Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Dear Blue States



In the interest of fairness, the reply to the Blue States. It's not quite as funny but not bad and nice that someone made the effort. Enjoy.

Dear Blue States:

Well, imagine our relief that you’ve decided to secede and form some sort of bathing-optional commune headquartered in California. The money we'll save in aspirin, now that we won’t have headaches from listening to your interminable whining, will be worth it to us alone.

We'll finally be rid of you lazy, moping, latte-sucking Streisand fans now that you're actually going to follow through--for once--on your promise to finally get off your butts and leave, as so many of you claimed you would every election cycle and then chickened out of actually doing. (Yeah, we’re looking at you, Alec Baldwin.)

But not so fast. You don’t get to take all the Blue States with you--just the Blue parts.

We hate to break it to you, but your Blue States aren’t actually "blue." Mostly, they’re states full of Red counties with pockets of Blue urban blight in them, who vote Democratic in such numbers that if the same results came out of a Third World country—which, come to think of it, many of the "Blue" counties pretty much are—we’d think it was fraud and send some election observers from the UN.

Even California is pretty much a Red State: Bush won 35 out of 58 counties, while Kerry won LA and San Francisco. You want 'em? we certainly won’t fight you for them but you're going to have to found New California without 35 of your most beautiful counties and your second-largest city. Sorry about that.

Nationally, Bush won over 2.5 million square miles of U.S. counties (and an extra three and a half million votes, but we won't rub that in.) Kerry won less than 600,000 square miles--meaning that in most states he was popular downtown and pretty much nowhere else. In other words, your guy won the places that people like him would get shot if he walked through them at night. Our guy won every place else.

So, the bottom line is that you don't get the Blue States. Those states have lots of towns and counties that would rather blow their dams and flood themselves out of existence rather than go with you. No, instead, you get the Blue Cities.

But wait…we really feel we owe you full disclosure on this exchange. This might come as an unpleasant surprise, but you don’t actually get the lower divorce and single-motherhood rates and all that other good stuff you think you're going to snag. Those are the conditions that are actually found out in the Red counties—not in the Blue cities, and you can't have them.

Instead you get the urban single moms, not the soccer moms; the drug addicts, not the doctors; the waiters, not the chefs. You get the fine service you've come to expect from the brutal and corrupt inner-city police departments. You get the abysmal literacy rates and schools that are more dangerous than most prisons. All in all, you get to take with you a public sector in most cities so unmanageable they make Mogadishu seem like a tidily run little municipality by comparison.

You get the labor union shakedown artists, "teachers" who can’t pass tests in their own subject, and city government leaders for whom graft, racial spoils systems, and outright theft are a way of life. They’re all very enthusiastic Blue voters, as you know, and we’re sure they’ll stampede their way to New California to start draining your wallets, wrecking your schools, and in general making a mess of your lives.

(And don't come complaining back to us when socialist central planning does for New California what it did for garden spots like East Berlin and Pyongyang. We're putting a strict visa system into place once you all go.)

We, on the other hand, get those Red city suburbs and rural districts. You know, the ones with the good schools, the high property values, the quiet streets and the sheriffs and cops who don’t need to walk around armored up like they’re about to storm the Sunni Triangle.

Oh and don’t concern yourself with our agricultural capacity after all, they don't call it "the breadbasket" for nothin'. We’ll keep right on producing the vast majority of wheat, corn, oats, rye, potatoes, soybeans, beef, chicken and pork.

We’ve always preferred a nice, unpretentious, frosty mug of brew anyway and hey, maybe you can make a salad with those pineapples, stem cells, and lettuce.

And don't even think about keeping the National Parks, the wide open spaces, all those water resources, and all the rest of America's natural splendor, since those are all pretty much located in Red counties.

Hell, we even get most of Oregon and Washington ...ain’t it ironic? You get the urban liberals in Portland and Seattle and their friends in important social organizations (like, say, drug-running street gangs) and we get the rest of the Northwest.

Ok by us; we’d be fools not to take you up on it.

Here’s how it will work; all of you Blue whiners, please feel free to look at a map of the electoral results county by county in each state, and take the people with you who’ve made it clear they’d like to go.

