Friday, 29 November 2013



I have the lurgy. Cough, cold, sore throat and all that. I was feeling slightly sorry for myself but you only have to read the news to know how much worse off everyone else is so I am trying hard not to be a big baby!

I have stayed home today though as coughing all night. I plan to try to get my laundry finished & then spend most of the day under a nice furry blanket on the sofa. Maybe by late afternoon I can face my food shopping.

In my fridge, and at risk of being wasted, this week were two containers of cream which I bought reduced for quick sale TWO WEEKS AGO. Whoops. However the half container smelled fine so I used it to make a cut price spaghetti carbonara, along with three slices of sad looking bacon. The other tub went into the freezer. Its no good as pouring cream after freezing but okay to add to a soup or sauce.

Yesterday, whilst I was already feeling poorly so I feel that excuses me for the lack of veggies, my best attempt at cooking was to slowly roast and lamb shoulder on top of new potatoes. They did eat salad with it but I could have tried harder. Today will be leftovers of this with roast veggies, some cabbage and gravy.

My biggest failing for the week is likely to be that if i feel better tomorrow I will go through all of the jars and bottles in there. Even though I feel as though i do it regularly there is always something which has sneaked up on me.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Todays (sort of) savings

I had a meeting today at Tower 42 in London. Short meeting followed by a short tour of the top of the tower and then lunch.

Cost of travel £75
Cost of a visit to The Shard (next skyscraper along) £35
Cost of lunch in the Vertigo restaurant £50

So in my mind I had the whole skyscraper (and isnt London so, so beautiful) experience for nothing and saved myself £160

Tower 42 in the middle of The Shard (I think) and The Gherkin.
View captured by my I phone and truly not doing the city any justice.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Lizzie finally decides to get organised

Ha, sure we have heard that before but here is the thing: I can cook, the family like my food, I waste very little and I stick to a budget. Buttttttt, and there is a big but (yeah, we all know it is mine) I dont always balance the meal sufficiently. We got through phases we eat a ton of veggies, little carbs, lean meat, lots of fruit. We feel amazing. Then somehow we lose the plot and the carbs arrive thick and fast and we feel all sluggish, tend to get colds and all that yucky stuff. So instead I am going to try this.

'To improve the balance of meals I provide for my family I am going to make a menu plan each week from November 2013. I will ensure that there are plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, local produce and generally good stuff.  My plan will avoid bread, bulgar wheat and pasta for my husband (gluten intolerance), avoidance of any more than a small amount of carbs for me (affects my insulin levels and gives me a headache and a half), avoid cooked cheese for my lactose intolerant son. When my other son is home from University he loves his food but is happiest with the healthy stuff (thank goodness).. Ha ha, should be easy, I have started with a tick board in the kitchen where everyone can tick to say which days they are home for dinner. Then the planning begins!'

Brains and electric bills

The old fella and I took a 'which side of your brain do you use' test on the web yesterday. Possibly (probably) not entirely accurate but I was 69% right brain, all creative and chaotic and happy with change and the old fella was 97% left brain, all logic and structure. Surprisingly accurate. I have this theory that if they told you this sort of thing when you first apply to get married it might be helpful. Instead you take 25 years to understand why you cant understand why the other is so weird. However I have been married to him for 25 years in January so I have no further excuse for not understanding him. In other news my friend in Crete has mailed me to say I have a 350 electric bill and it needs paying this month or they will cut me off. Oh, happy days.

