Saturday, 31 December 2011

No Spend/Low Spend January

I am joining Carla for no spend/low spend January.

I have a monthly budget of £300 for the 4/5 of us for groceries. £170 for fuel.£150 pocket money. We also have £200 income over expenditure which would go into savings.

I have a freezer and larder full of food but only because that's how I always keep them. I'll do my best to keep it tight through January and feed us all well without depleting all the stores.

Driving kept to a minimum to keep the fuel going as long as possible.

Wish me luck.

2012 This is how I want it to go

Work on myself a bit more –
Do something with my hair & general appearance
Revamp wardrobe
Lose 4 stone

Travel & property plans (I know these things don’t go together for everyone but they do for me)
Plan & take a trip for my 50th birthday which is fun but doesn’t break the bank
Save around £4000 work on Crete house and grounds.
Sell the property in Syria – we have a buyer but she can’t go to get the land valued at the moment because of the troubles.

Finance & investment
Clear all non mortgage debt (hopefully using money from Syria)
Save a small emergency fund.
Continue to overpay mortgage and get term down to 15 years remaining,

Friday, 30 December 2011

Forcing myself to stick to my healthy eating program

I am hoping this will do it. If you could come on over and give me a shove in the right direction from time to time then it would be great.

How to avoid going into debt for as long as possible

What are the biggest money sucks as you go through life?

Car (plus fancy & new equals fancy and more expensive) & other depreciating assets (motorbikes, boats...)
Credit cards (not intrinsically expensive but certainly a doorway to debt if wrongly used).
Frittering - big and little.

No one told me anything about managing my money when I was young so I feel I was pretty lucky to get to be as financially secure as I am. Had a few false starts along the way, especially when I was first married. However we worked hard and learnt how to budget & now its all okay.

I believe I have taught the kids well but only time will tell. This is what we did (right or wrong).

Education - follow your heart but you don't have to go straight to uni to get a pointless degree just to please me. You also don't have run up tens of thousands of debt.

Ahdel works four days a week and studies two days a week. Points count towards an OU degree but he also builds up the all essential portfolio of his work during the course of the course.

Jamal is trying to get into the merchant navy. If he does this he gets sponsored through three years of university & he gets paid a pocket money sum during this time as well.

House - will cost a bomb in this country no matter what however house ownership is a part of our culture so we expect to buy at some point. I am encouraging saving up of a massive deposit (my niece worked five jobs and her partner three jobs to save their £40k deposit - it can be done). We will help, plan and encourage as required. Maybe starting off by buying something between us so they can build up some equity. We would generally prefer not to rent as it is too close to just chucking money away.

Car- Saving up in advance for car & insurance. Setting aside money fro MOT, car tax and repairs - planning for tyres etc.

Credit cars - avoiding at all costs. I can only hope they stick with this.

Frittering - The biggest battle. Ahdel & Bonnie still fritter but for Ahdel we control it by doing his budget and having a fritter allowance. Jamal is the perennial student and can control whatever little money he has scrounged to the penny. He is however the past master at frittering other people money away.

I have tried and the world is quite a hard place, so hopefully I have made a difference.

Oh, oh, oh forgot to mention I also explained the importance of regular giving to those less fortunate, in goods, in acts and in cash.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Looking back to the plans for 2011

This was our overall plan for 2011 & we kept to the spirit of the quest.
2011 is to be about making progress with the Crete house, about being healthier and happier & maybe even more economically viable people, about finding life to be interesting but most of all its to be about not sweating the small stuff. It’s about remembering to live not just plan.

Formal budget and have minimised costs. All set up jar system for shopping, fuel, etc. All leftovers to go into the emergency fund. All additional income to holiday fund. Pocket money for each of us. The budget deals only with my salary. Fahed’s money is for investment in the properties which we call Fahed’s pension.
Yes, formal budgets are now automatically fixed into our heads. Any spare did go into the holiday fund but the holiday fund is also the finish the Crete House fund, so it did all get spent.

Weekly plan for cleaning but it gets easier anyway as there is less stuff. Meal planning . Continue shopping as now. Healthy eating for all.
I did adopt a weekly shopping habit and avoided the trips to Waitrose on the way home, which saved me some serious wastes of money. Meal planning remained sporadic and doesn’t really suit me at all.

