Posts Tagged ‘Family’

The Man in the Park

Sunday, May 29th, 2011

Mads sat at the table tonight and described a man, whom she saw one day, in the park.

“He had Gangster clothes on and had a dog”

Me: ‘oh he sounds mean’

Mads: ‘Yes, he was reaaaallly mean’

Me: ‘he had Gangster clothes on? Tell me about that…’

Mads: ‘He had a biker jacket on’

Me: ‘oh yes, very menacing…’

Mads: ‘But he cut the arms off, it was sleeveless’

Beardie: ‘So he was wearing Summertime Gangster clothes?’

Mads: ‘Yes, and he was covered in tattoos, all over his body, on his face he had a snake around his face!’

Me: ‘wow, he sounds interesting’

Mads: ‘Yes, and he had dark blue trousers on and they were short and you could see the bottom of his leg and he had the word ‘England’ on it’

Me: ‘oh, that’s quite a look’

Mads: ‘He had sandals on too’

Me: ‘A gangster in sandals?’

Mads: ‘He has tattoos on his feet as well, but one didn’t say ‘Wales’ on it’

Me: ‘Did he have painted toe nails?’

Mads: ‘no they were tattooed with um, A, B, C *thinks to self* up to um, J on his toes’

Me: ‘Oh and what does it say on his hands?’

Mads: *holds out hands, pointing to one finger at a time’* ‘’ *turns hands over to show palms* ‘and then on this side it said – Alphabet’

Me: ‘but he only has the letters up to J on his toes, what about the rest of it?’

Mads: ‘he doesn’t use the rest of the alphabet. He had a dog too, as well’

Me: ‘oh right, yes, that’s quite a look, all that and a dog’

Mads: ‘and he had words written in the snake on his face as well, perhaps it was the other letters of the alphabet’

Me: ‘perhaps it was, and tell me about the dog’

Mads: ‘it was a Chiuahaha’.

I wish I could draw this man, but I never want to meet him.

When Things Go Right…

Monday, July 19th, 2010

As some of you may know I have a beautiful au pair, the latest in a list of beautiful au pairs. Some are more beauitiful than others, this one, the last one, the one before and the next one are the most beautiful, without doubt they have definitely got prettier in recent years. I’ve had au pairs on and off for about 12 years. More off than on with working from home, and convalescing but in that time I have had more than 10 au pairs, the 5 year old has only had 3 au pairs so far. The first one was a raging disaster in some ways and great in others. She was great with the kiddo, couldn’t abide my 15yo and at one point looked at me and said about beardieboy ‘you know what kind of man your husband is…’ She was rude and moody and found a guy while over here (from Paris) and once she’d found him her role as an au pair was the very last thing she needed. After several unsavoury experiences we finally agreed to part and she returned home about 6 months early and immediately emailed me with a heartfelt apology for her rude and difficult behaviour. Yeah, um whatever, but thank you.

The second was wonderful, funny, hectic and great with kids. She was vibrant amazing and full of fun. She was only here for the summer but we loved her so much and we’ve just convinced a family in America she’d be a great first au pair for their year long contract.

The current au pair is leaving on Saturday, she’s been here 11 months and has been fantastic. She arrived homesick and miserable and looked in a state of shock for the first week but she’s grown in confidence and shines like a ray of sunshine and I love her very much as do we all. She is really like part of the family and generous to a fault. Her Christmas presents and birthday gifts outstrip anything we could ever respond with but we make sure she has all her free time, we never take her for granted and include her in everything we do. We don’t want her to go.

Her sister is here for this last week and tonight they gathered us on the sofas and told us that their parents have invited us to Germany for a weekend trip. We’d already planned to go for a long weekend next year but we’re broke and we need to save for it. We listened to their invitation and I could feel Beardie take an internal deep breathe. We’d never wish to insult anyone but we just couldnt’ afford it. As it turns out we needn’t have worried. The family have insisted on paying for our plane tickets and insisted that we must not bring gifts when we go. The 5yo ran round yelping with excitement. She’s never been on a plane.

As a parting gift I have been collecting a charm bracelet for the beautiful au pair: a chilli to remind her of the night she made such a hot chilli con carne that no one could eat it but we did drink a hell of a lot of water; a cupcake to signify all the happy hours of baking with the 5yo; a shopping bag to remind her that she single-handedly kept Birmingham’s fashion stores afloat through the credit crunch; a guitar to signify all the hours she’s had to put up with us rehearsing in the house; a pair of ballet shoes to remind her of all her dancing…and the list goes on. In comparison to the generosity of her family our gift is very small but I hope it shows her how much we care and value her fabulous contribution to our family this year. She may also make a mental note that there is no ‘iron’ charm and may well realise it’s because she’s bloody rubbish at it – you can’t have it all. I’m genuinely upset that she’s leaving and can’t give her too many hugs because I’ll just cry.