That means you get places like downtown Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and we get to keep the rest of beautiful Pennsylvania, thanks.

You get to administer bloated public services to the violent, drug-addled, gunslinging populations of delightful inner-city sinkholes of poverty and corruption such as Miami, St. Louis,Atlanta and the ever-popular District of Columbia--which has been governed by liberals (and the occasional crackhead) for so long and so incompetently that any semblance of order has broken down (beyond the carefully guarded borders of your Georgetown bistros, natch) to the point where even the mayor once asked the President to have the city patrolled by National Guardsmen.

Lucky you, it's all yours--enjoy it in good health, and don’t forget to wear your Kevlar...Blue "voters" up there in Northeast DC tend to be jumpy on the ol' trigger finger.

In fact, all around our great nation, you get to keep all the Blue voters who’ve made urban war zones like downtown Detroit--a Blue bastion, of course--the proud showplaces they are today.

We get the rest of Blue states like Michigan and Wisconsin and Illinois and...well, frankly, just about every state in the Union with the exception of Hawaii and New England--and even there, we’ll just hang on to a couple of chunks of New Hampshire and Connecticut.

You’re especially more than welcome to Rhode Island, which will immediately set up some sort of money-laundering scheme and bilk the rest of you once it has been incorporated into whatever sort of muddle-headed utopia you’re trying to create.

The former mayor of Providence should be out of Federal prison in time to join your Politburo and help you get things set up--for a small consulting fee, of course

If you would please, take another look at the list of best beaches and notice what color states they are in. We'll miss the Hawaiian beaches, but since long stretches of coastline from New Jersey down to Florida and yes, even in Southern California (including San Diego, thanks) are actually in Red counties, we'll be fine.

Sure, we get the rednecks and holy rollers. But since you're apparently willing to trade them for the gangs and psychopaths terrorizing your Blue cities, what can we say? You want the Crips and the Bloods in low riders raking your streets with automatic gunfire, and you're offering us Bubba heading off to church in his pickup?

Hey, a deal's a deal. Done.

True, you also get Manhattan, but darn the luck, you have to take the rest of the city, including the Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn too, as well as Long Island, which is enough to almost make us feel sorry for you all out there in New California. (Almost.)

For our part, we’ll take most of the rest of gorgeous New York State, although you get the scam artists who infest the legislature in Albany.

And since for some unfathomable reason you actually want Elliot Spitzer, we’ll buy his plane ticket as a gesture of goodwill.

So that’s the deal. You get the cities, with all the crime, crack mommies, and corruption you can stand.

And sure, you get many of the elite colleges too, with the professors who think that terrorists in Fallujah are freedom fighters and that the people who worked in the Twin Towers on 9/11 were no better than Nazis—forgive us for not lamenting over this loss.

We get the suburbs, the countryside, and all the other beautiful places that remain unspoiled by liberal hypocrisy and addle-brained social experimentation.

And we'd like a favor, too: please keep your sky-high tax and crime rates, since we're happy to have the corporations and jobs that continue to flee your Blue cities into our Red counties. It's much appreciated, since our unemployment rates, to say nothing of our crime, single-parenting, and illiteracy rates, are far lower than yours.

Oh, and one last thing. We get the U.S. military, too. Did we mention that part? (You may have forgotten that they're volunteers, and most are happy Red state voters.)

Not to worry, though, since we’re sure that Islamic fundamentalist terrorists will be more than happy to reach an accommodation with a society that embraces radical feminism, gay marriage, gun control, hostility to organized religion of any kind, and Salman Rushdie. Good luck with that.

But one day when some misogynist Saudi freak--who no doubt will sneak into your country by strolling over the northern border after a few years sucking on the Canadian welfare system you all admire so much--blows up a couple kilos of plutonium on Sunset Boulevard, go send Sean Penn to ask the French for help. We’ll be busy that day.

Sincerely,

The Red States

Rain


I know we have been complain in the UK of non stop rain for the last 12 months but I don't think any of us will be complaining that that's pretty much as bad as it gets here.

Our thoughts are with those poor people of the Atlantic Seaboard. Most photos today are of New York but its a massive area and so many people effected. I hope everyone was as prepared as they could be and get back to normal as best they can and as soon as they can.

