Tuesday, 31 December 2013

First thoughts on goals not resolutions

First thoughts, still to be tweeked:

  • Finish all of the 'big jobs' on our house in Allbrook - kitchen tiling (how many times have i said that), kitchen woodwork, decorating, downstairs bathroom flooring, upstairs bathroom cupboard.

  • Spend no more than average £60 a week on groceries but without using nasty unhealthy produce (ordered two veggie boxes for delivery tomorrow, so baby steps)

  • Keep a happy, relaxed and welcoming home, tidy but not to tidy ( I think I do this already so I should do okay here!!) - get rid of a ton of stuff to make it even more so.

  • Get out and about and do more activities, proper active activities but also social. Continuing with weekly family swim, I found new Salsa lessons (each year i say this and then the company goes broke - hopefully i dont kill a third dance school this year), cycling, music gigs, maybe even the dreaded gym.

Time is running out I have 9 hours to sort myself out!  :)

Monday, 30 December 2013


The days between Boxing Day and New Year' Eve (Old Year's Night where we come from in Devon) are very odd but rather lovely. Another week until I go back to work. Today i started to list the things I want to do this week. Well I started the list but I didn't make much of a dent in the actual activities.I had a minor medical procedure which left me uncomfortable and Fahed is still having problems with his chest, coughing and awake until 5am not leaving him much energy for 'the list'.

So now i am thinking a little more relaxing and doing what one fancies and 'the list' turns into a running to do list for the year.

And, instructions from the doctor from this morning were to lounge about on the sofa and watch TV for the day. I may be under the influence of some pharmaceuticals but that does sound quite a nice idea,.

So I lounge around a bit and maybe think about my resolutions. Although they are not really resolutions, just ideas.

And sofa, and snooze......

Saturday, 28 December 2013

A little time

I finally feel I have a little time to just sit and write, which I love doing anyway.

My work is open until lunchtime on Christmas Eve and the other senior managers were all off but I was happy to be there with my team and I can then take a couple of extra leave days and stay home until 6th January (bliss, housewife mode).

Christ Eve evening is my turn to host so we spent the after noon slicing veggies and not making one of these:-
The gap between intent and activity was never greater but the plates of veggies and cold, home roasted meats did look and taste lovely.

The good thing with hosting Christmas Eve is I can relax after that. My mum cooked the world most amazing and delicious Christmas lunch, roast turkey, goose fat roast potatoes and about 8 different veggies. And then continued to provide food until we cried out for escape at bed time.

Boxing day and onto my sisters house for a fairly new tradition of barbecue in the snow or this year barbecue in torrential rain. It was good fun and only the chef got cold and wet :).

Luckily our Christmas food is mostly veg and meat, not heavy rich pastry stuff, so I well fed but not uncomfortably so. Yesterday we managed a traditional English breakfast, for our lunch, and needed nothing for that day.

Today we are on lentil soup made with any leftovers I can find about the place, I cant say about taste yet but the smell is amazing. Oh and also a great big power cut, which made me go visiting for a few hours.

Also pleased to say not too many gifts this year, just a few little things for the kids. If I could face the shops I would buy myself some trainers and I also want a vacuum sealer for my freezer. I can wait.

Maybe I do my usual Christmas break thing. Each day a different room to be de-cluttered. Also start to plan what we will do differently in 2014. Fahed says he is going to learn to play the saxaphone!!

Feeling very chilled and content,

Friday, 27 December 2013

Wasteful Christmas

Tried and failed a number of times to get the Food Waste Friday to work :(

Still keeping up with food waste Friday

No, not here.

I did buy quite a bit more food than usual but we do feed more people so that is reasonable. Today I went food shopping as it is my normal day and there is money in the budget, but instead of buying the usual I invested in a lot of cut price meat which should last us for quite some time.And as far as actual waste? Well the nature of Christmas foods make them even easier not to waste than normal. Fahed is making lentil soap today with the leftover veggies from the cold veggie selection that go with cold meat when we had visitors. There are also some baby new potatoes. What didn't make it? Cucumber batons, totaling maybe 1/4 of a cucumber. Not much but than I like to waste but I don't fancy them in soup and they are too dried up to east fresh.

So not so bad.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Are we there yet?

Two more days at work and then a nice break until 6th January.

I have to feed the whole family for a bit over Christmas, and I have everything I need for my bit.
Presents are done except I need a board game for one of my boys and a bottle stop (?) for my dad.
Decorations are up, just a tree and some bits and bobs.
Very busy for a few days but enjoyably so.

