Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The men are earning their keep

Today Fahed finished the tiling in my kitchen, grouted it and everything. It looks beautiful. Hopedully photos below.

Ahdel & Jamal fixed the washing machine, just as well as you can now see my washing pile form space.

Ahdel also tried to carry on with fitting the sliding doors which should separate the kitchen from the conservatory. Not a success. They are so heavy, wood and glass, that they are pulling the frame down. He is really quiet this evening. I know this means he is puzzling out how to work around this. So far not a successful idea.

Jamal got the call today for his ship time. He has to board his ship in Singapore on Friday. First time outside of Europe for my baby. I am nervous and excited for him. He, as always, is as cool as the proverbial cucumber.

I am sad for the doors and associated stress but all in all not a bad Tuesday.

I am a happy mummy and I like that my men are so practical.



Sunday, 23 February 2014

The week ahead

The sun has abandoned us once more but I really did appreciate it yesterday. Made me very happy to be shone upon. Not raining yet but grey and gloomy like just before nightfall. I am going to nip out and cut back the plants in the front garden to allow spring to spring through but the back needs to wait until the grass dries out some more.

In other news: A day to make a lentil and vegetable soup for this weeks lunches. Also menu plan with youngest son for healthy affordable dinners for the week.

Also we made a lot of plans which need writing into the house book before we forget. Tuesday is DIY day for husband and eldest son. Youngest helps out if he is here, sometimes just by feeding them, but he should be away again soon. They are also building a guitar for eldest son. They are nominating Fridays for this. They wont get so much time as they teach schools until lunch time and then go to work again at 3.30pm but usually they will get a couple of hours at it. Making stuff makes them happy but luckily for me fixing stuff seems to make them happy too.

I am here on my own for a couple of hours this afternoon. Rather than waste time I am planning that a few more items disappear from my study. I like to have an aim for the day.

So time to crack on. Enjoy your day.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Saturday afternoon

Yes, you know what that means. Finished housework the day (can you see my lovely bathroom sparkling bright from wherever) half an eye on the mens slalom, time for a for random post.

I went to the parts shop for the washing machine brushes and was sent away again as apparently brushes are not machine specific and so i have to take them with me. So I got the boys to disconnect the machine and move it out, so we can remove the back and get at the brushes. Well for a start you cant remove the back as it is a single cube of metal with top and bottom only open. And the brushes are fine (its always the brushes madam) but the belt (never the belt on new machines, madam, that's a myth) is in bits. I have ordered one from Amazon. I had a gift card and couldn't decide what to get, now i don't have to worry.

I also submitted gas and electricity meter readings earlier today. I am fairly happy that we have reduced consumption by about a 1/3 on each. We shall see what happens but I suspect that a lot of it is changing to a modern TV. Youngest son is back from university halls where the lights are movement controlled so seems to have completely forgotten the concept of turning them off, but I am managing to make a difference, little by little. After this he is away for four months at sea so who knows what habits that will bring back. Hopefully he will be super economical with everything.

I notice a  lot of skiers this afternoon falling over and crashing out of the competition. Bearing in mind these guys are the best of the best I feel a lot less bad about failing at stuff from time to time. We really do all do it.

Passing the baton

Pretty sure my domestic appliances are ganging up on me.  The men spent Tuesday repairing my new (to me) tumble dryer. Now the washing machine makes all the right noises but the drum doesn't move. I have to go buy brushes for it apparently. Whose turn will it be next? The microwave has been very well behaved so maybe it's his turn next.

Not being grumpy, honest!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Day off, yahay!

Last night I slept really well. I am almost through the worst bit of year at work (love my job but  these two months are stressy) and my brain knows it and understands that we can sleep again. I cant believe how well I feel.

So today I am using up 7.5 of my flexi hours before they disappear. I need to do some serious cleaning, the place is a mess. A quick today and it looks okay but I know it really needs more.

Also we take my sons car to the garage for MOT and tune up. We are trying to make it more fuel friendly or else its time with us is up.

There is talk that there will be DIY done but I am not convinced.

I have two bags and two boxes for a charity drop.

All of the laundry and all other normal weekly tasks to be completed too.

If this works out then I have the weekend to play in the garden, rain allowing, and start to sort it out a bit.

So yaay for extra days's off



Thursday, 13 February 2014

Econosaturday

Yes, we are actually going out in the the wet and wild world on Saturday. We are not frightened of a bit |(lot) of rain. I have probably said all this already but I am excited, can you tell?

My best friend, my son, his girlfriend and me. Of on the trian to London town, picnic at the zoo.

South West trains Winter Smiles will get us there for £10 each, return.

South West trains 2 for 1 offers will get us into the zoo for about the same

Backpack full of picnic and we are sorted. Its going to be a great, and very affordable, day out.

Yeah, hurry up Saturday

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Birthday Cake

Its winter here. Coldish and very wet and nasty. So everyone is cooking nice rich warming soups and stews right? Yes, we are weird. Tonight we are having sweet pancakes.