It certainly explains all of those 'be prepared' blog posts that I always think are really OTT on US blogs. Turns out they were completely right and i have lived too much of a sheltered life to appreciate how deadly the weather can be.


Monday, 29 October 2012

Dear Red States


Disclaimer: I have no idea who Ken Lay or Elliot Spritzer are, and who got the best deal. I don't know Bob Jones uni or any of the rest of it ( I do know Sequoias and Statue of Liberty, honest) I just thought it was funny, although I might well be laughing on the other side of my face in future obviously. I quite like that I don't have this decision to make!

Dear Red States:

We're ticked off at the way you've treated California and we've decided we're leaving.

We intend to form our own country and we're taking the other Blue States with us.

In case you aren't aware that includes Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and all the Northeast.

We believe this split will be beneficial to the nation and especially to the people of the new country of New California.

To sum up briefly:

You get Texas, Oklahoma and all the slave states.

We get stem cell research and the best beaches.

We get Elliot Spitzer. You get Ken Lay.

We get the Statue of Liberty. You get OpryLand.

We get Intel and Microsoft. You get WorldCom.

We get Harvard. You get Ole' Miss.

We get 85 percent of America's venture capital and entrepreneurs.
You get Alabama.

We get two-thirds of the tax revenue. You get to make the red states
pay their fair share.

Since our aggregate divorce rate is 22 percent lower than the Christian Coalition's we get a bunch of happy families. You get a bunch of single moms.

Please be aware that Nuevo California will be pro choice and anti war and we're going to want all our citizens back from Iraq at once. If you need people to fight ask your evangelicals. They have kids they're apparently willing to send to their deaths for no purpose and they don't care if you don't show pictures of their children's caskets coming home.

We wish you success in Iraq and hope that the WMDs turn up but we're not willing to spend our resources in Bush's Quagmire.

With the Blue States in hand we will have firm control of 80% of the country's fresh water, more than 90% of the pineapple and lettuce, 92% of the nation's fresh fruit, 95% of America's quality wines (you can serve French wines at state dinners) 90% of all cheese, 90 percent of the high tech industry, most of the US low sulfur coal, all living redwoods, sequoias and condors, all the Ivy and Seven

Sister schools plus Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Cal Tech and MIT.

With the Red States you will have to cope with 88% of all obese Americans and their projected health care costs, 92% of all US mosquitoes, nearly 100% of the tornadoes, 90% of the hurricanes, 99% of all Southern Baptists, virtually 100% of all televangelists, Rush

Limbaugh, Bob Jones University, Clemson and the University of Georgia.

We get Hollywood and Yosemite, thank you.

38% of those in the Red states believe Jonah was actually swallowed by a whale, 62% believe life is sacred unless we're discussing the death penalty or gun laws, 44% say that evolution is only a theory, 53% that Saddam was involved in 9/11 and 61% of you crazy bastards believe you are people with higher morals then we lefties.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Frugal Financial Facts

The F on my keyboard is sticking so obviously Frugal Financial Facts was the best subjective choice for today. If it changes to ugal inancial acts half way through then dont be surprised.

As part of my frugal review I re-visited all balances and records as well as looking at current budgets.

Fixed costs - monthly bills excluding fuel, food, entertainment etc

June 2011 £2273.41

November 2012 £2037.39

I now cover Ahdel's training bill of £135 per month. This also includes paying highish car insurance for Ahdel as he is a young driver.  I am quite pleased with this and hadn't previously realized how much change we had made.

Mortgage and other debts;

June 2011 £242,114

November 2012 £223,563.

I can do more but actually I am not displeased with progress When i look month on month it seems like you get nowhere but this is definitely somewhere. Continuing to pay at this rate will mean (using a very basic calculation of 20,000 over 18 months means repaying of £1111 per month) all clear in sixteen years.



