Sunday, 28 November 2010


2011 is just around the corner. By summer we want to have enough in savings to build on a our 'Faheds Pension' piece of land, ready to sell and hopefully repeat. Things are going to be tight. One son is still at college and the other is self unemployed at the moment. There was no work at the boat yard but he has fallen out of the love with the idea of working with hands but not brain. He is looking for temp work to keep him going but hopes to get into uni in September of 2011 or 2012 if he cant talk them into it without an access course. In short no contributions to housekeeping from either of them for a while.

I have two current accounts but we only really use one. My plan is to move all of the directs debits and standing orders to the other account. There will then be a monthly transfer to the account to cover those bills. All sensible for now.

Secondly I am finally going to admit that I know the car needs taxing, the kitchen needs tiling, Christmas is going to happen in December and actually set money aside for these events. No more trying to finance it all in the month it occurs and spending money meant for other things.

Thirdly. A friend of mine at work was saying he and his wife stick to their food budget by drawing out the cash and when its gone its gone. I know lots of people do this but I have been a bit of a snob about it. I don't need jars of £10 notes to manage my money. Well maybe I don't need jars but lets give it a go. This is a friend and colleague on approximately my salary. Very good with money (ten years younger than me and he has investments worth more than the value of his mortgage - I would pay off so maybe we don't have so much in common)so perhaps for once I will listen and learn.

Fourth and last. Pocket money for each of us. When its gone its gone.

I have run through my master plan with Fahed as obviously this needs buy in to work. He approves. He wont complain (yeah, I'm sure) and he even came up with some stats to me to work with.I have even budgetted for the weekly lottery ticket.

I want to feel in control. I think this could just do it.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

My new bedding

I invested in a new winter quilt this morning, Egyptian cotton 13.5 tog (what's a tog?). The old one was 12 years old. I have bought three lots of sheets/quilt covers in that time. At the moment I tend to wash dry and re-use the same bedding constantly as the other two sets are pretty much beaten. Asda had a lovely quilt set reduced, when I was up there this morning. I made a strategic purchase.

This is my new bedding but my bedroom doesn't look like this. My bed is wooden, my walls are cream and there is way more art.

No more spending now except on presents.

2011 Plans & today's plans

Almost December, one of my favourite months.I am a massive fan of Christmas and a love the feeling of goodwill which permeates the season. Weather is cold for the South Coast, predicted at -3 for tonight. I am happily pottering indoor, insulating curtains, making door snakes (okay, they might really be called draught excluders but door snakes sounds less dull)and sorting out my food storage ready for the new larder. I am thinking of a little trip to Matalan this morning to buy a new winter quilt for the bed. We were cold in the night and talking about how light and small the quilt seems to have become and we worked out that it is 12 years old. I don't think it owes me anything. I will see if I can get a reasonably priced replacement.

Allbrook farmhouse in the snow - but not this year.

Also on the list today I have some eBay parcels to post. I am making sales to finance my Christmas shopping. I also have to collect an exercise bike from freecycle. The plan is that my dad could use it for a couple of short session a day to help with his arthritic knee. He benefits from a bike ride but at 82 we don't want him taking on the Tour de France, especially in this weather, so I will try to persuade him that this is an option. He has seen a lot of improvement since using his EFX bracelet.

I am copying Laura and starting to make my 2011 plans. Financial, domestic and pleasure. 2011 could be the year we finally finishing renovating the house here. We need enough money by summer for Fahed to do some building work on some of the land that he has as his pension investment. Also mustn't forget to include some fun, like the Salsa lessons.

Happy Days

Thursday, 25 November 2010


I asked for a new stair carpet for Christmas. Fahed said no but if you want one that bad then you should have one. Bless him. However there is s nag. The house is 102 years old and the stairs should probably be replaced but we, and a few of the neighbour, have extra bits of wood at the side of the stairs to help to keep them from all ending up on the ground floor. That means it would be really difficult to have carpet going from wall to wall across the stairs.

So I bought this lovely jazzy stair runner. As the floor is going to be this lively I am going for cream walls but I don't want to be too dull so my woodwork is going to be Martian Skies. Gorgeous.