Saturday, 23 November 2013


Next time I say I haven't done anything towards forwarding our lives and I need something to do, slap me. So we had plans: Fahed car finally has a new engine in it and we get it back from the garage. We tax and we insure. I then drive the car which is normally considered to be his. It is diesel so fuel usage is better and it copes with long journeys well. h The VW golf which is normally considered to be my car is with the mechanic because there is a problem with its computer. We have a car, a nice little Fiesta, from the mechanic to use until it is fixed. Ahdel drives this and then we can sell his big heavy, but low mileage, Volvo as it uses too much fuel. So after three weeks of 'the new way' Fahed realises how much it will cost to run his car since it now runs on petrol not LPG Eeek. The lvoe affair is over. New plans: We smarten up and sell Frankie the Frontera. He has a new engine but gets through petrol at a rate that £140 a litre cannot forgive. Fahed then will have the diesel Astra. I have my Golf back (if it is ever fixed) We continue to sell Harvey the Volvo if we can. The money from Harvey & Frankie pays for a little Fiesta for Ahdel. He can once again afford to occasionally leave the house. At the moment they have gigs somewhere with the band and it breaks the bank to get there. Did i say I wanted a challenge? Oh dear.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Friday peek in the fridge


I have shopped and re-stocked this pm. I spent £47.

Already in the fridge were miscellaneous vegetables. A cabbage, 2 iceberg lettuce, half a cucumber, onions, potatoes, carrots (lots). They were all front last week and they were all good for the week ahead.

Last Sunday I made a chicken and veggie pie with potato topping which used up all of the suspicious veggies Also a cottage pie, 50% beef mince 50% lentils, carrots and celery. Also a large cauliflower cheese, in which I also incorporated the stalks, stems and leaves of the cauliflower once they were chopped up a bit and boiled. Everyone seemed to enjoy the dishes and they kept us going for a couple of days. By Wednesday we were onto grilled chicken, 1 pack of 6 thighs between us all, served up with the last of everything and some potatoes of my husbands invention. Not sure what was in them but lots of chilli flakes (HOT!!).
Thursday was home made lamb meatloaf, which we are finishing off today.  Everything was yum but importantly it also used up all the bits and pieces which were hanging about.  I find winter so much easier to cater. Everyone eats up their winter veggies so well and dont seem to mind when everything is crammed full of them :)

The whole family have gotten into the non wasting frame of mind.  My husband has saved me 15cm of chilli flavoured olive oil which previously held balls of soft cheese. The challenge is on!!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

This week

Normally I am all about deliberate living, not wasting,  the simple life, not buying into any of those 'buy some essential object to make your life complete' tripe.

This week I dont seem to have done anything remotely useful. Maybe its because everything is set up to just progress normally now.  Tomorrow is the first day of the month to me.

Bank transfers, payment etc are all set up to ensure I don't get any late fines and I maximize my cash back options.
Friday is shopping day, so I haven't been to the shops as  I know longer buy food on other days and fritter away untold £££'s for nothing.
I have 1/3 tank of fuel (amazing) due to my cautious driving and non existent travels..
My utility usage is probably minimal as I haven't found an affordable engineer to fix the boiler yet - never mind we are getting used to wearing thermal undies all the time

Its all good but I need a new hobby if this is all taking care of itself. I need land to develop!! um, or something

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Warm Glow this morning

I persuaded my dad to let me look for a new car insurance quote this morning and saved him £190. He cant quite believe it and is very happy. Warm glow for me.

Oh and I might get a free Meerkat from it for Jamal :)

Saturday, 16 November 2013

What is exciting to us?

I was just reading about Daizy's weekend plans and how excited she is to demolish her garage but really it is not just that its the beginning of doing something out on the land.

I myself was looking forward to the weekend because we are going to have a sort out of the 'entertainment area' in the sitting room. The kids games consuls, DVD player etc. The board games are also stored there, Further excitement, we are going into the attic tomorrow to look for some heavy curtains and some books that I cant remember where they are. In between these thing I will cook, we will do bits of house, visit with friends and family, go for a swim, watch some of our favourite TV programmes. All small pleasure but they all add up to making life pretty lovely.

I wonder if this is the key to happiness? Joy is small things?

My husband must think so as his choice of 50th birthday activity isn't a ride on the Orient Express (as someone at my work did), weekend in Paris (someone else at work), family trip tp London Zoo (me!). No, he can think of nothing better than going to the Asian supermarket and stocking up on some Arabic foods and then cooking for his family in the evening. The only thing better would be if Jamal could also be home but we can Skype with him during the evening.

