubbish must be tied in small bags within the bin. This is typical of our council that they pay lip service to recycling but then insist anything which is bi-degradable is bagged up to ensure it doesn’t disappear back into the ground.

Also headlining was an increase in tax on cigarettes but again this doesn’t directly effect us. There were also child benefit related changes but again I think we are unaffected.

It wasn't a bad budget from an environmental point of view, at least at first glace and those of us who don’t smoke or drink, or drive big cars, didn’t do too badly either.

Friday, 14 March 2008

I remembered!

Some times I get so used to having my blog available to share my thoughts that I forget that I actually set it up to chart my journey to a more simple life, but also a more frugal life. So today I get back on track.

Beloved had a heart attack when he was in his thrities. That changes your outlook in life in an instant but it has a more material effect on life as well. Because he was so young at the time the doctors give him quite a lot of medication each day. He takes 6 tablets each evening and 2 in the morning. This equates to 8 prescription charges every couple of months. This would cost £330 per year even if he didn't have any other prescriptions. However as a swimming teacher he catches all sorts of other things during the year and has at least another half a dozen prescriptions from end ot end of the year.



For the last 5 years we have bought an NHS pre payment card for around £100 and this pays for all of his prescriptions for the year. I think we can safely assume that this saves us around £300. When he had less medication we bought a four month card and ensured that we were prescribed at least 8 months medication during this time. This seems to be perfectly legitimate as it was suggested to me by the pharmacists in our local supermarket. I could still do this I know but he gets enough 'in between' illnesses that a 12 month card is a good investment.

Secondly.I was talking to a friend of mine at work this week. He is unhappy with how our work is going. He doesnt like that we merged with two other organisations (me neither but that just because I really liked it when we were very very good at what we did whereas now we seem to be in chaos)or that we have a new computer system. He is mid fifties with only £5000 left on his mortgage. He has been saying £5000 left on his mortgage for some years. 'So', say I, 'why don't you make a concerted effort to clear your mortgage and take the redundancy offer then you can do what you like instead'. No, he cant afford to. 'But ofcourse' say I, 'since you wont have a mortgage to worry about any more you wont need much money'. But apparently its 'too much of a faff' to be a little frugal. Too much effort to shop around for goods or services. A real effort to shop somewhere other than Sainsbury. There is no point to me making suggestions as being unhappy and sqandering cash is the decision he has made. I enjoy my work (which is just as well when you consider how much mortgage I have left to pay) but if I didn't then I wouldn't stay at work a hour longer than I needed to. and I am damed if I would spend an extra 5 years at work just so that I can shop is Waitrose and John Lewis instead of Lidl & Ikea. He has no idea of how to find his freddom and I think that is really sad.

Thursday, 13 March 2008

More energy - now we have the answer

I have discovered the answer to my own question earlier this week on the harder I work and the less sleep I have the more energy I seem to have to get through the day. It surprised me because I have always been an advocate of 8 hours per night. And now I have proved old style sensible me to be quite correct by completely running out of energy yesterday. I was apparently surviving on adrenelin I guess. I currently feel like a run out dishrag and can't wait for Saturday and some battery recharging! I won't be telling my mum though as I dont intend to get told off by her for being silly too. She already thinks I work too hard.

So now work for me this evening, just a little read of some of my favourite blogs. I am going to read Move to Portugal and click through to some of Lauras link about the country. Then a few minutes on Down to Earth to catch up with Rhonda, then a nice warm bath and sleep.

Nighty night.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Using Energy = more Energy??

I am hoping life returns to normal soon. The days are so busy at my work that I can't keep all my thoughts in my head some times (most times?). However I have noticed something really strange which has surprised me.

At the moment I start work at around 8am. By the time I get home it is 6 or 7 pm. I alwmost certainly wont have had a lunch break although I will have eaten my lunch during the day (usually night befores left overs - I havn't gone completely to the dogs yet.) When I get home then there are household chores to do but not too many as most wait for the weekend. I cook from scratch most days although we have leftovers pretty often too. After that I have to update the registers for the swim school plus doing any other ordering and keep the accounts up to date.

When the 'home work' and the 'work work' are finished then I need some time to unwind or else I can't sleep for thinking about work. My job isn't stressful. Its actually very fulfilling and enjoyable, there is just a lot of it at the moment.

This week I have slept before midnight and often later and I am waking up at around 6 or 6.30 with quite enough energy to get me through the day.

Today was a 12 hour work day because we had an evening board meeting. However I have been at home an hour now and have just finished sorting out all my 'home work'. I planned to sleep early but don;t seem to be tired enough.

Now I am puzzled. Is this adrenelin keeping me going or have I been over sleeping by insisting to my body that I need 8 hours sleep every night.

