Tuesday, 31 March 2009

More alphabites

O) Oranges and orange juice. Sunshine in a glass. If there was ever a fruit that made you happy this would be it. I would rather drink fruit juice than pretty much anything else and oranges are right at the top of that list. I do limit myself though as I don't feel I would ever naturally 'get enough'.

P) Pineapple - see above - worth walking across fire for.

Q)Quality - somethings you can economise on, somethings not. I buy somewhere top of the range for loo roll and mayonnaise, much other things I am happy to 'fly economy' on.

R)Rubbish - I hate throwing away something which has a use. If I can re-use it without re-using it as something useless, if you see what I mean, then I will but if not it goes to charity or free cycle. Failing that I take it to the dump, which is this area at least is the country re-cycling facility. I am pretty sure most of it is recycled as we have to sort it into different skips. Only when all else has failed does it go in the bin.

S) Sunshine - make me smile and adds a bit of bounce to my step. I appreciate the sunshine all yer round as I love to be outdoors but i especially appreciate the early sunshiny days of the year.

T)Towels. Fluffy and plentiful for an indulgence which isn't at all wasteful.

U) Unicycle. I had others but wouldn't it be great to ride one of these. And to juggle. I love watching people juggle, especially peole I already know and don't know they have this talent. I am jealous.

V) Vacation, holiday, break, annual leave, whatever the name time to spend with the family in the sun (or not if you live near us). Like having a little bit of retirement early.

W) Women - Having it all or just doing it all? At 46 I might be part of the first generation of women that doesn't feel that they have to fight especially hard in the workplace. I have equality with my peers & I am not grateful, that is just how it should be. I am grateful to those that went before to make this possible for me. I also like that I have had the chance of a career which I will walk away from early to enjoy the next phase of my life.

X)XXX - Vin Diesel film. Lively fun in the Czech republic. As a mother of boys I only see action films and I am used ot it. No chic flicks for me. Action all the way and not too much actual thinking either.

Y) Young - I wouldn't mind being physically young again, without aches and pains, but I wouldn't give up everything I have learned in the last 46 years and go back to actually being young again. Just much, much too difficult. I wonder why we don't come with more pre programming already included!

Z) Zebra - Horse in pyjamas, what else could I choose.

I have really enjoyed my stroll through the alphabet, I am feeling a bit spoilt and self indulgent now!!!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Snuggling down with Michael Palin tonight

I still have my cold and sore throat so today was a gentle day but very enjoyable as well. My eldest son was taking us out to lunch for mothers day but as I still have a cold and cant actually taste anything we decided to postpone until next weekend. I am happy, I love anticipation so having another week to look forward to it is fine.

So I had time for some domestic pottering. My husband made some creamy vegetable soup for me yesterday. There was plenty left so I froze two portions in my new flashy freezer bags. I made a big bowl of tuna pasta, cooked a cherry pie, some s and bobs of cooking and generally filled the freezer up a bit. We will have a barbecue for dinner tomorrow so I boiled a lot of little potatoes for a salad with it.

In the sun of the afternoon we sat for a while in the garden; I love the first sunny days of the year. I appreciate the sun much more now than I do later in the year. We took the opportunity to do some sewing! Actually we used fishing line and a darning needle to mend the garden chairs. We managed to fix two before fingers became too sore. One more to go. I like it when I can save some cash, mend something which other might send to the dump and also get to sit about in the sun!!

We also remembered to take the kitchen light fitting to pieces and wash it. I don't notice the getting darker and darker until I realise there is only one bulb still working and the shades are covered in yuck. Now we are properly illuminated everything in the kitchen looks different again.I should take more notice of these thing. I blame it on being short and also needing glasses!

Now we are settling down for the evneing watching Michael Palin on his wanders around the SAhara. We are appreciating the luxury of our confortable house for sure.

Saturday, 28 March 2009

Saturday plans

It isn't raining at the moment but I can tell by the sky that this weekend is not a weekend for gardening and barbecues, so I can concentrate on indoors.

I have laundry (of course), the entire house is a mess & I have a cough, cold and sore throat so sounds like the weekend will be great fun! I need a little structure in my day. So before I even go downstairs for the day I will tidy my bedroom & clean the bathroom. The children can deal with their own rooms & the hall and stairs can make do with a sweeping, with my lovely new broom. Downstairs re stacking the dishwasher, filling the washing machine, more sweeping, sorting out the recycling. I also need to leave the house for a charity shop drop, pay my sons cheque into the bank and even buy some new knickers! Ah, fun all the way. When I get back I will steam clean the hard floors and prepare lunch. I might visit a friend if I have time.

