Sunday, 29 April 2012


I am copying Carla's GBU idea. Lovely way to sum up the week.

My lovely order from Carla is ready and shortly crossing the Atlantic to me.
Kitchen & Sitting room re-modeling are moving fast!
Fahed has decided to build me a covered area in the back garden to dry washing etc instead of getting a new tumble dryer. Result!
Next weekend is three day weekend.
Jamal has agreed to think about joining us on holiday.

Jaw aches, end to end, as the nerve seems to be inflamed.
The chaos in the house is not fun as we progress with work.

Microwave blew up, like every other appliance in the house this month. I am wondering how 'old school' we can be and just survive without these things.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

The tooth and other 'not new' things

It's all about updates today.

My wisdom tooth was so painful yesterday, I just didn't know what to do with myself. I went back to the dentist to chase up my hospital appointment. My dentist has 'left' ( I am assuming he was fired after my traumatic non event a few weeks back). And he didn't refer me to the hospital. However I forgive the dental surgery as they gave me an emergency appointment and the proper dentist did the deed. My tooth is gone, however still very painful and so not forgotten. Plus I feel sick, just to add to the fun.

I realized at 6am this morning that I was going nowhere today and I just worked via my blackberry. But that did mean I was at home as my men worked on the kitchen and sitting room. They had a sort and tidy so that we could move about and then it was all about stripping paper, removing cabinets and the cooker hood, cutting worktop, framing doors and other woodwork. It really was a hive of activity, as i watched from my sick bed (on the sofa). I will post photos tomorrow. We started talking about getting rid of furniture and everyone agreed there is too much. Things are going!

And this is my other happy thing today, this hexi wallet in progress is mine, all mine. And i am thinking tote back thoughts from next months pocket money. Isn't it beautiful?

Monday, 23 April 2012

Life was too easy

The guys turned up to fix the ceiling. The sitting room was not empty enough. We had to take the TV from the wall and the curtain rails too. They are not just fixing the ceiling. they are completely taking it down and starting from scratch!

So everything is in the conservatory and the room looks huge, and we find we like it like this so some things must go. Then the men of the house started to get ideas. Some skirting board needs to be finished, then it all needs to be rubbed down and varnished, the are repainting the walls, and then they decide to hire a sander and take the wooden floor down a couple of millimeters and varnish. Oh yes, and then they decide they will take a wall down to get an extra 5 inches of space. AAAAARRRGH. At this pointed I joined the conversation with a reality check. Before I got chance to speak the started planning to knock down the wall to the kitchen, make a big sitting room and move the kitchen to the conservatory. I stepped in to explain that as soon as Ahdel's back is a bit better he will be back at work 5 days a week and Fahed will have to do the work all by himself. He decided to tone it down a bit then. However it does look like we will get a lovely bright, nicely decorated sitting room out of it. Perfect!

Jamal got his exams result for the first stage of his Maths. He got an A for one paper and an A* for the second paper. I am a happy mummy all round. I wonder how well he would do if he was not so lazy!! I don't suppose he could get better than that.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Sunday Scrub Up

The day started beautifully with my prize winning. We had a lovely gentle day. The sun was shining and we got some time together as Fahed's arm is still in plaster, so no water work. We made plans for our holiday (building plans, not the conventional type), we investigated making cheese and salami. We made plans for my birthday treats. We will be going for a few days to Alton Towers, a theme park some distance from our house. We are postponing it for a few months so that my sister and brother in law can come to. My niece gets married just a few day before my 50th birthday but she can;t leave on her honeymoon until the weekend so my sister doesn't like to go off on holiday and leave her! So for the actual birthday I am coming up with a few ideas of things I would like. So far I am tihnking a day out at the Harry Potter Studio tour. We are all HO fans but more importantly we love movies generally and would always enjoy a studio tour. Animals are my other great love (and books, and travel, and the works of Stephen Fry) and so i thought it an omen that London Zoo is open until 10pm on my birthday. I am contemplating a drive up to London in the day, late lunch at a Syrian restaurant and then to the zoo for the 6pm late entry.

