Monday, 30 January 2012

Nearly back to normal and new beginnings

I am half asleep from getting home from the airport in the middle of the night, and a certain person wanting to chat until morning! So we are all together again and Fahed, more English than the most English, is delighted to be home. He hasn't been away long enough for his gloom to set in. He smiled all the way back from the airport because it is always so green here, although at 2am its hard to say that he could see that for sure. He even liked the weather, snowy and 2 degrees. He keep walking around the house smiling. It reminds me of when we used to collect the cats from the cattery after a holiday, just checking the place out. I really must remember to appreciate my own country this much. Unfortunately the rest of his family had to go back to Syria, which is so dangerous right now. We are keeping fingers crossed that they get home safely as they had a proper close call on the way to the funeral.


My youngest son had a bit of a reality check today. Since mid December his weight has gone up by something like 7 kilo. He has convinced himself it is muscle building up since he started Jujitsu. Coincidentally Coke & Pepsi have alternately been on special offer at our local supermarket for £2 per case. Today his brother pointed out the obvious correlation and made him check his profile in the mirror. Jamal has now given up fizzy drinks and is going back to the gym. Ahdel drinks mostly water anyway, he has a milk allergy and loves water, but I think he will also be avoiding the demo fizzies from now on. I also like the idea that we don't have a weekly disagreement about how much fizzy drink is a good amount. Lastly Fahed is giving up his caffeine free diet coke habit. They are drinking up what they have and going cold turkey.




and on the subject of cold turkey. Whilst Fahed was away he stopped taking his sleeping meds on the advice of our GP clinic. They are going to help him manage his insomnia, which is anxiety related, in a different way. The surgery also dropped his anxiety medication by 1/3 also in a recent heart scare. He still feels very well but has more energy so now he wants to give them up completely. I have persuaded him to discuss it with the doctor and maybe half it to start with and then consider dropping completely. That would be so lovely for him and he is doing really well but we mustn't get ahead of ourselves.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Bed time

Last night in my bed alone. Fahed was afraid to go back to visit his family for almost 15 years because of the political situation, so he has only been going there since around 2000. He loves to see his family and to meet up with old friends but he can't settle with the culture and politics after 22 years here (plus years in Greece and Cyprus)he is as English as can me. More so than me & inclined to get homesick if away from here too long. The first few times he went he took 6 weeks or three months for his journey. This is the main reason that his being away for three weeks doesn't bother me too much. I noticed he doesn't come home from these long trips very happy, in fact I think he dips down into depression. Its all too much for him. I told him he can go one more time alone and then we go for shorter times and together. So this is not my last night home alone but it is for a while at least.

Tomorrow I will have a quiet day with a little tidying, Bonnie & Ahdel are also making cleaning and tidying plans which will also be nice. I will pop over to visit my friend for coffee and cake, lunch with my parents, a bit of driving practice. The time to go to the airport will soon be upon us. Pretty sure Fahed will be happy sleeping in his own bed. We love our bed. It's not big (and antisocial sized)and has a lovely tempur topped sprung mattress. Perfect. I suspect I will find it a tight fit to allow him back in but I can't argue that I sleep better when I can hear him sleeping beside me.



How do you not wish your life away?

Having a little bloggy catch up this morning I came across this from Heart Shaped. I don't feel this way about January, I love it. I don't wish my life away but what I do is to really look forward to something so much that I dont appreciate the time in between. So if, for example, I have a weekend in France planned for April then I don't properly appreciate the time in between. I focus too much on the things I am looking forward to, especially when it is travel related. Following my own happiness guide I am failing to grasp the 'live in the moment' element as fully as I should be. This shortfall is what brought me to trying to simplify my life, and write my blog, in the first place. I had so much to do that instead of settling into enjoying the gardening, cooking or whatever, I did it as fast as I could, and badly, and just worried about whatever else I should have been doing. I have come a long way since then. I understand that by planning I can concentrate and far more thoroughly enjoy what I am doing at any moment. My List, something I always considered to be the enemy, turned into my friend and I was free of the worry that I had not done something that I should have. I actively ditched a load of activities which I didn't realise were optional until I really starting living deliberately:- shopping for pleasure (the biggest time and money suck ever),ironing, TV ( I watch the programs that I want, about three or four each week, to but don't have the TV on automatically). Another piece of happiness advice was 'Stay Busy'. Well I sure have that sussed. I don't have too many idle moment but maybe I need to take it a stage further and deliberately pleasurable activities in my plan. Maybe some night classes at college, some volunteering, I have been looking at the Open Uni courses too. I need to open my mind as the possibilities are endless. Any advice ?? Since Fahed has been away I have been neglecting my healthy eating pan (and associated blog). This morning I woke up at four with a cracking headache which didn't go until nine. Yesterday I had toast for breakfast and three slices of pizza when I had lunch out with a work mate (£5 for a standard pizza and unlimited salad at Pizza Hut, yummy bargain). I had a pizza headache. I know it will happen but I convince myself that it wont. So silly. Carbs are evil, to those with allergies, and must go!

Weekend Tomorrow & getting my Honey back

Very busy at work at the moment but enjoyable work which mean that weeks are passing at a flash. It always seems to be Friday night. Its good that I enjoy my job and good the time doesn't drag but I would like it to slow down a bit as I am also getting old pretty darn quick. So I had a quietly enjoyable Friday night at home with my oldest son and his girlfriend. We watched old box sets of Bones, had some laughs. It was a simple evening but enjoyable. I can still hear them down there now, with Ahdel laughing so much that it makes me laugh too. So I decided this weekend will be active. I joined with with procrastination Thursday last week but I would like to have to try a little harder to find something I am avoiding doing next week. As i came in from work I finished off the painting needed at the bottom of the stairs so that I can rehang all the coats and reclaim one of the sofas. I am going slow because last time I tried to do it all a lot closer together I ended up with ceiling paint on the walls, wall paint on the woodwork and so on. I also touched up the paintwork around the windows in our bedroom. I hung two small oil painting in our room too. I want it to look nice Fahed when he comes home on Sunday. I will mop the floors and sweep, wipe and clean. Finish a cushion for my mum, do a little laundry and find some way to dry it, cook a frugal dinner,go visit a friend for coffee and visit my family in the evening. I might even give the fridge a bit of a sort out and tidy. The contents are mostly veg so things get made into soup instead of thrown away but it still needs a bit of a tidy sometimes.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Challenges, challenges

