Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Inspired by Froogs (again)

I can do the soup side of things ( and I do, lots and lots) but the weight and wobbling needs more attention. My big plan in January included a lot more exercise than has actually happened. Mostly because of my chest infection, honest.

My husband works at a leisure centre so in theory I have free entry to the Gym and swimming pool. In practice this might mean I get to use it on Sunday nights or before 5pm but the bad thing I just don't actually know. I haven't been to the gym in years. Must try harder!!!

What happened to the Wii? I forgot all about it.

Walks around the park at lunch. Snow stopped play.

The fitness is a 'we' thing with the family not just a 'me' thing.

The kids are doing just fine, cut down on food, eating more healthily than they wanted to, plenty of physical activity.

So just us fat, older ones needing to make an effort now.

Fahed was never overweight until he suffered a heart attack, then he developed a real fear of activity.
I put on a lot of weight with each kid and it never left.

We are now officially middle aged. It's got to go!

Fahed has started lifting weights, its not much but its a start.
Next week he & Jamal are going to a couple of local karate classes to test them out. They are going to attend at least one class, maybe both, on a weekly basis. Jamal already attends JuJitsu.

So now its me. No pressure. Only sloth let in town.

So today I enquired whether an old gym buddy would like to go back to the gym. Good news, she would. We are visited gyms next week to find the one for us. We plan twice per week initially.

And finally, I have found new Salsa classes. This is about the third time I have found them and each time they have gone bust. Hopefully we might get up and going before they go bust. I feel kind of guilty in case they too go down the pan.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Quiet day for more planning

I have done a lot of housework this weekend, honest. Laundry is almost do finished, place is pretty clean, shopping is done and we are stocked up for the week. Only two of us for dinner today so that's pretty easy to manage.

So what comes to mind? Yes, play time. So I have got out all of my plans and maps of the Crete house. Pencils, colours, ruler and rubber.

And do you know what. If I was just a but brainier I could do this for a living.

Friday, 25 January 2013

2013 Biggest Economy

Every summer we spend 3 weeks with a lot of family members at our house in Greece. We work every day on the house or garden and then go out in the evening. We love it. This year though is a change of plans and not for financial reasons.

My dad was ill in August and missed his holiday so we decided go for a week & some extra days in Spring, so he doesn't have to wait so long. But then its too soon to go again in August, plus very hot and very expensive (Fahed's old job meant school holidays for our time-off or nothing at all). So maybe we just have another short break later in the year.

We normally spend thousands on holiday, furniture, building materials, labour costs. This year we are going to order a ton of topsoil before we go. We are going to plant some trees around the house and sort out the irrigation. No building and no hard labour, just some pottering in the garden (or what will one day be the garden). Tomorrow I am starting to draw up plans and will take them to my parents and my gardening mad friends for some advice.

Costs will be (amounts as yet unknown):
Irrigation equipment
Second payment for window screen (400 euro)
More tax - I don't know how much but this is Greece and taxes arrive thick and fast.

I have no lovely photo's of my land to show you since my Dell Mini died :(

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Unaccustomed as I am to public speaking ......

I did a 'facing my fear' thing today. I presented at two workshops at our leadership forum conference thingy.

We did the same workshop for an hour for 30 people in the morning, same again mid afternoon. Luckily the post lunch grave yard spot was taken by a famous conductor ( that naturally enough I had never heard off) who was excellent, informative and very entertaining.

What I found helped on this occasion was loads of homework so we knew the subject inside out (Welfare Reform)but we didn't actually script or rehearse it. We even did a bit of role play.

I have been keeping my nerves at bay by just suppressing them with the expectation of a massive panic today. I believe the thorough homework but lack of scripting combo did the trick.

Now I have got this far I want to do more before my nerves have chance to fail me.

Friday, 18 January 2013

A Great British Tradtion

Thanks to a lovely Great British tradition (over reacting to snow) I was home by 2.30pm today. I also felt sufficiently virtuous through the sheer act of turning up and doing a bit of work, that I haven;t felt the need to do any real logging on to work type work since I got in.

I felt the universe was suggesting I take an hour to set up my new(ish) computer which I have had since mid December was still in the box. I also sorted through all of my home paperwork that has arrived since last admin day. I actioned and files or just plain filed. It felt good.