My favourite pastime is travel . All money from Amazon, Quidco, Ebay etc to go to the travel fund. Fortunately I also get a lot of pleasure from other areas of life, cooking, crafts, reading and hopefully Salsa dancing. Even my spread sheets and meal planning are fun.
Yes, everything went in the travel fund and then got spent! Life is still fun.

Improve fitness, reduce back pain. Be fit enough for short hike by end of year. Eat more healthily, regular weekly exercise (gym, swim, exercise bike, walking, Salsa dancing). Cost: Salsa lessons £7 per week each. Gym & swimming are free as Fahed teaches at the local leisure centre.
I lost two stone but have a ton (or so it feels) still to lose. Salsa dancing class went bust so we don’t go there!

I think we can say a safe 7/10.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011


Although we are not hugely materialistic I do enjoy opening my presents. I especially love it if I have managed to get something for my family which makes them smile.

For the boys I bought them some books and DVD's of their favourite stand up artists. Plus a few other bits just to open like a t shirt and a few pairs of socks. Fahed got a nice sweatshirt. The rest of the family got Body Shop Baskets. We have a £10 per person family limit, which doesn't seem to include the boys,but I just about stayed within the limit by using Groupon vouchers.

I received a beautiful red hurricane lamp from Jamal & some de-stressing bubble bath plus a reading light which clips to my book from Ahdel & Bonnie. Lucky mummy.

From my parents I got a slanket. I am wearing it now, as I type, and it's excellent. Toasty warm. Just need to dog out my bed socks now to keep my little toes warm too.

My sister bought me a china coffee cup with a rubber lid, which is in the style of a disposable cup. Pretty cute. I will take that to work.

My lovely niece bought me a creamy 'shabby chic' hanging candle stick thing. It sort of matches a couple of pieces that my brother and sister in law gave me last Christmas. I took them out to Crete, so this one can makes its way out there too.

Aren't I a lucky bunny?

Not getting sucked in to the shop til you drop culture

£4.3 billion spent in the last two days at the sales here apparently. It is suppose to save several big chains from going to the wall. I am feeling a little guilty that shopping is no longer a hobby but that't the paradox of thrift. I can do something which is good for us or good for the economy but not both. I have opted for what is good for us but I do have a little spending to do.

I need a new hair cut. Suddenly my hair looks just awful.
A new foundation. I don't very often wear make up but if I am honest I do look better with it so I might make a small investment.
Depending on other expenditure we are thinking of buying a WiiFit. We need more exercise and this does look like fun.
Also plates. Since everyone turned up here on Christmas Eve and I found I barely have enough plates to feed everyone, in fact Fahed had to eat from a smallish serving dish. Not sure what happened to all of my plates since we last tried to feed that many people but I am guessing broken (by Jamal, he's a little awkward but also way more likely to be cooking than his brother). I am going for supper plate sized to stop us from having portion control issues (yep, given the chance we can be piggies). Its healthy eating all the way for us from January 2nd. I never start things on 1st January as it is asking for trouble to be restrained when we are still in party mode. My dad will be 84 on the first so we will be celebrating, and almost certainly there will be food involved.

And wandering on to the subject of food in the new year we are aiming for a few changes:

Food needs to be able to accommodate the fact that everyone works different hours/shifts.
Got to be healthy and nutritious.
Got to be affordable.
Oh yep, got to be tasty.
Reasonably quick and easy to prepare.
At least two of us have serious amounts of weight to lose.

So that's the first of my things to consider for the plans/resolutions.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Looking forward

We have had three very sociable family days now, quiet time only available very early in the morning. It was great. Same as every year. We are pretty easy going and pretty sure that is the magic ingredient. We have never had a row, not even a mild disagreement as far as I can recall. My family are so cool!

Today is entirely different, not because we have suddenly decided to have a row but because we are all in our own homes, and in our house even the kids have gone out. It is just me and the old chap.

Today we went to visit friends that we didn't see over Christmas. Now we are chilling in front of the TV watching old Star Trek's. Lovely. Dinner is leftovers. In fact dinner will be leftovers until all of the food is gone. Fahed is in a good mood. I am lulling him into a false sense of security with old school TV & yummy leftovers. I want to talk about plans for 2012 and he would prefer to not to plan anything, ever. We should find a bit of common ground but if not then we can go with Plan B,whereby I just get to make all the plans but that works for me too!

