Tuesday, 30 September 2008

My family

My family are lovely! Its my Mum & Dads 58th wedding anniversary today. They are really cool together. Today they went out to lunch together at their favourite pub, 'Tony's'. They were never apart all their life except to go to work. Now they are both retired they have a little routine which suits them. First thing in the morning they go for a swim and buy the paper on the way back. My dad has the Daily Mail every day even though he hates it because my mum like the crossword and he thinks its a waste to buy two papers! After breakfast they go to the shops to stock up on bargains (my sister and I are often on the receiving end of bargains as they buy more than they need.). Then back to the house for lunch at 1pm, always at 1pm. Then a little snooze and cup of tea. Afternoon if for gardening. Another cup of tea and a slice of cake is the gateway to evening of TV viewing. I have never heard them argue and did mention this one day and my mum said they could never be bothered! We all fit easily into the routine and all get on well together. We, my parents, my sister and her husband, at least one of my sons, me & my husband, spend every Saturday evening at my parents house (gosh, aren't we wild!) catching up on a week of gossip and goings on. Sometimes we go on holiday together. Its very easy because we have known each other for ever. There are no surprises. We know who likes what, who likes to go where and so on. I hear some people talk about spending time with their family like its an awful task but its my favourite place to be. When we fitted 8 of us and a dog into a caravan in Cornwall one year (and it rained daily)one of Mum co-swimmers asked if we had fallen out at all. The idea of not getting on is so alien to us that we thought she meant falling out of the caravan. Life is way too short not to get on. Its always later than you think.

Emmani- if you are reading, look, I did it!!!

Snuggled up with Jamie Oliver


I seem to have developed tonsillitis during yesterday. I felt progressively more awful during the day and my brain ceased serious activity mid afternoon. I came home and snuggled up on the sofa with blanket for a few hours, with my youngest son for company. Nine o clock I headed to bed, so when Beloved came home from work, with Night Nurse and soft tissues,I was snuggled down in my bed with Jamie Oliver. I have had the Jamie at Home DVD for ages but I have never got to watch it because my house is full of men who like to watch action, adventure & comedy, not gardening and cooking. However, it was great. I saw the first few episodes and fell asleep but woke up just as the last episode was finishing. Beloved, who I would have bet real money would not watch a cookery programme, had watched both disks to the end!

Beloved is already quite serious about his food but I tihnk he might actually have realised the benefit of homegrown vegetables too. How can I build on this? He seemed particularly impressed with the squash and pumpkins. I will make plans.

I have found a beautful template which I would like to use for my blog but I dont seem to have the necessary skils to make the change (plus now, my last remaining brain cell has gone in to hibernation). Emmani at Indian Earth is going to help me but read up on her busy life at the moment to see why it wont be for a day or two!

My parents have been married for 58 years today. They are off out for lunch togther later. I dont think I wil pop down to see them today as I dont want them catching whatever I have. I will take them flowers, or more likely a plant, later in the week.

Back to bed for me....

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Preparing for winter

I stocked up on lamb & beef yesterday as we are intending to spend the afternoon making sausages, burgers, meatballs and meat loaf ahead of winter. We don't eat much meat in summer, and definitely not much red meat but as the days get colder a nice spaghetti and meatballs or meatloaf with potatoes and veg becomes increasingly tempting.

However Beloved has now decided he wants to plumb in the fridge when he gets home from work, so I hope that goes well and we can move onto our meat prep session afterwards.If it goes badly then I will quietly disappear because I don't like to be around ratty men ( husband and son will argue about who knows best.)

I need to cut the grass later as well. Its nice and sunny today so the grass is dry and there can be no excuses.

We had visitors of Friday evening so I rushed home from work and whizzed round the house with the vacuum cleaner. I then steam cleaned all the hard floors, wiped around the kitchen, put a laundry load on to wash and stacked the dishwasher. This wasn't all of my housework plans of course but it made such a dent in my list that I really enjoyed the rest of my weekend and had time for more pottering about. I am thinking of trying this on a Friday evening for a while & see if it works out. I normally just collapse in a big on Fridays!