I hope everyone else has a good weekend too.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Alphamore

G) Green - used to be just one of my favourite colours (with blue), now its more of a lifestyles choice, a plan for the future.

H) Happy - I am, almost always, unless someone makes me unhappy (like by dying). Don't underrate it. If you can make the choice to be happy & not to let people make you unhappy then life is your prize. I am easily the happiest person I know & Its not that I have had a particularly sheltered life, I just decided that I was going to be, and on the whole I am. This is actually just as well as my husband is grumpy and miserable unless actually made to be happy.

I) Maybe a bit more of other people and a little less of I helps me with H

J) My baby, nicknamed Jim Bob, an irritating bundle of argumentative energy, cute and adorable, loved by all (well most), I am sure he is barrister material as he has an answer for everything.

K) Knitting - I am trying. I really am. My knuckles hurt but slowly I progress. I cant imagine being able to knit without looking!

L) Lavender & Lulu - I love lavender and will have all different sorts in my perfumed garden in the Crete house. Lulu is my big fat girl cat, now my only cat. She is getting on a bit but always mummies girl. When she leaves me then my happiness will take a little break.

M) Mama - something I never really wanted to be, I didn't even like kids, but somehow I am and its the best thing ever. I would really walk over glass for them, or fire or whatever it is. I also like to see myself in them and like the way a similar sense of humour has moved through to the next generation. My eldest son makes me laugh until my tummy aches.

N)Nuts! well you have to be, dont you?

Monday, 23 March 2009

Praise for the government

No,don't shoot me down, or shout me down.

A few weeks back I said how easy it was to do my husbands taxes on line. As you submit information the irrelevant portion of the tax return disappear & it does the calculation for you as you go. By the end you have a figure to pay, or be refunded, and they accept debit card payment. My husband had a small refund to come and it arrived within a few days.

Today I had to tax my car so I thought I would give that a go. I have used this method before but it useful if you don't lose the reminder which they send through, or else it becomes slightly more complicated. So I went to the website detailed on the renewal reminder. Filled in my reference, ticked a few boxes admitting I was responsible for my car, another couple saying it was okay to check on my MOT & insurance status & then fill in my debit card number. All over in 2 minutes, no searching missing MOT certificates or duplicate insurance certificates (often needing repurchase in my less organised past). Plus they entered me in a free draw to win a seat ecosomething or other car. IN fact for saying nice things about them I should get an extra chance.

I did look at the new job centre website this week, also part of the governments 'direct' web empire. Its dreadful, not a patch of the previous version for search facilities. Hopefully the web designer will be getting to that area next.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Ads or no ads?

I cant decide. It is a sensible step toward financial freedom or a cop out to have ads? I think I am coming down on the side of ads but only for thing I use or o which I approve.
Any thoughts?
Sorry fro two posts in one night (in ten minutes???) but I thought of this too late to include.


Lizzie

I've beent tagged - A to Z part 1

Kadeeae tagged me to take part in Snippets Alphabet Challenge

A) Agia Galini, southern Crete. Where I met my husband, when I was a waitress that ran away form rainy England in an early Shirley Valentine moment, and he was a fisherman.

B) Boats, like trains, just amazing. I don't fancy a cruise but boats to travel would be wonderful. Slow boats to China, and back again, a dream.

C) Custard. Proper custard, yes Birds, surely that's the only proper custard. A winter treat is a cup of custard each in the evenings to keep us warm.

D) Drying washing on the line - unbeatable smell to the clean laundry & a warm virtuous glow for not wasting electricity with the dryer.

E) Elephants - so cool. A safari is on my long term 'to do ' list.

F) Frying, or more especially stir frying. The ultimate way to get unlimited healthy veggies into the kids.

Phew, I am exhausted. Part 2 soon.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Do I want to give up work?

I have been reading Retirement- a full time job where Syd has been considering her first year of retirement and linking me to all manner of other early retirement blogs. I always read Daizy's daily arm wrestle with her mortgage. Now I am prompted too think about my own situation.

I think I want to retire early. I want to pay off my mortgage and have some financial security. I like the idea that I can never be re-possessed. But then what? I don't actually need much money to live. Most of my money goes on the mortgage and loan repayments which relate to the property. If I didn't have them then we would have way more disposable income than we need.

So, once the mortgage is repaid, I could afford to stop working at my normal day job and do something else instead. Maybe come voluntary work or something at the zoo ( i have always wanted to work at the zoo-if there is re-incarnation and I get to be a person again I am studying zoology instead of finance). However I already work for a not for profit organisation. My job is important, but which I mean the business is important because we house people in housing need, not I am personally important. How do I find a job which is better than that. Not much point in retiring just to get paid less for a job of equal important to me.