So I had a lovely half day with all our plans. And the Fahed remembered that the insurance company are coming tomorrow to fix the water damaged ceiling int he sitting room. And we have to completely empty the room. And then the sky darkened to black and the heavens opened. Mother nature obviously knows how I feel about emptying the whole room! Anyway i have had a proper good clean out and it just remains to move the sofas, Ace's cage and the coffee table and rug before bed time. The room looks a lot nicer half empty. I wonder if I can sneakily dispose of whole cupboards without being noticed. maybe not.

I won!!

Me,Me,Me, I won!

What a lovely Sunday morning surprise. Thank you lovely Carla.

This is mine!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Does everyone else update plans this often?

Is it just me or do all of us spreadsheet queens (and yes, that is the correct term)update and tweak our plans all of the time?

This month I am accommodating (financially!) the guy to fix the boiler, the guy to fix the appliances, the parts for the washing machine and dishwasher, two lots of car Tax (after the fully taxed car died). And then Fahed is now in plaster so, as a swimming teacher, not a lot of work for a few weeks. Spreadsheet tweaking is our only chance. Anyways, somehow I have done it. Ah, yes and the guy who failed to remove my broken tooth but did put me off dentists for a while. Oh yes, and paying a massive amount to no longer insure the car which died.

A couple more tweaks though,official notification of my pay rise came in this week! Yaay, it is real. First one in three years. Not as much as they were back in the day but 2.75%. So that is rippling through the budget.

Next thing, we normally have an amount each for pocket money, for petrol & Fahed has a small shopping allowance. I then give him any extra money towards savings. Well he, thank goodness, has decided this isn't working. Although he he paid for car repairs and other bills which don't figure separately n the budget he gets mixed up and can't remember what he spent. He wants to go back to getting a single amount monthly to include his petrol money & know that he can spend the lot if he wants to and it won't damage us at all. Now I wasn't going to suggest this because that is what brought him on board with the whole idea of budgetting but I did have a little sigh of relief.

So hte new way is, I give him some money, i pay the bills and then i keep a very tight grip on every other cent! Works for me.

A while back I started taking part in the 365 de-clutter challenge. Well this morning Jamal & I took a back and two more huge boxes of stuff to the Salvation Army after we did the shopping. I feel i can officially stop counting now with a clear conscience because I have giving away over 500 items. Do you know I think I can actually start to see a difference! Lets see what another 500 does to the place.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Successful meal planning

Ahdel is sensitive to milk and cheese, and is not a great lover of fish.
Fahed will eat most things as long as they are fresh, natural and homemade (frozen food is mystery to him)but he doesnt like spagetti as he claims his sister once served him up a worm in with his spagetti! Bread makes him swell up like a helium balloon but he does love it.
Jamal goes thorugh phases but really will eat anything and is especially a carnivore.
I like most things but bread gives me a headache and carbs are generally not good with me.

So here is the thing. I think we finally have it sussed. I involved everyone in the meal plan this week and so far so good.

We started the week on Sunday (yep, I know)with spagetti bolognese (very heavy on the veggies).
On Sunday night I made a really nice lasagne with the remaining bolognese sauce. Ahdel was going to his girlfriend's dad's house so I didn;t need to worry about his cheese/milk problem.
So Monday was lasagne & Salad
Tueday Jamal & I finished up the lasagne and Ahdel & Fahed has tuna & sweetcorn salad with jacket potatoes.
Wednesday Fahed made a lovely mushroom and veggie soup. He served it with burghal (bulgar wheat) and there were chunks of chicken in it. Jamal was away so missed out on this but there may be some chicken left for him tonight.
Tonight (Thursday) we have enough of the soup, sans chicken, for all. Burghal for two and homemade bread for the rest.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, what can I come up with tomorrow to keepo the positive momentum going.