As part of my Christmas preparation I am trying an experiment.l I have put 3 litres of value apple juice in a demijohn with a little dried yeast. In theory this should be apple wine by Christmas, but we will see!

I am also preparing lunches for the start of the week. A turkey, pasta & mayo combination which my sons like to take to work. Also a coronation chicken with pasta.This should keep us going until about Wednesday. The beginnings of weeks are always busy so I much prefer to get food for these days sorted in advance.

The sunny garden is calling me.....

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Plans - Christmas & Other

Now we honestly dont have Christmas until Christmas around here (but Laura reminded me it is time to start planning) but I do like to organised ahead of time so that we maintain our fairly frugal status through the whole event. Last night we had vsitors. Some friends of ours with kids approxiately the same age that we have known for about 20 years. We were chatting about increasing costs generally & how we were coping, & somehow Christmas can up. We decided not to do presents any more. Its quite expensive as there are 4 of us and 5 of them but also we dont need any more stuff, ever! We are both trying to empty the houses a bit, not fill them up with more rubbish. Instead we will bake a special cake or something Christmassey on a day that we meet up over the Christmas break. Much more fun and quite a bit cheaper.

I am also organising a coach trip for some of the people I work with. We will go to a Christmas Market in Europe, probably Ostend for a day trip. As organiser I will price it up so that my ticket is free(it's fair honest,- it is quite a lot of work!)I just have to make sure I dont waste a lot of money on the day but I think I will be okay.

Okay, no more Christmas, just my plans for the day. I have signed up for all of the email newletters from supermarkets for their weekly special offers. So I am off to this morning ASDA to hopefully stock up on lean beef mince. I also need a loaf of bread, a lettuce and a jar of peanut butter. Before that I am going to a car boot sale at the lcoal school. Its in a bit of a posh area so it can be the source of some serious bargains. I bought my bike there for £17 a year or two back.

After that I will come back to cook our dinner & then burrow around in the attic. Gardening is postponed as it is cold and foggy outside. After that I am going to sort out an area of the conservatory where I can dry some washing and avoid the tumble dryer and associated electricity bill.

I love weekends!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

The day of my eye test

Today was the eye test I have been avoiding since June. My eyesight has been problematic for some weeks, maybe months, and I was beginning to think I had cataracts, as my mother and sister have had. I really don't like anyone having anything to do with my eyes. Eye brow plucking by strangers is banned so you can imagine how I would feel about someone holding my eye lid open and scraping my eye ball. NOOOOOO!

Well, I actually remembered to tell him about the Amitrytiline which I take for my migraine. That turned out to be the key to my problems. Apparently Amitrytiline dries the eyes. Combined with the effect of working at a computer all day long, this seems to be my problem. So now I have a £1.29 bottle of eye drops to cure my problems.

My eyes had naturally deteriorated a little since my last visit as well ( everyone feels the need to tell me that this happens naturally once you reach 45, thanks very much). There was a deal available to buy two pairs for £75 but I thought it might be better and more cost effective to have my old frames re glazed. That would have frame cost me £39 per pair. So its actually £3 extra to keep my existing frames. That make all the sense in the world.

So I took my prescription home with me instead, after paying my £20 examination fee. I have searched the Internet and found supplier who will reglaze each pair for £15 or £13.50. They even refurbish the frames for an extra £5 each. I wont need the refurb service as I am pretty light on glasses but I am going to take them up on the supply of my new specs.

Should have gone to Specsavers? I did.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Who loves Martin??


I cant normally access blogs at work, even during lunch time, because we have web sense activated. However today I wanted to check something I had written & there I was, unblocked, as it were. However instead of being the delicate lilac I see from home it was a really gaudy mauve. Oops. So today I am changing the settings to find something a little bit easier on the eye!

Today I am going to spend some time on Moneysavingexpert I find it a really useful resource, both the forum and the site itself. Between them they have fixed my computer a number of times, fixed recipes, given me advice about major purchases (and minor ones)and even fixed my washing machine. I found quidco through them, a site which has netted me over £900 in the last 14 months. I definitely owe Martin big time!