I think I am striving to pay my mortgage off early not to retire but to have the option to retire or change what I want to do, when I want to do it. I like the idea of the chance of freedom without actually feeling I have to make the change that goes with it. Hmm, seems I do know what I want afterall.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Gardener Obama

US First Lady Michelle Obama is set to break the ground for an organic garden on a patch of the south lawn to grow produce for the White House kitchen.
Local primary school pupils will help her with the planting and harvesting of the vegetables, herbs and salad crops.
Promoting healthy eating for American families has become a part of the first lady's agenda.
She has promised her whole family will be getting involved, and even President Barack Obama will help with weeding.
Mrs Obama hopes that inspiring children will help spread the healthy eating message to others.
"My hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities," she said in an interview in her East Wing office.
The plot of land given over to the new kitchen garden, which will measure about 1,100 sq ft (102.2 sq m), will be visible from the street.
Exotic plants
Among the 55 varieties of vegetables the Obamas are planning to cultivate are spinach, chard, collards and black kale.
The more exotic plants in the new garden will be arugula, cilantro, tomatilloes, hot peppers and anise hyssop herbs.
Several varieties of lettuces including red romaine, green oak leaf, butterhead, red leaf and galactic will be planted.
The selection was put together by the White House chefs who will use the the produce to feed the Obama family and for official events.
Toby Buckland, lead presenter on the BBC's flagship gardening programme, Gardeners' World, warmly welcomed the venture.
"I'm delighted that the first family are leading the way in the USA by growing their own," he told the BBC news website
"Whether you have a White House, greenhouse or even just a grow bag or a window box, it's easy to grow your own grub."
He recommended that in Washington, with its cold winters and humid, hot summers, the best vegetables to grow would be pumpkins, string beans and sweetcorn.
"I am chuffed to bits that the President and his first lady want to get their nation growing their own too," said Mr Buckland.
"Together maybe we can help spread the grow-your-own message right around the world! Can we grow it? Yes we can!"
The initiative will be welcomed by advocates of the eat local movement such as Kitchen Gardeners International, a coalition of gardeners whose mission is to inspire and teach people to grow their own food.
More than 100,000 people signed the group's online petition urging the Obamas to replant an edible garden at the White House. In 1800 John Adams, the first president to live in the White House, planted a garden.
In the last century, Eleanor Roosevelt planted a Victory Garden during the World War II, while the Clintons had a small rooftop garden that grew vegetables and herbs in the 1990s.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

I am useful!

Really I am. I can do tax returns, budgets, pay bills, cook, all sorts. It is nice having the old man back though. He has a whole different range of talents. The minute he is away from the house everything starts breaking. The shower delivered virtually no water and what little there was was boiling, the vacuum cleaner just didn't suck, the light bulbs in the bathroom all blew (there are not ordinary bulbs to change them myself), my car tyres needed pumping up and his car engine management light came on. I am always pleased to see him anyway but I was really glad when the shower was the first thing fixed. The engine management light just went out on its own becuase he was home!
I was kidding myself I was an independent woman who can cope on her own but apparently this is only true if I have an electrician and plumber, perhaps a car mechanic on call.

Monday, 16 March 2009

Natural team work

Well yesterday trip to fill the car up with LPG was nothing like as dull as it should have been. ON the way back, at a point where two motorways converge, the car next to me flipped onto its roof. It got over to the hard should as soon as I could but still had to run a fair way back to the accident. I am pleased to say that loads of people stopped to help. As I was running towards the car I could see how badly it was squashed. To start with i was worrying about being able to remember how to CPR and other first aid things but once I saw the car I assumed I wasn't going to need it as no-one could possibly have got our of that car alive. As I got past the car I found that other people had already got mother and child out of the car. Mum was bleeding quite a lot from hand and leg wounds but not head injury or major organs effected. Daughter was having cuddles and wanted her teddy! My god, I have never been so please to not be needed.

I was really impressed how everyone turned into a team without any planning at all. A lorry pulled across the two lanes to stop anyone hitting us as we cleared her papers out of the lane (she was a solicitor and worried about confidential client papers). Someone with a torch then stood out form the accident and moved drivers to a single lane to pass us. A first aider was already stopping the bleeding by compressing the major wound. Another girl was cuddling the daughter and chatting to her. A few more people gathered the papers. Others with torches attracted attention so that the emergency services could find us. Two minutes after I arrived a student doctor turned up as well and took over.