And lunches have been leftovers or beans on toast etc all of the week.

So far no waste at all. So far all good healthy food with plenty of veg. And tommorrow is veg box day so I get inspired all over again.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Gingko Biloba

I tend to think of food supplements as innocent, and no stronger than, say, live yogurt. Wow, big mistake. I gave Fahed gingko biloba tablets for the last week. Poor man. I don't recall reading any warnings about what these tablets clash with, on the original bottle. Well I can tell you that they clash horribly with SSRI's (anti depressants). The poor man had an awful week but somehow managed to keep going. Once I realised what the problem was I stopped him taking them immediately. Last night he slept for 13 hours. Then he got up and took his car to the garage and when he came back he fell asleep again & is still asleep now. Poor chap. Anytime I decide to add any more food supplements to his daily routine I will read up on them properly. Currently feeling very guilty and negligent.

Early Retirement the Middle Way: So Hard

Early Retirement the Middle Way: So Hard

As I can't seem to comment I would just like to say, no pressure but lifestyle and travel sounds just fine to me!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Sunshine makes me smile

I have my Friday one to one with my boss running through my head still but the sunshine helps today, plus the knowledge that she is leaving of course (ha, ha).

Some garden time this afternoon I think. It looks okay out there, i need to cut the grass and have a little tidy. I have some lovely cowslips from my mum to plant. I have instructions to shake their little head when they are dead and they will self seed all over place.

Mum and dad's little green house is full of exciting new life. Later in the year I will be given tomato plants (which I will fail miserably to manage properly), and other bedding plants. Best of all I will get a share of the harvest, plums, beans, tomatoes. So spoilt.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Not superstitious at all but I really didn't have a good Friday yesterday.
My boss, who is leaving in a couple of months (yaay) starting off by telling me off for not writing a letter to someone. I found her email asking for the information from me so that she could write the letter and my reply giving it, but of course it wasn't her fault that she didn't do it - it was mine. The afternoon was made up of another 3 hours of pretty much the same.

So I was very glad to get home. The day improved immeasurably when Fahed, Ahdel & Bonnie claimed to be popping up to ASDA and then came back with a takeaway curry meal for everyone. A treat from Bonnie. Bless her.

Shortly I am off to do the shopping and buy some washing machine bearings with my son. By the time we get back Fahed will have finished work until his voluntary class tonight, as it s still Easter holidays, so we have a day together to do as we wish.

For my part I will try to not to dwell on the perceived injustices of yesterdays one to one, as I firmly believe my boss is out of her depth and losing the plot.

Unofficial Healthy Start

Next week we start the extra activity, less food and especially healthy food thing.
So we had a practice. Thursday night we had a nice healthy meal, cut down on portion size and ate all together at the table (everyone was home together for once). It was really nice. I decided to introduce a glass of red wine, excellent antioxidant, into the equation too. Healthy eating sure makes me very sleepy.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Adapt, adapt, I can adapt.

I re-did the budget to take account of paying 500euro every month to our agent in Greece.
I re-did it again to ensure we have the cash by August to properly start work on the old house, although I might not have told you the whole story there.

I did it again to account for Ahdel changing his job (less money but also less back problems)and not paying housekeeping for a couple of months.

Again for getting Ahdel's car on the road because getting work will be easier for him once he can travel.

Now, just one more change. Fahed's niece, the one whose father died earlier this year, phoned to ask Fahed to give her away at her wedding in July. She said that as he dad can;t do it then she wants her beloved favourite uncle to do it. Not the sort of request that you can turn down. So now I have to allow for extra cash & airfare to Amman in Jordan.

I can do it through the power of spreadsheets! Really have to make more effort with eBay, that's for sure.