Ho hum, this month Fahed gets very little salary because the pools shut for 2 or 3 weeks over Christmas. No pool, no swimming lessons, no money. We super economize in January and its all good in February. This month Fahed was just a few days back at work before he jetted off to his brother in laws funeral, the hanging on out there as his sister was taken ill. No money for February either, plus our meager emergency fund used up in the flight and other costs. Lots and lots of carb based meals for a while now. A very good time to start the double challenge. I have another bag and box on the go for de-cluttering. I am getting more and more harsh. Also keeping my hand tightly clasped on my wallets. No-one is getting anything from me this month! I know what I have to do. I can't avoid it any longer. I have to meal plan again. It goes against every fibre of my being but I can't argue that it saves us money. I have asked my son to fix the broken leg of my drying rack so that I can leave my laundry to dry in the conservatory. It can be done!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Month New Challenges

To me its a new month now. My payday is 24th so that's when my new month starts.
I am sticking with Carla for this month challenge. A double challenge, no/low spend and de-cluttering. I need both. Fahed has been in Jordan away for two weeks already and is away another week. For those three weeks there is no work so there is no pay. We are going to be seriously short of cash. The only way we can survive is with this challenge,

Monday, 23 January 2012

Learning to be happy

I am actually already a happy little soul. In fact sometimes I am so happy that I think I am a bit odd but I am happy being odd, so that's fine too. Today I read a about a new book which acts as a happiness manual. Check it out.
ACCEPT WHAT YOU HAVE Research shows that happy people have modest levels of expectation and aspirations while unhappy people never seem to get what they want. Happy people know how to avoid disappointments and how to generate pleasant surprises. This is because they strive for realistic goals and are happy with their lot. ENJOY WHAT YOU DO Happy people do what they enjoy and enjoy what they do — and don’t do it for the money or glory. There’s no point being stuck in a job you hate, surrounded by unfriendly colleagues just because the money is good — people forget that they are allowed to be happy at work, too. LIVE FOR TODAY Don’t dwell on the past, on things that went wrong or previous failures. Similarly, don’t dream about an idealised future that doesn’t exist or worry about what hasn’t happened yet. Happy people live for the now; they have positive mind sets. If you can’t be happy today, what makes you think tomorrow will be different? CHOOSE HAPPINESS Don’t be afraid to step back and re-evaluate your goals. Imagine your life as a story that you can edit and revise as you go along. This kind of flexible approach requires positive thinking and an open mind — you need to actively choose to be happy. RELATIONSHIPS We get our happiness from other people, and from supporting other people. Remember that just as other people can make us happy, we are all ‘other people’ to someone else. And cherish people who are important to you. Research also shows that married people are happier than single people. STAY BUSY If you want to be happier, develop an outgoing, social personality — accept that invitation, join that club, group or choir. Active, busy, social people are the healthiest and happiest, in society. Get involved. BE YOURSELF & DON'T COMPARE Ambition is healthy and makes people happy but envy makes them unhappy. Focus on your goals and dreams so that you can enjoy your ambition and achievements. Don’t compare your self with others. Don’t worry about what others think about you — truly be yourself. Happy people are spontaneous, natural and real. Being oneself makes one feel free and authentic. STOP WORRYING Don’t take yourself too seriously. Happy people don’t worry and they recognise that 90 per cent of worries never come true. GET ORGANISED We might envy those chilled bohemian types who just do things on the spur of the moment, but happy people plan and organise. They have goals and a purpose. You can only get what you want or desire if you know what it is you want or desire in the first place. So while those chilled-out friends might seem happy, they’re actually just drifting along. THINK POSITIVE Bottling up emotions and bad feelings creates psychological distress and even physical discomfort. Happy people get things off their chest. Similarly, work at developing optimistic thinking; happy people look on the bright side. Optimism is the mind’s natural self-defence mechanism against depression. VALUE HAPPINESS Happiness can be learned, but finding meaning and a purpose in life is what leads to it, not the other way around. The happiest people appreciate and realise that being happy adds years to their life, and life to their years.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sunday Update

366 challenge - Another good weekend for de-cluttering - I am now into April now but only just. Low spend/no spend - no superfluousness spending. The takeaway curry on my wedding anniversary was not superfluousness, it was my celebratory meal. Yaay. I just need to ensure I take lunches again this week because else I end up on the slippery slope to spending.
Procrastination update - this is a photo of my 'procrastination basket'. A craft basket full of half finished projects. Today I mended the actual basket, disposed of the piece of cross stitch i was half way though that is supposed to go into coaster - i will find something more special to me. I sorted out and trimmed a rug-work cushion cover that my mum gave me once. I am finishing it this week to give it back to her as a birthday present along with some special choccies. There are two cross stitch kits which are not started. I am going to stitch them. Family - tomorrow my eldest son will be 22. Wow. That means that 22 years ago tonight I was only an hour or so from 14 hours of very painful labour. It was worth it. Fahed should have been coming back today but phoned this morning to say that his newly widowed sister had been taken into a hospital. She has had a stroke. I will call him tonight but I don't know what is going to happen. Watching - Tonight a scary film. We are part way through The Disappearance of Alice Creed. Not what you would call enjoyable. Listening to - Nothing, no time this week. Reading Part way through a second horse racing mystery novel by Dick Francis. I haven't read one of his for years but these are excellent. I looked on Amazon to check out the price of a complete works set but it was in the hundreds. Good job I am on the low spend challenge. The week ahead - Ahdel's birthday but Fahed normally cooks the birthday meal so we will wait. Hopefully some good news from Fahed & hopefully we get him back. I will make the most of being alone to get more de-cluttering and re-arranging etc done.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Never quiet for long

So Jamal went off to his birthday party in Winchester & Ahdel's mate called for him to go to the pub for a while for someones birthday. I thought I had a quiet evening at home. I went off to bed before 10, having eaten my curry in the bath with a book (it was my anniversary!!). Then my son texted me to say we are on our way home, lets have a glass of wine to celebrate. I heard them come in so popped on my trackies and came down the stairs. I heard Bonnie say 'oh,no, we have woken Mama up'. Then Ahdel saying, no, I already told her to get up again and join us. Bless. So the six of us watch some stand up for a couple of hours and did have a glass of wine. It was actually nicer than being alone on a special day. I hopped back into my bed around midnight and, except for hearing Jamal creeping in at 1.30, snoozed through until 7.30. I do like peace and quiet and time alone but I have to say I do like a few people about the place too. I would so love to live in a big old house where noise wouldn't bother anyone and I never needed to lock the door. My son must be the only one who ever left home to live with mates his own age but came back because it was too quiet! Tonight I think I will actually be alone as Ahdel is away until tomorrow evening at another, more long distance, family event. Jamal always stay at my parents house on a Saturday night. I can watch whatever I wanton TV when I come home from there at 10pm. Of course there wont be anything I want. So anyway, it is Saturday. Day at home. Whoop. I have a huge to do list but I am getting through it. Whilst doing something I got side tracked into disposing of an additional thirteen pieces of clothing. I have some clothes which are a little too small but which I am closer to fitting into than I have been for a while. I just took a really good look at them and decided that they were too out of date, didn't like the fabric or in one case, even the actual colour way. One two piece outfit to the ebay basket and all the rest straight in the charity bag. Just a couple more items and it will be April. I am actually wondering if I have really turned a corner in my hoarding (no, not like the TV program but still a bit of clutter). Everything I look at I just want to be rid. I actually feel that rush of freedom which everyone always talked about. I still have about a million items to get rid of before my kitchen looks like Laura's though.