Oh, and one last thing. I started taking my own lunch to work on a more formal and regular basis just about 2 weeks ago. I havn't paid for any between shopping food in that time, so no trips to the shop or the sandwich delivery man. I am pleased but somewhat ashamed to notice I am around £20 per week better off. I am a bad person. However, not as bad as I used to be apparently. My weekly shopping now includes takeout lunches for three members of the family & I have managed to keep it at the same level.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Upsizing to Downsize


I was reading a blog this evening about aiming to downsize
Frugal Trenches is trying to downsize from a position of needing to work full time and without owning property, although also being debt free. Can it be done? Well of course I hope she finds what suits he best.
I don't know for sure but I would point anyone in the direction of Sharon who is an incredible woman and an inspiration.
Could we do it? No, If I am honest I don't think so. I am frugal, and I abhor waste, but I am happy to spend on what I consider to be assets that offer future security, so consequently I have a mortgage. I work 40plus hours a week (but I like my job - it matters )to get rid of my mortgage. I will do my best to keep working until the house is ours instead of belonging to Abbey. Then I can downsize or more accurately I can live my life in the style that I aspire too. (Actually downsizing would be pretty difficult as we already live in the world smallest house!). I am aiming for a long period of retirement & living more simply than we do now but I couldn't have done it without 30 or 40 years of 'playing the game' first. I admire those who started planning earlier & can reach their goals sooner in life & I do wish I had been a bit more sensible, but I am really going to appreciate my time at home when I finally get it!

Sunday, 21 September 2008

Sunday update

1) Pick up prescription for OH & pay for 12 month prescription prepayment card - cost £100 but savings in the hundreds because of the vast amount of meds we have to get to keep OH up and running in a year! Done & set up a DD to spread the cost over ten months
2)Stock up in Ginsters pasties from Somerfield. Each child is taking one of these for lunch every day at the moment & my mum has just phoned to say that they are on BOGOF this morning, so a chance to stock up. Have enough for kids lunchs for some time to come. Some days the take sanwiches, some days pasta & whatever I think off but sometimes they like a pasty or pie & this BOGOF makes them cheaper to buy than I can actually bake them for, plus they are yummy.

3)Finish sort out fridge and freezer. I have my new fridge freezer and have been migrating things across but today I can get everything sorted, then straight in my head & possibly a bit of labelling.Pretty much done plus I have started sorting out the food cupboards aswell and using mesh baskets to organise myself a bit better. Photos may follow.
4)Sort out clean washing -that's right all of this week washing is washed & dried and waiting to be put away! Oh will bring a few bundles of swimming washing to me after work but otherwise I am super organised on the washing front this week.

5)Finish vacuuming - I did 90% of the house yesterday but a few corners are awaiting my attention. Just need to finish upstairs,first job this morning.

6)Bathroom scrub up - just a quick whizz around Done

7) Kitchen scrub up - Worktops and door/drawer fronts, appliance, unstack dishwasher. Scrub the floor. Done except the floor mopping but it looks messy again now as I am sorting the cupboard. Just surface mess though and will be easy to return to neatness once I have finished.

8)Cut the grass. Done

9)Play in the garden (sorting out pots, raised beds etc - too much fun to be work).
Ran out of time but maybe today.

10)Buy a jar of coffee and some margarine - might as well get it in Somerfields when i pick up the pasties, especially as it is next door to the chemist where I have to go for the meds. Yes, and got them on a BOGOF as well. Might try shopping at Somerfield more often.

11)Car boot sale- not on my list but maybe I will take a stroll arond there morning as it is nice and sunny.

12)Make Tuna & pasta salad for lunch.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Saturday - more to say!

A couple more things I meant to say

I had a great idea for Christmas presents after someone at work showed me their printed photo album from Jessops. Some of the prices are quite good and I am seeking out discount vouchers on the net. Sounds fun as it appeals to my creative side and isnt scarily expensive.

and there was something else I wanted to say but now I have forgotten it again.....

Saturday 'to do' list

There are a few things which need my attention today

1) Pick up prescription for OH & pay for 12 month prescription prepayment card - cost £100 but savings in the hundreds because of the vast amount of meds we have to get to keep OH up and running in a year!