Now with added Frugal

I needed to stop moaning and being negative. Now. Buck up! I am stopping right now and being positive. Negativity helps no-one. I might even say this is a positive re-enforcement post to get me on my way

Sending $500 a month to Syria, for the time being, is good Good for them as they can eat! Good for us as we can adjust accordingly and when its all over (please let it be soon before we lose someone) then we can overpay the mortgage by the same amount. That will reduce my remaining mortgage period to 15 years. Still a lot but much better. Plus, of course, I wont stay at this rate. I will add more and more over time. My current aim is to be mortgage free in ten years but I am happy to adapt to a shorter period.

I have reviewed every element of my bills budget and renegotiated down in most cases. We still have some luxury which could go if needed but does add to a life at the moment. The biggest one is Sky TV. We didn't have this for several years but I found that we laugh together more when we have it so for the moment it stays. The TV is also an awful luxury. Its too big and too wasteful. Its old and falling to bits so we will consider what we have next.

I have dropped my shopping bill from £100 per week (475 adults) to £75. Portion control, no waste, all home cooking less protein.

Transport costs are fairly controlled. My little Golf can last two week son £40 of fuel using it for work shopping and local visits to friends. Fahed's gas guzzling 4x4 (guzzling LPG not petrol so less bad for environment and purse than otherwise) has died and is being replaced by a Vauxhall Astra after much soul searching. Fahed isnt good with change and Frankie Frontera was a part of him but he is managing to adapt.

People who live here will are varying slightly. Ahdels girlfriend Bonnie, who says she lives with her mum but seems to me to live here, is moving in with her sister. I am encouraging her to eat, shower and do laundry at the house where she pays housekeeping although she does sporadically give me a % of her HK bill. I will find it easier to budget when we are the same number of people all of the time. Jamal is currently applying for Deck Cadetship positions. If successful he will be away for 9 months each year. I will miss him so much but he will get his degrees (hopefully) without any student finance plus of course, most important thing, he gets his career of choice. Ahdel is still studying and working part time but I will be happy when he earns a little more and can pay his own tuition fees, car insurance and maybe even contribute some housekeeping funds. The good thing is though that we live happily togther and we can manage even if things get tougher.

I am hoping that if I report back on any additional income each month then I might be inspired to make more effort. Also I do quite a bit of mileage for my work (on the weeks when I travel more then my £40 only lasts one week). I only claim this periodically so that I use it rather than fritter it away. Additional income I am expecting this month; selling Ahdel upgrade phone, still sealed. They are going for up to £200 on ebay. I am selling Fahed's old phone. Envirofone would give me £74 but I will try ebay first. Ahdel is going to give me £100 as he has been paid for some work he did a awhile back. I will advertise Frankie Frontera on eBay  The car isn't drivable but it has new tires & other body parts and the LPG system is worth quite a bit.

So onwards and upwards. Positive and with added frugal.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Winter


Last day of British Summer time today and the clocks go back to GMT tonight. The weather decided it's winter overnight too. Last night we went to bed and it was warm bt this morning it several degrees colder. I know it doesn't get cold cold here,the coldest I can recall is about -4 but it is cold enough for me.

And am I prepared. Of course not. It's not like we have winter at the same time each year. Sigh. I took down the curtains, and their poles, which closed the sitting room doors when we redecorated. It intended to change to doors but we cant agree on what to use, bi-fold or normal, because there is so little room there. I may have to go back to door curtains but if I do then they will have to be far bigger and heavier.

There was also talk of insulating the conservatory room to make it solid but that doesn't seem to have progressed anywhere. Might be time or some pre winter planning this afternoon.

Before that we are out and about hunting a part to ix my dishwasher.

I am also programming in some craft time. I used to be always making things but somehow lie always gets in the way now, so I am going to make more effort. I am starting with this tutorial from the lovely and clever Carla. My fabric kit has arrived from Canada (very exciting package!)so just need to borrow Mums sewing machine and I am ready for action.

;

Anyone who likes hand crafted things but maybe isn't so good with a needle should look at Carla's shop page. I have two zippy wallets, a mug rug (coffee mat)and am saving up for a tote bag. Carla made me a special heavy duty, patchwork and dark denim, travel wallet which has turned into my everyday bag. It means I can take just my laptop bag to work as it has space or phone, money wallet, some bits of paperwork & vouchers and even a couple of items of make up. It works because dividers are included. I hope to be commissioning a similar design or my camera at some point but it's all a bit tight at the moment so we have to wait a while.