Friday, 20 January 2012

23 years ago today

Some of the guys in my office had a five a side match tonight against guys from the CSC. We got well and truly thrashed but our guys averaged about ten years older than there. It was good fun and surprisingly exciting, but damn cold. I may have briefly thought being a twenty year old bloke would be fun but it was brief. Today is my 23rd wedding anniversary. Unfortunately my husband is 3000 mils away but lets be honest, he wouldn't have remembered anyway. I am having a glass of port and a Chinese curry for my personal indulgence. Kids have both gone out with mates so I can even watch what I want on the TV. Not actually so bad at all. Fahed is back on Sunday night. I am going to have a good old spring clean of the house and maybe the cars tomorrow. I think its really good to come home to a nice clean house. Feels very positive. I need keep the best vibe I can this week as I am hoping Fahed is changing medication and that always needs some support and not just a bit of luck. I have spoken before about Fahed's depression and one of the bits of this is his insomnia. He takes some really strong insomnia meds but they are not good for long term use so his GP has said that he needs to think about whether he can cope without them. Whilst he was in Jordan I asked him not to take this particular mediation & he has done his best. When he gets back I am hoping that we can keep him off it. We need all the positive vibes that we can get. No spend/low spend. Not shopping this weekend. My Chinese curry is the treat for my anniversary. 366 De-clutter - No action this week tomorrow & Sunday I will add to my list. Procrastination Thursday - I tried but I have to be honest and say that I didn't even open the basket of half finished craft stuff. So Lizzie 0 - Procrastination 1. Since sleeping better I have been waking up, refreshed even, at 6ish instead of dragging myself out of bed kicking and screaming at seven. unexpectedly good news.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Motivational Speaker - Deirdre Bounds

Today was our the senior manager forum annual conference at my work. Although spending the day in a tent near Basingstoke might not sounds very exciting we had a really good day. All of our manager not just the seniors were invited so I got to introduce some of my team leaders to what we do. We had a couple of workshops and a nice buffet lunch but the highlight was the after lunch presentation by Deidre Bounds. A little bundle of energy with a scouse accent and nice line in teasing. We had some Glasgow v Edinburgh banter going on at some point. Deidre has done all sorts, backpacking & travelling, starting up a really innovative business from nothing and then selling it for big millions, TV presenter, occasional stand up comedian, even author but with no inclination to write again. The exec are hoping to get a deal on as many copies of her book as we need for us to be further inspired. She didn't have long to speak but did have time to get a basic message across to us. Be true to yourself. If you cant buy into the ideas of you organisation then maybe you should be looking elsewhere. But much more than your career, be true to yourself in all things. Be honest, be who you are. Have integrity, not just self integrity, tell the truth, even when it hurts and take the blame. Taking blame is taking control. Learning to take responsibly is the key to freedom. Use your intuition. Intuition plus logic equals success. Stretch yourself. Get out there, yes, right out of your comfort zone. She also said success comes in a niche market which I am pretty sure for me translates to do what you know and what interests you. Excellent and inspired. Cant wait to get my book.

Procrastination Thursday

I can hardly miss this opportunity to add some structure to my life. I am always remembering something I should have done.
This week I noticed a basket on the shelf in my bedroom. Inside are all manner of craft projects, obviously unfinished. I am joining with Digging Out & Up to try to finish things off or get rid of them once and for all.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Sleeping

I normally suffer from the usual middle aged complaint of not being able to sleep. I have tried a glass of wine or scotch before bed, I spray my pillow with some pro-sleep thing, warm baths to make me sleepy, no eating after 7pm, even tried Fahed sleeping medication. That made me seep but not in a pleasant way, more like being knocked out & then waking up but not at all refreshed. This week I have slept. A couple of things which are only done annually went horribly wrong last year at work. This year they seem to be going right. Maybe this makes a difference? or it because I have re-arranged the bedroom? Now we can see the window & the furniture is less imposing & crowded than before. The room is definitely a lot emptier. Of course Fahed is also away this week. I really hope I am not sleeping well because he isn't here. That would be seriously bad news. Whatever it is I see a theme of space and designed emptiness, in my head or physical space, and it feels good. I just hope it continues.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

It's really gone!

Today I can officially count my de-cluttered objects for the 366 challenge. Jamal & I detoured to the Salvation Army drop point on our way JuJitsu lessons tonight. A huge box and two huge bags. There was some really cool stuff in there so I hope they benefit from it. I have a pretty big basket of goodies for ebay next. I haven't included them in my total but there are at least 20 items. I am started to consider two years of de-cluttering in a year challenge. Would it be the 731 in 366 challenge? There is possibility we could end the year naked and homeless if not very careful. Tonight I made a quick and easy supper. Meatballs (Ikea frozen) with pasta. It was about 15 minutes of cooking & was well received. I really need to think of more of these quick and easy meals. Some times I can stand there chopping veg for an eternity before we eat. I need balance, I try to be a housewife and stay at home mum even I don't stay home and the kids are grown up anyways. I could remember that I work all day, without even lunch break today as we had meetings all day, and maybe cut myself a little slack when I get home. Time to read a few pages of my book and then it is bed time for baby bears (was that a kids programme when I was little?)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Blue Monday Rambley Ramble

Is today the most depressing day of the year? This Monday is, I think, Blue Monday. Its a Monday, in January, not yet the first pay day after Christmas. It's all gloom, gloom, gloom. All in all not feeling unhappy although I would always prefer to stay home instead of go to work. That is an other mans grass is always greener reaction, not real.

We kept supper really simple today. Cumberland sausages, mash and baked beans. It is very popular, quick and simple. Must do it more often. Sometimes I forget that I dont have to spend ages chopping veg, making dumplings...

i am totally getting into the no spend/low spend. My default is definitely being changed to not spend, even for the grocery and fuel budgets which I have already set aside. Normally I don't worry too much as long as I am within budget but now I am happily coming in under.

I am on a de-clutter break now until the weekend.then its the study, for which I really need to be in the mood, as I keep using it as a dumping ground for everything.

In my continuing attempt to deal with issues, especially those with a financial impact, instead of being a lazy ratbag, I sent a couple of emails this week. One to Optimax because I believe my eyesight is deteriorating after my surgery last spring. I am reasonably sure that they did say that I get additional treatment for no further cost if there was a problem. I hope so. Slightly less financially impressive but nonetheless worth doing, I emailed Hawkins Bazaar about my sons colour changing alarm clock. He had it for Christmas and it lasted about 40 seconds before it died. They are now in receivership but have kindly agreed to send through a new one & I don't need to return the old one. We did take it to the shop but all of the branches locally were locked up.

