Monday, 28 February 2011

Frugal Evening

The evening today was quite cold and Fahed is poorly. He has an ache in his shoulder and own through his ribs. Believe me we know all about it.

So following a dinner of our homemade sausages, which Jamal says are delicious but bloody hot, we decided that bed was a warmer option than the sitting room. By 8pm we are tucked up under our winter quilt (the marshmallow one) with a boxed set of Poirot DvDs, my laptop for blog reading and my knitting. All very nice except my bum goes quite numb if I lounge about in my bed for too long.

Now the knitting is finished. I need some black wool to edge my little creation. We are on our second DVD, leaving us two for another day. A sign that it is time for sleep. I have an early start tomorrow. I have doctors appointment at 7.20am. I had no idea that GP's started that early. I hope he is more awake than I am at that time.

Nighty night

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Spend, spend, spend

Fahed has only been to work for two three hour sessions, plus his voluntary work, whilst I have had been off these last three days. We had great fun. Trips to the shops have been made. Lucky he doesnt have too many weekends at home or we would be broke.

It will be a while before we run out of food for sure but there were bargains too good to miss, half price tuna, loafs of bread for 10p and other goodies. I bought a slightly lighter quilt as our winter quilt is wonderful when it is zero but like being suffocated by a giant marshmallows when the temperature goes up to ten degrees.

I also bought a mattress topper to make the old mattress last a little longer. We found a bargain supply of shelving for the larder so we bought enough for the whole job. The board which we are currently using can be used to insulate the little laundry area now.

Fahed also bought me a set of acrylic paints for me to play about with. Bless his little cotton socks.

Other good news. I thought I was going to be showing you photos of my goodies because I finally found my camera. i was sure it was in Fahed's car so I waited patiently until it came back from the garage after three weeks. It wasn't there. In all the confusion and swapping around of cars it was in my car the whole time, just buried under the car cushions. I am really glad actually as Fahed bought it for me once for my birthday and I am more attached to it than I normally get with 'stuff'. Anyway batteries are flat but now in the recharger so almost ready for action.

To prove it wasn't all play and no work I have made vegetable soup for next weeks lunches and Greek yogurt and pineapple chunks for next weeks breakfasts. Yesterday we made a ton of sausages and some burgers for the freezer and there is a joint of roast to be served with salad and jacket potatoes.

All is well for the week ahead on this Sunday night, so back to the knitting and brilliant TV (Deadliest Catch).

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Better me

I am 48. I have 16 months until my half century. 50, or maybe even 60, is the new 40 so nothing to worry about. I don't worry about age or try to hide it (what could be worse than people think I am younger but that I look old for my age, best to take it on the chin). I do worry that I wont have enough time to do everything that I want to.

For my birthday present, which comes from community fund obviously,we have been planning a US road trip. The kids had a hand on choosing the present, you can guess. If the exchange rate and economy is our friend then we will spend three or four weeks touring all the best bits, we all get to choose so it should be fun and pretty varied. If the economy etc are against us then I will seek out a bargain package to California and we will do as much as we can.

Half century seems like a deal. Some plans should probably be made.

1) Investigate pension and see when is a feasible time to retire.
2) Lose weight. Don't want to be skinny but would like to be Nigella shaped (some hope).
3) Change hair - it always looks the same just longer or shorter. Try something new.
4) Try to be slightly more stylish - capsule wardrobe style but without losing my quirkiness, to which I am tightly attached.
5) Learn a new skill, cake decorating maybe or mosaic.
6) Try one of those short courses where you find out what colour suites you.
7) Allow myself to be a little more creative and a little more adventurous.


Some easy and some not so easy. I have 16 months to get there.

Big expenses

Yesterday I had a flexi day to go for a consultation at the laser eye clinic. For a few years now I have needed reading glasses and I know its silly but I don't seem to get on with glasses at all. Apparently one of my eyes is lazy but wasn't picked up and treated when I was a kid hence the other guy is doing all of the work. My distance sight is still perfect. The consultant suggested that they would be able to laser my lazy eye to use for reading. So left for reading and right for distance. Apparently it takes a while to get used to but your brain can cope with this and you don't realise they are both doing different jobs. As I now need varifocals at up to £300 a time, every twelve months, even from Specsavers then the £995 price tag is not as off putting as it first seems. I asked if it will deteriorate again and he says I might need glasses when I am very old but otherwise this would be it.