My lovely wallet and I are off to the shops now to stock up on food.


Friday, 26 October 2012

Taking control


I am there. The panic 'this is all happening to me and I can;t do anything' stage is behind me.

So this week I:
Took direct line up on the new insurance for house and for car from 1st November.
Spoke to Sky (the Tv/phone/broadband crew) and they kindly gave me a 25% of deal for the next six months.
Upgraded Fahed & the boys mobile phones to cheaper deals Also selling Fahed's old phone and Ahdel's new phone so pretty sure we will be a few hundred to the good once that goes down.
Utilities were a big fat fail. There is no better deal. I just have to stop everyone watching TV (its huge and very inefficient).
We are doing pretty good with the cooking/grocery deal though. Portion sizes are far more sensible we are a lot lighter on the protein and I take lunch every day.

We managed to send $600 to Syria for the family this month. Fingers crossed they wont need the monthly injection of cash for long.

we can do it. In fact I can do it.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Adding to my repetoire



First on my list, I started of a huge vat of sauerkraut. I took a few photos and if it is successful then I will blog about it.

I made a lovely soup from the leftovers veggies. Mostly mushrooms, but also an onion for flavour, a green chilli and the outer leaves of the cabbages that are fermenting. The soup also had chicken stock, black pepper and milk. Once it was cooked I blitzed it with the hand blender. That is my lunch for Monday & Tuesday sorted.


You may know I have to be a bit careful of introducing new foods with Fahed. His fear of change does tend to cloud things. That said I can try any one of a hundred recipes for, for example, curry, because he likes it so it doesn't seem to count as new (yes, the rules of change are quite hard to understand here). So anyway I made sweetcorn fritters. He looked nervous when presented with them but manfully tried them. After some minutes he admitted they were nice but a bit doughy and could have done with being more spicy. Next time I will let the batter down more and add chilli flakes & a little more salt. However it did get acceptance so its on the list, and the kids will be easier to win over than the old fella. Yaay, victory!



Saturday, 20 October 2012

Positive Action



I am going to stop bemoaning my ills (for a while anyway) and leap into action. I need to free up an extra $500 each month to send to the family in Syria until things improve out there. So time to get arse into gear.

Utility contracts ends next Wednesday. I have just tried compared the meerkat (you know the one) and money supermarket and they both conclude that my only cost effective option is to stay where I am at the higher rate or move to some dodgy company that gets 1* reviews and save myself £20 per year. or the time being I am sticking with Eon.

Home insurance. This has doubled per month. Directline, which got missed in my original searches as it doesn't come up on comparison sites,takes it right back down again. I will move 1ast November.

My car insurance. Not expensive but I am not thrilled with the provider. Its all paper based and doesn't suit me at all. Plus they changed my provider when I didn't send them something having given me 14 days to reply, whilst I was in Crete or 22 days. I paid the extra at the time but I am happier with online correspondence and account management. This will also save me £10 per month so, win:win.

I only looked at these two because when I was insuring Ahdels car last week with Directline line (this isn't sponsored by the way but Directline, if you wish to send me some money I will send it to the needy in Syria!) and both moves save me money. The house one I was looking for because of a recent increase in premium. The car one just because they irritated me a bit with the correspondence thing, not that I was expecting to find a cheaper supply.

And because I am being all cheerful and positive I am not going to dwell on the fact that the TV appears to be on its last legs just two months after the extended warranty ran out (such a coincidence). Or that the dishwasher is dead, not just dying but actually gone. Oh yes, and we have not yet replaced Fahed's car.

On a more positive (again) note. I was reading somewhere yesterday about the idea of a negative 100 things concept. The idea being that between now and Christmas you get rid of 100 things. I am there! I dropped off three bags of goodies to the salvation army centre last night and they already contained over 100 items. Yaay, I am a success at something.

Time to get my lazy arse out of bed. Hang the washing out to dry, wash up (old style, no, i know it wont kill me) and go do my shopping.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Somehow nothing seems to get better.