I spoke to Fahed in Jordan today. He sounded quite well so I think my sister in law must be dealing with the loss of her husband better than he expected. I think he flew out there more because he was worried about her than for the funeral. Be nice to have him home again next week.

Last thing, I am really feeling some resurgence of wanderlust since reminiscing with my family last weekend. I loved to travel. I still try to as much as I can but I miss the long haul stuff. Travel is the thing I am most looking forward to spending more money on once I am debt & mortgage free. In the mean time there is Easyjet.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Best Ever Banofffee Pie

As made by my eldest son, the non cook, and perfect every time.

i packet of chocolate hobnob biscuit
1/2 packet of unsalted butter
One tine of Nestle Condensed Milk - already caramelised
3 bananans
Large tub of whipping cream

Blitz the biscuits and butter together in the food processor until you have crumbs.
Press into a large flan dish and refridgerate for an hour or so.
Spread the caramelized mil across the base nicely.
Top with slices of banana.
Decorate with a nice thick coating of whipped cream.

If you are going to eat it straight away then the banana can go on top of the cream but it will discolour quite quickly.

Serve & munch!

it's 11th March




That's how good the 366 challenge is going. I have disposed of one item a day until 11th March. I am eyeing up things I had for Christmas a few weeks back and wondering how soon I can reasonably let them go. Ha ha. Maybe I can actually get on the road to minimalism.




My no spend/low spend session is going well. On Friday I made HM'Lush Curry' instead of a takeaway
for a treat. Saturday was leftovers for lunch and Deli rolls at dinner. Today we ate up vearius leftovers. I might have to give in and cook properly tomorrow though as I am abouit out of leftovers, except a ton of frozen lunches for work. My grocery shopping was £84 this week but it was enough food for two weeks. This coming week will be just pitta bread and top up on tins (tomatoes,kidney bins, baked beans etc). No more than £25 in total.

As far as being organised, laundry is all done (no hauling water though, its easy for me) and the last few things still drying. Rubbish is out and kitchen wiped. Floors all swept. A couple of dishes to go in the dishwasher & all is well in the household. I have been freezing some open wine into ice cubes to add to stews rather than waste it. When I was thirty I would never have believed that I left a bottle unfinished but I appear to have lost my appetite for wine. I wish I could feel the same about food.

Tonight there are Poirot re-runs on TV. I am content.
.

Side Income and Sunday stuff.



As you can tell from the style of my blog (um, personalised ramble might be the best description) I write it because I like to write, and the way it makes me feel more accountable, rather than to make money. Extra money would be useful of course & one day I may understand how to do that side of things. I am happy with the idea that most days about a hundred (sometimes 200 - to me that's incredible) people read my nonsense. Despite this I finally got around to following the instructions on blogger to 'monetorize my blog' in November. I am guessing that the blog would be easier to read if I remember to tag posts and do link backs too. I will try. I really will.

So guess how much income I have made from your clicks? £1.54!! Ok,I am not getting too excited as that seems to be about 2.5 months worth but nonetheless borderlne exciting for me. I am a paid writer. And at the end of 12 months I could maybe buy a loaf of bread & some milk.



Getting back to my 366 challenge. I cant believe how much is hiding in my, already tidy, bedroom. I have now been through everything except for the drawers below the wardrobe and the under bed storage. After the re-arrange and since it is getting emptier I notice that the paint work needs touching up. Great, now I am creating work for myself. I am intending to finish those areas today and then count up the items. Next on my list are a side board and dresser in the big room which we always call the conservatory. Will Fahed notice? Not likely, and that is fine with me.

Finished my coffee and leftover Banoffee pie, back to de-cluttering.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Ah, more bliss

I am missing the old fella. I really am but having a thoroughly nice time anyway. He normally goes for between 6 weeks and 3 months so 10 days is nothing much really. Work is hard and stressful still but everything else is good.

Today I turned a load more stuff out in our bedroom, as planned. We ate as planned except that we ate tomorrows dinner as well (whoops). I had my hair cut and I like the result. I coloured it myself (too mean to have it done at shop)and I think it looks nice. I am half way towards sorted out with my bedroom coffee tray. Jamal re-arranged my pictures & re-hung my jewellery boards to fit in with the the new furniture arrangements. I keep my earrings and necklaces on notice boards covered in velvet. I really like to be able to see everything and choose what I want and not have it all bundled up in a box. One of my earliest getting organised projects & it still works well.

This evening I went to my parents house & spent a lovely evening with my family talking about travelling we did in the past. Weird that we can remember what we ate in the 70's & 80's in the US or Malaysia, but we cant remember what we ate yesterday.

And now the TV channel Dave has an evening of QIXL. Ah, Bliss.

Love Saturdays - even the chores are fun

Turns out I do need to leave the house this morning. I seriously need a hair cut.(remember the TV Ad where the gorilla mops the floor with the guy who is asleep? Modelled on me)Also toilet roll got missed in the shopping yesterday. Some picture hooks as I finish the re-arrangement of the bedroom and get my walls in order.

I thought I might also set up a coffee tray where TV used to be. I have a spare kettle in the attic, a couple of small storage jars needed for coffee and sugar, which I am certain that I have around. We must have a little tray which would be suitable. Then I can just bring up clean mugs and a small flask of fresh milk last thing at night. Just right for the winter to warm up before I have to go downstairs in the freezing cold.

I don't have to cook as we have a deli Saturday thing going on. There is French Bread, bought last night so still yum. Cold meat, hummus and some water cress. Leftover Banoffee pie if we need pudding. Tomorrow we can finish up the curry form last evening. All the more time to de-clutter. Also my bank account is sorted. Money has been refunded to me and new card has arrived. I just have to go sort the PIN and we are all good. Or we would be all good if my son would finihs his shower and turn off that dreadful music!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Tomorrow the 366 challenge gets serious




I don't have anywhere that I need to be until 7.30pm tomorrow. Fahed is away and kids will be occupied and.or working. I don't really need to go out. So tomorrow the 366 challenge is properly coming to Allbrook.

I have set a spreadsheet to go everything as it goes. The speed has date down the left side so that I appear to dispose of one thing everyday although usually it all happens at the weekend.

Tomorrow I am trying to get to the end of February. I really can do it. I am getting totally ruthless since I realism that so far I don't regret one loss and actually I have a lot of trouble noticing any losses.

Tomorrow I am going to strip the place like a Ninja Locust!

On the up?

First time since 2008, I am having a pay rise. 2.75%. I wasn't expecting anything since last year & the year before my take home pay actually went down. Costs for pension and NI went up and income didn't. This year I have heard nothing awful and this piece of actual good news so maybe things are improving? Maybe?