Its still only 5pm, the satellite TV isn't working so I can't get bogged own in watching tripe. This computer is upstairs in my cold study so I wont stay on here longer than necessary. So just going to do a couple more things to feel even more virtuous and amazing. Get the laundry done and in the dryer. I don't want to use the dryer but we all got the lurgy when I made the house damp with drying washing everywhere. Then stack and start the dishwasher. Lastly a quite flash around downstairs with the vacuum cleaner.

That means tomorrow no shopping because of snow. I can just do cooking and maybe some craft things, like the sewing I am half way through. The machine is set up in the rather freezing cold conservatory so maybe but maybe not.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Best thing about winter

Snow is expected tonight. There won't be much but knowing my countrymen, and myself, we will make a big deal about a few flakes.

Snuggled down deep in Lizzie's homeworld we will be fine. This is our dinner tonight.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Using up leftovers

This is how it rolled just these last few days:-

I cant remember Sunday (so long ago) but there must have been sausages because they were available as leftovers on the Monday. The sausages were all half price in the post Christmas ASDA food clear out.

I seem to remember we were lucky to have any leftovers. My baby had an operation on his foot on Friday. He heals like a demon (no kidding, we all heal quickly but his is spooky fast) but his body understands how to marshal resources. Any time he is ill or healing then he eats about double his normal amount. On Sunday he had a cooked breakfast (yeah, full English) at my parents house, he had traditional Sunday roast 3 hours later but managed a snack in between those a dinner with us in the evening and some late night porridge.

Two of us leftover sausages and the other two had half each of a minute roast breast of lamb. We had this dauphinoise potato and sweet corn.

One of us had the leftover potatos and extra sweet corn.
Two had potatoes & chicken cooked in the oven with lemon juice. Yum.
Number our is at a friends house for two nights.

The one that had no chicken yesterday had his today. There wasn't a huge amount so I mixed in a tin of butter beans before re-heating the potato. The chicken was cold on the top as it doesn't seem wise to re-heat. Two crispy pita bread on the side.
The other two had half each o a reduced ASDA chicken pie, potatoes, peas and gravy.
Number four is still away but will be back tomorrow.

Tonight we ran out of leftovers so tomorrow we start over again. On the side de-frosting is a packet of stewing beef. Tomorrow it will be all cooked up with carrots (lots) , onions, potatoes. If I am not too late home from work then there will also be dumplings.

In the unlikely event that there is anything leftover (they are all working manually at the moment so ramping up the food intake) then it will probably join some curry ingredients in the pot on Friday. I also have some rozen veggie (mostly celeriac) sop to go in that pot.

Hubble, bubble, toil and trouble.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Trouble sleeping?

We have discovered nature's knock out potion. Nutmeg. The men are having a glass of cocoa (the glass is a Syrian thing) sprinkled with nutmeg at bed time. I gave the sweetener to avoid a sugar rush. Seems to knock them right out.
Tonight I am joining them with a nutmeggy hot milk. And I actually quite like the taste, though I can't face cocoa.

Nighty night, sleep tight

Sunday, 13 January 2013

How we avoid food waste

I can be a bit indulgent, especially with food, but never wasteful. My food non-wastefulness also pre dates my general frugal inclinations. It was put in place by my parents and I still often see my dad eating a couple of tablespoons of chicken casserole or cottage pie with his toast in the morning.

This maybe useful (maybe not!) but these are some things that we do:

Chicken bones and wings tip go in a bag in the freezer for chicken stock.
Lamb bones do the same.
Leftover veggies are always boiled p in chicken stock and blitzed for a healthy soup.
Sliced bread and pitta are both kept in the freezer. We defrost individual  slices/pittas or use, so our bread doesn't get a chance to go stale.
Leftover portions of dinner are frozen in little microwaveable lunch boxes - good or work but also or home alone meal times. My lunches boxes are square and usefully stackable.
Unless we are going through a cereal phase we keep the bulk of milk stock frozen. We defrost just enough for our actual needs.
Leftover veggie soup incorporated into lasagne sauce
If cheese looks dried up and nasty then we shred it before use. If it is already a bit mouldy then I just slice the sides off before grating.
Leftover rice and pasta adding to soup after blitzing
Keep fresh ginger in the freezer and grate from the frozen root as needed
Buying grated cheese ready bagged is fine and can be cheaper but not for us because it really doesn't last as long.
A good fruit crumble can be made up from the fruit bowl leftovers  - i have never had a combo which didnt work.
Cream, and other creamy dairy products, near the end of its life can be frozen. Use it later to add a taste of luxury to your soups or stews, although not so good in its raw form once it has been frozen.
I add leftover wine to my red wine vinegar bottle. Seems to work!
Left over sweet biscuits/cookies, in the blender and then topping a crumble.
Leftover  crackers, again in the blender and use in place of breadcrumbs as a coating or topping