Fahed's car had died. I just spent £800 on it and within 10 days it decided to die outright. new engine. Just not happening. Instead I MOT'd, insurances and am about to tax Ahdel's car (currently unused in a bid to save cash by car sharing with his girlfriend) so that Fahed & Ahdel can share. Another fortune spent. Neither of them is on any kind of public transport route for their work plus they have to take all manner of weird things (woggles etc!) with them. To make it even better their work times are often the same (swimming teaching is mostly after school or weekends obviously) but in different directions. Hmmmm. So that was Stoptober 'gone' west'.

My energy contract runs out next Wednesday so I logged on to check my options and things are going to increase by a minimum of 20%. Marvelous.

To cap it off nicely I came home this week to find that we had been fitted with water meters. I didn't even get the chance for a final bath. I have stressed that we wont be wasting water and think I actually got through to Jamal when I explained that increases in utilities and water, caused by long showers or baths when I am out of the house, would just mean I didn't have enough money to pay for sky (so, TV/phone and broadband). The thought of losing broadband did get a flurry of interest from everyone. As its only £10 per month it will be the last thing to go, plus I think it pays for itself in savings and available knowledge. However I am not above playing dirty when it is required.

At least we have managed to get used to the lower food spend. One day this week I swear we had felafel (chick pea rissoles) served with houmous (chick pea dip). Somehow Fahed didn't make chick pea soup with it but I can feel we are moving that way. Not entirely sure we are looking any skinnier at all but deep down I feel we are more healthy.

Fahed got through to some of our family in Syria by phone yesterday. My brother in law told him to call often as he never knows what will be the last call. They city is 75% destroyed and they are to the stage where they don't expect to live through it anymore. They are really out of money so we are trying to send $500 each month which can be divided among the families who haven't managed to get out. It certainly puts my own concerns about water usage into perspective. I wish I had any idea how to do more.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Saturday is my favourite day


I love my job, I really do. But I very much enjoy my weekends, especially Saturday. And its not because I sit around doing nothing all day, its because I don't. I just do ordinary chores. Strange what pleases us as we grow older (up?).

Today started at 7.15 with making coffee or Fahed & I and breakfast or him (a bowl of branflakes, nothing to challenging). We have the top of one of the chest of drawers in our bedroom set up for this so I don't need to go downstairs at this point as long as I remember a flask of milk the night before.

As he has his brekkie and coffee then I power up his laptop and read out the headlines of news, and maybe a bit of gossip.

Then he is of to work so I spend a few minutes on Facebook (its dull but I am trying hard to be more sociable). Then onto my favourite, into my reader to catch up on everyone's blogs. Including today asking Carla to include me in or a wallet pack so that I can follow her on-line tutorial. During this time I hear Ahdel & Bonnie going off to work (house of swimming teachers)and plan my day.

Today's plan:
Car boot sale at the local school when Fahed comes home from work. We don't normally bother with car boot sales but the school one is always good as it is in a fairly well of area. I do like rummaging through posh people rubbish! The local 'Estate' had a car boot sale a few years back on the field next to their lake and everyone who lived on the estate, which I assume are all staff at the big house, had a stall. It was hilarious. All saddles, oil paintings and bone china and the sellers were actually having a whale of a time. However the school one is good enough. I bought my mountain bike in there some years ago or £15.

Come back and set dinner going. Beef stew with dumplings.

Work in the conservatory. The guys rearranged the furniture yesterday so that the extra freezer and fridge are less conspicuous and the nicer furniture more so. Today Jamal is removing a radiator or two to make everything it better, then I can do a bit o cleaning and put everything back. We hardly ever put the central heating on really no point in having the radiators dictating the layout. We will store them in the shed though, so that they can easily go back in should the temperature turn seriously Artic.

Possibly start making the sauerkraut with the winter cabbages I bought yesterday, depending how we go or time. Also possibly setting up a ginger beer plant, maybe.

Later on, dinner all together.

Visit to my friends who are just back from holiday in Turkey. Then to my parents this evening whilst Fahed goes to his voluntary work followed by cash poker. Not sure how cash poker differs from ordinary poker but its only twice a year, its on a Saturday and goes on 'til early Sunday morning, but with the same people as normal.