I will decide by end of the weekend but if I am honest I have decided already. Anyway the money is leaving town thick and fast at the moment so another £1000 wont notice, right! Yesterday we finally got the big car back. Total cost £661 but the mechanic did give it the once over as part of the repair and said it is in perfect condition now, just like new. The engine only has about 10k mileage on it so hopefully he is right.

Faheds PDA cost £70 to be fixed but it is a good one so its worth it, or it will be if he learns to use it properly and stops missing appointments. I take the blame here anyway as I put my laptop in the bag on top of it and broke the touchscreen. £70 is actually a bargain as it was £150 from the dealer.

On Monday my car goes for a service too, so we have another month on bread and water (not true, my freezer and pantry are crammed with food).

Did I mentioned the washing machine is also broken. New heater unit required so it might be cheaper to call the guy than mend it ourselves as he pays lots less for parts than we do.

Fahed has work this morning until 11 and then we are free for the whole weekend except for his voluntary lifesaving class on Saturday night. Feels like a holiday. I just love how long an extra day makes the weekend. I was in the clinic most of the morning so I really only had extra 4 hours but it feels much more.

All the family are away in France but we didn't join them because of all the other things going on so I am a little envious. I know there are having coffee and croissant in the old walled town in St Malo as I type this. I bought my self some Lidl croissants to ease the pain. I should get off my lazy arse and go make breakfast really.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Energy

Still working like a crazy woman (started at 8am got home at 6.30 this evening) and very grateful I don't have a job which is more physically taxing. 10 plus hours a day of hauling coal would finish me off. I only live 5 minutes form the office so atleast I dont have a two hour slog on the train too. Instead of being as tired as I was last week I find myself with all the energy I need.

Today I came in from work and stacked the dish washer, sorted the bins and wiped the work surfaces before I even noticed I was home. At work I am getting on top of all of my outstanding tasks as well as managing the massive project which I have going on.

I am hope that the weekend, which is going to be a long one for me as Friday is laser eye clinic enquiry day, is going to be full of activity and general productiveness. I need to keep my momentum. Maybe plan a few things which I can aim to do.

I have a bag of clothes to go to the Salvation Army and a box of china and things which i think there are also happy to take. I could fill another bag and maybe two more boxes at he weekend. As Amazon second hand book seem to make about 1p each at the moment i think that the charity shops might get more benefit. I may be able to get my son to help me take some stuff to the dump as well. Maybe my other son will help me with painting. His intentions are good, always good, but there is normally music to be composed, stories to be written, pictures to be drawn and my tasks get postponed.

The days and so the weeks past ridiculously quickly.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Half term hols

Now the boys are 21 and almost 19 school holidays don't affect me much as they did when I had to worry about looking after them in the days. I don't have to drop Jamal at college so get to work a bit earlier but as I am already 22 hours up it isn't exactly crucial. Just discovered one really good thing though. Fahed's swimming teaching is mostly tied to term times so his regular classes are off, although he is doing morning crash courses. That means that he has afternoons free which I why I just had a homemade lamb and burghal kofta sausage type creation for my dinner.

He soaked bulgar wheat for a few hours. Spiced it up with dried chilli (lots and lots), salt and cumin. Minced it through the sausage maker twice. Minced up some lean lamb. Mixed it all together and then minced it through again. He made then into sausage shapes but we didn't use skins as we havn't made sausages in ages and I think the old ones look pretty old.

He has no afternoon lessons tomorrow either. Wonder if we will get something else yummy.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

The best kind of to do list

Nice and quiet house today with everyone at work or out and about. I like the noisy family home generally but sometimes quiet is nice.

I have vacuumed right through, cooked yummy food (rice, malay vegetable curry, dhal, beef and spinach curry - easily enough for tomorrow as well)for lunch and almost finished the laundry. I think that means I deserve so quiet time for me. I especially do as the kids had visitors last night, who are very sociably and do ask us to join them, but all the same, quiet time is required.

I was thinking about my special do to list. My 'to do with your life', as opposed as 'to do with the housework and shopping'.

These things are on there;

Cake decorating
Safari
Caribbean sailing
US Roadtrip
Artists retreat in Klima
Make cheese
Make soap
Complete OU degree
Interesting property portfolio for Fahed pension.