Life is infinitely more pleasurable once you learn this trick

Christmas Shopping

Frost on my car a couple of times this week, that means it is officially time to mention the 'C' word.
And time to think about gifts.

This is my plan.
For my lovely work colleagues I will bake mince pies and biscuits
Overseas friends will get a Greetings email and my love & best wishes
Friends in the UK and who I would hope to see will also be stuck with my baking or homemade sweeties
Then there is my immediate family:
Mum, Dad, Sister & Brother in law, Niece and her husband (nephew in law?) - I am planning some nice Jammies (pyjamas) and maybe a bar of my homemade soap, each. There is a £10 limit per person, which makes it challenging to get something good but we manage and it is fun.
My lovely husband. A couple of little things to make him laugh.
My beautiful boys, who are now well and truly grown up but always my babies will get the most spent on them, because I enjoy it.  They are the least materialistic people you could imagine (my work here is done!) so some new clothes are probably overdue, some sweeties and treats, some books or amazon vouchers and some bits to make them laugh.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Heating the house on 8p a day

Well I rather think the effectiveness if this has been over played.

Two different sized terracotta pots balances over 4 tea lights. I understand the whole convection heating theory but sadly this feels no warmer than tea lights alone.

That massive burn on my moo cow tray in unconnected, I am pleased to say.

We quite like having the t lights on the table during the evening anyhow. For our warmth though the most effective thing seems to be our fluffy blankets and warming cups of de-caff. Very nice and snugly indeed
 Fahed wrapped up in furry blankies. Just had five hours in a swimming pool to warm up from


I found a little ticker thing so that I can have an 'in your face' reminder of debt, with a view to paying it off more quickly.

I was going to start off with the mortgage at its worst and then compare with what we have left to pay, but I cant actually find those details in my old paperwork. Shame on me.

Then I decided the put the value of the house which carries the mortgage v the balance of the mortgage. But that doesn't tell the whole story and some that mortgage belongs rightly to the other house.

So eventually I went with Asset (Properties) v Liabilities (Loans). This is the most 'true' version.

I have assumed that the land etc in Syria is lost (£60k value four years ago).

As we work on the older houses on the land in Crete I might increase the value but best of all this should inspire me to  keep on over paying and get us free from the bonds of the mortgage sooner.

Well that's the plan.

Monday, 11 November 2013

What next?

I like to think I am progressing all of the time. Its always start this, stop that and change something else.

Cant think what to do this week to move forward.  Which is one of the problems when you thrive on change.

At the end of the month I can change my property insurance
I am using such a small amount of fuel that a tank of diesel lasts me all month as long as I don't do too much mileage for work
I already shop like a ninja (not literally).

Definitely a bit stuckety stuck.

On a happier note, my (lovely but equally weird) husband wants to buy a restore an old castle we retire. We probably wont by hey, its fun to dream.

Maybe some creative cooking is the answer

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Mortgage Free Wannabe

Kind of an update:


  • Reduce mobile phone tariffs 
  • Reduce Sky package (bless the helpful lady, it is almost free now)
  • Gas/Electric - Moved to first utility and less overall usage
  • No more takeaways- easier than I thought. We were tempted on a couple of tired nights but we did it. Oh, and we are learning to make Chinese food now as I have takeaway craving
  • No eating out except for events - We have still gone out when other people have birthdays, leaving town etc. but its always deals/vouchers so not too painful and obviously not very often.
  • Don't pay for hot drinks! I added this one to feel virtuous. I already don't do this, except that obviously at home it is us that buy the coffee, milk etc. but I did apply for a free Waitrose card which gives me 10% of random groceries and free posh coffee and newspaper each day. All drinks are free at work anyway.
  • I rearrange all of the cars and car insurances. My son is selling his car. I haven't got all of the updated figures yet but I think the saving is £60 per month.