I need some financial goals, some concrete plans and a few changes of habits. I have a few ideas already but nothing definite.

Almost ready for 2012 then.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Sooo quiet

The kids of the family are now 19 and 21. We didn't get woken at 5am to see if Father Christmas, known as Baba Mismis around here back in the early days, had been around. I do miss it, I miss everyone's pleasure when there are kids around at Christmas.

Instead the house is very quiet. I am drinking my coffee in the sitting room, just the fairy lights are on. Jamie Oliver is here too, with Bells On. For some reason he seems to covered his garden with spray snow for the filming, which looks incongruous when we know its the warmest Christmas for twenty years. His enthusiasm makes up for it though and its fun to watch.

We are gathering for the first batch of presents at 10. Get some time together before we head of to Mum & Dads by around 12. The guys are sent to the pub whist me, mum and Sue cook the veg and have a glass of sherry.

After lunch, there's a longish break before pudding, when Ahdel can go get his girlfriend, after pudding we do presents. Then we have games as everyone struggles to stay awake. No teatime for us, we just cant take it. A light supper in the evening is the second favourite meal of the year. No competitiveness in our family, Mums the best!

I would have liked a bit of snow and I miss the kids being actual kids but all in all its oretty perfect.

I feel blessed.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

House is stuffed to the brim with food so we wont need to brave the shops until about February. Meat is in the oven, house is as clean and tidy as ever it gets. The weather is weirdly warm but it is the only thing which doesn't feel like Christmas.

Merry Christmas one and all.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Survival mode it is then

Survival mode has been discussed and approved. Or at least it has between eldest son, his girlfriend and I. YOungest son is already a poverty stricken student so cant spend much less than the nothing he already spends. Fahed never gets given money anyway except his pocket money so he doesnt waste.

Before new year we are going to consider a target for our end of year financial position. One that is quite hard but attainable. Then we will turn it into a bit of a contest.

IN a new turn of events the landline to the phone is down at home, which means no internet! Eek, how will I live. They would normally fix it in 72 hours but they aren;t sure because Christmas is in the way. This could be the longest I have ever been seprated form my blogs and all my old favourites.

So Happy Christmas just in case I dont connect up for a while. Sob!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Survival Mode

Got this idea from Judy at We may be poor but we are happy.. I completely admire the way that Judy runs her family, and she really does run them. Its a loving but fairly harsh democracy and I am pretty sure that firm rules lovingly applied is what most kids love & want even if they don't know it. However, I digress, what I was actually going to copy from Judy was the idea of a theme for the year. They are making a concerted effort to get themselves in a good place by the end of the yer. I owuls like to do the same.

I have already singed up for My Half Dozen Daily's No spend January but I might try to push some of the ideas right through the year.

I would like to clear any non mortgage debt and take a few years more of the mortgage repayment time. Finish the renovation to this house & work on the exterior of the Crete House so that it is rent-able.

Time to review the budget and see what we can prune.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Christmas and some moderation

Some simplification and moderation of Christmas has been planned this year and some thrust upon us and some we have chosen

My kitchen is part way through a severe re-fit. Ni exotic meals are coming out of there for a while. Christmas Eve evening is my responsibility. We will have cold meat and vegetable snacks followed by Eton Mess.

Christmas day will be at my mums house. I will help with prep but she is in charge.

Food shopping - Meat box is being delivered later this week as is veg box. Anything else will be from ASDA on Thursday evening.

Presents between Fahed & I. Never done this before but we have decided not to buy anything. We have stuff for the kids but that is all. Just little things to open. We are half planning to buy a WiiFit in the sales but only half planning. I feel a great relief about this.

Just a bit of wrapping to go and we are there.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Changing some practicalities to suit who I am

Now I am suddenly feeling a little more comfortable about how my head works I feel that I can relax a little with the things I frequently fail at but always thought I should be able to do.

First thing to go is meal planning. I can cook. If the fridge/freezer/larder has food in it then I can make it into a meal. I feel I should be able to meal plan because I read Meal Plan Monday posts. I am still going to read them as I like the inspiration, but now I not going to feel I have to do my own.