Jamal home from uni for Christmas and having found beer in the fridge

My little cosy corner of Chrstmas

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Too soon?

I am in!  Carla's No Spend/Low Spend Challenge

I did this for last three months as we financed various relatives. Now I am doing to get us back on our feet and to refill so sad little funds (emergency and building).

Sign up with Carla if being accountable suits you :)

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Random thoughts........

Days are rushing by. 10 days until Christmas.

My lovely niece is in labour so I think I end the day a Great Aunty. First baby in our family for 21 years and first girl for 32 years. Wow.

Fahed is still poorly and actually had to take a week off work (ha, who needs money!) because the medication makes him sleepy and we don't want any drowned little children.

In a few days my lovely youngest son will be home from uni.

So now it is 10 days until Christmas. I have all of my presents sorted but not wrapped. Maybe the kids get a little more. Fahed & I don't bother with presents for each other. We have been married 25 years next month so not much else we need now.

Tonight (maybe) the decoration start to go up. Already I have the cookie jars and dishes out and piled up with oranges. I will need to replenish them before Christmas but fruit is good.

There is a peace plan meeting planned for January for Syria.

Life is generally good.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

I was going to look at my end of 2013 net worth but instead

Materialism: a system that eats us from the inside out

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (andhighlighted by the Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools and spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse: something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.
The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl's head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled on her vast bed. It's captioned "shoppy shoppy" and "#goldrush", but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She's alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.
Perhaps I'm projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research seems to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, and which the researchers define as "a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project", is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It's associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.
There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years seems to show causation. For example, a series of studies published in the journal Motivation and Emotion in July showed that as people become more materialistic, their wellbeing (good relationships, autonomy, sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.
In one study, the researchers tested a group of 18-year-olds, then re-tested them 12 years later. They were asked to rank the importance of different goals – jobs, money and status on one side, and self-acceptance, fellow feeling and belonging on the other. They were then given a standard diagnostic test to identify mental health problems. At the ages of both 18 and 30, materialistic people were more susceptible to disorders. But if in that period they became less materialistic, they became happier.
In another study, the psychologists followed Icelanders weathering their country's economic collapse. Some people became more focused on materialism, in the hope of regaining lost ground. Others responded by becoming less interested in money and turning their attention to family and community life. The first group reported lower levels of wellbeing, the second group higher levels.
These studies, while suggestive, demonstrate only correlation. But the researchers then put a group of adolescents through a church programme designed to steer children away from spending and towards sharing and saving. The self-esteem of materialistic children on the programme rose significantly, while that of materialistic children in the control group fell. Those who had little interest in materialism before the programme experienced no change in self-esteem.
Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages that cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive and more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join in demanding social activities. The researchers point out that, as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.
third paper, published (paradoxically) in the Journal of Consumer Research, studied 2,500 people for six years. It found a two-way relationship between materialism and loneliness: materialism fosters social isolation; isolation fosters materialism. People who are cut off from others attach themselves to possessions. This attachment in turn crowds out social relationships.
The two varieties of materialism that have this effect – using possessions as a yardstick of success and seeking happiness through acquisition – are the varieties that seem to be on display on Rich Kids of Instagram. It was only after reading this paper that I understood why those photos distressed me: they look like a kind of social self-mutilation.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons an economic model based on perpetual growth continues on its own terms to succeed, though it may leave a trail of unpayable debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. Social atomisation may be the best sales strategy ever devised, and continuous marketing looks like an unbeatable programme for atomisation.
Materialism forces us into comparison with the possessions of others, a race both cruelly illustrated and crudely propelled by that toxic website. There is no end to it. If you have four Rolexes while another has five, you are a Rolex short of contentment. The material pursuit of self-esteem reduces your self-esteem.
I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life, and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.
This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that having more money and more stuff enhances our wellbeing, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness.
Twitter: @georgemonbiot. A fully referenced version of this article can be found at Monbiot.com

Monday, 9 December 2013

Menu Planning December Week 2

I am joining the Organizing Junkie menu plan Monday to keep me on track!

'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!'

Moyra asked how I remember all the different problems. Its a bit basic but:
With bread Fahed will blow up (his tummy expands to pregnancy levels in minutes plus a whole load of other aches and pains.
With cheese Ahdel will throw up. Sorry, not nice, but its really not nice. His reaction to milk is eczema but with cooked cheese it is far more instant. I am making the yucky face as I type.
I can eat carbs if I dont mind the headache which means I normally have sandwich or toast if I have to take painkillers for something else.