The walls of cream will be the perfect back ground for a home art gallery.

I am a lucky bunny.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Tempting Fate

Two Christmases ago I said that we were going to start Salsa classes in January. What followed was the worst year ever. Back pain from a nerve trapped in my hipped stopped me (as did the growth in my brain thing.)and that was by very far, not the worst thing that happened to us & around us that year. My poor husband went to so many family funerals that by the time his best friend died in December that year, aged 35, we were almost expecting it.

This year has been great. Back still hurts but everything else has been a million times better.

Next year will be even better. I want to say we are thinking of starting Salsa lessons in January without the four horsemen of the Apocalypse feeling they have to come over for coffee. Next year I can stop sitting on my hands to avoid tempting fate. Maybe I can bring my own adventure into my life without worrying that something bad is going to happen.

I can't imagine that fate can tell the time or respects the Gregorian calendar so how come luck changes by the year. I don't know, I am just glad 2009 is never coming around again.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Speaking to the universe

I am taking Moyra's advice. and addressing the universe direct. I normally assume I am in control but what if I let the universe take over. What will come our way.

I have a lovely life, lovely family, enjoyable job, I like where I live (but it will be nicer when its finished, as always), I have my other house and some other investments, even my pension is good. What do I have to complain about? Nothing, and anyway I am not. People who complain when they have nothing to complain about are one of the few things that really irritate me.

I would quite like a bit of excitement or adventure. The hiking through Peru type of adventure not the torrid affair with George Clooney type. I could apply myself to achieving something if I knew what I wanted. But I have no idea, so universe, do what you will.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Had a flying visit from my mate today as she made her way to the Island from Oxford. Unfortunately I wasn't quick enough thinking to offload a couple of bags of plums and some of my over purchase of tea towels. I will probably be grateful for all the plums when spring is almost here and we still have enough fruit for crumble on a Sunday night.

What's wrong with my rubbish?

De-cluttering upstairs went really well. It is obviously easier to focus on a small area i.e. not whole house. To my astonishment Jamal also spent the day cleaning and re-arranging his room. It look amazingly good. Can he keep it like that? In my dreams.

This morning sort last few homeless items from my bedroom. Go through makeup and nail varnishes and CHUCK OLD JUNK IN THE BIN. SO hard to do.

Quick tidy if sitting room which is basically clean but the table attracts clutter like flowers attract bees.

Stack dishwasher etc and get more tiles of the kitchen walls.

Main job of the day. Conservatory (biggest room in the house)super tidy.No cooking today as there is a vast pot of beef stew from yesterday. I have 10 hours available to me today so should make a dent in things. At the end of those ten hours we are all off to the cinema for the 7th Harry Potter film.

Disappointment of the weekend. No-one on Freecycle wants my junk either. I am hurt, Is my junk inferior to other peoples junk.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Two posts in 30 minutes - why I should be a better housekeeper

Going through the nomanland of the end section of the wardrobe (not mine but also not his)to put away the new massage foot spa which Ahdel & Bonnie gave me for mothers day.
I found:
The old (but only used about once, foot spa - (please no more, my feet are fine) just about to be freecycled.
A wooden boxed set of boule - to be recycled into Fahed pile of presents this year. He won't remember that they were ever his. He gave me set of saucepans that he found in the attic last Christmas, in addition to my present, and I didnt get told until mid afternoon on boxing day why everyone found my saucepans so funny.
A boxed photo frame - also being recycled.
Two cologne gift packs which I must have bought for gifts and forgotten. Also being re-cycled this year.
My camera and I-pod -not in the wardrobe but in a forgotten basket of books - I convinced myself I had left them at the other house. What a Muppet.
Approx 12 handbags - all very similar and exactly what I would choose if I was buying a bag now. Some might suggest I freecycle but as they all look great to me I have allocated a drawer to bags and should never need to buy another one in this lifetime.
New and still boxed mobile phone - good for mums birthday.
Santa hat - Just hoping Santa dead and decaying body is not at the back of the cupboard.

Being organisationally challenged but having the occasional proper clear out is just like being given loads of presents.