Any guidance gratefully received!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Getting organised

Its the weekend so, of course, I am busy in my little house. Beloved works from 10am until 3.30pm during Saturday. He then does his voluntary work on Saturday evening, teaching at the local Lifesaving club. On Sunday he works from 10am until 2.30pm and again from 4pm until 6pm, so by the time you factor in transport there, I don't see much of him at the weekend. When his business is a little more established and we aren't using every penny for the mortgage then he can relax this a little but for the time being this is our schedule. It does mean though that we really appreciate weekends when we don't have work and we have a great time on those days.

So, yesterday I got a few things completed. Most of washing is done and some of the drying. The rooms are pretty clean and tidy anyway, since de-cluttering they actually don't need so much attention. I took the opportunity to empty a glass cabinet full of 'things' and move it to its place in the extension. About half of its contents are now in the charity box but the rest are packed back in there. I don't think the contents are worth anything but they are to me. There is a jug in there that my great grandmother had for a wedding present in 1870. There are in laid boxes that my husband brought me back from visiting family in Jordan and Syria. Stones that my younger son collected when he was small. I know its all just clutter but it is my clutter and I want it. I then went through the items on the kitchen shelves and divided then between charity box and keep as well. The kitchen is looking a lot emptier but there is still more to go. Maybe I can come back to this today if everything else gets finished.

and so today. Put away anything which has been left out in the kitchen. Wipe surfaces and cupboard/appliance fronts. Wash floor in sitting room, kitchen and conservatory. Vacuum upstairs and the actual stairs, there is carpet upstairs so mopping doesn't get that far. Finish washing, drying, folding and putting away. Clean dishwasher filter and refill with salt etc. I would also like to venture into the attic to start getting rid of a few things but we will see how the day goes.

In a couple of weekends time it is Easter. I guess the kids are too old to hide eggs in the garden now but I will miss this. At Easter we will chose one day to have a day out. The other three we will do some of the things we planned for around here and never have the time to properly enjoy. We want to make some lamb sausages. I have the attachment for the mincer and i have the sausage skins. Now we just need meat, time and ideas! We want to make some soap, I have all the ingredients already but I need an old electric mixer and the car boot sale has not come up with the goods yet. Once the soap is made I plan to use some of it to make washing powder.

Lastly, there are a couple of new things I have settled for on the organisational front. I am making a file of recipes etc which I can keep in my kitchen for inspiration. Another file of useful information (these may become one file, depending on how much goes in there) and lastly a metal filing tin, as you might use for a card filing system, to sort out and file my seeds. Allotment planning starts soon.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable rest of the weekend.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Crete House

I am so busy at my work at the moment that I dont have time (or energy) to write but I did want to share a couple of photos that our builder Giorgos sent today. This is the house and land to which we will retire. It is taking the builder a long time - work should have been finished last October- but the builder is our friend and we aren;t in a hurry as we expect to keep it for a life time. The indoor tiles are now complete and we wait for the windows and doors. Silly me, I was expecting them to be delivered by the manufacturer but the Giorgos son, Mikhalis, makes the windows and doors, plus the wardrobes and kitchen cupboards. This is certainly not the land of the disposable and the ready made ( I am very pleased to say.)




We need to order a wood burning stove to heat the house. This uses the clippings from our olive trees to keep us warm. The hot water will come from a solar panels. Photvoltaic cells for the roof, which produce electricty, are just starting to become avilable in Crete so in a few years, when the teething troubles are further along, we try this as well. My wood burning stove will be good for cooking as well in the winter and in the summer there will be cooking outside with wood. The house is design to have the wide verandah roof over all the windows so that we dont get sunlight in the heat of the say but we do get light. Also in winter the sun is lower in the sky and the sun comes in under the roof and helps us to heat. We are also nestled up against the mountain for warmth in winter. Too keep cool in summer we have asked for tiles throughout, we can unroll carpets in winter, and we have asked for large patio doors and more windows than normal so that we can take advantage of the wind that we get at that height.



Hmmm, I didn't think I had much to say but obviously I did!

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Reducing Heating Bills


We are currently without central heating in the house because we have to connect the system up to the new radiators in the conservatory, study and guest bathroom.

The house is well insulated anyway & we don't actually use the central heating very often because it always seems such a waste. The house holds the heat quite well anyway nbecause there is double glazing right through and also the cavity walls are insulated. The roof space is also insulated with rockwool. In the new extension the ceiling/roof has 8 inches of insulation, the walls are insulated with new super duper high tech rolls in between the actual layers of the wall. We havea also insulated under the wooden floors. We have a gas fire in the sitting room but we havn't yet put that on either. It makes the sitting room quite warm but some how we have been avoiding it.