Back to the old house. What started Fahed thinking about making the house liveable was this: last year we employed a guy called Ali who we found in the official 'waiting for daily work' area in Timbaki. We needed help by someone young and fit. Ali was amazing. He had no experience but he learned really quickly from everything that Fahed showed him. Ali has a wife and daughter at home in Pakistan, he came to Crete to work for two years to earn some cash and get his family a good start in life. I can't how much you can earn in Pakistan that it is worth travelling to Crete for the occasional day of work at 30 euros a day. Bearing in mind the recession and economic woes of Greece.

So last week Ali phoned up, his scratchy Greek had improved a bit and he wanted to know when we would be back. I like to think he missed us not just his improved cash flow when we are around (typical Northern Europeans we overpay and have a guilty conscience anyway). Fahed believes he can make one half of the old house okay for Ali to live in if he wants he could then rent bedspaces to a couple of mates for some extra income.

I do like a few challenges but i think I might be up against the wire for all of this seasons goals.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Blog list is back and other bits of organisation

I noticed that I couldn't see the contents of my blog list from my view of the blog since I moved it around last week but didn't realise everyone had dropped off completely. Anywhere I have re-imported from my reader so hopefully everyone is back.

I am always telling the kids that we need to eat more healthily, or more accurately live more healthily. Suddenly they started telling me the same thing!!

Anyway everything is already cooked from scratch and full of veggies but we do eat too much generally and specifically too much meat. We don't have a meat free day more than once a week. We could do better.

We are also aiming to be more active.

Also aiming to spend a lot less and waste nothing. Ahdel has very little work over the next few months & I also want to get his car up and running. I also have some specific goals relating to renovating the old Crete house so we need to have a real tight grip on the ££££'s.

So in an impromptu family meeting we created a few new rules for ourselves;

Smaller portions.
Healthy meals
Two pasta meals a week
One vegetable soup meal each week.
Try to eat together at the dinner table as often as possible - not at all easy as we are rarely all at home together near meal times but we will try.
On a Friday we will menu plan for the coming week so that I can shop on a Saturday.
No mid week shopping.
One wii fit night
One night a week where we all go for a walk together - we live on the edge of the country so plenty of nice walks about here.

I have a couple of things to add which I haven't mentioned yet.

I am not reducing the food budget but all leftovers will be added to the holiday fund (which sounds mildly exciting but is actually the renovation fund and probably means buying concrete blocks with the it).
Bring my exercise bike back from Mum & Dad's house. I lent it to dad when he had his new knee and it was perfect for the job but now he is good as new so I can have it back.

Fahed also included keeping the place tidy on the list. Now that might not sound like it has an obvious connection to health and fitness but it is to do with his depression. When everything is neat and tidy and feels under control then all is good. When it isn't then its not so good at all then that is when he is most likely to overeat and least likely to get up and do any moving around. It will be great if this actually works as I currently spend my entire home life tidying up. I am still giving away bags and boxes of stuff to charity on a weekly basis based on the theory that eventually there will be nothing left to make untidy.

Yesterday my sister was away at a Christening so we are having our Easter Celebration dinner today. Can't wait.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Lets start a happiness revolution

I was reading this and fostermummy led me here and my default setting is happy, so I just had to join in.

We had some training at work recently and we had to say how we feel on good, bad and indifferent days and I explained that I am pretty much always happy. The next day one of my staff collapsed with a stroke and the following day my boss's husband had a milder stroke. Since then I am very nervous of saying I am always happy. I certainly wasn't then and I feel like it was all my fault for thinking I was immune, kind of, to the troubles of the world.

Today I have at least ten things to make me happy.

Nest of blackbirds in the honeysuckle on my shed. They are growing so fast that the nest appears to be overflowing with little feathery bodies.

Four days off work. Yaay.

Weather is a lot better for the Easter break than the snow that it was suggested we would be getting. In fact I am basking in the sunshine like an old cat on the sofa.

My husband and sons here with me today, laughing, eating and watching some weird 'guy' film.

Tomorrow my extended family all meeting up at my parents house for a re-run of Christmas dinner.

