Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Instant Gratification - total washout?

IN the conventional sense of course it really is for us simple folk but I happened across a website at lunch time with a totally different slant on the whole thing. It wasn't one of my usual reads and I cant find it again but if I do then I will post a link back. Basically it goes like this....

Once upon a time if you wanted to be sure that you could read a particular book, listen to a particular piece of music, watch a particular film then you had to plan ahead and buy it or maybe rent it, but even if you rented it then you might be inclined to buy it and add to your collection if you really liked it...

Is that still the case? Well what is the point? Unless you are fairly wrapped up in material possessions then there isn't a lot of point. My kids seem to be able to legally download free TV programs than I would need to buy as part of a satellite package or on a DVD. Even I understand how to buy or rent a DVD when I want it. I can order book today and it would delivered by Saturday. Not really necessary to fill your shelves with books and films & so on when they are everywhere ore the taking at any point.

I have to admit though to owning way, way too many books and a few too many films. Now that I have them is it a help to anyone to get rid of them?

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Still Sunday smiling

The sunshine really does have an effect on me. My washing is all washed & dried, dishwasher emptied and starting to refill.

I made food for the next few days; tuna pasta salad & coronation chicken pasta salad, a small paella, stir fry for today, a macaroni cheese, a couple of small pizzas. Sounds like loads but two meals a day for two adults and two teen aged boys, it will be gone by Wednesday. I like it much better when we all sat at the table to eat together but its not possible with the hours were currently keep. We only all meet up on a Sunday!

I planted up a few pots for the garden. It is starting to look pretty good out there.

I cleared out a couple of cupboard and made myself a new place for preserves, pickles and homemade drinks (sloe gin etc) and also to store glass jars.

I made a bag up for the charity shop. Not to much this time but a few plastic aprons. I think they were gifts to me many years ago but they are too heavy and hang on my neck, so its time to go. A water filter for a jug (I have a filter in the fridge),some ink cartridges for a printer I don't have. All useful things but not so useful to me.

I like a Sunday night summing up. Feels like my ducks are in a row for work tommorrow.

Nighty night.

Sunshine makes me smile

The whole weekend should have been wet and icky according to the BBC. They lied. A few dark clouds yesterday but mostly sunshine and again the this morning. I love it. It gives me energy and makes me smile. I do enjoy winter and I like having different weather but early spring sunshine is my favourite.

I have a few things to do in the house but today is mainly a garden day. My son is still working 6 long days each week (he is self employed so there is no maximum working hours for him)so I figure I will keep the house nice and quiet and let him sleep as long as he possibly can.

I am still planning to make marmalade & bread/pizza bases this pm. Also a macaroni cheese and a coronation chicken pasta for the next few days lunches. Today lunch is a beef stir fry. We will be buzzing with vitality from all those veggies!

This afternoon I am trusty assistant for the old man as he fills in some plasterwork gaps left by the electrician. We also plan to clean his car and to mount some decals which advertise the swim school. This evening I am spending some time with my graph paper. Its more exciting than it sounds. I have to draw the plans for the front porch to send off to the council. I also have in my mind the plan for the kitchen refurbishment, which is getting closer.

Tomorrow the electrician visits again. Once the electrics are sorted then my husband can fit the ceiling in the new bathroom and then comes the tiling and sanitary ware. The kitchen refurbishment is getting closer and closer.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Friday night - Home alone

Friday night. One son hasn't come home from work yet - I suspect the pub has called to him. The other son is at a mates house, the old bloke is off playing poker. I can do whatever I want all evening!!!

What have I come up with? I am watching series 1 of Bones(boxed DVD set). Eating warmed up left overs (yummy). Getting up to date with all my bill etc, sorting my outstanding paperwork between action and filing & updating a budget for this month. Making plans for tomorrow.

We had an electrician working on the house today. Getting ready to join the electrics from the extension to the original house, some extra sockets in the old house and a new consumer unit(???)in the main house. This has meant lot of shelves and hanging spaces have been turfed out. I will sort through all this stuff before I return it to it's place. The electrician will finish tomorrow and then the old man will fill in all of the plaster work. After that I can return things to normal.

