Monday, 31 December 2012

Farewell 2012

I can't believe another year has passed. Getting older day by day. The kids are getting older so fast that I can't keep up. Ahdel will be 23 in January. I only seem to have brought him home from the maternity unit a couple of years ago. My dad is 85 tomorrow. He is not impressed but because of his new knee he is actually in way better condition than he was in 2009. He went or proper walk on Christmas day and again on Boxing Day. He doesn't like too much fuss but I thought that maybe we could all visit him tomorrow, I have texted my sister or them to join us, and maybe go or a little walk together after lunch, then share birthday cake and a nice cup of tea (how very British!)

So today we say goodbye to the year which I turned fifty (and we go to the year when Fahed turns fifty, or forty nine or eight or seven). It was a good year for the most part. My dad was too ill to travel to Crete but fully recovered (after giving s a proper fright) and will be travelling with us in March this year. The family in Syria are obviously having an awful time but so far they are still with us. My computer hard drive packed up, so I have a lot of missing photos, and a 40% complete manuscript for a book :(, but I will hold on to it just in case the science of hard drive recovery improves in future. Better to lose the photos than the people.

Tonight the kids are both going to parties. Fahed & I are home alone. We plan to watch all of the cheesy end of year programmes on TV, we have a nice curry planned, some wine but only or me. Fahed is kindly staying up until 2.30 to bring one lot of kids back home. The other is sleeping over at a friends. No wasted taxi fare with us.

Farewell 2012, you did pretty good.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Could I just have quick whine please?

I am sorry. I hate whiners but I am just going to be one.

I have been very lucky in the current recession. I still have a job and last year we had a small pay rise, after two years of actually losing money. My husband lost one of his jobs but he still makes money from the second job. My eldest son has some work but not enough. I pay or a lot of his expenses and he doesn't contribute to the household finances (he does contribute in other ways, just not actual £££'s). My youngest son doesn't have a job but he has sponsorship and job promise from September. So all in all its okay, in fact we are full of future promise.

I was just reading MW's post. I really miss our winter trips to Europe, sometimes France, a couple of visits to Ostend and Brugge, Amsterdam. Munich would have been good. In act anywhere with a Christmas Market and a nice Chrismassy attitude.

I need to be more organised this year. Get away a couple of times. Get out and about more generally, but of course frugally.

Getting ready for 2013

Things I am going to do:

Review my budget on a monthly basis husband in the process ( I will promise him popcorn to get him interested). I always tell him that he should know more about what is going on, I mean what if I drop down dead? I get told off or saying that.

Monitor my bank balances on-line daily & report back on balances and variations to the budget ( I have to - if someone else is not looking then I just can't be trusted).

I am going to do the zone thing to stay on top of my household chores. I am zoning up the garden for the same reason.

Healthier eating with portion control - and of course meal planning, and involving the whole family ( I noticed that it stops them moaning).

Debt clearance and savings - as much as we can bearing in mind we are still covering the family and we lost the value of the property :(

This is what I wanted to happen in 2012:

Work on myself a bit more –
Do something with my hair & general appearance. Some improvement but could do better.
Revamp wardrobe Some improvement but could do better.
Lose 4 stone Big fat fail.

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

Finance & investment
Clear all non mortgage debt (hopefully using money from Syria)Mope, see above.
Save a small emergency fund. Nope, but we did manage to send $500 or $600 to amily in Syeria each month, so I am okay with this.
Continue to overpay mortgage and get term down to 15 years remaining, Um, no, see various Syria related issues.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Frugalfest Day 2 - what I have learnt today

Loads of things:-

My dishwasher is an attention seeking primadonna. It always breaks down when I need it most.It has three inches of ucky water in the bottom and I am washing the contents by hand. GRRRRRRrrr

Zones are the answer - that is dividing up your house into areas, normally six but my house is tiny and my family are messy so I am going with 4. Give every zone some lick and promise each week and then deep clean them when their turn comes around.