I also read two articles yesterday that energy prices were decreasing. I wont move to a new supplier yet. Nice to know it is not always, up, up, up.

We are celebrating Friday night tonight by cooking a curry which is just know as that lush curry. Its a recipe that I got from an army catering demonstration when I was about 15. Lean chicken massaged with a curry paste. Stir fry in a little butter. Add plenty off chopped onion, green pepper and celery. Stir fried some more and finish off with a carton of double cream. Cook a little longer over a low heat to thicken it up. Serve with rice. Yuuuuuuum.


Ahdel is now making us a pudding (late night pudding apparently) of bannoffee pie. Its worth waiting for though.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

So, yes, i did forget my other house.

View from my (not imaginary) balcony



Its working. If not quite still ahead of the game, we are at least not as far behind as we would expect with Fahed rushing off to a funeral overseas & needing cash for the ten days he is away.
So we have been living out of the larder and freezer, which is still looking pretty good still. Debt in the month has decreased not increased.


De-cluttering (and I need a better word for this - maybe shedding?) is going even better. Since Fahed has been away each night I have turned out a drawer in the bedroom. It does feel very much like I am being released from my baggage. It has the disadvantage of making me want to pack a few possession in a small ( but perfect) cabin bag and travel the world, but hopefully that will pass. Or more hopefully it will just wait until I can retire.

Today I had lunch with a friend of mine. Our salary and our mortgages are approximately the same. His wife is a little too keen on spending but he reigns her in quite well. It was interesting to see how similar we are (not liking waste, enjoying a bargain, keeping our money hand closed)but also how very different. He is not at all materialistic, although he does spend a fortune on books, but his wife loves everything new and just so, so none of the second hand stuff that I prefer to buy for him. He were talking about being careful and he said he hadn;t had to yet dip into his £35k savings (gulp) and he never touches the £20k that they have in their off set account (sigh). And this is a man who draws out an allowance for food and fuel. I was wondering what I did wrong and why I don't have £55,000 in saving & then I remembered. I have another house. Doh! Pretty big thing to forget but somehow I managed. I was feeling like I hadn't managed my income and assets well until that point (and lets be honest with investments in Syria & Greece, Its a fair suggestion)but now I feel a lot better. The recession and exchange rates have strippped me of a good bit of net worth but I can look at whats left and know I did the best for my fmaily by my efforts I think.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

What is a debit card? & good things about Easyjet

I have just rad this article. Andrea really doesn't like Suze Orman. I dont have an opinion as I have never heard of her. Is she the US Money Saving Martin? or more like that lady from Countdown who is always tying to get you to take out a loan. Anyway, I digress. I really wondered what a debit card was in this context. In the UK I know my debit card is how I spend the money in my bank. Cheques are not even taken in the vets anymore (the last place that took cheques around here) so its debit card or cash unless you want to use someone elses money. And even if you want to use cash you need to get it out of the hole in the wall with your debit card. The debit card that Andrea is describing doesn't sound anything like this, just like a credit card where you pre-pay?




Fahed phoned up from Palestine today to say that, following the funeral, his sister wants to go back to her home in Jordan so that the rest of the family can visit from Syria. They cant come to the actual funeral (politics, yeuh!)and if they did then they couldn't go home again. So Fahed obviously wants to go back with her as not much point in staying in Palestine on his own. I logged on to Easyjet to look at our booking and see if there was another flight available for him back from Jordan, as crossing borders out there is just a total nightmare even with a British Passport. I clicked an option to change flight and found a good flight. No additional charge and just a £30 admin fee. Easyjet get a bad press sometimes but I think they are great. I cant fault them, particularly on price. We love Stelios, even if he doesnt own them anymore.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Um, (blogger) help please

Okay, I have been writing on here for some years but apparently I still have a lot of unknown unknowns! Any idea how I can stop being a 'no reply blogger'? I would like any correspondence from anyone, I love chat in all its forms.

My no/low spend is going well, thanks to being robbed, but the de-cluttering is going like an express train. I am totally getting into it now. I thought the place was already de-cluttered but I was so wrong. It's full! and more important it is full of the potential to all be gone.

Fahed has gone off to the funeral today. I am being taken care of by my two little boys, who are strapping great men these days so I am safe in their hands. I was hoping for an early night as no sleep last night and then a 6am start for the airport, however I forgot about Jamal's JuJitsu lesson which finishes at 9.45. Darn.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sunday night chit chat (even though it is Monday)

Thank you for Carla for making me think about what is going on in my life & what I need to be grateful for.

Reading?
Extra Virgin - a re-read that always makes me smile.


Watching?
Bones - waiting patiently for Brennan to have her baby so that we can have some new episodes



Listening to?
Shakira - hips don't lie. Never gets old.





Cooking/Baking?
Low carb fake spag bol.



Happy you accomplished this week?
Going back to work and facing all the issues that they called me about last week. And finding that I was right and it wasn't so bad after all.

Looking forward to next week?
Actually not that much as Fahed will be away for the funeral for 10days so I will focus on the fact that I will have chance for more de-cluttering and more house work and decoerating.

Thankful for today?
That I know my boys will take care of me whilst their Baba is away. They are sneakily clever about ensuring one of them is always home at night if I am home alone. I didn't know this was planned and thought it was just a happy con-incidence until I overheard them planning it one day. Bless their little cotton socks.

No/Low Spend & 366 Update


Well having no access to my bank account is working wonders for my no/low spend. Sadly Fahed has to fly off to a family funeral tomorrow so lucky for us he thinks the bank is not somewhere to keep money & had a nice stash of actual cash to pay for flight etc. He has proved me wrong in my assertion that his money is safest in the bank.

Back to work today and a meeting with the auditors followed by an all day meeting. Great! But actually not as bad as I was expecting and all of last week calamities have not come to pass. It is going to be a busy couple of months though.

My de-cluttering is accelerating away all on its own. I have a big box in between the kitchen and conservatory and every time I pass I add in more items. Most of them have been around for so long that they have actually become virtually invisible to me. I remember when I used to need to tidy up ahead of receiving visitors. These days there is very little left to tidy up, although sweeping under the bird cage is definitely a daily chore. You would not believe how much mess that little tyke can make.

Tomorrow the day starts with a 6am drive to the airport. Fahed will be away for 10 days. That means ten days of not getting paid as well as the cost of flight and being away. The gentleman that passed away was Fahed's brother in law. He was a super old chap. He visited London early this year on business and we had a good time getting to know him. I am glad he had chance to visit us before we lost him.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Sunday Night & my 366 de-clutter progress

I do love a nice quiet Sunday night at home. Tomorrow is my first day at work since 23rd December. Big shock to the system tomorrow plus things are not going too well at work, so I would very much like Sunday night to last for days and days.