Shopping lists. My friend at work, who was an absolute opposite of me in our tests thought she would try shopping without a list. She said she felt she was too much like her mum. This didnt work for her at all. She said that she felt terrified the whole time and came back without anything useful. I am still going to use lists but on my terms (which frankly is how I do most things but it does sound cocky). I will use it for things I actually need to remember like the fact that we are out of toilet roll or that we need pears as we are aiming to make pears in red wine. But I will continue to leave behind the things I don't like, like maybe the cauliflowers are too small. I will also continue to pick up the things I like the look of because of price or quality. My list will work for me not be my boss.

Wanders off humming 'I am who I, la, lalala, la ,la la.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

So apparently I am not weird (sort of)

St Malo trip was lovely despite rough sea, occasional hail storms and way more wine than is good for me.

But Friday day time before the trip me and my entire team at work had a Myers Briggs evaluation workshop. It was amazingly brilliant and enlightening. I think I am fairly self aware and have empathy for others but this just let me suddenly I understand so much more. My quiet, shy and retiring team were equally vocal and it was as if understanding how we are all different gave them permission to be how they are.

Apparently results are only ever between assessor and assessed however it seems (from reading up) that I can tell you if I want to.

I am an ENTP. Now it becomes clear why I cant adhere to a meal plan, use a shopping list in any useful way, make a Christmas list, take sensible minutes. I cant help it! It isn't that I am not concentrating, I really just cant help it. This is what they say;

ENTPs are quick to see complex interrelationships between people, things, and ideas. These interrelationships are analyzed in profound detail through the ENTPs auxiliary function, introverted thinking (Ti). The result is an in-depth understanding of the way things and relationships work, and how they can be improved. To the ENTP, competence and intelligence are particularly prized, both in themselves and in other people.
ENTPs are frequently described as clever, cerebrally and verbally quick, enthusiastic, outgoing, innovative, flexible, loyal and resourceful. ENTPs are motivated by a desire to understand and improve the world they live in. They are usually accurate in sizing up a situation. They may have a perverse sense of humor and sometimes play devil's advocate, which can create misunderstandings with friends, coworkers, and family. ENTPs are ingenious and adept at directing relationships between means and ends. ENTPs devise fresh, unexpected solutions to difficult problems. However, they are less interested in generating and following through with detailed plans than in generating ideas and possibilities. In a team environment, ENTPs are most effective in a role where they can draw on their abilities to offer deep understanding, a high degree of flexibility, and innovative solutions to problems. The ENTP regards a comment like "it can't be done" as a personal challenge, and, if properly motivated, will spare no effort to discover a solution.

About 3% of the population are like me. I am going to guess that we might be a bit annoying (sorry about that). I also read that we can be good at most things we like (yaay) but it didn't mention something I have always noticed in that we have awful trouble being any good at all with something we don't like or want to do, which makes us look silly and spoiled.

I feel as though I have had a right, proper revelation!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Are we making it to St Malo

28mph winds and we think the boat might be cancelled.

On top of that I just found the passports had fallen into the bin. Lucky I sort to recycle!

No Spend January

I am joining My Half Dozen Daily's challenge to replenish the coffers in January and make it a no spend month.

These are her rules
My Rules:

1. Track purchases! Write down every single penny we spend! Check
2. Continue with my “sealed pot challenge”. Any coins smaller than $1.00 go into my pot! I have a sealed glass bottle and a spare which will be added to
3. Menu plan & shop from a list! This will probably be the best single way we’ll be able to stick to the budget!Check
4. Find free & cheap activities to have fun! Check, I will do my best
5. Focus on simplicity, organizing, & donating/tossing. Before my January challenge starts I’ll be posting a list of projects I’d like to accomplish during the month. I'll give it a go as January is very good for that sort of thing.
6. Medicines/medical care doesn’t count. If something comes up & we need meds, I’m buying them. Love the NHS & prescription Service
7. No “pre-stocking-up”. I won’t spend $800 on groceries the week before my challenge starts in order to “get by”. It’s business as usual this month. Well 'as usual' for Christmas, there will be a few treats.
8. Ahdel's birthday is the 23rd so we will have a special meal that night and he will have a gift but we dont go mad on Birthdays anyway so no problem.

I am not exactly looking forward to it now but I know that by 1st of January I will be. Nice to a have a positive follow up to Christmas.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Results of my homework

Mortgage as at beginning of the year £208k.

Payment due are £1222 per month. I pay £1346 per month.