The only things i haven't found a serious use for are fruit peels. Banana peel is apparently good as a nutrient for roses but i don't have enough rose bushes to worry. I did try crystallising citrus peel but it is only relaly useful i yo have maybe three oranges a year, not some every week. There is such a thing as too much crystallized anything!

Leftover sweeties and chocolates get taken to work where they disappear in a few days.

Frugal Sunday Start

Speedy shower - saved water/electricity and avoided death from exposure.
Used the last the last half blob of toothpaste from the tube.
Hair wash also emptied the last o the conditioner, which had been propped upside down for a few days.

Dressed in t shirt and leggings, chenille socks, furry slipper boots (so un-cool but so warm and comfy). Topped  of by a fleece which I bought when the kids were tiny (they are now in their twenties). So all nice & warm and snuggly.

Brekkie was a glass of coffee (my husband always have coffee in a glass and I have started to as well, feels very luxurious and indulgent - I am wondering how long beore i can dump all of the mugs and no-one will complain). Two slices of 'best of both' bread (Lidl), 'buttered' with the last scrapings of 'this doesn't taste anything like Butter' using a mini rubber ended utensil spatula thingy which I got from Lakeland back in the day. I am back on the lurpak after this foray into the world of spread, nasty. Sandwiched in between the slices was a couple of table spoons of, microwaved to reheat, eggy spud which Ahdel didn't finish yesterday.

I have never insisted on finishing meals as forcing people, especially kdis, to overeat messes with their own internal hunger guide and is no less wasteful than throwing the food away. But I am Queen of the leftovers & not much food stuff goes in our bin or compost, in fact pretty much nothing except citrus peel and bones, the odd spud which goes black and soft before I get to it.

So I am warm and fed and entertained, and no waste.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Review of my Intentions

Because of not feeling so good I didn't do any of my healthy living things. I need to get back to the doctor on Monday, I just cant breath enough, which means I just cant be bothered.

However I was pretty good with my other stuff. I didn't meal plan but we were very frugal and our smaller portions are feeling like enough, which is good for our bodies and our wallets. Everything was cooked from scratch, as usual, so all good stuff. Fahed has had a gout attack from drinking too much cola over Christmas, so has gone back to being a confirmed water drinker. I am happy with this. He is also off his beloved salad and fruit salads for a while as tomatoes and citrus also add to his gout problems. I am still drinking coffee but maximum 2 per day. I may stick with this.

My darling baby came shopping with me this morning despite his (minor) operation. He limped around the shop with a huge plastic shoe over  his bandages and still insisted on doing all of the packing and carrying. We did a big shop this week. Some stewing beef and lamb as the weather is supposed to drop by 15 degrees and we get snow. We will need some warming comfort food.

As part of being more organised I downloaded free printable calendar pages from here. This is to record all everyone extra lessons and other appointments. I tried programming phones but it didn't really work. Now I am putting my trust in white A4.

After another trip to the doctors & my subsequent health improvement (oh, please) then I will look at some o my other good intentions.

Something that is really odd this year. The house, which was lived in by one family or about sixty years prior to us buying the place, has always needed more work, more work, more work. So doors, and door frames, have been moved, baths and bathroom relocated. So many changes but now we are about done. There are a few little things but the big things are done. At least until we decide to start the front porch. It is strangely liberating.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Reaching the weekend

Seems like a relief that is the weekend. I still have my cough, cold, chest infection etc. and its tiring me out and wearing me down. I am tired and ratty. And my ear hurts since my lovely son gave me a new earring for Christmas 

However first week back at work after my lovely Christmas break was great. I sometimes forget that I love my job and my new boss is good too.