I think I want to make a couple of changes.
I am not completely binning the idea of the OU degree but I am putting it on hold. My boss, who is very supportive, would sponsor me to take the first course for my degree. Well if someone else is paying I know I have to give 100% but I just don't think I have the energy or inclination at this point. I may come back to it and I do like to be challenged and to think a bit bigger and a bit deeper but this has made me realise that it is not for now.

I also thought that making soap and making cheese are things I should do as a matter of course and are not big deals so I am going to get on and try those through spring and then they become part of my life or not but either way they are off the list.

New things to go on to the list.

I have been (virtually) chatting with a couple who are looking for accommodation in Crete. They house sit for people and look after their pets and plants. One is also a freelance writer and photographer, the other is a fitness instructor. They just move all over the world living little bits of other people lives and carrying on with their own. I thought it was a fascinating idea. I have shied away from renting out the Crete house as my neighbours are so lovely and I would hate to inadvertently ship lager louts into their midst. I have offered them the house for a few weeks whilst they are between jobs on the understanding that they pay my electricity and water bills and have a bit of a clean up and warm the place through.

So from speaking to them I was thinking about living in different ways and not the normal nine to five. I do enjoy my job but I don't want to do it forever.

Additional inspiration came from Moyra's about Ace Camps trip to Marrakesh. I could do that. i could so do that. Not Marrakesh but places I know well. um, and not shopping but for people who would like to see the real underside of a country. To get to meet the real people of a place. This week I got invited to Ramallah on the West Bank. Not so many get invites like this. This is not Thomas Cook style holidaying. I know people in some fantastically under visited countries. Places where everyone is welcoming and friendly but where visitors are few. I don't want to turn my favourite places into 1980's still Costa del Sol but I would like to give some places a chance to show its prettier face to the world.

On my list is to be added 'Organise small groups of travelers to interesting locations.

If my quiet day continues there may be more to go on there later

Saturday, 19 February 2011

What a week

Such a mad busy week. Working endlessly on the rent increase (sorry, I have no choice, its all set by the government) at work and then we have our first ever visit from a member of Faheds family, so I need to take some time out in a week when I have done nothing but work and sleep.

Finally managed to fit it all in nonetheless. Rent info was loaded on time. My brother in law had a five day visit for trade discussion with the someone within the government. He had virtually no time when he wasn't in a meeting so we went to him instead of him coming to us. Being Palestinian, from Jerusalem, I thought he might like to see might like to see St Paul's cathedral. I was right. He loved it. He was quite overwhelmed. To make it even better the minister holding the service asked for prayers for our brothers and sisters in Egypt and for peace in the Middle East, whilst we were there. My brother in law is in his 60s and I would say he never expected to see this the time when the old dictators started to fall. He is a composed and quiet old gentleman but I would say that he is happy and excited that he lived long enough to maybe see the beginnings of democracy in the Middle East.

So after St Paul's we crossed the millennium bridge and walked along the South Bank then crossed back to catch the tube at Tower Hill. He took so many photos. I don't think he expected London's beauty or her history. I thought that was long enough out in the cold for an elderly gentleman not used to the cold but I think he could have kept going long after we collapsed. I found that one of his favourite things about England was 'the system' by which he meant how organised everything is and how everyone knows the ropes. Nice to hear something goos about us.

In the evening we had coffee back at his hotel and met a couple of his secretaries. All talk was excitement about the expected roll out of democracy. I do hope they are right. We got invited to the West Bank for a holiday. wow, what a week.

Still havn't found my bl**dy camera.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Greek Village Omlette - Prefect Brunch

Years ago when I worked in a restaurant in Aghia Galini down in Southern Crete we had lunch for all the staff. We ate there everyday but I guess this was a Saints day or something because we were all at a long table piled with goodies. Anna, the bosses wife/cashier/kitchen hand cooked for us. I commented to an Australian friend of mine who had the restaurant across the way from ours. She told me that cooking is not a may have or may not have skill in Greece. All women can cook and all cook well. Too true. We had Greek salads, patates (chips but sounds more interesting), and all manor of traditional cold dishes. Anna also cooked us an omelette. I was expecting expecting something like the little flat but folded over yellow things you get here. Oh,no. This was green peppers, onion, mushroom, chips and bacon, all held together in a huge cake of an omelette. I was in fear of having to eat it as omelette is so unappealing to me and , well, eggy. This was amazing. She sliced it like a cake and we ate it was Greek salad and fresh local bread.