Got my 'new to me' car and can now drive around without problems.

Making plans for renovating the old house in our summer holidays. I always enjoy having something to look forward to.

New power lead and battery have arrived for 'Rupert', my laptop, and we are now functioning as good as new.

Hyacinths on the sitting room windowsill make the whole downstairs of house smell amazing.

Bonnie, the girlfriend of one of my sons, wants to play Sims but my son has rigged up our spare TV in the conservatory so that I don't have to sit through excruciating boredom of it until I disembowel myself with a blunt spoon. rESULT!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easy Saturday

Of course all the old chap and I want to do if create graph plans and sketches, make notes etc. for or new project. So that has to be fitted into our day.

He is off to work now for three hours and in that time I plan to collect my son from Winchester, by some lamb for late lunch/dinner (I promised the kids). buy some plaster from B&Q. We are going to do a couple of hours work in the kitchen then off visiting or friends for the afternoon. Lucky for us they have renovated a few hoses themselves so we can talk houses all afternoon! Bliss.
Then back for some later afternoon lamb and then to Mum & Dad for a few hours. Lovely, lovely.

Friday, 6 April 2012

New House Plans

We have rented, we have bought (still living the first house we bought), we have but using a builder (still got that one too) but we have never built all by ourselves. So we (by which i mean Fahed) had a plan. We are going to build/re-build are other house in Crete ourselves.

The house is about the same as our house in the UK, just over a century, but I am guessing our building regulations are a bit more stringent as this house is as good as new. The other house though is in bit. The main old bit which was stone built has largely fallen down. The first extension and second extension are rough but still standing.

Before it fell down and something like ti will look like again.

The still standing firm bits are two rooms, one houses a large old style oven and I would guess that it was originally outdoors and they just built around it. The other room has a water supply but no obvious use. This summer we will concentrate on these two. Move the water into the 'kitchen'. Re-enforce where necessary, render and paint. Level, concrete and tile the floors. If we have time then we will start to build the main rear wall of the rest of the structure. We will use concentrate block, the type that you fill with concrete and iron rods for support.
My start of the art 'kitchen'. Apparently the oven is still good for pizza and bread.

I am really excited about this. I am already planning whether we can take some additional holiday later in the year to get us further.

So excited!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Yaay, new car!

Well new to me, not really new. But as of tomorrow I have a new car. Our mechanic made an offer for the old car. Tomorrow I will empty the car, syphon out the petrol (might need a hand with that but darn, it is expensive), remove my CDplayer/radio. Then it's all change. I don't really like change when it relates to buying stuff & potentially choosing wrongly and buying something which is rubbish.

Just like this one

Sooooo this weekend is Easter and we have four days off. Friday I am home alone as the crew are all off to a Triathalon in Oxford. Fahed has a few hours works after that and again on Saturday & Sunday. We don't have plans for those days but i think some friend visiting, a little food shopping and maybe a walk around the car boot sale if the weather is nice. Monday we have a big family meal together at my parents house. Simple and enjoyable. Did i mention there will also be some serious sleeping in.

Easter bunnies

Monday, 2 April 2012

Buckets of lists

I have been reading Fostermummy.and feel prompted to start a bucket list for myself.

I do have a things to do before I turn 51 list. But its short and somewhat dull:

50 things to do before I turn 51. (15 months)
1. Set up ultimate organisation system
2. Weigh 70kg or less
3. Be able to hike 20km & enjoy it.
4. Attain scuba open water license
5. Learn to make & decorate cupcakes
6. Go horse racing
7. Learn to ride a horse
8. Write a book
9. Reduce mortgage length to 15 years
10. Buy a ‘new to me’ car, which uses a lot less fuel.
11. Spend a weekend in London
12. Go to a musical in London
13. Take a weekend trip to somewhere in Europe
14. Take Fahed to fancy restaurant
15. Have a manicure/pedicure
16. Family trip to Alton towers

and even though it is fifty things to do before I am 51, I have not yet got past 16. I am going to try harder for my bucket list.