I also have some little tomatoes seedlings to plant. Otherwise it is just cleaning and cooking. ON top of meal cooking I plan to make some marmalade and maybe some bread.

I should have a big bundle of clothes and other goodies for the charity shop. My mum is happy to have some large terracotta pots from me too. Slowly I progress. The house is so much easier and more pleasant to clean as the renovation progresses and the house slowly empties.

Sounds like a good day to me.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Positive thinking

I have been swamped by my own negativity these last few weeks but I am making a determined effort to get back to normal now. I am starting with a summing up of good things to get me in a better frame of mind & balance out all the the negatives in my 'getting it out of my system' post.

We live in a lovely little house on the edge of a town. Feels like countryside but is only a mile to the shops. We are closer to finishing the work here than we ever have been before. The garden looks almost normal again now not the bomb site it appeared when the extension was being built.

Despite being self employed both husband and son seem to have plenty of work. In fact my sons works harder than I would have ever thought possible when he was a bone idle student (college was not for him). We have new students at the swim school and we can afford to keep going. My other son has not yet been kicked out of college!!

I have a job which I enjoy and for which I am very well paid. I like my boss and enjoy working for him. My staff are all lovely and hard working & I don't think too many people have the chance to say such a thing.

My brother in law's family in Syria has a good, hardworking son who will be able to look after his mother and little sister once he finishes his national service (to make up for the pointless excuse for an older brother he has who would indeed allow them to starve and hasn't worked a day yet despite being almost 23.

My chiropractor worked me over on Tuesday and everything still hurts too much to be too positive however I feel I am suffering here for the greater good and my back can only improve! Still nothing form the neurosurgeon except an admonition not to worry.

At least I can knit even if it is only a row at a time. Plenty of people cant even do that.


I was lucky enough to have 15 years with a cat that I am pretty certain could read my mind (if anyone else said such a thing i would think they were nuts of course)& her equally adorable younger brother. They were great and I am glad we had them. Now we have a noisy cockatiel who can come out of his cage more often without fear of cats jaws around his feathery bum.

My husbands GP phoned up yesterday and went through his plans for husbands future health. Lot of tests, new medication regime etc to make sure I get a fit healthy grumpy bloke about the place. Already celebrating that my (not kicked out of college yet) son passed his life guarding exams and with wants to go swimming with mum and Auntie & Uncle once a week. Is this a real 17 year old???

I found and fixed the E key on my laptop.

I got paid $20 for an article about credit cards (thank you to all those that said I should cash in on adverts). It was pay pal so I spent it on micro fibre pads for my floor steam (very rock and roll).

The youtube footage of Susan Boyles performance on Britains Got Talent makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Wow!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Cleansing power of the written word

I read a post on The Tin House today where the writer just had a little gripe about everything to get it out of her system and carry on. I am thinking that the same thing might help me.

Fell free to read no further. I am being whiny & irritating!!!

We have been living in our house for 11 years now and renovating it for 10. The previous residents lived here for 60 years and gave up doing much (including putting rubbish out any further than the garden) several decades before we got the place. The place is too small for us if I am honest but it will be better when it is all usable & not a tool store.

My husband and eldest son are both self employed so we have a constant worry of not enough work hanging over us. My other son is at college doing 'A' levels, which seem to me to to be a worry in itself. I am always waiting for him to come home and say he isn't going in any more. On top of that he wants to ride a motorbike. Just too scary to contemplate.

I work for an organisation which recently merged with two others of the same size. I have more work that I know what to do with but not so sure about job security. Does an organisation need three financial controllers???

Sadly my brother in law died recently. Aside from paying for the funeral we also need to contribute to the ongoing finances of the family until both boys have finished their national service and can get proper jobs. In fact whatever goes wrong within that side of the family it is always us that pick up the expenses. We may be comparatively rich but we are not actually rich, and this constant drain is making us poorer.