Sounding dull and uneventful? Not to me, fortunately.


Thursday, 11 October 2012

A little closer to homemade


We have always been 'homemade' fans when it comes to meals, puddings, cakes and even sweets but there are a few things where Fahed hasn't adapted to the British DIY way of things. Houmous is always bought. It was bought, I imagine from somewhere like a deli, when he was a kid in Syria and so it is always bought. This week the shop only had weird houmous's with added red peppers, with coriander and all sorts. He wasn't happy. No change is taken well. He gave in and made houmous. He & I both do this from time to time but he is never as happy with the results as he is with his little supermarket tubs. This time though the kids over-ruled. The HM stuff was excellent and they didn't want the other stuff again. He is admitting they are right We, the supporters of HM, have won! Yaay

Now there is no stopping us. Last time I made sauerkraut he liked the taste but was nervous of its origins (like stuff in a tin could be any better???). However this time it has been agreed in advance, mine was officially better! I will make more.

There are just a few more items when packet is best. Baked beans, pita bread (my normal bread is better than shop bought but also causes Fahed to inflate like a balloon, which is funny for us but not for so much for him)salad cream & mayonnaise. Oh and yogurt. My matter what I do my Greek yogurt doesn't turn out like Greek yogurt.

Fist houmous then sauerkraut, next the world

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chickpea Overload


The bulgar wheat from approved foods smelt 'funky' so we had to use up another bag. I will check a couple more bags of it but so far a bit disappointing. My curry was also really not my best. I may stick with my Malay version in future, which uses a Korma paste and is loved by all but wet and vegetably enough to go a really long way.

So day two is already 'off piste'. Fahed is blitzing the chickpeas that I was soaking for tomorrows Felafel into HM Houmous. With toasted pita this and a bit of salad this will be a lovely light supper.

But should I soak another lot for felfel tomorrow or will we be suffering from chickpeas overload?

Monday, 8 October 2012

Growing veg.


Every year I am going to do this. Does it ever get anywhere? No. I forget to go out into the garden when I get busy and the next thing you know there are just a few dried up pots. My garden is generally 'okay looking' as the plants that have survived understand the rules ( I will occasionally make a fuss of you but not often and you cant be guaranteed any water during the summer, so man up).

However this year I have managed to be slightly different, so far. It might be age related but I have edible plants in pots and they are not yet dead!. A chili plant, some parsley and a nice bushy basil. Not much but a start.

To build on this (dubious) success planting garlic is next on my list. During November I am going to plant out a wooden planter that my husband made me years ago.


Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Food for the week


I hesitate to say meal plan at it is not entirely that detailed but it is a vague plan.

Main weapons in the arsenal of affordable but healthy are:
Portion size - we eat less than we used too. This is deliberate because I am definitely hippoish, Fahed put on weight after his heart attack some years ago (apparently this is normal, caused by fear of exertion). Both kids are muscular but still quite slender, 32 inch waists, and taller than us but seem very aware of how easy it be to get chubby.

Cooking from scratch - We don't have packet food because its not nice and its expensive. Tinned veg, such as tomatoes, are fine but no microwave rice or chips or other such weirdnesses.

Peas, beans and lentils - We have discovered we can be really creative with lentils, butter beans, kidney beans, chickpeas. Lovely tasty, warming winter foods. And cheap as chips if you use the actual dried versions not the tinned. Fahed can take the credit here as he cooks Syrian style dishes for us. Yum.

Extreme shopping - veg boxes from 5 a day (they also do meat boxes now but they are a bit pork heavy for us). Approved food. Wholsesale butchers were also on my list but the best one has now stopped selling at the gate, so there is a gap in my plan here.

This week we are having
Monday - Thai Green Curry with Bulgar Wheat.
Thai curry paste came from the Asian supermarket in Southampton
Veggies I already had.
One packet of chicken thighs will feed five of us if we pad with nice chunky mushrooms.
Coconut cream from approved foods.
Bulgar wheat (which we call burghal) also from approved foods.

Tuesday Same again. We dont mind eating the same foods more than once. There will only be three of us tonight and could serve some (approved foods - now in the freezer) naan bread with it.