25 years later this is still a favourite for a weekend brunch menu. Fahed is off to work early but has a mid morning break so we take the opportunity for brunch instead of filling up again later in the day

Greek Village Omelette

Fry enough chips/frech fries to half fill the pan that you want to cook the final omelette in.
Chips should be peeled potatoes cooked in hot oil bot package anything cooked in the oven. I am sure no Greek housewife worth her salt is oven cooking re-shaped potato produce for this dish. And anyway fake chips will disintegrate before the meal is complete.

Drain chips on kitchen roll and leave to one side.

Chop as much bacon as you feel you would like,a little works just fine but you might treat them with extra as there is no lunch coming their way. Cooking bacon is just great for this and extremely affordable. Fry in a dry non stick pan until little crispy. Drain bacon on kitchen roll too and leave to the side. Wipe pan clean.

Heat a little olive oil in non stick pan and fry off a large onion, finely chopped. Before it looses its bite add a chopped green pepper. After a minute a handful of chopped mushrooms. Add the bacon and chips and turn everything over a couple of times with two wooden spatulas.

Crack a half dozen or so free range eggs (remember this is for the whole family so its not as bad as it sounds. If the pan is big you made need more eggs. Add a sprinkle of salt and a sprinkle of oregano, dried is fine.

Poor half of the egg mixture onto the filling. Cook slowly for a few minutes. Cover with a large plate and tip upside down. Slide omelette back into the pan,. Add remaining egg mix. Cook until just setting.

Its best served with the middle of the omelette still a little runny. Take a few attempts to get the middle and the eggyness how your family likes it and they will love you forever.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Grateful

I was thinking of a summing up the week post when I just came across this by Moyra, just a few minutes ago.

I am going to write a post about I have to be grateful for in the week that has gone by.

My son that doesn't cook cooked twice for us this week. The second time was borderline edible. Hopefully we are on a roll.

Same son passed a telephone interview for a job as an apprentice trainer at adventure camp. Next step is a two day assessment in North Wales next month. Wish us luck.

Youngest son decided what he wants to do when he leave college in the summer and actually made the effort to get the information from college. Astonishing.

I finally went to the doctor yesterday about the pains and inflammation in my boobs. Obviously I should have gone before but you tend to think that avoiding is better than confronting. Nonetheless Dr F says it is just inflammation and nothing awful so I can relax. Yaay.

Had to quarterly 1 to 1 at work and it was all supportive and nothing that I got torn off about.

All of these good things distract me from;

The fact that eldest son is still without job and I think it is starting to effect his self esteem. He has asked me lately why no-one wants him and is there something wrong with him.

Conservatory is still full of boxes of tools as the shed still leaks.

Pay days are too far apart, there is too much month left at the end of my money.

Kitchen is partially re-modelled and it progresses so slowly that i am losing the will to cook.

But, on another high note, Saturday is almost here again.

Desert Island Dinners

It's me! Come on over.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Having a technical moment

I found out how to change my name on blogger so any comments from me now will come up as Lizzie's Home World not just Lizzie and hopefully I wont accidentally obliterate any one else comments.

Next on my list is to get Microsoft Outlook, which I find brilliant to use at work, to pick up my email from all of the various email address in use. It seems so simple but somehow it always errors. I am clearing out old emails form the various collection points as this could be causing overload. Next job after this is washing the kitchen walls with plenty of clambering about on work tops, so I am happy to take my time trying to get Outlook working and leaving my grubby kitchen until later.

Two hours later - still avoiding walls scrubbing I have taken the bottom of my tumble dryer to bits to ensure minimum fluff blocking up vents. This should help it dry more quickly. Roll on summer and outdoors drying.

Three hours even later - Gave in and started on the walls where I can reach them. Turns out that they clean up lovely with a wet followed by dry very large micro fibre cloths. Jamal came out to the kitchen and caught me standing on the worktop. He shouted at me to get down before I fall and then climbed up and did it all for me. My baby is lovely, although he did moan the whole time but I can cope with that.