2)Stock up in Ginsters pasties from Somerfield. Each child is taking one of these for lunch every day at the moment & my mum has just phoned to say that they are on BOGOF this morning, so a chance to stock up.

3)Finish sort out fridge and freezer. I have my new fridge freezer and have been migrating things across but today I can get everything sorted, then straight in my head & possibly a bit of labelling.

4)Sort out clean washing -that's right all of this week washing is washed & dried and waiting to be put away! Oh will bring a few bundles of swimming washing to me after work but otherwise I am super organised on the washing front this week.

5)Finish vacuuming - I did 90% of the house yesterday but a few corners are awaiting my attention.

6)Bathroom scrub up - just a quick whizz around

7) Kitchen scrub up - Worktops and door/drawer fronts, appliance, unstack dishwasher. Scrub the floor.

8)Cut the grass.

9)Play in the garden (sorting out pots, raised beds etc - too much fun to be work).

10)Buy a jar of coffee and some margarine - might as well get it in Somerfields when i pick up the pasties, especially as it is next door to the chemist where I have to go for the meds.

I am off now to do my 'to do's

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Strategic Plan

Well I obviously still need to do something about my work life balance as I haven't had time to think about my strategic plan properly. These are the first issues to be addressed but I may add to it during the week (or, if I am feeling a bit wild I might not).

1) New mortgage - A part of our mortgage has come to the end of its fix period. I telephoned to Abbey to sort out a new fix but because the value of houses has dropped so much my house isn't worth enough for them to consider loaning us money. I could get all irate because they have already loaned us the money etc and all that will happen if they do this fix is that we will get a better rate but there is no point in fighting it. Instead I will try a couple of other mortgage companies to see if they can accommodate us. I think its possible Abbey are just to confident in keeping customers. Maybe they are right, we will see.

2) Launch new website for Beloveds swim school. The old one is somewhat out of date & I was difficult to update etc. Going forward I will use a different product, something more suited to my abilities There will also be a new section for training courses as we are learning to add to our services.

3)Re-launch my friends website for holiday accommodation in Crete. It has the same problems as the swim school website in as much as it is difficult to update. However it is good for the community so I will start again.

4)I need to work on some sort of calendar/diary/planner system whereby everyone knows what is on everyday. I think of an online diary printed out on a3 & stick to the fridge (not my new beautiful fridge - just the old freezer)but I haven't decided for sure.

5)Think about Christmas. Pruning the present list to its minimum & keeping creativity, think about food & other possible expenditure.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

I haven't forgotten my blog

Sunday was so busy and such long day, Monday should have been back to normal but actually involved removing radiators and moving fridges when I got home from work. Tonight was a board meeting at work, so a 14 hour day (actually 13.5, as we left a half hour early, woohoo). So my work life balance has gone a bit haywire this week.
I do like to keep busy, honest I do, but sometimes I would like a bit of time to get my ducks in a row (figuratively speaking - I have no actual ducks).

I think I need a list!

This isn't going to be an actual list of things to do but it needs to be able to help me focus a bit, so more a list of things that I have to think about that actually do. Or actually it should have some activities on it but big ones - such as seek new mortgage rather than things like clean out fridge (which I have already done this week, by the way).

As I don't seem to have more than half a brain cell left I will aim to have my list, which I may think of as my strategic plan (have I been at work too much this week - oh, yes)started by tomorrow evening.



This is a photo of me on a day off - just to prove I do actually have them sometimes. I am at an exhibition of glass at Kew Gardens.

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Tired but...

I have driven most of the day, on the overcrowded roads of Southern England. We have taken my friends husband to hospital and returned home again. I am dog tired, i still have a hint of a headache, plus a bit of a neck ache. Did I mention I am tired??

So today, just a real quick post.

I like the look of this and am going to try it!

I want some of these (Cath Kidson Bags - Cool!)

and I have been having cooking lessons from Jamie Oliver

and I have thought about doing this.........