If I paid just £1222 per month then finish date would July 2032 (eek!)
If I continue to pay £1324 per month then finish date will be August 2029
If I increase the amount by 5% every April then finish date will be October 2023
If I increase the amount by 10% every April then finish date will be May 2021

So if I seriously want to finish mortgage before I actually retire then 10% increase has to be my guide. My plans are to pay over any salary increase which I receive each year, assuming we ever go back to having salary increases again. Pay over any side income which I can make. I will do my best to ensure costs are under control so that the max can go to the mortgage.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Joined up thinking

I have been looking at income & expenditure, mortgage and pension. Nasty, scary things.

Income & Expenditure - we have totally got the budget thing sussed now. It was hard at first but now we are in control. Its a breakthrough for us. It also forms the basis of pension plans.

I should work until I am 65 before I claim my private pension (67 before I get my state pension - well, thanks)but I have a report back from them giving me options for retiring at 55 or 60, with and without a lump sum payment.

I took our current expenditure and took out mortgage and other repayments, cost of the kids mobile phones, cost of second car and insurance, some of the cost of keeping the kids.

Bills came to £460 per month.
Shopping £300 per month
Petrol £200 per month.
Total £960 per month.

Income options are;
55 with a lump sum £791.67 (oops, not enough)
55 without a lump sum £1085.16 (do-able but not much spare)
60 with a lump sum £1102.56 (as above)
60 without a lump sum £1581.17

So the plan has got to be sensibly to work until 60 if possible (eleven more years)and then either take the lump sum of £96k and invest it or have the full amount.

This gives me a new aim. I can be fairly sure I will work until I am 60 so obviously I need to reduce the mortgage to eleven years. I don't want to be on a pension and still scrpaing togther my mortgage payment. Obviously this will all be inflated annually except the mortgage payment so that will make it easier but I would like to make eleven years my outside target. By which I mean I would get there in less.

Can we do it? I will start crunching my numbers and see where we have to go.

Sunday, 11 December 2011


At five in the morning I woke up and didn't feel ill anymore. Ah, bliss. Yesterday I had plans for all sorts of domestic stuff but feeling poorly just makes the importance recede totally. Today I will make more effort to sort out the kitchen - the cupboards and drawers are piled up in the conservatory, stuff is everywhere, tidy upstairs, advertise a few things on Freeycle, give the cooker a good clean (its not embarrassingly grubby but not as shiny as it could be)before the gas man gets here.

I am starting to think about Christmas food. Jamal says Christmas is all about the food in our house but its not really true, it's all about the family, which sort of includes good food. I think a part of my career mum guilt is about feeding everyone as though I had been a stay at home mum. Everything has to be home made and yum, shortcuts are allowed, think Nigella Express, but frozen junk really isn't. I have ordered a Christmas veg box, which I suspect is little different from my normal veg box that comes every Friday. I have also ordered a meat hamper which has large fresh turkey, plus pork loin, gammon and chipolatas. We are eleven for food on the three special days of Christmas. I will make some mince pies next week, some for the oven and some for the freezer. The kids don't like mince pies from the shop but they are very happy with home made ones. I haven't made mincemeat but Waitrose, well it is Christmas after all, probably have something good up there. Christmas pudding can come from ASDA. Oddly the Value version is the best. The others are too rich and sickly. My Christmas pudding attempts were nowhere near as good and by the time you find out that it isn't good then its too late to change. Just have to think what to do on Christmas Eve. We eat quite late so it has to be light but special. I am hoping I have a kitchen again by then.

On a completely unrelated note, Fahed gave up smoking when he had his heart attack in 2001, except for a brief slip when his brother died in 2009, but this week he gave up his replacement vice, nicotine chewing gum. And what is more he hasn't been horrid, just a little self absorbed. When I ask how he is he just grrrrrsss at me, which seems like an attempt to be funny and so is a good sign. The doctor reduced his 'happy tablets' last month as they are apparently problematic with heart medication but so far he seems okay. He really, really appreciates not being depressed and keeps apologizing for when he was, like it was his own fault, so I am hoping it is enough to still work for him.

Tonight is Fahed's Christmas 'do' for his main job. They are going bowling. Ahdel's girlfriend works for the same organisation so they are going along as well. Bonnie is taking Ahdel so that another teacher, known as creepy Dave, will stop hitting on her. I am happy with Ahdel this week. He works almost full time as a delivery man for ASDA but also studies almost full time on a three year Computer Aided Design course. This week he got 90% for his paper. I hope he can keep his results up there. I think the job actually does him good as he knows that if he doesn't give 1005 to his studies then he will be driving the van for some time more.