Needs Improvement

  • Always take breakfast/lunch to work - so far I mostly take breakfast/ lunch to work, normally leftovers, but I just don't plan enough. In fact pretty sure that without leftovers or tinned soup then this would be a fail. I must plan more for this
  • Household insurance - Made myself very cross by missing the 1st November renewal date. Why do you have to phone to renew car insurance but phone to not renew household insurance. Still going to change it for 01/12 but now I will ahve to pay some stooopid tax.
Overall I am sort of low level pleased with myself but very much a 'could do better' comment in my report book I feel

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Words of wisdom from my mum!

Such a busy week this week as we had management training away from home & last night popped to the pub with colleagues. Today I hope to catch up on my blog reading.

So anyway i was in the town picking up my car at 7.30 (there was wine involved last night, so no cars), did my shopping at the local Asda £44 including a birthday present. Then arrived at my parents house for a pre-trip to the station coffee. They are off to Newcastle today to visit my baby.  They packed a big bag of sandwiches, tea, cold drinks, snacks etc for the journey. Six hours might not be much to some who living in bigger countries but. for us country mice in Britain that is such a long journey. Their tickets a free as my dad was a train driver pre-retirement (just as well as the ticket were £149 each person, each way - oh my goodness gracious).

So on the way to the railway station we stopped at the shop to buy a daily paper. A rare indulgence. My dad hopped out to get the paper and mum beckoned me over and whispered something to me almost conspiratorially, as though it were a terrible secret I should never share with the world. 'You know we always come in here to buy the paper after our swim in the morning. Every morning I see all the young lads (and I guessing lassies) buying sandwiches and crisps. They think nothing of spending £5 or £6 each. Cant they cut sandwiches at home? Fancy throwing away £30 a week for soggy sandwiches. Well indeed, mum, you are right.  Anything in the region of £1600 a year. Darn.

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Mussel Chowder

Inspired by this lovely from Jamie which came up on my Facebook yesterday, I made mussel chowder for dinner

Mussel Chowder
Serves 3 adults or 2 little piglets
All shopping was from Asda

1 pack of pre cooked mussels £1
Onion 5p(?)
Tin of values potatoes 14p (amazing value)
Tin of value sweetcorn 35p
Some milk
Chicken stock cube
Spoonful of low fat 'I cant believe it is supposed to taste like better'
Chicken stock cube
A tablesppon or so of double cream
Salt & Peppar to taste

Chop onion and start to cook off in the spread in a soup pan
Open and drain the potatoes and sweetcorn and add
Warm through and then add milk (1/4 pint or as you feel)
Add stock cube
Now lightly blitz with a hand blender, leave it all nice and chunky
Add mussels and cream and warm through
Season to taste
Serve with a some garlic bread

I forgot to take a photo (big surprise) but it really wasn't hugely different to this one from Jamie

Total Cost £1.70
Cost per person  54p
Time to cook - 5 minutes

No no no November

Such a cool title (from Elaine at MFin3). I am joining in with her November challenges, which is going by the name of NOTvember but I am so taken with No no no November that I am sticking with it :)

 I did pretty good with STOPtober:Money Diet so hopefully another month at it and all new habits will be made. There are daily challenges planned for us, I beleive.

Do join in, these things are less painful when shared!

Friday, 1 November 2013

Way too many carbs!


Let myself down with this weeks food waste. Very unhappy with taking me eye off the ball. There was a pack of 12 scones which we gobbled up early in the week, mostly. yesterday I discovered three rock hard scones left in a hidden area of the fridge.

Someone took a pack of pitta bread out of the freezer and left it in the fridge. Most of them got eaten but two turned to stone :(  And I didn't even think about blitzing them for breadcrumbs as I thought they might be on the edge of blue and furry too!

There are two lemons that have seen better days too but I will microwave them and make them give up their juice for me!

The reason that I am sure this got overlooked is that my husband cooked quite a bit these week. Each time he cooked he cooked Bulgar wheat as the carb. We are all a little sick of it and feeling stuffed. The last thing we can feel like eating in between meals is more carbs!

So I am not buying any more bulgar week for a week or two. Next week is all about veggies, fruit, lovely light salads. Anything light.

Blogger problems

So now it would appear I cant comment on my own blog. Sigh.  Normally i would uninstall and re-install everything but this is just live in t...