Leftover cheese can make an amazing and yummy dish, better than its constituent parts.

Grandpa Frost is way more cute than Santa

Also the idea of monthly money meetings with the 'other half'.

I might even starting dating my husband (of twenty five years) again.

Lastly I made an effort to look at the Reward Scheme that has just launched at my work. We get % off various retailers by using reloadable cards. I applied or one or our grocery store, for our local DIY store and for my clothes shop.

I almost like being ill and dolloping around on the sofa with TV & husbands laptop when I find such good things.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Complete Frugalfest

We had the last three days full of family, fun and a bit too much food. Today is a day of sloth. At the moment that means one of the kids made us bacon sarnies for brunch, after the other one went to the shop for bread and bacon. We are watching a batman movie. This is leaving plenty of my brain cells to read a ton of frugal blogs. Its a total frugalfest and thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational.

I love the gap in between Christmas and New Year, its always a time when I can contemplate the promise of a new year, a new beginning and all that jazz. As exciting or me as blank sheet of paper. My plans are also for a room by room deep clean and de-clutter. That might not sound so much fun but during the year my time is limited. I work outside of the home, I cook (properly - processed food is not for us), I clean (and do laundry) but I do so hurriedly not leisurely, as I would prefer. So now I have some extra days off work to catch up on a year of loving neglect.

So far my frugalfest has brought me ideas of meal planning & ,more importantly for us, portion control. No spend days - I am thinking that all week days should be no spend. If I don't sort out my lunches for work than a couple of days of staying hungry should help me remember.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Boxing Day morning

Jamal and I are the only ones up and we are watching an action movie. In a house full of guys you get funny traditions but they suit us.

We had a lovely Christmas Day with plenty of yummy food, good company, walks, some presents. We found we had no games to play after lunch (we used to play whatever was in kids stockings but they are older now). So today we will be more prepared. We have wii Olympics and a trivial pursuit thing too. Today we all meet up for a walk at eleven, then a pint at the pub and back to my sister for Boxing Day lunch.
Sigh. I love Christmas.

Just downloaded blogger for iPhone and this is my first attempt to post so if the set up is even more random than normal then apologies :)

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Nearly Christmas

I do love Christmas. As my son said yesterday 'it's all about having time to hang with the family'. Bless him. We plan to do quite a bit of 'hanging with the family', also some visits to friends, spend some time getting work done on the house (we are off until 7th January, once we break up on 24th).

But anyway, today is still pre-Christmas and full of activity. The men (husband and kids) finished work on the kitchen yesterday. There are a few bits to do over Christmas like tiling around the sink & finishing a door and window frame but really it is done. That means all of the tools and wood can go out to the shed. That's first on my list. I am boxing it all up and my son is doing the carrying out. My other son is on a cleaning and tidying mission of his own, at the other end of the room. Or he will be once he has finished his bacon roll and coffee (made for us all by 'lifting & carrying' son.)

Actually it is not quite first on my list. I started by wiping around the kitchen and putting away, stacking the dishwasher, setting the first lot of laundry going, feeding the birds and popping to the shop for the crusty rolls, as I somehow overlooked any bread except pitta when I was picking up food yesterday.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Ssssh! Starting to think about New Year

A few things on my list;

Avoid chains - not entirely prompted by the 'Starbucks not paying their tax' debacle but by a recent visit to London. My mate and I had 30 minutes to use up before the start of our meeting. We walked up and down the street for five minutes, passing a lovely Italian cafe twice, looking for a Costa or similar until we realised what we were doing, slapped ourselves and went into the lovely, very quirky Italian cafe. Excellent coffee, free pastries and you could write poetry on the walls if you felt like it. The shop was heaving with people so obviously the rest of London was not as blinkered as we were.

Stop the caffeine (again) - I did this last year (I think) but it sneaked back during the year. I am trying fruit and herb teas (again). I like them and have no idea why I don't drink them.

Check my on-line bank account daily and always know, to the closest £10,how much I have and how much is already spoken for (started this last week to get into the habit).