Nighty night

Saturday, 13 September 2008

The outsmarting of headaches

I very often wake up with a headache or migraine on Saturday. I hardly get them at all during week but Saturday head pain is my speciality.It seems to date back to a car crash I had in 1997 when my disc space in my neck was crushed but who knows, could be just getting older. Anyway I was sort of expecting one today as well because I volunteered to drive my friends husband to hospital about 150 miles away on Sunday, ready for a Monday appointment. There and back and settling him in will take most of my Sunday so I only have Saturday to get my laundry done and my husband nice and clean, so of course I will have a headache of some sort. Aha, my head was so keen to start aching that it woke me up at 4am, pounding and barely able to see. I was expecting this though and was armed with paracetamol and ibuprofen ( have to take 2 of each, doctors orders & I dont think she is trying to kill me off). Another dose of drugs at 8am as I made breakfast for Beloved & I am basically functioning okay now. In fact I have been a pretty busy bunny already, considering the day is barely started. 2nd load of washing is in & there are only three loads (big machine). First load is out on the line. I have re-stacked some wood behind the shed and bundled a lot of big rubbish into the hippo bag. Planted some vines that have been asking for a new life for a while. Vacuumed right through downstairs. Unstacked and re-stacked the dishwasher. Made flapjacks, also grilled chicken and made cheese & onion jacket potatoes for lunch. I would like to get all of the laundry dry and put away. Make some cakes for the boys & steam clean the hard floors. I am not sure why I am so full of energy but I am off now to take advantage of it.
See you later

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Plugging some holes

I am pretty good at looking after the bills in our household. I check the insurance before I renew. I check and change the energy supplier regularly....in all the usual things. I shop sensibly. Buy to a list and bulk buy & store my bargains. I cook from scratch and we rarely waste.
So why I am not rolling in cash? Well a few reasons.
1)We don't need to be rolling in cash. If I had more spare money then it would come off the mortgage & we would be free to retire earlier.
2)Big mortgage! We have quite a bit of property because it is my husbands pension scheme. We could sell this house or the Greek House and repay the mortgage in full but its not necessary at the moment, but it is our exit strategy.
3) This is the one we have to deal with - we fritter. We treat & fritter. The kids make a bit of a dent as well but mostly it is waste. This week I have been really trying to plug the holes.
I have tried to address a few things. Work on the sensible shopping (cash at Lidl this week). Taking breakfast to work every day. We are lucky enough to have a kitchen on each floor at work, microwave, toaster, hots water etc. I also took lunch each day. Leftovers or sandwiches. I didn't pop into the shop between main shopping visits - no wasteful extras. All week Beloved has eaten at home before he leaves the house. No temptation to have that awful greasy fried chicken that he so loves. Tomorrow Beloved is removing his roof rack and he is avoiding the air con. We are plugging the little holes, one at a time.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Comfort in the mundane

I am having a lovely week and time is whizzing by (always a sign that life is good).
Beloved is back at work. He is a swimming teacher so work is at random times, not 8 hour days finishing at 5pm. Nonetheless we build up a routine which suits us. From this term we have a few changes but in a week or so we will be used to them. Before I left this morning I asked Beloved to cook some rice. I planned a Thai curry but no-one likes how I cook my rice so I hoped for some assistance. When we spoke on the phone just before he left for lessons I asked about the rice. 'Whoops, I forgot'. Hmmm.
So I was surprised, which I guess was the plan, to smell a lovely spicy curry and perfectly cooked Burghal (Bulgar wheat) when I got home from work. Also the kitchen looked a lot better and the work tops were immaculate. And so life returns to normal.

Eldest son is working so we don't see him much during the week. His work is hard but he likes it and is proud of the team. Youngest son is at college starting yesterday. He is loving it. We have a routine when I drop him at the station on my way to work. On some days he can get a lift home from the station as well, on some days he is earlier than me and can walk. Its only three miles, so an enjoyable walk. On Monday he starts college at 11.30am. He plans to get his father to the gym with him (we have free family membership since Beloved works there for 45 minutes a week - bargain!). So, our routine starts to work out nicely.