Royal Wedding & another weekend

In one of the (least favourite) papers today it says we are apparently enthusiastic about the Royal Wedding as long as not much money is spent. To me that seems counter intuitive. Would it not be better if those who have plenty, in the case the Royal Family, spent a fortune on William & Kate's big day. They have the cash, the economy could benefit from the infusion of extra dosh, win win. Sales of tacky souvenirs could be good. Increased tourism even better. A day off work? better yet. Not sure of the effect on the economy of that one but nonetheless all days off are good days off. Roll on the nuptials.

I had a day off work yesterday so now my body is thinking Sunday even though its only Saturday. Will I be at work at 8am Sunday morning by mistake, good chance. Anyway my Friday was lovely because Fahed works pretty much the whole weekend so we actually had a day of time together doing Saturday type things. Checking out carpet for the stairs, we couldn't find anything we liked. MOT & tax his car, perhaps fun is not the right word but at least it is done. Stock up with chillies, tahini and all things yummy at the Asian supermarket. Visit to a friends house. Early evening family meal out, carvery including pudding and drinks £96 for eleven of us (we all chipped in).

Today I am cleaning the kitchen and pulling ceramic tiles of the wall in prep for the new kitchen. Also a complete tidy and de-clutter of the upstairs rooms before my professional clean. I hope their cleaning is good but the fact that I cant afford to not be doing my bit of the clutter busting is probably worth the bargain amount I paid for the clean anyway. Jamal is starting his room today as well. He has more work ahead of him with that tip than I do.

Its 8.30am now so I have had my lay in. Time to get on.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

New love of my life £412
The Good Cook Shop £389
Pixmania £354
Amazon £315
John Lewis £279

On $309 which converts to £196.

I am on my way Daizy. You can use the husband and kids to help out building the dog run whilst I am indulging my new passion.

Whilst this may seem completely against my usual way of thinking it really isn't. I don't much like parting with my money at all but if I am going to then I prefer to buy something good quality and is really going to last, and only then if it is truly useful to me. This ticks all the boxes.

Whilst I was searching I was also considering a couple of Le Creuset casseroles. Very pleased to say that I got a nice surprise when searching UK sites after US sites and actually found something which is cheaper over here, I am assuming as we are closer to France but its not always the way things get prices up over here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

having materialistic thoughts

Still dreaming about the stair carpet. Daizy is right, I need to get on and get my carpet sorted so that I can free up a few brain bits to think about something else.

Between the stair carpet and the big big clean up I am feeling pretty positive about my house. That isn't always the case when buildings works go on for years.

The two big deals once the larder (and stair carpet, haha) are finished are the front porch and the kitchen refurb. I have most of what we need for the kitchen. A top of the range cooker hood (of course reduce, end of range). pine cupboard doors and drawers front (would have preferred oak but of course these were reduced)black slate type ceramic tiles for the floor (yep, reduce too), stainless steel range cooker (we are already using it - a girl can only wait so long), stainless steel double fridge and freezer (also cheap and also already in use). I have a lovely sink from freecycle.I need a work top, wall tiles, a gas oven (mine is electric and okay for cakes but rubbish for meat). I think I have taps too but I have been buying bits for the kitchen for so long that I can no longer remember.

I am dreaming about the finished kitchen already. I am a craving a Boysenberry Kitchenaid (worth flying to the US to buy. cheaper even including the air fare I am sure). Also a cassis Le Creuset casserole. And maybe some other Le Creuset bits and pieces. On No, what is happening to me, I am craving things.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Good Deals and good luck

I bought my first Groupon deal this week. I have seen a few things I like but this was almost irresistible. £30 to super clean your house. To start with the deals seemed to good to be true but once I read through the workings it becomes more obvious. The deal only happens if a certain number of sales are made so its win, win for buyers and sellers. My token has arrived so its all good so far. I am thinking of booking it for the week after next so that I have two weekends to clear all the clutter away first. I have warned the kids that they must muck out their bed rooms. They were very impressed (not)but took it quite well.