Nothing very exciting in the House of Lizzie this week except that my oldest son has another job. He is now working full time in the mold shop at the boat yard where he used to work. He is also still teaching swimming part time, doing his voluntary work on a Sunday, oh and his almost full time programming course. Plus he is in a band so there is band practice on Friday night and a band meeting on one other night. No chance of him getting bored. Plus his sleep problems have miraculously evaporated.

My youngest son doesn't start his job&/uni until September. His father is already in mourning for his baby leaving home but what can you do. Baby is staying at home and helping the old chap to finish renovations. I don't pay him, except to pay for his jujitsu lessons and the odd bit of pocket money but he seems to be happy without cash in his hand. He is going to do some charity work through the summer as well, mostly to encourage a friend of his, who has some problems, to do the same.

The old fella has a new boss and this news is so far so good for us but I will reserve judgement for the time being. However he had given Fahed all of the school swimming or the next two terms. Bless his little cotton socks.

Maybe a few weekend plans later but for now porridge and QI is calling.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday Night Chit Chat

Sunday Night Chit Chat with Carla

What are you...
  • Reading - Jamie's 15 minute meals. Brilliant  healthy recipes and an enjoy read. Did I get this or Christmas? Non such luck. I bought it from Amazon & pinched a bit of Fahed's birthday gift card (sssshhh, he doesn't need to know).
  • Watching - Criminal Minds - Boxed set. Very enjoyable & a little bit o brain stimulation.
  • Listening to - BBC Radio 4 - I know I am getting old now that crrent aairs and quirky comedy is appealing.
  • Baking/Cooking - Pulled Pork with habernero sauce - my first attempt and it was good. Home made bread was a big at ail though. I will need to practice.
  • Happy you accomplished this week - Major sort out of my two problem areas, larder and study. They both look good now but more importantly they work more efficiently.
  • Looking forward to next week - Weekend. It is bad but it is true, first week back at work is always way too hectic.
  • What is the minimum # you feel comfortable with sitting in your bank account/piggy bank? I would be glad to see anything in it at the moment. I am aiming for £1500
Head over to Carla to join in

Project Happy

I am inspired by Carla's list of things to be thankful for & Frugal Trenches 52 weeks of happiness to consider my own things to be grateful for & happy about this week.

1) My husband has gout. Not something to be grateful for obviously but he suddenly agrees with me that he shouldn't drink so much cola. I hope I can keep him on water once he breaks the horrid sticky cola cycle.

2) Jamal passed his medical

3) I remember that my eldest son had deposited £100 somewhere or something he and his mates were doing. We just found how to get it back. He is very happy.

4) Freezer, fridge and larder are full of food.

5) Criminal Minds boxed set. We have been watching it solidly or what feels like weeks, and we are still only part way through Series 4. Perfect.

6) Back to work tomorrow. I am not that struck on the idea but I have to keep in mind that I have a job, and it is well paid & reasonably secure/. Plus all the people there are lovely.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

I hate exercise

Or actually I guess that I don't like going to the gym because I am overweight. Also I suffer from backache, also because I am overweight.But I need to move about more. I have a few ideas I am going to try this year.

Lunch time walks around the park with my 'fat friend'. My chubby mate Paul is big enough that I can hide behind him and not be seen. He visits our office two or three times each week and we have agreed to a quick walk around the park next door to work on visit days. Surely I should be able to keep up with him??

Wii - we have used it a couple of times last Christmas and then forgot it and packed it away. I am asking one of the kids to set it up in the sitting room permanently for us. And then beat us with a stick i we don't use it.

Exercise bike - I own it but the only useful thing it has ever done s help my dad recover from his new knee op. I have to get my lazy arse onto it or it to help me.

Dancing - I love dancing. I have three times signed up for Salsa lessons. first time I hurt my foot (same time not because of dance) and couldn't do it for a year after my operation.. Second and third times they stopped running the classes after I signed up. Maybe i can be fourth time lucky.

My family and I all used to go swimming on a Sunday night. Now my husband teaches just before this at the same pool, then my son teaches during this actual time at the same pool. This kind of puts them both off. Maybe I can persuade someone else to come too. I like the swimming but also the diving to the bottom competitions etc., not so much fun alone.

I need a real plan not just vague ideas. I might make it a weekly both that I report back on what I have done.          I need to be made accountable!