When I was a teenager and into my twenties I fought routine like it was the enemy. I didn't believe it had a place in my life. I was much to wild to be contained by routine. It was some years before it became my friend & lately it seems to be turning into a comfortable family member.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Relaxing at home

Our sitting room used to be decorated in a parchment wallpaper with a sage green leaf pattern. The woodwork was all picked out in the same gentle sage green & the carpet was the same colour.

After some years we had a flood from the bathroom. We replaced the carpet with block wooden flooring (still loving it) and painted the whole room cream, the walls, woodwork and picture rail. Beloved also bought a ridiculously over sized TV (which I have never like and we hardly watch anyway - but the Olympics were good on it!). We invested in a new sofa and chairs, cream leather. What was I thinking, cold and uncomfortable. The room grow unloved. It didn't feel comfy and homely at all, just a place to pass through. Only the bird and cats stayed in here for any period of time, and the cats weren't hanging around long.

When Beloved was away I redecorated, the walls are still creamy but a warmer cream. The picture rail is picked up in a lovely dark mulberry, which goes with the sofa & curtains and the new paint on the chimney breast. The dark chimney breast makes the TV less imposing. I have turfed out so much clutter and what is left are just things were actually like. I am loving this new look and so is every else. We have all moved back into the room from our various haunts around the house. All for the price of some paint and new curtains.

Its a money saver too as we dont feel like going out. I just have to make sure now that they dont get so comfy that they think we need to get SKY tv again.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

An idea?

I read this article in the Daily Mail at my parents house last evening. Just deciding if I can pinch any ideas.

How a cash-strapped teacher beat credit crunch by living on £1 a day for a YEAR after drunken bet.
Anyone finding it hard to cope with the credit crunch will find little sympathy from teacher Kath Kelly.

The cash-strapped teacher had an alcohol-induced wager with friends that she could beat the credit crunch by living on just £1 a day for a whole year - and won.

Miss Kelly, 47, ate at free buffets, shopped at jumble sales and scavenged food discarded by grocery stores and restaurants.

She picked fruit from bushes and trees and collected £117 in loose change dropped in the street - a third of her annual budget.



She even managed a free trip to France by hitchhiking through the Channel Tunnel.

And to cap it all, she found love while working as a volunteer on an organic farm during the holidays.

Miss Kelly was sharing a house in Hotwells, Bristol, when she complained to her friends over a few glasses of wine that she could not afford a wedding present for her brother Danny.

She boldly announced that she would survive on £1 a day for the 12 months up to the wedding.

'I woke up the following morning and instantly regretted it but it was too late - I'd told my friends and now I had to go through with it.'

With her rent and utility bills already paid for the year, her budget had to cover transport, food, clothes and socialising.

She soon learned to spot a bargain and after working at the English Language Centre in Clifton, where she teaches for 20 hours a week, she regularly visited super-markets and butchers at closing time to buy reduced food.

She added: 'I had a freezer full of stuff. I was out all the time with a bag on my back and if I saw bread for 10p at the end of the day, or reduced vegetables - anything - I bought it.'

Miss Kelly would hunt down market researchers in the street as they often have samples to give away.

She ditched her mobile phone and cycled to friends' houses if she wanted to speak to them, leaving a note if they were out.

She used the library for free internet access and developed a taste for mince pies - which she would stockpile at Christmas when they are given away at stores.


'I went to the public lectures at Bristol University that had a buffet afterwards, and I went to the library's 100th birthday where they had a buffet as well. I was the queen of the buffet.

'Every time there was a public event and a crowd was needed, I was there.

'I dragged my mates out to free events, too.

'I couldn't buy rounds at the pub or anything like that so I'd take them to art openings and book launches.'

Miss Kelly says one of her best tips is to hand out small gifts where you can - what you receive in return will usually be of a greater value.

Her trip to France came when she decided to visit her brother, who was restoring a house in Brittany.

'I hitchhiked to the Channel Tunnel, got a free ride as the passenger of a French woman and hitched to Brittany,' she said.

'On the way back I travelled on the ferry with a lorry driver, and even had dinner at the drivers' canteen.'