In between avoiding work I made a delicious mushroom soup, mushrooms cooked off in a little butter, plenty of chicken stock, thickened up by blitzing a couple of boiled spuds in it.
Also almost made a cottage pie. I cooked carrot, onions and lentils until soft, blitzed them and then added minced beef. It does taste good but will be even better when it has a nice coating of creamy mashed potato. That will do us all for a couple of days when served with some veg. No cake making today because I made a birthday cake yesterday and because we have a Christmas pudding to eat up.

I know I sounds very pleased with everything lately but its true, I am. My husband has suffered from anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember but lately they have finally got the balance of meds and exercise about right. It is truly joyous and I am so grateful. Last night as we were settling down for bed he said 'I really love being so happy'. It is fantastic. If you have any kind of problem like this just don't give up. He is almost 50 and life is better than it has ever been. Maybe they say life begins at 40 as that is when you start to understand yourself and the world and how the two interact.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Listomania

I actually really enjoy settling down to make my task list for the weekend on a Friday night. I always hated lists as they felt like structure but by having a list and mostly keeping to it I know there is nothing else I should be doing and I can be totally in the moment. Perfect. No more rushing to finish something because I should be doing something else.

So aside form my lists we are having a delightful indulgent Friday night. For dinner we had Chip Butties, chipatis Fahed calls them. I am never sure if its just his accent or he thinks it is one and the same. We have now had enough calories to keep us going until Monday, but they were so basic and so indulgent and so yum. We also have 5 episodes of Criminal Minds to watch. Despite only discovering this series over Christmas we are already watching occasional repeats. Fortunately at my age (48) I tend to have forgotten the outcome even just a few weeks after first viewing. Same is true of books I read years ago, the end is always a surprise even after re-reading.

The List
Grocery shopping - fruit and veg, pita bread, Greek yoghurt.
Other shopping - bird seed, fabric dye.
Boots to cobbler for new heels and soles.
Wash kitchen walls ahead of decorating.
Post some bills.
Remove and dispose of clutter in the conservatory (my menfolk have been working out there during the week. All good work but they are more messy than rampaging hippogriffs)
Laundry
Wrap birthday presents for mum and brother in law.
Make birthday cake
Bag of clothing to charity shop
Photos for e bay sales
Prepare healthy and delicious lunch, almost certainly based on water cress.
clean the hard floors.
Scrub up the kitchen counter tops etc

.........all, in the moment.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

I know I never buy anything

Well I did this time. Not something new, obviously, but something nice.

Ten pounds well spent for my new kitchen.

I prefer my stuff to be a bit pre-loved.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Improvements

A mate of mine at work emailed me today to say we have to book a lunch because if we wait until we have time to lunch spontaneously then its never going to get here. I think I am busy but looking his diary made me feel borderline sloth. He has been ill a lot lately and almost fell asleep at the wheel a couple of weeks back. We decided we should try to go for a regular lunch time walk. I am about a foot shorter so it does look a bit like a Great Dane trotting out with a Yorkshire Terrier and I will definitely get the bulk of the exercise.

I am hoping it will do us good to get away from the desks and into fresh air. I booked the first one today. First day we are both available during lunch time is March 2nd. I plan to book a load more of these walks into our diary well in advance before they fill up with other nonsense (work). I am marking them as private so that no-one thinks its okay to book meetings over the top.

Also if its in my diary I am hoping I will stick to it instead of wussing out.

I have also been collecting green smoothie recipes to try. Thanks for the idea Moyra. I will have energy, I will re-learn sleeping well, I will be fit. I am happy.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

I need to change my name

I just recently noticed there is another Lizzie in my corner of blogland. I read a couple of comments which I didnt remember making, clicked through the ID and found it wasn't me. No worries, its a nice name so let there be more. But then I made a comment on a Frugal Queen post and the other Lizzies comment disappeared. So I can handle it but blogger doesn't seem to be able to.

I have been trying to work out how to change my blogger name. Can anyone remind me please? I dont want to be shooting down someone else's comments without even knowing it.

Elizabeth

From the Ancient Greek Ἐλισάβετ (Elisabet), a transliteration of the Old Testament Classical Hebrew אלישבע (Elisheva, “my God is an oath”).

I like the formalness of my given name but I save it for special occasions. Its too big for everyday life.

Liz

Used for work. Not really me. A bit pedestrian and dull. I will introduce myself as Liz. Its for strangers.

Lizzie

This is me. Feels a little bit not so ordinary. Informal and approachable. My name from friends and in blogland.

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...