Aside from thinking how lucky they had been to be going home that night I was also thinking 'my god, how did that happen'. Do we all walk this close to the end all of the time and just not realise it? I suspect we probably do.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

First day in the garden

Hes back! I don't think he slept the entire time he was away as he slept from midday and 7pm yesterday on the sofa, popped down to see my parents for a couple of hours and then slept again, this time in bed, where he is still snoring now! He does love his bed.

I have loads, literally loads, of laundry but the day is bright and sunny which means hanging washing in the line. Lovely, there is nothing quite like it. Also some time for pottering in the garden as I had a bit of a cleaning session on Friday evening, so the house already looks quite acceptable. I will o out for an hour later to put LPG in the car and check out the condemned food counter at Tesco but other its a home, home, home day.

I wonder if my sweetheart will be waking up to join me at any point!

Friday, 13 March 2009

Re-provisioning the attic

I have a plan. My attic (and its contents) is starting to look less overwhleimg than it was for a while there. NOt sure how much longer it is going to take but I am getting there.

The plan is to get rid of the rest of the superfluous stuff (yep, thats what is taking the time). Then we board out the , fit a new ladder and maybe a window. This can be our storage area for picnic gear, camping equipment, suitcases & all the other bits and bobs you need but you dont need under your feet all of the time. They are already in the attic, you just cant see them because of the junk! There should be room for stockpiling bulk buys and maybe even drying washing. What a dream area.

My husband has always avoided boarding the attic as he think I will keep even more up there if he does, so I may have to prove myself before I finally get a floor, but I haves a plan and that's a start.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

When the cats away...

Have you ever noticed how the dynamics of the home changes when one member is away.

My husband has been away now for 7 days and I notice that we behave completely differently in his absence. Meals are a lot less formal, we seem to eat leftovers or snacky foods every day. I have been just as busy but have undertaken some larger jobs, like sorting out the contents of the wardrobe, because I know I can leave things over night instead of having everything put everything away when I run our of time. I have started o sit and knit in the evening, if the cat will allow. The cat has also taken to sleeping on his side of the bed. I can see him being very impressed with that (not).

Despite the 'cats away, mice will play' feel to the house it will be good to collect him from the airport on Saturday and start to get back to normal. I have a feeling we will be talking about our future plans because emotional upheavals to tend to cause people to re-evaluate what is important.

In the meantime I will be taking the opportunity to watch trashy DVDs in bed and eat nutritionally unbalanced meals whilst I can!

Monday, 9 March 2009

Diary Update

Getting on for a quarter of the way through the year and the diary which my sister gave me for Christmas is still proving itself useful. Its the first time I have kept to using a diary for any length of time. I am a convert. In fact lists are the only way I can cope with everything at the moment. I am hoping it is because I have too much to think about and when I am less busy I will be able to use my brain for remembering things again, however it might be because I am getting older and this is how it is going to be from now on. Either way it is really useful!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

How d'it go???

I spent more time than I really wanted at, on the way to, or on the way from A&E. My friends son thought his foot was broken ( it wasn't).

I did get a few things done but not many. However tomorrow is another day.

Ring my husband and make sure everything is going okay. Tried but couldn't get through. He ran me this evening and sounded very stressed. Poor love.
Quick swish around the bathroom.
Maybe pop to the new IKEA store in town for meatballs for lunch. Wipe down kitchen.
Unstack and re: stack dishwasher.
Empty all the bins etc
Clear out the bottom of my wardrobe. It is a sea of shoes and bags. I can do better.
Drop cheques into the bank.
Visit Mum & Dad this evening. Pretty sure my sister and her husband will be there too.

Actually I did more than I thought now I see it all written down. I cant believe how much writing this blog focused my mind.

So tomorrow;- a bit of cleaning, some sewing, lunch at my parents (my mum always invites the strays to Sunday lunch),plant the basil and ginger if I can get to the shop,maybe some extreme shopping if I can face the early shift at Tesco, mystery dine, another charity drop! I love weekends.

What's on today


I am going to practice what I preach today and ensure that my 'to do' list has some 'fun' in it. The day is starting well. I didn't have to get up early and make breakfast because my husband is away for another week yet. I don't have to make him breakfast but he teaches until mid afternoon without a break so I think it is better if he has had a nice meal before he goes.

So, I am still in my bed & reading blogs and news. My youngest son has made me a bacon sandwich for breakfast, before he goes off to the town with mates from college. My eldest son has already gone of to work, he is working everyday at t he moment as they have a rush order for a boat. That means today its just me and the cat. I don't know what her plans are but I have a few things that I need to get done.