Next birthday I will be fifty so have decided to pull a list of things together to do before the end of my fiftieth year, so eighteen months. So far I have 25 things on it. Eighteen months isn't long so it can't be anything too expensive, times are hard etc. The one for my sixtieth will have far more exciting things on it. I intend to grow old disgracefully, not go quietly!

Have I rambled enough? Yep, guess so.

Saturday, 10 December 2011


Started the day by being sick and am ending it by just feeling sick. Not fun. No idea what it is but it is passing and I will be fine tomorrow, I am sure.

I managed to do my shopping and laundry but little else. The gas man who was booked for tomorrow claims not to know he was booked and has been replaced. There is a limit to how many days i can manage without a kitchen. Our days of living on takeaways are long gone. I foolishly bought a nice piece of beef to roast tomorrow. I have a determination not to be beaten by a lack of kitchen.

This time next week we will be in St Malo. I am lucky to be feeling rough now instead of then.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Whoop, whoop weekend

Just the thought of two days at home makes me whoop. I don't have any plans except for not going to work.

Laundry - wash, dry and put away
Kitchen - two cupboard have been removed to allow the moving of the cooker on Sunday, I want to clean everywhere and load as much as is sensible into the larder and out of the way.
Planning - We are going to draw up plans for the kitchen refurb. Needs to be quirky and have some character but also practical, easy to use and easy to clean. Dead easy, ha, ha.
Paint the ceiling in the hall stairs and landing.
A little bit of touch up painting in the sitting room.
Clean out the bird cage (i don normally write that but he does get a hoover out)
Tidy everything away in sitting and bedrooms.
Make some leek and potato soup.

Whoops, weekends. Love them.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

First Christmas Dinner - Sign of the times

Do you remember when it was un-cool to use discount vouchers?

One of my teams invited me to early Christmas dinner tonight. Six of us girlies (the term used loosely!) had roasties and followed it by Eton Mess at the local Toby Carvery. It was lovely. We got there pretty early as its quieter and cheaper before seven. Someone turned up with a voucher and everyone was excited rather than embarrassed. Sadly voucher was 5 days out of day but all the same dinner came to £8 each for a full roast of turkey and beef, roast potatoes, sprouts, cauliflower cheese, cabbage, carrots, stuffing. The Eton Mess was meringue, whipped cream and raspberries. Oh, and a little glass of rose.

Tomorrow we have our management meeting all day and the boss is taking us all out to lunch. She is treating us to lunch at Prezzo, the vaguely Italian style chain, and guess why? Because she has a card to get it half price. Do you remember what it was like when people didn't like to use a voucher, especially on a night out with mates. Not anymore I guess.

Even better I was sitting with someone from work tonight who can't see the point of shopping, Sometimes it feels like it is just me but apparently there are others out there.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

I love days off

I cant decide if I would actually benefit from not working. I suspect not. I think I love days off because they are limited. I love my work too. Would I feel the same way if I wasn't doing something 'useful'? Who knows, I am just lucky that my job is enjoyable, generally but definitely not always, and that it feels useful to society.

Anyway, back to my day off. Jamal & I planned to work very hard today, honest. So I got up nice and early, because obviously I wake up full of energy if its a day at home. Jamal didn't wake up. Really unusual, he is normally up before me. So I was forced to watch TV obviously. Felling very slothful and decadent watching morning TV. Then Jamal woke up and came down and offered bacon sarnies.I resisted but whilst he was eating we started watching Hook. We have watched it every Christmas since the boys were little so that made everything proper Christmassy too. We finally kicked our own backsides into action by lunchtime pretty sure that quality time with my kids is probably better than decorating anyway. I got the second, and third where needed,coat onto all of the walls. Looking good. Jamal did the wooden panels above the doors and the archway between rooms upstairs and got halfway down the stairs. Then we stopped for a break and he decided to try some new programming software that his brother is getting him into. After that he was very half-hearted with the painting and kept sneaking back to the software. I was quite impressed with what he managed to do at a first attempt. Ahdel is hoping he will get into it and they can build computer games together. He is going to finish his bit of the painting tomorrow!
After that only the ceiling needs any attention. It looks fantastic. Once the carpet is down I will share.