At least two walks p 30 to 40 minutes
I wii session
3 bike rides
Investigate local dancing options
Try to talk family into Sunday night swims again

Friday, 4 January 2013

Breadmaking and something new

I have plans for today. My break from work seems more enjoyable and more useful when I have plans, and when I carry them out of course.

Find a new place for my bread machine and get some bread on the go. Almost worth it for the smell!

Defrost Christmas Pork (it was a good deal) and try  'pulled pork'. I have been blog reading and a lot of people are cooking this, so now its calling to me.

Take Jamal for his medical - £80 in cash. No, surely the doctor isn't avoiding  tax?? (He passed and has been issued the certificate -it lasts two years and has to be kept up to date throughout his naval career apparently)

Stack away all of the Christmas plates, biscuit jars and bowls etc in the larder. I am trying to hang on until 12th Night for the rest  even though I am dying to put it all away. I obviously don't believe in the whole good luck, bad luck thing but the year when I let the door decorations up or an extra day was the year when Fahed had a heart attack (yes, that actual day, in 2001) so I will stick to the rules just in case.

Find a place in the kitchen or my slow cooker/rice cooker. It cooks everything beautifully but I forget that I own it.

Pick up new (to me) dishwasher and change it over with my dead and really annoying dishwasher. We have spend so much on parts to ix this little grrrr and enough is enough. Two o my men are doing this right this minute. They are then going to it it and strip the old machine of all the new parts. Part o me says yes to the frugalness but I am less happy about the mess that I kow will also happen :(

Must set up the Wii. I it is here and accessible at all time then it is more likely to get used. Plus I actually really fancy some skiing!

Finish my mending - I have been saying it or ten days and it is all done except the actual stitching, Sigh.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New habits

Healthy - Breakfast of porridge, main meal of chicken and veggies. No bread (bread =evil= headaches)

Active - Um, not so much except a walk around the town and some vacuum cleaning.

Organised - I am asking the family to all tick the recipes they like from my Jamie's 15 minutes meals book. Might be a few new ideas to add into the meal planner.

Social - lunched/dined (it was 4.30, is that lunch or dinner) with the family. We kept the price down by ordering a special but it did feel nice to be all out together and having a good time and a chat. Note: find more fun deals

Frugal - I have six pounds, in vouchers, to spend in Matalan. I want six white supper plates (smaller than dinner plates). Anywhere else I would assume it wasn't enough but Matalan in the sale, this might just work. I also have £10 to spend in M&S (which I suspect will get me not very much). I didnt do a ull shop this week, just bought milk, butter and branflakes.

I have three days, after today, before I am back at work. I want to make the most of them pleasurably and with achievements. So far I am on track with all my achievement 'wants' except my clothes mending and adjusting. Tomorrow I plan to get to this, also to take my son or his merchant navy health check/medical, take a few things to the dump (we did the charity drop this pm), get the power sorted or my computer upstairs & get my office software loaded. I really miss being able to study and amend my budget.

Little nudges in the right direction

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


I love new beginnings. Any excuse or some change I suspect.

I sort of do resolutions but changing your lie is way more like steering the QE2 (or Titanic??) so its all really about little changes of direction, nudging things in the right direction. So a little more healthy, a little more active, a little more organised, a little more socially active.        

Towards being more healthy I have stocked up on good foods and good meal ideas. No processed junk (as always), veggie box on it way.

Towards more active, my youngest son and I are going or a little walk with my parents after their lunch. I hope we are making new habits here.

More organised, I have been working on this over the break. My larder has been all tidied and is beautiful, and I found my brewers yeast, so now I can make the Ginger Beer that I planned or Christmas. I have a huge bookshelf in the kitchen for all cookery and household books. I have re-built a lot of my financial records on paper after losing my hard drive. A ton of stuff gone of to the Salvation Army (less to organise). I am part way through some clothes sewing, mending and adapting. Just a major sort out of the study still to go. I started yesterday but there are a few more hours required at this task. Oh yes, and I worked out how to export & import my subscriptions from google reader, so that I am the same person in reader and blogger. I am also deleted everyone who doesn't blog any more (get me!). Next I am trying to get my blog list back onto my blog. Little things but nice to feel sorted.

A little more socially active. Do I get any points or the walk?

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...