Fahed asked me what I wanted for Christmas last night. I toyed with a purple Cambridge satchel, so beautiful, but spurred on with the thought of my super clean I asked for a new stair carpet. The stairs are only halfway carpeted as we had a poorly cat experience with the remaining stairs. The stairway are being awaiting attention ever since but the kitchen and conservatory have been a priority. Work is fairly slow as we don't want to borrow to build but I am truly fed up with the stairs as they are.

My boss today commented that I wasn't using my PDA much and I explained it goes flat within a couple of hours of being unplugged. She told me to ask the It team for a Blackberry next time I am in the area. I seem to be having serious good luck this week. Maybe I should be the one that pays for the lottery tickets for Saturday.

I found my old suede jacket this week when Jamal flattened out the seats in my car. It looked very much the worse for wear but shops were charging the same to clean my jacket as it would cost to replace. I read a bunch of websites and decided to wash it on the wool setting. It is not quite dry yet but it looks just fine.

I am always pretty positive & happy, unless something awful happens, but I do feel as though all good things are coming my way at the moment. I don't want to push my luck but I have a list of outstanding issues if things are going my way!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Remembrance Sunday

My parents are too young to have served in the war being only 16 when it finished. My grandfather served in the first war. He lied about his age and signed up at 17. 300 men went from our town and he was one of six that came back. I am lucky to be here on so many counts. It was nine months after the war ended that they finally got him back from Europe. He never spoke of it and when he received a letter asking if he wanted his medals posted to him or presented to him he threw the letter away. These days they would probably say he had post traumatic stress but back then he was just considered grumpy.

We are still full of thanks.

Friday, 12 November 2010

I have followed the Cottage Smallholders advice and bought this book for £2.10. I also got free postage from Amazon but I don't know why. Its a fairly slim volume and expect to get to it, and through it, over the weekend. Hopefully full of new good ideas by next week.

I read this article on Moneysavingexpert and following their instructions I found that I have £12.50 available to me at Tescos, leftover from the last however many years.

On a less cheerful note I telephoned my mortgage provider to ask about getting a fix on my mortgage (rates will not stay low much longer)but found that because my mortgage is 76% of the value of my house I don't qualify. I am really open to rate rise at the moment but there is not much lending going on out there. Trying to cheer myself up about it I do note that at present I can overpay as much as I like without having to pay an premiums. Typically a fix makes overpayments harder.

Back to cheerful again, checking the local council website it appears we don't need planning consent for the porch we plan to build (if the other building works are ever finished, ssshhh they will b e). I have in my mind exactly how it needs to be but I still need to draw up my design.

Couldn't sleep tonight so I have got up again and am now watching a documentary about zombies. Unbelievable.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Life Plan

Its a day for dwelling today. Two minutes silence to contemplate those who gave their lives for us. Lest we forget.

That led me to thinking about the future (again). My list of things is growing;
Cake decorating
US Roadtrip (for my fiftieth birthday)
Renovating the old house in front of my house in Crete.
Caribbean Sailing Holiday with family for Faheds 50th birthday
Make cheese (successfully)
Make soap (again, successfully)
Complete OU degree - probably in international studies.
Interesting property portfolio for Fahed's pension.

The kids having jobs that they love and finding wonderful partners to spend their life with is also on the list but kind of goes without saying. Lots of beautiful grandchildren but not for a long time yet.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

More about food

Still on the veg soup and fruit for work but actually might need a new soup idea as by week 3 I am getting a bit bored of it. This has got to be saving me about £15 per week.

Tried out the sweet and sour chicken with my own noodle dish yesterday. It was really good actually but because we don't normally eat fried foods I did feel a bit sick after a few hours. Unbelievable how many balls you get from just a few chicken breasts. For the noodles I fried off a couple of dry cure bacon slices, cut into strips, an onion and then added the noodles. I then stirred some sesame oil through them. Tasted like I had made more effort than I had.

I didn't sort through my wardrobe on Sunday as I had a migraine but I have tried to be less scruffy and even wore heels for a couple of days. Didn't manage full make up but eye liner and lip colour.