Laundry - wash, dried and put away.
Vacuuming right through.
Ring my husband and make sure everything is going okay.
A quick tidy (there were teen aged boys sleeping in the sitting room last night so this is bound to be necessary).
Quick swish around the bathroom.
Maybe pop to the new IKEA store in town for meatballs for lunch. Last time we visited they gave us our lunch for free but I suspect that might not happen every time.
Wipe down kitchen.
Unstack and re stack dishwasher.
Empty all the bins etc
Clear out the bottom of my wardrobe. It is a sea of shoes and bags. I can do better.
Drop cheques into the bank.
Visit Mum & Dad this evening. Pretty sure my sister and her husband will be there too.
Plant some ginger and some basil.

I think I have the balance right for the day. I just have another 30 minute snooze with the cat and then get started.

Friday, 6 March 2009

Deep breath, start over

Thank you everyone for your thoughts. It really does bring some comfort.

My husband had a heart attack when he was 37. It really made us focus on what is important to us. Eight years have passed & I thinks its possible we took our eyes of the ball a bit lately. Obviously the loss of my brother in law has made me think again. We need to ensure that we have some balance in our lives. That everything is not just for the future and never for the now. When my husband comes home from visiting his family we really need to spend some time talking our lives.

I was reading Down to Earth this week. Rhonda was writing about ensuring that there are certain things in her routine. Cup of tea, knitting and chats with his husband. Simple things but so simple they are easy to over look I suspect. I think we need to find ourselves again.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Planning

Last evening my brother in law passed away. He was 46 and, as far as we knew, perfectly fit and healthy. He didn't feel too well, he collapsed in the shower and was gone before they reached the hospital. He leaves a wife, four children and three little grand children.

Days like this make me feel there isn't any point to planning. We have no control, we just kid ourselves that we do.

I am 46 and, as far as we know, fit and well. How does it play out from here?

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Carefully read your mail

Not the junk perhaps but everything else.

I had a couple of bills come though. One for gas and one for electric, both from the same supplier. I noted the usage but made no move to pay them as I pay by direct debit and these were obviously for information only. Only apparently I don't. The payments coming out of my account were for an old energy agreement & have now been returned. These bills actually needed paying but didn't get my attention until I received a final notice for them. I paid immediately and the money has cleared from my bank. Today I had a letter saying pay up or court, with another amount added for administration. I emailed to explain that I had paid the bills several days before they had sent the court letter. It remains to be seen if my slack attitude to checking my bills this has cost me any money. This is a big disadvantage to changing my energy supplier so often. I get confused about what is due to whom.

I will certainly be more careful in future.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

New Sunday Hobby 2

Okay, enough shopping for one day but...I decided to make cake this afternoon by special request. I popped across to my neighbour to pick up a dozen eggs and noticed she had a big box of vegetables for sale. She often sells her own excess veg but this wasn't hers. For a start the aubergine was in a bag! So I decided to spend another £4 and get;

A savoy cabbage
Large head of broccoli
2.5kg baking potatoes
2 parsnips
2 leeks
2lb carrot
1 swede
1lb mushrooms
1lb tomatoes
A large Spanish onion
A large yellow pepper
AN Aubergine

A couple of cucumber would have been nice but otherwise we are set for the week (and then some) now. I must try to keep an eye on the egg stall as I am passing each day. I dont want to miss these bargains.

New Sunday Hobby

My husband got his shampoo swiped in the swimming pool this week (his own fault but i tried not to say so)so I had to pop into the town to buy him so more this morning, He uses a pretty good shampoo because being a swimming teacher he has to wash his hair several times a day sometimes, or smell of chlorine all the time, so its quite expensive, hence i didn't have any in stock at home. I found it on offer for buy shampoo and get conditioner free. I bought all that they had and saved £10.47.

I don't normally go to the shops but as I was there anyway I popped into Tesco to view the 'condemned food' counter. Rather strangely I decided to put it all into a spreadsheet to check my savings.


01/03/2009

2 Not butter - Save £1.20
4 Steak slices - Save £3.20
2 5x pepperoni sticks - Save £2.36
2 Stewing lamb - Save £5.66
2 Chicken Legs (packs)- Save £1.80
6 Turkey Steaks - Save £4.74
3 Shampoo & conditioner sets - Save £13.47
2 Beef Mince - Save £1.98
2 Casserole steak - Save £2.82
1 Cream - Save £ 0.80


Total Saving £38.03. My freezer is looking pretty ful too. I think I might make a habit of sparing 30 minutes on a Sunday morning for this.

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...