By the end of the year Miss Kelly was able to use some of the £10,000 salary she had banked to spend £1,300 on a lifetime membership to the National Trust for Danny and his bride Sarah.

She had also formed a relationship with 38-year-old Bruce Taylor, manager of the farm where she worked as a holiday volunteer.

The couple now live together in Bruton, Somerset, and Miss Kelly has written a book about her year of living frugally - How I Lived On Just A Pound A Day, published by Redcliffe at £6.99.

She now grows her own fruit and veg, and says the experiment has changed her outlook.

'I'm a lot more sensible with my money now and live a completely different lifestyle.


Saturday, 6 September 2008

All change (yes, again)!

On the news this morning we are told that the credit crunch, by which I assume they mean the general downturn in the economy, will last until 2010. So we are probably in for a rough time but hopefully not for too long. Can we ride it out?
Yesterdays paper (I haven't been wasting my money - I read it at Mums house!) noted some of the more shocking food price increases that we have seen since January. Over 40% for some.

PRICE RISES BY ITEM
Pack of four croissants: +47.4%
Original/Bolognese pasta: +46.2%
Ham (125g pack): +45.4%
Chicken breasts (skinless): +42.6%
Basmati rice (500g): +42.1%
Medium whole chicken: +41.9%
Mayonnaise (400g): +40.6%



On top of that we know that petrol has gone up by 30% and then down again a bit (but not much). British Gas are increasing power costs by over 30% and so it goes.

PRICE RISES BY CATEGORY
Meat and fish: +22.9%
Store cupboard/general: +15%
Fresh fruit/vegetables: +14.7%
Laundry/washing/paper: +14.4%
Drink: +6.8%
Pet food: +6.5%
Bakery/cereal: +6%
Frozen food: +5.8%
Household: +4.4%
Health & beauty: +0.4%
Ready meals: -0.4%
Dairy: -1.8%
Baby food: -2.5%


Shame we dont need baby food or ready meals.

Beloved and I have been discussing how we are going to cope. He would also like some money towards an investment which he doesn't want to miss out on. I have mentioned before that where he comes from (Syria) it is more normal to invest in property to secure your future rather than a pension scheme. So he has some ideas to secure our future but of course they will cost us now instead.

Our biggest expense is out mortgage. Our assets are worth considerably more than our liabilities (mortgage) so if it get really tough we could sell something and we would be OK but the future is an unknown place as there is a good chance things will get harder not easier. Instead I have been thinking about changing the mortgage. I would like an offset account. I have to pay some bills periodically so from time to time I can have quite a bit in savings. I we had an offset mortgage this would reduce the amount of the mortgage that we are paying interest on. We currently bank with Abbey and Abbey do have an offset mortgage now available so I am going to enquire about it details. The mortgage which I like the look of is a Bank of Scotland product so maybe this is the way to go but first I check out Abbey.

I explained to Beloved that the boys and I had already started cutting down on our energy usage in the home. He tends to think all of the things are unnecessary and we should be able to have everything that we want,but for once the shock headlines have worked in our favour and he realises this time he has to change. So this time he falls in with our plans. I also went though with him the advice published to ensure your car is running as economically as possible - guess what? He is finally going to take the roof rack off. Amazing.

Next we will meal plan together. I have plenty of ideas and a few rules, but we must find a way which works for all of us.

Friday, 5 September 2008

Doh!

I can’t type. I spilt water (or actually I think French beer, but am not admitting that) into my laptop keyboard. All of the keys are sticking and I have to delete half of the letters. I will be back when it dries out or is fixed.

I just wanted to mention the awful summer weather we have had. Cold, rainy and dark by tea time. Beloved snuggled down under the quilt last night to the sound of the rain pelting down on the roof outside of the open bedroom window.

‘This is so lovely’ says he ’Its great to be able to have covers on the bed & the rain makes it all so snuggly’. I feel I have been very unappreciative of our summer weather so far but I had to admit he was right.

Tomorrow is his s first day back at work, first lesson is 9am, so I have a bit more opportunity to get things back to normal. Lots of new items, presents from relatives, to find homes for. Luckily it is all sensible stuff. New towels from Damascus, which is apparentlt famous for ts towels. Heavily embroided bed covers from Syria too. My 5kg of olive oil soap. CLothes for me and the boys from Amman.