I have been reading Rhonda too and am very much thinking: time to make cheese.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Sunday Night Update

Well all change since this morning.

The kids have got my car working, bless them. My car will hopefully keep going for the next week or so whilst we sort out Ahdel's car (Harvey). It's quite hard to manage without cars because we all work at different times, in varied locations. Ahdel starts work before the first bus twice a week and finishes after the last bus on the other days. A bus goes from right beside of our house to the bus station which is ten minute from work. Sadly the first bus is at 10am and the last one leaves town to come back at 4.45pm. Hard to know what there customer core is expected to be but not people who go to work I assume. Fahed is on the bus route for some of his lessons but has to take a ton of stuff with him for the kids and I don't want him having another heart attack whilst he climbs up the massive hill with load of baggage. We will manage.

Last summer we decided that we would move the ceiling fan light combo from the sitting room. We could never turn it on as its too dangerous for the birds so we moved it to Jamal's room. It is hotter up there so more need and there are no free flying birdies (like most peoples rooms). So we replaced it with a fitting which looks a bit like branches but we accidently bought one which has halogen bulbs instead of the normal type, and if course we don't keep spares. There are five and it was way too bright at first so when the first few failed we thought it was great and discussed how much nicer it looks. Yesterday I failed to notice we were down to one halogen bulb. Of course it went. Now we are sitting around in candle light. It's quite nice but kind of hard to see the keyboard. I must make an effort to get some bulbs tomorrow. No excuse now I have a car again (briefly).

We are all watching old stargate re-runs on TV. The kids and their mates have gotten into it and they, along with Fahed, have plans to get through six episodes tonight. I am not always a big TV fan but this is kind of fun.

My dad and my sister both have bird boxes in situ. Neither has had a let even though they have had a few viewings. We, who have made no effort at all. have a lovely nest of clammering babies in the honeysuckle on the front of the garage. And a second nest, being tended by a mummy robin, on top of a jar of nails, on the top shelf of the shed. Looks like the birds have finally forgotten we ever had cats and have forgiven us.

Sunday Sunshine

Ah, the world looks like an all together nicer place when the sun shines.

We had a little mini family meeting yesterday to see if we could handle a few changes to the budget and still keep our heads above the water. There are changes a foot:

Eldest son works as delivery driver as he is still studying part time for his IT qualification. He ripped the muscles in his lower back in January and had to have three weeks off work for them to recover. Now there is definite weakness there. He needs a new, non lifting, job. He has been offered a part time and very badly paid job at a paint ball centre at the weekends. He is also a qualified swimming teacher and was offered some teaching lessons recently but they clashed with his delivery job. We have now decided we can afford for him to quit so that he can start with the weekend job and also see whether he can build up a few regular swimming lessons. It will be fine in a few months but in the short term a bit tight.

Update on Crete. We heard back from or German guy about the planning consent (after 4 months!! I cant help feeling he has been in Greece too long!). The quote we had from the Greek guy said pay 10k now and then 15k. No details, that was just it. Now we have this detailed quote from the German guy, goes into so much detail, it is down to the cent. And more to the point it is at least 5k cheaper. So we need to find 19 & a bit thousand euro instead of twenty five thousand. I am proposing that we pay him 500 per month. As we progress past the initial application then the house will actually be able to be legally let so we can maybe get some extra income there towards our costs. It's not a brilliant result but it's better than it could have been.

Last finance challenge. My car is dead. It is insured (very expensively) for both of my sons to drive at the moment. We have decided that myself and my eldest son will insure, MOT, tax etc his car for the time being. As his work picks up then he can take over payment of that insurance and I will buy another car for myself. We pretty much manage okay with one car now but as he gets more lessons and paintballing then it wont be possible.

We have plans, we can do it!

My life

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