Instead we have just put on a few more layers. It is the easiest thing that you can do towards keeping yourself warm when there isn't a heat source. But we have a few more tricks up our sleeves as well. We open the curtains in the south facing windows as soon as the sun comes around that way and ensure that we are maximising the suns rays that we can catch. We shut the curtains slightly before it gets properly dark to retain some heat from the sun. Unfortunately there is a flaw in our plan here. The heavy velvet cutains with the thermal lining are somewhere in the attic. I am getting to them but we wont get best use of them really until next winter.

We also have the downstairs of the house entirely open plan (except bathrooms etc). This means that we get the warmth from cooking, from the dishwasher, the washing machine & tumble dryer. The oven is quite efficient so I am not afraid to use it when required. The dish washer gets used most days (it is A rated efficiency). The washing machine takes quite a large load and feeds from cold so it isn't useful for contributing warmth. The disadvantage is that we also get the smells of cooking and noise but it doesnt bother us (if it did then we would build walls but we like to be within shouting distance of each other).

So all this leads us to the place we are now. I am in my PJs in bed, with a cat and a husband for warmth (two cats woul dbe more efficient but sadly the cats won't be friendly with each other even when i need the heat), wearing bed socks resting my laptop on my PJ legs. Surprisingly comfy considering you can see my breath when I breath out!

Monday, 3 March 2008

Quick note & some things to give away

Just popped on to say that work on the conservatory is going pretty well. The flooring is down (and looks superb)and most of the furniture is now in its new place. I will post photos in a day or so. It is a frugal shoppers dream, recycled wood, windows from the old house, furniture from car boot sales, free sofas that friends were throwing out, all sorts of everything from ebay! The list is endless but the only shop I visit on a regular basis is the builders merchant. We are so busy, with re-arranging and also de-cluttering, it is unbeleivable so I havn't been on here much.

I have come across two lovely little sets of notelets, one flower design and one for cat lovers, as I was sorting through my things.. I will not use them as most all of my freinds that I am not close by are on email. Would anyone else like them? They are both nice. I will post photos soon (when I am not so busy, ha ha!)but are these useful to anyone?

Nighty night

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Frugal Thoughts


We have a largish piece of land in Crete, where the family house is being built. Also the plot next to it is available to buy. Should we build another house and sell it to repay our mortgage earlier? If it all works out well then we would take years of the mortgage but if it doesn't sell then we are stuck with additional debt (and plenty of houses!) and probably an even longer mortgage.

Perhaps it is better just to plod along at the day job until it is paid. I wonder if there is a middle ground where we can find someone who wants a house there and get them into contract before we build. That would be the best solution for us. Anyone who bought from us would get a good deal because we have really good contacts in the area & also access to land, through word of mouth in the village, that an outsider just would not get. Perhaps we will think some more about it. I dont want to end up working full time for years longer than I currently plan to.

These thoughts led me along the usual path of considering any other large one off type payments we could make towards the mortgage. Which of course led me back to every day economies and living frugally too pay extra from the mortgage on a regular basis.

So maybe the best way is a mixture of all of these ideas. Try to live as simply and frugally as is reasonable. Put a % of any savings agasinst the mortgage. ANy windfalls ensure a % goes straight to the mortgage too. Lastly think of other possibilities might help you meet your goal. Weigh up the ideas and see if you get an advantage or disadvantage from them overall. My husband thought of building a house to sell. I would never of thought of doing anything like this myself, so maybe discuss it and you will get others idea.

This is a phot of my little village.

There is sunshine after the rain.

I had a day off yesterday to help with the floor in the extension, which is looking pretty good actually & just needs the skirting board in place. But any day off for me usually equals rain & wind at the very least,possibly snow,hail & gales. That is what was predicted for yesterday and today as well (rain and wind, not the rest). However it seems to have excelled itself for blowing in the night and blown the bad weather right away. So this morning it is sunny and bright and lovely. I am looking forward to finishing the skirting today and then moving the rest of the furniture into its new place in the conservatory and emptying the over crowded sitting room a bit.

On top of this major move aorund there is also normal housework, clean the floors right through, finish the washing and get it dried, sorted and folded. Clean the bathroom and kitchen. Ofcourse the list is endless becauseif I finish it all then I find other things wich also need doing. Baby needs some new curtains for his bedroom and the fabric is waiting for me on the sofa. There is a hole appearing in the loose covers of the sofa and I need to patch this inconspicuously. I have a skirt which has developed a hole where two horizontal seams are coming apart.



I had a an email from some friends that live in Shanghai. They sent me some photos of a region they have visited in China. They didn't take the photos but I beleive their neice did (although I may have misunderstood). I have uploaded a couple of the photos as some things are too beautiful not to share.

Lets talk about something good!

I went to the other house and it was lovely! My dad came with us, with my youngest son, for the first 5 days.  Its his first time since ...