Ahdel came home from work mid afternoon & decided he was going to make a stew and olive bread. Astonishing for someone who can only make poached egg normally and it was really nice too.

Back to work tomorrow but only two days until the weekend. I tihnk I am having one of my 'I love my kids so much I could burst' days!!

Christmas Starts Today

Well we bought beer and coke, which we only have at Christmas, last week but otherwise today is officially the beginning of Christmas in this house.

Jamal and I are on the case. We are going to finish the painting (yes, it is still in progress), re-arrange the furniture to accommodate the tree and get the decorations out of the attic. If we have time then lights will be hung. We will have a tree and lights, some candles but no other bits.

It is going to be a bit disruptive in the kitchen at the weekend, cupboards coming out on Friday, gas cooker being moved on Sunday and then cupboards back in, ahead of new worktops and tiling. No chance of it being finished before Christmas but we will go as far as we can and then cover it all in fairy lights until after Boxing day. I have some cool chilli lights for the kitchen, if I can find them.

I am going to make an effort to be more sociable over Christmas. There are always loads of young people around the house, and I do spend time with my family too plus visit friends but I don't think I invite our friends over often enough. Do people still do dinner parties? I always think of the satirical middle class dinner parties on Dead Ringers at the mere mention of the idea. Hilarious but I don't want an evening of Daily Mail style repartee unless it is for entertainment purposes.

So the day is starting with re runs of Nigella's Christmas to get us in the right mood.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Chilly days

The weather has been very kind so far. I have had the heating on just once, 2nd December, and that was just to test that the system was all okay. I have insulated everything I can think off though and inside is staying reasonable. This week the car has been frosted every day though so we are heading into the cold.

Everyone has been looking for gloves all week. Fahed gets an ache in winter when his hands are cold from where he broke two knuckles in his twenties. Ahdel has then because his eczema doesn't like the cold or lifting things. Only Jamal and I just need them because we are cold. I found 8 odd gloves in the basket so thats a big fat fail for organisation skills. I had some mittens in my desk drawer though that make me feel about four year old. Very cute.

I have out gloves on everyones Christmas list so they only need be cold a little longer. I put chenille wool on my list. I am going to try to knit some fingerless mittens (everyone says they are easy, I am not convinced) and a matching scarf (even I admit this is pretty easy).

Maybe I should think about knitting a vest.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

end of the weekend

Not yet 10pm but I think its bathtime and then bedtime for baby bears (and me).

Actually my third favourite kind of weekend. Favourite is when we go somewhere special,usually with the family. If we did it too often it wouldn't be my favourite but if it is once or twice a year then they are great. We have a weekend in St Malo coming up soon. Second favourite is the half term or end of term weekends when Fahed has no weekend work. Then we have a great time. third favourite is gentle and full of laughs, busy and productive but not unpleasantly so. Yesterday I did some housework, laundry, shopping and cooking. Today some painting, a little more cooking and watch QIXL and a couple of old episodes of Bones. This evening there is the usual collection of teens and twenties around the house and one of them has kindly been fixing an old desktop computer which we had around the place. Now he is working on my old HP Pavillion. Might not be fixable but if it is then all good, it can go to the Crete house. The other ones is sleeping iver and kindly giving Ahdel a lift to work at 6.30am, so I can sleep in for an extra 30 minutes. Delightful.


I have ordered a veg box from 5 a day for the last few weeks. I love the variety that we get and the little surprises that they add. This week they added a bag of tangerines, a butternut squash and randomly a pint of full cream milk! Ha ha, Christmas every Friday. Because we don't choose the veg we are having to be more creative. It really pushes you to try new things. Normally we get through a ton of fruit and salad plus mushrooms,onions and potatoes. Sometimes beans, sometimes sprout and cabbage but mostly salad stuff. Its a part of Fahed's culture that there is a salad beside most meals unless they are of the soup/stew type. This is forcing us away from that a little, only a little, and into more cooked veg, and its great fun.

I am wondering if I might do the same with meat. I used to buy meat from a wholesaler in Reading but the traffic and the travel was just to much for the savings we made. Now these same people have opened a website with delivery. delivery cost £9.75 but if you order more than £75 at once then it's free. I found this company again because I brought a Groupon last week for a bargain priced Christmas meat combo. There isn't actually a saving over the normal site price but it was a good deal in the first place. I am glad it reminded me of their existence. I am going to buy the first box at the end of the month.