Since Christmas I have been attending chiropractor appointments to help with my neck and back, and hopefully my migraines. Migraines are much improved as is my neck but I have such pain in my lower back that I have to sit down every few hundred metres. I only have to sit for about 15 seconds but all the same it not awfully convenient. My chiropractor noticed an enlarged pituitary gland on my spine x-ray and I am currently awaiting a letter from my neurosurgeon to find out what this means, prognosis and treatment. I have found out that that pituitary glands are at the base of the brain not the base of the skull. I pictured it somewhere in my neck but apparently it is in the middle of my skull. Great. My neurosurgeon has told me not to worry, which I chose to interpret as 'its not cancerous' but maybe he just meant' what will be, will be'.

I would like to knit but the pain in my joints in my hand make any more than a row a night pretty much impossible. I have opted for knitting a bag as most people will have lost interest in a jumper long before I get to that stage.

For as many years as I can remember I have been the proud owner (mum maybe?) of two beautiful tabby cats and a cockatiel. In January Monty became ill and had to be put to sleep. I was sad to lose him but he wasn't well and it was better for him than suffering. On Easter Sunday my eldest cat, Lulu, my little baby bundle of fur for the last 15 years, had to be put to sleep after suffering a blood clot in her hip. It was all over in hours. Now my bundle is gone and I miss her like so much, especially when the human element of the household are bad tempered (three men, occasionally it happens, especially as they all know best). Previously Lulu and I would have escaped to the bedroom or garden for quiet time. Its not the same on my own. The cockatiel is loving it though, lots more free flying time instead of stuck in the cage all day, he is noisier than ever.

My husband had crash courses booked for each day of the Easter fortnight. but before the first week he was taken into hospital with chest pains and kept for some days. He still has the pain and we don't know what is causing it. He missed the first wk of crash courses because of this. The second week of crash courses he missed out on because the boiler broke down. My son had a lifeguard course at the same pool the same week but it was rearranged (at a nicer pool) because of the boiler problem. This meant we missed out on the additional income available but still had the additional expenditure! At least he passed!

The E key has leaped off my laptop and disappeared!

I am a great believer in the power of the written word. Lists stop me panicking. Blogging helps me focus. It is possible that I have actually got it all out of my system now.

Thank you for your indulgence.

Normal service should be returning shortly.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Time for a blog break


I don't know whether I am not having a good year or whether blogging is focusing my mind on everything bad that happens.

Mine eldest son decided that we would have a barbecue at Easter. He normally works really long hours and we don't see him so he wanted to invited friends and family along for a day together. We had a super day (thank goodness the neighbours we away for Easter, the noise of a dozen teenagers together is horrendous and who invented these singing and guitar games anyway!)

By 11 at night there were still a few kids playing and the a few adults chatting. My youngest son said that our cat, Lulu, was crying at the bottom of the stairs & wouldn't be comforted by cuddles. I picked her up and brought her out to us. Paws as cold as ice and nothing working from the waist backwards. The vet agreed to meet us in 15 minutes. A blood clot had cut of circulation to her back half. The vet would put her on a drip to dissolve the clot and call us in a couple of hours. Middle of the night phone call. Some pulse in the back legs but the heart beaten erratically. Six am call, do you want to come to say good bye. By 7am she was gone. My beautiful little girl there one minute and stealing chicken from everyone at the barbecue, gone the next.

I am devastated. This little girl met me from work every day, always knew what time I would arrive home, even when I didn't. Slept on my pillow, sulked when I came home from holidays. Brought me mice in the early days. Lay beside me when I was flat on the bed with migraines, always purred for me, never judged me and always loved me. I was sad when Monty had to be put down back in January but that was nothing like this. I am completely devastated. My baby is irreplaceable.

I might have a little bloggy break for a while. Every time I come to write it seems to be something awful that has happened. I cant take it. Maybe a break will bring me back to usual.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Is all credit bad?

A lot of personal finance blogs and websites suggest that the use of credit is the worse thing that could happen to you. I don't agree. There is a place in life for easy credit cards.


Where?

Large purchases have additionally insurance cover if purchased on a credit card. Buying holidays on a credit card also gives you useful additional cover. You can certainly use your debit card to make the same payments but they don't have the associated benefits.