I will be back when the keyboard dries of a bit. HAve a good weekend.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Last evening alone

So tomorrow we drive to the airport. I feel very unsettled. The house looks pretty good I think. My hair is cut and dyed (not sure that the badger look was very appealing). I haven't been grocery shopping as I thought he might like a stroll around ASDA tomorrow. We dont normally enjoy shopping at all but I know when he comes back he will be loving all things English, so ASDA it is. The kids cute and looking forward to seeing their dad. His car is making a funny noise when I break so I think we will have to drive up to the airport in mine. He wont like that as his is cheaper to run for a start but also becasue he loves his little car. Hopefully we get it fixed this week. I rang him earlier and he was fine but kept not making much sense. He wanted me to ring before bed time but now I cant get though. When he first left it was weird and didn't feel right but after a quarter of a year then it may be a bit disruptive going back to 'normal' too.

Monday, 1 September 2008

PS to the summer of keeping busy

oh, oh, oh, I forgot I also did a few other things;

Sorted out the DVD collection - it is now in one place and on its way to be alphabetical (Beloved is dyslexic - this is the equivalent to a shelf of books for him).

Sorted out the Direct Debit payments from the bank ac (and accidental cancelled a couple which should have still been in use -oops).

Sorted out 'favourites' - Blogs, websites and other resource - however I have since been infected with something and they have gone all over the place again.

and maybe some other things which will come to me as soon as I publish this!

Summer of keeping busy

When beloved went on his travels on 1st June I made all sorts of plans to keep me busy for the 94 days he would be away. He will be back here in less than 48 hours so I thought a little look back at accomplishments might be in order. Of course there are always new plans as well and this is a good time to think of them as well.

De cluttering - well and truly successful in the sitting room,kitchen, bedroom and conservatory. Charity shops and Free cycle have really benefited from my enthusiasm. I have got quite a bit out of the attic too but still much more to come there.

Bring the conservatory into the house! - The conservatory was full of wood, tools building materials. Sitting there was like sitting in a builder yard. This is all now away but some things will have to come back as we carry on work with the guest bathroom.

Get the garden back to normal little more could go in the hippo bag and some sorting out is still required but not bad really.

Decorate the sitting room - Done and looking lovely. I rubbed own and varnished all of the skirting board. I panted the room a deep luscious cream (washable of course). I painted the picture rail in a deep aubergine colour, which goes with the main sofa. The chimney breast is the same gorgeous aubergine colour.

Better use of resources - The boys and I discussed how to cut done on our use of resources and how to be a little bit more proactive about it. Surprisingly successful. All computers are currently switched off when not in use. TV is never left on. Radio is still left on fir the bird in the day time but this is minimal as no moving parts. We have used the washing line wherever possible and ensured we don't use the washing machine or dishwasher until it is full (but not overfull). I have been practicing fitting as much as possible in the dishwasher without making it inefficient.

Shopping & eating - We have cut down a lot on cost of food and also there is less waste. Not sure if we can still keep that down with Beloved home as he is not a man who is content with beans on toast. That said he can be satisfied with cheaper food if it is tasty and filling.

So the challenge going forward to continue the better use of resources. The most difficult part of the challenge will be coping as the weather gets colder. We need to find the thick velvet curtains to go up in the conservatory before the cold weather arrives. We don't have internal doors in the house (except the bedrooms and bathroom)because it is a small house and doors make it feel smaller, so its possible we may have to hang heavy curtains over some of the other door ways too.

The next issue will be keeping the food price in check. I have pinched a copy of my friends shopping list and am updating it for us. This fits in with some minor meal planning (how often have I said this before....).

During September I want to get the rest of the garden sorted so that it is ready for veg planting in the spring - not a lot of room so this is going to be about veg in pots.

Last thing - carry on de-cluttering. Sort that attic out!

Summer Rain

The middle of summer on the sunny south coast of England, and the rain is falling heavily enough to keep us indoors again. We were hoping to...