Yesterday I re-arranged our bedroom. We always had our bed up against the wall to give us more floor space but Fahed is a little older these days and climbing over the bed is not a good move in the middle of the night. A couple of times he has almost fallen backwards & worse he might fall forward and squish me! so now its more conventional. Because the room is quite small I had to completely move all of the furniture but its looks pretty good I think. I really like change, especially re-arranging furniture & I find it quite difficult to understand people who like things to remain the same for ever, like my husband and both kids do. Why does no-one turn after mum?

And here are some photos just to prove I wasnt just sciving and was actually re-arranging things.





For my 366 challenge I have had three items leave the house and a further 16 are in a box for delivery to the Salvation Army this week. One of them is a set of metal cones for making cream horns but I resisted the temptation to count them as six items.

Sometime to really curb my spending





I had a text form my older son from work yesterday. Could I order a wireless card for his brother and he would pay me back. Ahdel believes Jamal would be an excellent computer programmer and as Ahdel is doing program design they might make a good team. Like a nice Mummy I ordered one safe in the knowledge that it was costing me nothing. Then things started to go all wrong. The house phone rang, 'automated call from...' I didn't hear who as my husband hang up thinking it was a sales call. Text came through on my mobile say missed called & check voicemail but before I had chance a text saying called Santander urgently for a security issue. Got through on the phone and they wanted to know what I had spent this week. I didnt recognize a couple of payments but it turned out the the veggie box people and the council tax are collected in third party names. So far all good. Then a £1 for Apple. I didnt think I had spent this but maybe pressed a wrong button. How about Groupon? No, nice since my meat package in November. So not four payments then? And one to KGB, and how about this one? and this one? The guy said they were making payments so far on my card that they were queuing up to get on his screen.

So anyway, no my card is cancelled and re-order. My account is frozen whilst they spend ten days on a fraud enquiry and they will then refund the money to my account. As it is a joint account we don't have another to use & savings have post Christmas depletion. We don't do credit cards.

I suddenly found a lot of focus for my no spend/low spend challenge. I have £40 in cash and £30 voucher for mark & sparks (gift from the parents at Fahed voluntary job - bless them. And he always gives it to me so bless him too!). I am not touching the (empty frozen wastes of) my bank account until pay day on 24th.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Soooo, lets talk about fat!





Last year I did a lot of work on understanding how my body works. I can cope with all sorts but apparently not carbohydrate. At least I can handle a little carbohydrate but not much. It gives me headaches and an endless desire to much, munch, munch.

From January 1st I have made more effort to get back to the eating program which I sorted out for myself last year. Basically unlimited vegetables, a little fruit, some lean meat, plenty of fish, pulses, Greek yogurt, cheese.

All went well for a few months. I lost 13 kilo & felt quite well. Somehow I started introducing bits and bobs into the eating program and in the run up to Christmas I pretty well abandoned my own rules. I did eat some bread but not like the good old days of toast, sandwiches and pizza. Yum. So I avoided the headaches and also the worse of the associated weight gain despite 6 months of eat anything which doesn't move!

So I finally plucked up the courage to weigh myself. It was bad but not as bad as it could have been. I gained back 3kg. So back on track now. A low carb WiiFit life.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Perfect way to use up fruit

I had a soft pear, a handful full o somewhat dodgy apple and the ever present punnet of kiwi fruit. I can't abide waste, especially of food, so I thought it was time to be creative. I also found two container with a small amount of toffee sauce knocking around int he fridge door.
It may not sound very appealing but by the time it had become a toffee fruit crumble it had become delicious. I know this as my sons daughter in law commented so on Facebook.

This is what I did. Peel the apples and pear and slice all the nice flesh into a pyrex pie dish. Microwave the leftover toffee sauces to make it easier to get it out of the jar & tube. Squeeze over the fruit and then swirl it up to ensure the fruit is not exposed and can go brown. Cut all of the kiwi fruit in half and scoop the flesh out and into the fruit mixture.

Rub together 200g of butter, 300g of flour and 175g of sugar until it resembles bread crumbs. Tip this over the fruit mixture and shake it a little to flatten out any mountains.

Cooker in a medium over until the crumble is browned and the hot fruit mix is coming up in little volcanic blobs through the crumble.

Serve with a little cream that was hanging around from Christmas.

The consensus amongst my target audience was 'awesome'.

Last Housewifey Day - No/Low Spend update & 366 de-clutter challenge

Yesterday I did my weekly shopping for £42 pound instead of the usual £80. I also had a veg box which totaled £28 but which lasts for two weeks. Vast amount of fruit and veg inside. I love having my veg box but my trolley looks very odd at the supermarket with any fruit & veg.

Apart from the main grocery shopping it was a no spend day.

I gave my mum a lidded casserole dish and a terracotta salt pig this morning. I have a cardboard box to fill with goodies for the salvation army as well so am hoping my 366 challenge start to take off a bit today. I am aiming to get rid of an item or more each day and be on top of that by the last day of each month. So that for example on 5th February I know that I need to get rid of 5 things in Feb by then. I am a little behind but big catch up today and over the weekend. I have set up a spreadsheet to make sure I stick with it (sad finance type that I am).

Today I am taking my son out for driving practice and taking the opportunity to visit a few DIY stores to look at kitchen cabinet replacement doors.

Whilst we are out then we are investing in a couple of lemons for my hummus making plans this om. Also a bag of flour. I have a lot of unloved fruit in the fridge, mainly those darn kiwi fruit that always come in the box and we all find dull and messy. I have found a recipe for Kiwi muffins to try and will also make a fruit crumble. Some how I will get them eaten!

....and later that day. Crumble went down very well as I added in a few blobs of toffee from an old ice cream sauce which I found in the fridge door.

I also joined in a discussion of Net Worth with Retire by 40 where I suspect that due to my investments in Syria & Greece plus the strength of the pound against Euro, I am probably one of the biggest losers.

Looking on the bright side, and to take my mind of the net worth crisis, my hummus was also quite successful. I read a hand full of recipes this time instead of just winging it and discovered that adding back some of the cooking liquid gives it a better consistency than if I just keep adding tahina. Result. Wish I had done my homework a bit earlier.

Now we are having a lovely family day. The kids (who are adults now) are playing Metroid on the Wii & Bonnie and I are surfing the net for affordable properties in the area, and failing to find any. I have the warm glow of having properly fed everyone today, plus done some additional cooking and managed to have got everyone to eat up all the fruit which was close to the edge. I gave away a few kitchen items to mum & Bonnie, and now being snuggled up on the sofa under my slanket. Happy Days

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Two more days of being a housewife

So I decided to take an extra four days annual leave this year to make a nice long Christmas break. I confirmed something I already know about myself. Anything I have to do will take me exactly as long as I have to do it in. So if I only have a day to do it then that's fine but if I have two weeks then I will drag it out to last that long. What a bozo but I really don't do it on purpose and don't even notice except life gets a little easier to manage. On the bright side I have had loads of rest and sleep and am bouncing with energy.