Eldest sons birthday was 23/01. We don't do cards, we do jokes. We do do gifts. We don't do cake, we do pancakes. But not on your actual birthday because that's when you have the highlight of your birthday, steak and chips cooked by Baba (daddy in Arabic).

So today is finally birthday cake day.  Bog standard pancake recipe.  Flour and baking powder, an egg and some milk. Whisked all up together. Oil a pan and away you go, 2 pancakes per person.

Then there is the fudge sauce. Which, lets be honest, is the reason for even having pancakes in the first place.  Cooking up white sugar, butter and golden syrup until it is a lose caramel, then beat in some double cream. Yes, its bad, bad, bad but its maximum 4 times a year and most often only two times each year. In England fudge isn't a chocolatey thing, well except for chocolate fudge :)

Roll on tea time. My sons, aged 24, says he is excited by the prospect of his highly un-nutritious dinner tonight.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Hate waste = Random Dinners

We have leftovers in the fridge which could go to waste if I am not careful so Monday night dinner:

Me:Leftovers chicken curry with bulgar wheat -from Saturday & Sunday and I can tell you that 3 days of same dinner is enough, even for me.

Fahed - marked down chicken thighs, jacket potatoes and veggies

Ahdel - Tiger tail (lovely chewy baguette thing) with roast topside and salad

Jamal - not hungry

Due to work commitments we don't all eat together on a Monday so it doesn't feel so odd as it might look to to others

My anti waste programming seems to be some of my strongest. If I were filthy rich then this is still how it would be.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Thinking time

I have been alone most of the weekend. Fahed worked and then hibernated. We have discovered that if the black dog visits then hibernation is the best bet. And by tonight he looks fine.

But that did give me load of thinking time. First off I came up with the idea of the storage room and i can tell he feels better as I got him on board.

I also decided to get rid of one of the sofas in our sitting room and bring in a similar sized one from the conservatory. This means we potentially have room for the pool table to come in from storage in the shed.

I discovered that a couple of pine doors which i bought for some long forgotten project will fit, after adjustment, onto a bookcase in the sitting room. Looks neater and is easier to clean.

Fahed has put some much stuff into his shed that he cant face to go out there. So I, with his help eventually I hope, am aiming to remove 5 items from the shed every Saturday until it starts to be a useful space again. Some stuff can go into the attic once it is a proper storage space too.

Oh, and lately I get everyone's clothes mixed up. The boys are fulled sized now! I invest a couple of £££'s is 50 iron on labels for each name. Finally everyone is going to get the right clothes. Yaay. Fortunately they laugh at me for not being able to tell them apart, rather than moaning.

And I watched a whole load of Biathlon and Luge!

Oh and I appreciated the thinking time a lot as I had 13 hours days, my NLP training and lots of travel, both Thursday and Friday so a period of consolidation was exactly what I needed.

Storage room

We have an attic space with all the usual junk: camping gear, Christmas decorations, suitcases. And way more besides. Fahed has always resisted my desire to board out the attic because he feels it will make me more inclined to fill the attic with junk. However, since I came clean and told him how much stuff I had got rid of with him noticing he is thinking I might not be a hoarder after all. In fact not quite sure why he thought i was but anyway.

So now I have got a vague and theoretical agreement to make the loft hatch bigger, add a proper stair ladder, board out and add cupboards and shelving to the attic space. I have promised to go through all the junk that is up there and get it down to about 40% and I think I can do that. Imagine somewhere to put stuff you only use once or twice a year? Wow, I am totally overwhelmed with how brilliant this could be. Anyone with a British house (i.e. dolls house) will be able to understand my excitement.

So suitcases, Christmas decorations, camping gear, picnicing gear, All where we can actually find it! Maybe even some wine or cidermaking up there?


Sochi 2014

I am getting totally swept up in the games so far.  I have watches snowboarding, cross country ski-ing and luge. So exciting. Its so nice to see all of the snow and blue skies as well, as it has been grey and damp here for so long. I love all the loud music, colours and all the purple, looks all very cool and exciting. Very much brightening up my February.  Jenny Jones is still in gold medal position for women's Slopestyle as I write - Very exciting for us 'no-snow countries to get a mention near the top. I am trying hard not to wish all the others to fall.

nb. Jenny got a bronze!!!



And do you know what, I got all of the cleaning than I anticipated completed yesterday, but in about half the time. I definitely benefit from being time bound. I might need to invest in one of those timers to give myself 15 minute bursts of time. However it is huge progress that I can sit here watching Sochi when there are things still undone in the house. Once upon a time, and one of my reasons to blog, I couldn't have done this. I feel a little bit of progress in realizing this. What I like about blogging is that it seems to give me accountability. Wouldn't make any difference if no-one but me read it, its all about the seeing it in black and white. The other biggy is perspective. Cleaning will still be here long after Olympics have finished.