Monday - Grilled chicken, tinned new potatoes, sweetcorn
Tuesday- Arabic sausages and salad (Sausages taste like rubber to me so I will have leftovers from Monday)
Wednesday- Leftovers
Thursday- Tinned soup and butter beans
Friday- Meal out for Christmas office event
Saturday- Fish, potatoes, vegetables
Sunday- Eat up any leftovers

Note:plenty of chance to eat up leftovers

Saturday, 7 December 2013

De-clutter now or then?

I had a proper old empty out of the house a few years back, joining in all of the de-cluttering projects on various blogs. I re-homed over a thousand items (go me!) but now I am used to it as it is and feel I want to start over again. I get an actual feeling of lightness when I see an empty space where once there was....um, well, something.

So should I start now and postpone Christmas decorating for another week, or start now but only the areas that don't get decorated, like bedrooms and study. Or forget all about it and hang in until when? I could wait until my Christmas break, ten days - whoop!, or until the decorations come down again on 12th Night. Give myself something to do in January.

This morning I am contenting myself with sorting filing and the like in my study. I might just sort through Faheds clothes. Then I could stop, or maybe not.

Who knew the to be or not to be of recycling could be so exciting.

Beautiful kitchen from someone better at de-cluttering than I am

Friday, 6 December 2013

No waste but for the wrong reasons


My 'bleugh' of illness spread to husband and son this week. Not much waste simply because I didn't cook much or buy much fresh stuff.

We managed to cook a lovely winter barbecue for my husbands birthday on Monday. Very simple grilled lamb, Arabic bread and a parsley, red onion and sumac salad. Otherwise it has been a week of tinned soups and 'getting by'.

I made a soup of beef, cumin and rice on one day but we couldn't face to eat. I froze it in two containers for work lunches so at this moment I believe it isn't wasted.

Today I shop and refill everything. Plenty of veggies to get us nice and healthy again. Plenty of lemons to have a warm drink with honey.

I am trying to look on the bright side that poorly now equals fit and well for Christmas :)

Monday, 2 December 2013

Food glorious food

I am joining the Organizing Junkie with menu plan Monday to keep me on track!

'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!'

Monday - Barbecue kebabs, Arabic bread & a Parsley & Sumac Salad (Fahed's birthday - we barbecue! Luckily it isn't snowing. Neither of us should eat bread but we are prepared to feel a bit out of sorts for once)
Tuesday - Leftovers
Wednesday - Cottage pie (Homemade) and veggies & Salad
Friday - Lasagne (Ahdel is out with his young lady)
Saturday - Leftovers, again.
Sunday - No plan as yet as we might go to the Winchester Christmas market.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

December is here

So now I can start being Christmassy with a clear conscience. I hate that Christmas starts in about mid August now in the UK, so always hold out for 01/12. This year I failed though as, and I am blaming my cough and cold for the mental confusion, I though yesterday was 1st and so I bought gifts for a few family members. The check out lady put me straight and had a little laugh at me.

So this morning I am the only one up and awake. I am having a bit of a clean and scrub in the downstairs rooms so that they look nice when I get the decorations out. I like a lot of red glass and china. some lights and a few bits, a tree of course. I don't have any tinsel or too much like that as it seems to look not quite right in our old house. Having said that I am not fussy and nothing is properly co-ordinated, we add a new bauble or something each year but otherwise we are happy with our old clutter.  My work Christmas tree is sufficiently tinselled up to make up for it!

So anyway, today is not for decorating, just for cleaning and getting rid of a few more things before we fill it up again.

This afternoon we have someone else calling to see if he can fix the boiler before Christmas (last man gave us mid January in his estimate - I guess there must be a lot of boiler problems this year as gas engineers are normally 'same day' guys). We are okay as the shower is electric, the dishwasher and washing machine heat their own water, we have a gas fire but I do miss my nice hot baths.

In other news: I plan to watch some Nigella Christmas kitchen on TV,and what I like about Nigella is that she is a little piglet like me but she does it so glamorously,  look through my cook books and make food plans, maybe buy some Christmas presents online. As I mentioned before we have a ten pounds limit on the gifts but for the kids i like to spend a little more. Not too much but a few things to open.

My life

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