I have got a few things done, honest;
* Tax returns are all done and submitted.
* Went through my dads deposits with him and moved his investments about when they were not doing so well. Dad is impressed with the internet as long as I am doing the operating.
* Laundry is pretty much done.
* Plans - we made a load of these and they all still seem sensible so we are sticking with them. We know what we are doing (in theory)with this house, the Crete house & our finances generally. We even went through our pension planning. Result.

There are a few things I could still get done if I get my finger out.

* Sort the top of one of the cupboards in the sitting room where there is still a mess of clutter (Fahed's stuff, every bit of it).
* Paint the ceiling in the hall
* Re-arrange the bedroom. Fahed likes to sleep by the wall but is getting too old (in my opinion) to climb over me for the inevitable trips to the bathroom in the night. I will do this myself as he gets too stressed out but wont be bothered to put it back.
* My new worktop went into the kitchen a day or so before Christmas. I need to arrange the kitchen as I want it to accommodate the new set up but also to accommodate the work which is still to come.
* Find a couple of handles which I can use to open my larder and laundry doors. I currently ferret about with putting my finger in the gap and the top and pulling. Not especially
satisfactory.


E=Rather than dwell on all the things I haven't done, I'll introduce you to the fmaily.



This is Jamal do his first go on the new WiiFit.




And this is Ahdel with his mate Ace (Ventura) sitting on his head.

De-clutter Challenge


I have de-cluttered the sitting room. I really have. All that is left is three sofas for the five us that live here and streams of visitors. A few little side tables, a cupboard for the stereo and another for the drinks & glasses, a very large birdcage, and then DVD shelves in the alcoves.





Post de-clutter I still have all this left. And I love it so not much point in getting rid of it. I suppose that once upon a time there was so much more in here that I couldn't see the bits that I love.





However there is still more to go so I am joining the 366 de-clutter challenge to maintain a bit of focus.

It has to go and I am more likely to stick to it if someone, anyone, might be watching me. Are you in?
These are the rules:
The rules are simple:
1.) Declutter 366 (or more) items from your home.
2.) Items may be donated, sold, or given away to count towards the 366 item total.
3.) Trash does not count towards the 366 item total... but you are encouraged to get rid of it, too! (I may include this in my totals if it is too broke to be useful to anyone)
4.) Items don't count towards the 366 total until they actually leave your house... we all know how easy it is to set aside something to sell or donate, only to forget it about it and have it contribute to clutter in anther room of the house. Our goal is to get rid of clutter, not just move it around. :)

Check out the Single Savers website for more details & more participants.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Well things really are changing

I am off work this week. Well, sort off. I have a bit of work to do from home and people seem to be intruding upon my break on an hourly basis but basically I am off work.

I don't normally post this much but I have so much time on my hands and if I post then I don't need to be doing house work.

Things really do seem to be changing in our home. Fahed's sister just phoned up asking for money (big surprise). She wants to go visit her sister. We have given her so much over the years that I don't bother thinking about it as it would only make me cross. Incidentally this is not the sister in law who has the most from us financially but she is a close second and I know we will never see a penny of it again. Today she wanted $1000. She has been calling since 7.30am. Fahed gave in and phone her back at 7.30 this evening. He said 'No'. What? Never. Impressed, I really am. I think, at the grand old age of 49 that he might have realized that we are actually his responsibility ahead of others. Seriously impressed. Lets hear it for the big guy.

Second nice thing today. I started another little blog, basically detailing my struggle with evil carbs, recipes, ideas and things I learn. Although it is a bit lacking in comments it already has loads of hits. Thank you to anyone who has been joining me over there, even if you have been very quiet about it.

No spend/Low Spend Day Four



Day Four and have only briefly left house to pop to my parents (not back at work officially until Monday) & help with online banking, new accounts, moving money etc. No spend day. Yaay.

I was kicking myself a bit about how much I have spent this year but have to say it was all planned and budgeted and I am being very careful with my cash.

There are all sorts of good habits and practices which we already have which I sometimes forget about.

Rarely go out for coffee - Last time that i can remember was Christmas shopping 2010 - and I didn't much enjoy it then.

Rarely eat out - I did eat out a lot in the last two weeks before Christmas but this was mainly as I had to take all my staff out and so wouldn't actually cost me. If we do eat out then it tends to be if there is a good deal available to us and its a family event. We don't do it just to feed ourselves.

Take lunch to work most days. The rest of the family don't take lunch but somehow don't eat out either. They do come in absolutely starving like Marvin though & eat a nice dinner.

Cooke from scratch. Pretty much every day. Not a cordon blue chef but an okay cook & my meals seem pretty popular.

Cake, biscuit & pudding baking - not all the time but from time to time. We very often have a fruit crumble on a Sunday evening through the winter. A proper old fashioned English tea time.

If we are going to make a major purchase then we consider it for months (sometimes years) and spend weeks making sure we get the best deal.

I don't buy rubbish that falls to pieces within a short time. I try not to pay too much for the things I do buy but I don't buy very much anyway other than for the endless renovation of our house.

I am lucky enough to have the NHS to attend to us medically. I also buy an annual prepayment certificate for Fahed's medication which means meds cost no more than £100 per year. Love our healthcare system.

I grocery shop according to price and quality and don't get tempted by adverts etc. I am happy to shop around and have little brand loyalty. My favourite shops are at what is normally considered to be the the top and bottom of the range in grocery shopping but I find them both good. I like Lidl, Waitrose and ASDA but I go anywhere that MySupermarket tells me has a good deal.

I have SkyPlus and so avoid all adverts by fast forwarding through them. No temptation at all. Skyplus also means not DVD or VHS player or rentals. I also ahev cheap unlimited Broadband because of my Sky bundle.

I like things with character and never get rid of something which is good just to replace it with something newer.

I am sure there are loads more where these came from.

How about you? What good habits do you have already that you tend to forget when you are beating yourself up for doing something 'wrong'?

Net worth - why do I even look?


I had such a lovely Christmas & New year that I thought I was probably ready for the misery of checking our net worth.

UK Property value is about the same, according to Zoopla.

The property in Crete I have valued based on what similar properties are selling for and at the moment nothing is selling. I have reduced the value from 250k to 180k as I think we could get that if desperate.
The land and old house I value based on offers we have had. Offers have obviously dried up as the people of Greece already have enough to worry about. I have halved their value to a total of £63k.
These calculations also take into account the rise of sterling against the Euro. Currently 1.19.