Wednesday Assuming I remember to soak the chickpeas on Tuesday then Fahed will make Felafel and salad with pitta bread for us today. There may also be home made houmous if I soak the right amount of chickpeas.

Thursday Beef stew, light on the beef but heavy on the carrot, potatoe, celery onion and anything else there is. Home made dumplings fill the guys up.

Friday Leftovers from yesterday with homemade (by the bread machine) bread.

Breakfasts are almost always branflakes, porridge or wholemeal toast. Lunches are (yet more)leftovers for me. If we have leftover chilli and rice etc then I freeze it in portion size lunch boxes (bought en masse from Lakeland plastics back in my more spendy days) So normally leftovers but not necessarily recent ones making it less dull. The guys normally make do with something on toast, noodles with stock, pasta with a grating of cheese.

Weekends we play by ear as not everyone is here. It feels like we are doing okay. PLenty of veg for all, plenty of carbs for the men (they are not at a desk all day like me), lighter than we once were on the meaty protein and dairy.

Our standby if we run out of food is eggy spud. Sm all cubes of lightly salted potato cooked until crispy in olive oil (bought from my friend Sue, who has 200 trees, annually.Then drain most of the oil, for reuse of course. Beat a few free range eggs in our case from our neighbours chickens, and throw the mixture on top of the potato. Toss around for a minute or so until just cooked. Yum. Further pad with toasted pitta if needed.

Never visit shops except on the planned day.

All hail Queen Froogs for the inspiration!

Friday, 5 October 2012

Day three to five



Its still happening, breakfast at work, coffee & tea is always free at work anyway, taking in lunch, cooking dinner and making do. In fact we seem to have managed on leftovers all week. Odd. Tonight we are having potatoes cooked in the oven with chicken The chicken is boneless chicken thighs and we have one each. The gravy is chicken stock with the juice of a couple of elderly oranges.

Anyway we are getting into good habits. And just as well, did I mention that Fahed's car dropped down dead.

and something very weird (maybe connected) has happened to me. I, a person who avoids x factor Britain's got talent, i'm a celebrity, big brother and every other but of reality dross but I am hooked on the Great British Bake Off. I almost feel guilty about it,
but not quite. Just try it before you judge me!


Tonight Fahed & i are watching a bit of TV (including GBBO above) some knitting for me, fill the dishwasher (anyone else remember when these were called washing up machines?), get the laundry washed. Then tomorrow I have enough housework to make it fun and homely but not so much that I feel I wont finish what I want too.

I love weekends.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Day 2 -#FQStoptober



Not too bad. Shopping done at Lidl as they only thing left to eat in the house was the pets (and there is not much meat on a cockatiel and a Bourkes Parakeet) Shopping was £36 but there is enough food for ten days.

I then came home to find that Fahed had cooked eggy spuds for dinner, tastes so much nicer than it sounds like it does. I also bought supernoodles (the Lidl version - 18p)and savoury rice for daytime meals for the men.

This evening I am packing up some boots which I have sold on ebay. I have three more items finishing this week. And I am knitting my fingerless gloves (slowly)which isnt actually saving any money but feeling very virtuous nonetheless.

And, just remembered, I haven;t yet chosen my gift from Fahed's poker winnings. I feel very rich today!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Day One - Success #FQStoptober



No spend and no serious dents in food stores as we all eat up leftovers from about the place.


There was a small bowl of leftover bolognese sauce in the fridge. I added veggies and made lunch for today and tomorrow.

For dinner I had a jacket potato with a little corned beef. No veg but i think there was enough in my bolognese soup to make up for it

Fahed & Ahdel has boiled eggs - I think hard boiled and spiced up with cumin, served with toasted pitta bread.

Jamal had a lidl Pizza.

No-one asked for a second meal other than eating up leftovers from their main meal.

Tonight I am watching TV (which does use valuable electric) but am otherwise unwasteful. No heating and no lovely glorious and enjoyable bath.

I am knitting some fingerless mitten to stop my knuckles aching when the weather gets colder I am using Melissa knitting yarm from Lidl which is too old for me to remember why I actually bought it.

Onwards and upwards to day 2.


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 ...