Budget in place and monitored. Expenditure analysed.

And some other thingd

Spreading the control vibe

My eldest son has been really down this week. He is still adorable but I can see a merest hint of black dog sitting on his shoulder. This morning he was ready to talk about it. Worrying that he has no money & lots of expenses ( aren't we all). SO i suggested a list. No, cant face it, it will just be awful etc...... So I started his list myself anyway.

STA membership (or his swimming teaching) £44
Online child protection course (again or swimming) £25

His employer has offered to pay half of this but he has to pay up front.

Pog pedal - £125 required in January before first gig of the re-launched band.

He has asked or money or Christmas from everyone who asked him, to go towards this. He can make up the rest from his Christmas wage packet but a lot of his hours are voluntary to get some experience, so he doesn't get much actual cash yet.

At this point he started to run out of worries. There were a few more guitar related bits but not needed until recording studio time ,which I think is March. So really his evil list o things which were going to get him has three quite affordable items on it.

Lists just rule.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Whatever I want

I am feeling slightly more in control. I bought a second hand desktop, locally, using eBay, from a guy who appears to know his stuff but also looked like he could really do with the business. As one of my new years resolutions is going to be use the small guys and avoid the chains, I think I can feel pretty okay about this. Assuming this goes well I will ask him to work on Rupert and replace his hard drive. Rupert can be for internet etc and the desktop is 'work', my lovely spreadsheets and lists.

Last night was the Finance Christmas meal. We found a really good local restaurant that had a buffet option and the best life music ever. I know I am daft when I have had a drink but I just love my team to bits!

So today Fahed will be going back to bed or a few hours when he comes home from work so I can do what I want (like I don't anyway).

Grocery shopping
Vaccum, tidy, wipe around kitchen etc
Clean out the bird cages.
Make some mince pies & maybe a cake.
Make some dinner (nearly forgot that one!)
Buy a few gifts or the kids or Christmas. So far I have got them exactly nothing.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Jamie's best ever Christmas

I think I am watching re-runs as Jamie has another child by now. But its great. I am enjoying the recipes but Jamie just comes across as so likeable, especially with his lovely family. I have been let feeling all Christmassy. Naff but true.

So this coming weekend has got to be decorations up. I don't need anything new. Fairy lights are my favourite and we have a ton of those. This weekend will also be the first batch of mincepies.

Tonight Ahdel has his Christmas party with the swim school. He is the taxi driver so a few people don't have to worry about taxi's. Fahed and I are out on Friday night for a Thai meal with the people at my work.

Can I hear sleigh bells??

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A woman obsessed

So I don't have a Rupert replacement yet. I am using Fahed's laptop for reading the news, blogs etc but I don't have a machine loaded up with office to do my spreadsheets and lists. :( I really want to re-work my spreadsheets and feel very powerless without them. So consequentially I spend all night dreaming, or maybe thinking, about how I want to set up, in the kind of ever decreasing circles way, as you do at 5am.

I need to be up and running for new year.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

I'm on it!

Food Shopping is done
Parcel Collected
Coffee at mums as I was in London yesterday when I normally go
Food shopping is also pt away

Vacuum/tidy/put away - sitting room and kitchen
Re-arrange conservatory ( we finally have a plan which costs nothing but suits everyone)and then vacuum it.
Make a birthday cake for Fahed. Bless him, my default cake is his favourite.
Wrap birthday pressies and write cards.
Drop two parcels to charity shop.Watch an episode of QIXL with my coffee and brunch.

Visit friends or coffee and cake (Kaffe und kuchen, i think, as they are German)
Fahed to his volunteering
Meet up and Mum & Dad house with everyone for a glass of wine (lucky or me Fahed doesn't drink so I never have to drive!)

That will be just perfect, thank you. Oh, and my lovely Dad gave me £200 this morning or sorting out an insurance claim for him. I tried to not take it but he wasn't having any of it. House fund is £200 the richer.

My life

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