I am assuming that the land in Syria has lost no further value, having already lost about 60% of value. We are pretty sure of realizing the amount that we have it valued at this year.

My pension value remains the same after my most recent statement. Fahed's pension, whilst much smaller, is actually worth more than we previously documented. That's our little ray on sunlight in an otherwise fairly depressing review. Pension are valued at £429k against a previous valuation of £394k.

We haven't had an up to date mortgage statement recently so I have left the balances as before. I prefer tot ake the bad news as soon as possible and have the good news as a later surprise.

We are £161k down Just as well its not real money, right? Oh, wait!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

No spend/Low Spend Day Three - plus consideringa serious de-clutter


Day three - At last - A no spend day. Well a pretty much no spend day. Tonight is Jamal's JuJitsu class. I need to pay for January's training, which is cheaper than paying monthly, plus buying him a gi to wear instead of T-shirt and joggers. This is one of Jamal's Christmas presents and this is budgeted.


The boys and I played with the WiiFit today. It was great. I was trounced by both kids but surprisingly good at a couple of the activities. Certainly

I am also thinking de-cluttering thoughts (arenlt I always?), more to follow on that later.

Another present

Fahed had a brilliant Christmas which was largely overlooked until we put the batteries in it.
A rubber duck radio. He was already pretty cute (the duck not Fahed) prior to batterying him up by once I realized that you twisted his neck to switch him on and then alter the volume then I was hooked. Even better you have to twist his little tail to tune into different station.
Reggie the duck. No home should be without one.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Spend

Day two of no spend/low spend. I spent £139. However I did account for it last year (does that absolve me??). Fahed & I bought ourselves WiiFit, with a plan to add Wii Sports, as our Christmas present to each other. We bought it after Christmas to get the best deal. It was £139 including the balance board which is pretty good according to my endless homework & spreadsheets. We didn't buy each other anything else though,honest.



I bought a handful of new clothes in the sales prior to new year. I need a few items which are suitable for 'non work but a bit smart'. I have plenty of work stuff but its more formal than my tastes actually run too, however I wear it anyway until it wears out. I have quite a bit of stuff which is proper rough for painting, gardening and the like. I am sadly lacking in anything for leaving the house other than for work. At least I have my slanket for sofa sloth in the evenings. I love it.



Diet is going better than spending, thank goodness. Also we have plenty of food to last for a couple of week. Veg box is arriving on Friday. And I have already made tomorrows dinner of braised steak and vegetables in gravy. I discovered (for about the 20th time) that I cant use a slow cooker so dinner will be finished in the wok tomorrow.

Fahed & Jamal are taking the cooker hood apart tomorrow to fix it. We are keeping on trap with our new year plans there.

So no spend/low spend then

Day one didnt go as well as it could have. Ahdel suggested we all go to the cinema, which we only do when we are all off work so maybe once or twice a year, and we all said yes. Didnt even think about the whole no spend/low spend thing. Sherlock Holmes game of Shadows was excellent though. I so wanted to attend Dr Watson s stag night and the gypsy party. Brilliant. I am sure I will recover from seeing Stephen Fry naked eventually (most hilarious scene in the whole movie).



I also bought Fahed a lovely shirt in Asda, when I was queuing for yogurt and houmous. The yogurt & houmous purchase does mean that I don't need to go shopping this week though and I can just use up my stores. Today I am making braising steak and veg in the slow cooker. We have a veg box arriving on Friday so I need to make the veg and fruit supplies last until then.

There was method in my shirt madness. We are eating more healthily and trying to loose a few pounds so a proper shirt instead of sports gear might encourage more awareness of body shape. Maybe.

Not leaving the house today and see if we can go for a no spend day.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Greetings 2012

The kids had a party last night. It started with DVDs of stand up. Dylan Moran made cry with laughing. Then they played LIPS for hours (thank god the neighbours are away over New Year). At one they stopped singing. No idea what was next but they were still laughing at 5am! The stamina of the twenty somethings. This morning I came down and emptied cans and bottles into the recycling. There were pizza boxes to go as well but from Asda not a pizza takeaway. I like that they worked to a budget but knew how to have a good time anyway.

So when it went from stand up to singing the old chap and I went off to bed but sat up chatting for a couple of hours rather than fall by the wayside too early. Well Fahed has obviously been thinking about 2012 just as much as I have. So we decided a few things;

We are both on board for total debt wipe out this year. We earn quite good money and have a lot of assets but are always short on actual cash because we have too many things on the go at once. The situation in Syria has meant that it is sensible for us to withdraw our interests (we lost two thirds of our investment there anyway from some confusion with my sister in law - I don't dwell on it as it makes me a bit cross). Normally any extra cash we have would go towards the Crete house, which is pretty much finished except the landscaping. We were also going to start renovating the old house to let out. The current situation in Greece is probably not the best time ever for letting out property so we will continue with this but just as and when we can afford it, not with any urgency. So its debt clearance. then even more extra towards the mortgage plus a fully funded emergency fund.


We want to finish the renovation of our UK house this year too. We still need a front porch and small laundry room. A second access door to the downstairs bathroom so that we don't have to enter through Ahdel's room. A proper stud wall to Ahdel room. A solid roof to what is currently the conservatory. Finish the kitchen (more than half done). Pave the lawn area and patio. Not too much considering how much has been done already. When we moved in the people before us had lived here for 60 years and had lost interest in the place in about 1950 so it has been a bit of an uphill battle at times. if we really try then we could pretty much finish this year.

We both want to lose a few pounds (well, stones really). Fahed wasn't fat until he had his heart attack and since then he has some sort of fear of exercise. This year we are both on board, not just me. On the bright side I lost over 12 kilo last year. I then fell by the wayside but finally weighed myself this morning and I am still nine kilo down. Yaay! We don't just want to lose weight but also to eat more healthily so its broccoli and blueberries all the way.

We also had a few ideas for ourselves like me being less scruffy (I may have said something like re-vitalise wardrobe and change hair style but we all know I meant 'be less scruffy'). Fahed had some along the lines of the lines of learning a new language (he speak three), taking saxophone lessons.

We gave ourselves a really good roadmap for the year despite the pounding of the kids singing Jason Derulo until the wee small hours.

This morning I added four new 'rules' to save me some time about the place.
Shoes in the shoe rack or bedroom.
Clothes in the laundry basket or bedroom (sometimes it looks like a strip show has occured in my front room)
Jackets hanging up.
Packing & food waste into the bin or re-cycling not left for mummy to decide.

As most of them are only effected by one or two of the new rules then I am hoping they get absorbed pretty painlessly. Jamal has already agreed after a small moan but I am not waking the other up to check as bears with soar heads are not the best to get following new rules.

Happy new year

Lets talk about something good!

I went to the other house and it was lovely! My dad came with us, with my youngest son, for the first 5 days.  Its his first time since ...