At my company this week we have been asked to opt in to certain benefits as part of our new terms and conditions. Several people have complained that they already get free travel insurance from their provider assuming that they use their card for a certain amount each year. Assuming that they repay in full before accruing interest then they have made a good saving.

Cash back cards give you the chance to accrue money or points free, from use of the card. This is especially useful if you were go to incur the cost anyway, for instance travelling for your job. It wont make you rich but every little helps.

When something goes really bad and you need financial assistance in a hurry. You may have an emergency fund but maybe its not enough. You may have an emergency fund but maybe you need to order something over the phone (car part?)and the card is the way to go.

When are bad? Are they ever bad or is it just what we do with them? If you have certain types of spending patterns then it is time to ask for help.

Drawing out cash - you are paying a ridiculous interest rate for this. Don't do it. Look at your finances. Consider an IVA.

Buy day to day items and not clearing the card at the end of the month. Buying everyday items on the card is fine but not if you then end of paying interest on your shopping. My mum buys all her shopping on the card because she gets cash back. At the end of each months she makes a single bank payment and incurs no interest, no problem.

Buying large items on the card to spread the cost, for example for Christmas or a family holiday, and not clearing it before the next cost comes around. This is the slippery slope. Seek help, make plans, spend less.

Credit cards are not bad but sometimes we are........

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Showing the strain

We have had a bit of a stressy time lately what my brother in law dying suddenly, the almost house fire and day of CO headaches, my maybe malignant and finally benign lump. Yesterday my husband came home form work mid afternoon. We spent some time sitting out in the sunshine, had a little lunch out there and just relaxed. I thought he was quiet but assumed he was just tired. Except that he looked pale and a little shaky. He admitted to chest pains but hadn't wanted to tell me as I would make him go to hospital. I phone the NHS helpline for advice and within a few minutes a first responder arrived, then a guy in an ambulance car, within 10 minutes a full ambulance crew/paramedics were also trying to fit into the house. They took him away to the local hospital for tests, and there he still is. I can visit at 3pm. They cant seem to get rid of the pain in his chest.

It has all been a bit much lately , in fact my eldest son was almost in tears asking 'what will it be next...' and I am tempted to say that it surely cant still be our turn.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Saturday is always chore day

I love my work (kind off) but I do love Saturday and the freedom to do whatever I want, way more. Luckily for me what I want to do is also what needs doing!

Laundry - nearly finished so make sure it is all sorted and folded to be returned to cupboards & wardrobes.
Empty and re-stack dishwasher.
Empty all the bins and recycle etc
Sweep the floors.
Steam the hard floors downstairs and seal the kitchen floor.
Trip to the bank.
Trip to the market for some chicken and for lunch goodies for next week (bread etc)
Possible trip to the £ shop to buy toothpaste and soap, depending on how many people are inside.
If the day dries up there is also some garden work to be done.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Well what a week that was.....

I have been reading blogs at work this week so I haven't been able to comment (no comment facility with web sense switched on). I am hoping to get back to normal next week.

IN the meantime, catch up with my weird and wonderful week!

On Monday I woke up with a migraine, but for the first time ever I am looking back at this and glad of it. There was a really weird smell in the house but we couldn't pin it down and eventually decided it was from the building work that next door are having done. My youngest son waited for his father to be ready to give him a lift to the station on his way to work, as I wasn't well enough to drive. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a little wisp of smoke coming from the sofa. Closer inspection found a small electric lamp burning its way into the sofa. It was on the edge of the sofa and fell down between the cushions. It was plugged in in error & was smouldering away for 14 hours before we noticed it. If the fumes had not given me a migraine then we would have ll left the house by 8am and I am pretty sure the house would have burned down before we got back (as happened to the house across the road last July).

THe CO alarm didnt go off as the batteries were not quite in correctly - we know how to test this now!

If this had happened to my son in his bedroom then he wouldnt have suffocated, a small room with door and windows all closed. As it was everyone just had a headache all day.

So many things that could have gone badly wrong this week have turned out not so wrong at all.

Finally the results from my MRI are avilable. I havnt actually had them yet but I have been told by the consultants secretary that I do not have the malignant growth that was suspected.

As far as I am concerned it is a good week by anyones standards. I really love life!

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...