Tomorrows food is rice or pasta with a mince beef based sauce. The sauce doesn't vary but I will call it spaghetti bolognese, chilli con carne and maybe lasagne depending on what carbs go with it. I assume everyone in the family has noticed it is all the same thing but they are too kind to tell me.

If I feel I have to write about my food & shopping habits it makes me a lot more inclined to be good. Go blogger.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Food plan

Today I checked out Tesco CFC, beloved of Fiona at Cottage Snmallholder. To be honest the savings were not amazing but they were enough and it was things I don't normally buy so I am pushed to make new things.

Today we have southern fried chicken pieces and southern fried fries.
I have re-chopped and marinated some diced chicken breast to make Sweet and Sour Chicken on Tuesday.
I have made 1kg of lamb meat loaf with donner kebab still spices for tomorrow & have made and frozen another loaf (so I hope we like the first one).lamb mince was half price.
There are two ducks legs which will make Chinese pancakes, along with the frozen tortillas I have from a previous super price reduction.
Two packets of stewing beef which are each big enough to make a stew, maybe one this week and one next week.
A piece of roasting beef which was 1/3 off is also tucked away in the freezer for a rainy day.

I was visiting tasco anyway as their tuna is half price

I have started going to a different supermarket each week and taking advantage of their specials to replenish my stocks instead of buying each week for that week. Seems to be much more affordable.

I finally have a favourite sport, extreme shopping.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Weekend Plans

Since I am not wasteful and indulgent any more weekends have to be a bit more structured. I have to include preparation for the coming week to ensure no waste.

On my list;
On Sunday night I am going to have a bit of a look at the contents of my wardrobe and see if a couple of new items would give me more choice of outfits. I do tend to stay in the same colour palate so I am hoping so. I have been inspired by Froogs to smarten myself up. I am a senior manager but its not always possible to tell from my appearance. I might even start wearing make up.

Tidy my bedroom. Makes me sound like a 15 year old avoid exam revision but really I just have a big basket of stuff that need a temporary home elsewhere. When I come across something which isn't needed around here but would be good at the Crete house it goes into the basket ready to go in next times luggage. I am sure I have an under bed basket it can go in so hoping to get that packed away.

Food prep. Check out the cupboards and freezer. Talk through a menu plan with the old fella. Buy what is needed for the coming week (minimal). Make vegetable soup for next weeks lunches. Box up a huge tin of grapefruit for next weeks breakfasts. We are also intending to settle down on Sunday afternoon to make some lamb sausages for the freezer and some houmous.

A home trim of the hair.

Another coat of paint for the new larder. I can't wait to start using my new larder and having a real kitchen sort out but I still need Fahed to grout the floor tiles and cut some tiles to make a skirting board.

On top of this the usual laundry, cleaning etc. Visiting my parents. find my bloody car keys (lost on Thursday night).

Oh and find my knitting and re-start. I am not an accomplished knitter although I did okay with little jumpers when the kids were babies and toddlers. I find it very painful but I think it probably does my hands good to persevere even though it is painful.

That's my weekend. Lovely.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Under control

I cant remember when I decided I needed to sort myself out and stop being so wasteful but I want to report back (because for some reason I behave better when I think someone might notice)that I am going good.

Still haven't purchased any lunches or breakfasts. We have about 5 different sandwich rounds that call at work now but everyone seems to do the same as me and bring it from home, so I guess the sandwich businesses aren't doing so well. I don't want to be unsupportive of local business but I have to look to my purse first.

I am sounding well pleased with myself but may not have actually mentioned I got taken out to lunch, on the company credit card (next to never happens)today. Wagamama, which was okay but not actually much better than my home-made veg soup so I am glad I wasn't paying.

I am also noticing that as I have got used to my new job it has got a bit easier and isn't stretching me so much. I am wondering if it is time to go back to higher education. I would like to have a go at an OU degree in international studies. You need 360 point for an honours degree. I have 240 from my accountancy qualifications. I am wondering if I can talk my work into paying for a couple of courses for my personal development. I might finally get a degree in time for my 50th birthday, in 18 months. Might as well use the brain before it gives up the ghost completely.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

The Tea Party

I am well aware that this isn't my country and perhaps I shouldn't copmment but I read this earlier on here. and I have to.