The weekly shop at Asda is so much quicker without the veg. I feel a bit self conscious at the check out like the cashier is thinking, they can't be very healthy, wheres the veg! If I dont have to buy veg or meat then its going to be an even quicker experience. What else do I buy? Yesterday I bought pitta bread, soft drinks (December counts as Christmas), mayonnaise, chillies and olives form the Asian supermarket. Shopping is going to take me about 10 minutes a week. Result!!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Summing up of my Saturday

Did all my laundry but a little still needs to dry.
changed bedding- we are pleasantly snuggled in turquoise as I write this.
All the clean dry laundry is put away.
Big fat fail on printing my ASDA tokens due to a printer malfunction. I will use them later this week though.
Bedroom is slightly rearranged to make me a dressing table where once was the TV. It's cozy and lovely in here right now.
We recycled a couple of things.
We took a bag of clothes and a bag of books and videos to the Sally Ann's
We shopped at the Asian Supermarket and Asda.
What I didnt do was cook any dinner. The kids had a cooked breakfast but Fahed ate nothing but a few raw carrots. I ate leftovers.
I didn't colour my hair and so I still look like a badger.
Fahed got copious brownie points by arranging for someone to come to move the gas cooker point next weekend. This is the only thing holding up the renovation project in the kitchen.
Tomorrow I must cook, do a little more painting and maybe get the Christmas deccies out of the attic.

I could be so much more productive if I didnt have to go to work.

Birthday Bunnies

We had a lovely family evening last night. It was is Fahed's birthday, my toy boy us now 48. Also Ahdel's girlfriend Bonnie's birthday, she is 20.

Fahed was working until 7pm and then came home to cook for us. I offered but he likes to cook for us, and I suspect he does his 'signature dish' way better. We had his world famous Steak and Chips. |Even Jamal, the only person I have ever met who doesn't like potatoes enjoys his dad's chips.

Cake will be Sunday, when we have a bit of room for it in our tummies. Jamal makes the birthday cakes. We are creatures of habit, every birthday for us is the same so apparently we like it that way. Fahed cooks steak in a cream and mushroom sauce with home made chips, then we watch which DVDs the birthday bunny got. Last night was two Omid Jallalli gigs. Ahdel & I both laughed until our tummies hurt. We had a couple of extra kids around so the place was pretty full but everyone enjoyed themselves.

Shame both Fahed & Bonnie have work this morning and had to be up and out of the house by 7.30am but that's swimming teaching for you.

Now I have a huge list of things to do today.
Change bedding & do all laundry
Pack away summer dresses (didnt realise valuable wardrobe space was still be taking by some dresses)
Sort clean laundry to go away.
Print vouchers fro ASDA shop (saving about £7 per week with their latest deals)
Re-arrange bedroom to make best use of furniture and space- we had a biggish screen TV that was never watched up here but gave it to Ahdel to use as a monitor for his new computer system. He is studying CAD so a large HD screen is essential, so the TV is finally getting some use.
Drop a couple of items at the dump (recycling centre)
Drop a bag of books and videos & a bag of clothes at the Salvation army.
Stock up on chilies and olives at the Asian supermarket in town.
Weekly shop at ASDA
Pack away contents of veggie box an plan meals for weekend and next week.

Busy but pleasurable day, my favourite. When Fahed come home from work we are going to visit a friend, the one whose kids were here last night with my boys, and when Fahed does his voluntary work tonight I will go visit my family and he can join us afterwards. All talk will be of plans for Christmas and our visit to France.

Happy Days

Thursday, 1 December 2011

2012 : What's it going to be

I like the year of doing something more interesting and paying down debt. A snappy little tital I am sure you would agree.

Would it be too obvious to stick with The year of being more interesting shortening the mortgage and living it up a little?? How's that?

How does that sound?

Something to focus my mind. I am 50 in June. I thought I would make a list of things I want to do before the end of my fiftieth year. So maybe it turns into the year of lists.

As usual my problem will be that i think of a good plan, then forget all about it until November and then realized that :
I have failed or
I have succeeded but just by chance
I have changed so completely that plans are no longer relevant.

I know that I need specific goals to attain anything.

Hmmm, thinking cap on.

Blogger problems

So now it would appear I cant comment on my own blog. Sigh.  Normally i would uninstall and re-install everything but this is just live in t...