Lizzie's lesson (to herself) for the day.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Stormy weather

Endless stormy weather.



We are in Hampshire where we have had high winds and about three months of rain. The land is saturated and i cant even walk out to the back garden but I believe we are one of the luckiest areas. Some many houses evacuated, life stock stranded. I am not going to complain, I just feel too guilty as at least life is going along quite normally although travel is tricky.

So definitely not going anywhere today. I just had two days on an NLP training course in the next county, so heartily fed up with driving in the rain and dark anyway.

Housework
Shopping
Make a cake for mums birthday
Cook my world famous (you never heard of it?) Malaysian chicken curry.
Um, sneakily avoid doing what i should be doing to concentrate on the Sochi Olympics instead

The German team looking particularly fetching.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Frugality and why

I am affluent. According to http://www.globalrichlist.com/ I am the 5,896,845 richest person in the world.

Why are you frugal?

I have been prompted this week to think about this after reading someone else’s blog post.
According to Wikipedia; Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.
Common strategies of frugality include the reduction of waste, curbing costly habits, suppressing instant gratification by means of fiscal self-restraint, seeking efficiency, avoiding traps, defying expensive social norms, embracing cost-free options, using barter, and staying well-informed about local circumstances and both market and product/service realities. Frugality may contribute to health by leading people to avoid products that are both expensive and unhealthy when used to excess. Frugal living is mainly practiced by those who aim to cut expenses, have more money, and get the most they possibly can from their money.
Frugality is enforced upon some. I remember being a new mum (no maternity pay as I had worked via an agency at that time) when my husband’s company went bust. Damn, those days were hard. Benefit was £70 per week as far as I can remember. That can certainly focus your mind.  We didn’t have to choose between heating and food as the heating didn’t work anyway. We just wore loads of clothes. The gaps in the badly fitted windows were stuffed with old blankets from mum.
A couple of years of that was enough for me.  I planned our escape. I decided to be an accountant. I worked through 2 books by Frank Wood. Signed up for AAT and passed, then skipped to CIMA 2. No college or other courses for me, too expensive. I bought the books and studied at home. Every night after the boys were in bed I worked at my desk for 4 hours.
So now the kids are in their early 20’s and we made it. I earn quite well (thank you accountancy for being there for me). Fahed does okay financially despite battling heart problems (heart attack at 37) and years of depression. The road looks easier looking back than it did at the time.
So now I am still frugal because I really know what it is like to have nothing. I might be ‘affluent’ now but only because I have worked my backside off.. I don’t intend to feel that way again so I watch my money, shop sensibly, avoid waste, derive no pleasure from ostentation and occasionally indulge my kids. As Fahed says ‘if not for them, then for who’.

So that's what frugality means to me.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Feeling the difference

Do you know I think I have been de-cluttering since 2009. Pretty sure that is when I first heard the term. I did, and still do, keep the place clean and tidy, it isn't like an episode of hoarders here. But now it is finally quick and fairly painless to bring a room back to normal.  I don't need to panic when the doorbell rings! Or at least I don't as long as my kids haven't been in the room for more than an hour!!

When they were little there were many things which I thought were way more important that obsessing about tidiness. And I do actually still stand by that. Kind, thoughtful and honest are way more important. But nonetheless I don't want the place to look like a tip. Money goes to money they say.  Might be true. Mess goes to mess, that is definite.

So anyway i think I may have reached the critical mass point whereby the house is empty enough to keep clean & tidy without spending every waking moment on it (exaggeration). But i have very much got to enjoy the feeling of freedom which comes with casting off more unnecessary stuff.

So right now, whilst everyone is having their weekend lie ins, I am just quiet sneaking down to get a coffee, a rubbish bag and a box, then spending the first hour of my day in my study. And what is odd is that I am strangely excited by possibilities here.

When we are young we have no idea of the little ways that we will get pleasure as we get older!! I can live without skydiving if I have the opportunity to fill a black bag.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

House book

I was up and about ridiculously early this morning. I wanted Fahed to drop me n the town to pick up my car. Last night I went to a birthday meal out and decided a couple of glasses of wine would be nice. Which anyway left me back, after grocery shopping and visiting my parents, by 9am. I have a huge day stretching out ahead of me.

And so, the plan.

First:
Laundry, only one more load to do.
Dishwasher, Wash empty & refill.
Vacuum and/or sweep downstairs.
Tidy up and empty.

Second:
Cook a lunch of veg curry & garlic pittas

Third:
Sloth on sofa with house book for here and for Crete house and have a bit of a brainstorm about what needs to be done. We normally do this in the Christmas break but this year Fahed was ill and it doesnt work unless you really feel like doing it.

Fourth and last: We have free tickets for the Winchester Stargazing event. Go us!

Summer Rain

The middle of summer on the sunny south coast of England, and the rain is falling heavily enough to keep us indoors again. We were hoping to...