You didn't get mad when the Supreme Court stopped a legal recount and appointed a President.

You didn't get mad when Cheney allowed Energy company officials to dictate Energy policy and push us to invade Iraq .

You didn't get mad when a covert CIA operative got outed.

You didn't get mad when the Patriot Act got passed.

You didn't get mad when we illegally invaded a country that posed no threat to us. You didn't get mad when we spent over 800 billion (and counting) on said illegal war.

You didn't get mad when Bush borrowed more money from foreign sources than the previous 42 Presidents combined.

You didn't get mad when over 10 billion dollars in cash just disappeared in Iraq .

You didn't get mad when you found out we were torturing people.

You didn't get mad when Bush embraced trade and outsourcing policies that shipped 6 million American jobs out of the country.

You didn't get mad when the government was illegally wiretapping Americans.

You didn't get mad when we didn't catch Bin Laden.

You didn't get mad when Bush rang up 10 trillion dollars in combined budget and current account deficits.

You didn't get mad when you saw the horrible conditions at Walter Reed.

You didn't get mad when we let a major US city, New Orleans drown.

You didn't get mad when we gave people who had more money than they could spend, the filthy rich, over a trillion dollars in taxbreaks. You didn't get mad with the worst 8 years of job creations in several decades.

You didn't get mad when over 200,000 US Citizens lost their lives because they had no health insurance.

You didn't get mad when lack of oversight and regulations from the Bush Administration caused US Citizens to lose 12 trillion dollars in investments, retirement, and home values.

No.....You finally got mad

When a black man was elected President and decided that people in America deserved the right to see a doctor if they are sick.

Yes, illegal wars, lies, corruption, torture, job losses by the millions, stealing your tax dollars to make the rich richer, and the worst economic disaster since 1929 are all okay with you, but helping fellow Americans who are sick...Oh, Hell No!!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Week 2

Week 2 of not wasting money and I am still on target with taking breakfast and lunch into work. I didn't do this on Friday as I was at a different office,with no microwave for my yummy home made veg soup, but my boss took a couple of us out for lunch, so result. Potential saving of £40 so far.

Also managed not to do a full shop at the weekend and just filled up the pitta bread drawers instead. There are only the two of us at home at the moment and its easy to live on snacks (like cheese on toast) instead of cooking proper meals. Potential saving of £40.

I had to buy my son Office 2010 for college use but because he is a student we got it for an amazing £38 and we are allowed to load it on two machines. So second load has been into my laptop (which is legit I think as he does use mine when travelling as it is a little baby laptop).I love it. I have discovered Ms one note for lists. Since I am now of the age where lists come into there own (hormonal and forgetful) its great. I have a to do list, a menu planning list, a list for Fahed....and this is just the beginning. You can write anywhere on the page, so good for making notes, and it is all tab top so very easy to get around. I am sure this must count as saving £700.

Our sitting room is cream with an aubergine coloured chimney wall and picture rail. One sofa is aubergine and one is cream (both second hand of course) The third sofa was a sort of terracotta colour which was fine but didn't go with everything. In fact it seriously clashed with the curtains which are directly above it. It have so far dyed the cushions a lovely deep aubergine colour too (dylan machine burlesque red) and am searching out more dylon to do the main body of the loose covers. Its looks fantastic. The tapestry cushion covers have retained their colours but the background has change. Its lovely. I am so glad I took the risk but i dont think Fahed would have approved, in case it went wrong, so just as well I did it whilst he was away. Saving the price of a new sofa. This sofa and a footstool were £30. Dye was another £30. New sofa would have been about £500 (its a really lovely old fashioned and over stuffed sofa). Saving is £440.

I also re-cycled a pretty jersey skirt into a nice big cushion for Fahed when he comes back. The material was pretty and is very soft but the skirt wasn't really my style so I am glad to have found a new purpose for it.£10 saving ??

Am I getting back into my frigal ways, and surely I should have £1230 to show it .

My life

My wonderful husband has died. He was in hospital for some weeks but this was very unexpected. I won’t be reading or writing for the foresee...