The next beautiful au pair just wrote to us asking if she must take out her lip piercing, she’s taken out four others already. We’ve told her to put them all back and that if she can’t be herself she won’t have a good time. Beardieboy thinks we’re due a crappy au pair, I hope it’s not this one.

This is a Relaxing Holiday

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Holidays are tough. If I ask Beardieboy he can never make his mind up, doesn’t want to think about money and doesn’t want to go anywhere that is vaguely organised or ordinary. He wants to feel free. Exasperated that I can’t get any straight answers from him I just get on with it by myself. After all I was a single parent for 10 years, if I can’t organise then who can?

Approximately 6 months before a holiday I begin. I start by choosing a destination. This is based on activities that are available. The more activities the better. Two years ago I had a 17, 13 and 3 year old so it had to be something to suit everyone. For anyone interested that seems to be Tenby though I’m sure Cornwall and Devon would do it too. Then I work out a budget. How much is the accommodation? Do we take a tent, our increasingly rickety caravan or rent something. Then I work out my entertainment budget. I plan to do something every single day, knowing we won’t do that but it’s important to cover all angles. I budget for two restaurant meals usually. I bid for Tesco points on eBay and get them converted to entry tickets to theme parks. I am relentlessly organised. I print out maps, buy extra food each week in the months leading up to it and on the day before I leave I make a picnic hamper. This takes whole operation takes hours of study and planning, weeks of organising and preparation. It’s my family holiday and I want my family to have a great time.

Usually about two days into the holiday Beardieboy saunters down a cobbled street with an ice cream in his hand or climbs off a nerve-shattering ride and declares with his warm shining grin, ‘This is a relaxing holiday. We should go with the flow more often, you should chill out more’.

Thrifty Business

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Right, I’m not apologising, but I will warn you, this is a boring post, it’s about food shopping and it’s not a joke. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this crap but I will admit that my calmest moments are when my fridge is full and my family can eat.  It’s a protective thing. I bloody hate being broke.

I get thrifty. Did you know you can put a handful of lentils and a handful of porridge oats in your bolognaise? Make sure you keep adding extra water and use a heavy bottom pan. It takes an extra hour to cook but can almost double your pan. It tastes extra creamy and it’s good for you.

When I lived in wales I had the choice of one shop, Kwiksave. I spent the same every week and there were no frills. When Tesco went online I used them and my bill jumped from £75 a week to £120 but I put it down to having, and taking, the extra choices.

Since coming to Bearwood I’ve had more choice, but more to do and life gets busy. I’ve tried buying fruit and veg from Pak in Cape Hill, I’d say great if you’re going to use it in the next 3 days but don’t buy for the week. I get bulk packs of spices there, buy big bags (10 or 15kg) of rice and toilet rolls. they have massive packs, I think they’re £3.50 for a pack of about 24 rolls or £10 for 3 packs.  They often have very cheap sugar 50p a bag and I buy popping corn there, dry pop it in a heavy pan and take it to the cinema with my cans of pop. If you like asian food, like me, you can buy giant tubs of preminced garlic and ginger there, as well as the spices and large buckets of plain yogurt. We buy frozen samosas there, often on 2 for 1 offer.  Farmfoods next door is cheap but Iceland is better quality for virtually the same price.

So now, apart from the odd trip to Pak  Supermarket I’ve started shopping in Bearwood. I’ve got into the habit of going to Co-op first for their bogof bargains. This week they had buy 18 packs of McCoys and get 18 free. £4 (it’s currently £9.54 for the same amount in tesco and if you buy their own brand it’s £3 for 18 or £6 for the quantity I bought). I am strict about coop, they’re a bit expensive, don’t get sucked in by their glossy fridges, go straight to the bargain shelf where they usually have super cheap coleslaw, pizzas etc and stick to ONLY the stuff I’d usually buy. They regularly have great cheese offers, better than anyone else, dunno why but they usually have some kind of half price or bogof offer on mature cheddar. They have very cheap granary baguettes at the mo, nice for Saturday lunch.

After Coop it’s off to the bargain multibuy butchers on the same side of the street, just past aldi (can’t remember name) but they are great for bacon, sausage, bargain packs of pies (i bought the pasties once, they were nice). They have trays of sausages which have become a barbeque favourite when we have parties, very tasty. Be sure to ask which packs can be frozen though cos some are defrosted. He was selling two big bacon joints for a fiver today.

After the butcher it’s back down to Aldi where cereal is cheap and milk is currently £1.09 cheapest we’ve found  for 4 pints and cream is the cheapest too. Their cooked meats are extremely good value and very good quality. The thick and creamy yogurts are as nice as any luxury yogurts I’ve tried. They also have kids pots which are currently at 59p for 6 (I forgot and spent £1.55 for 12 in Coop which was still 45p cheaper than Tesco). Don’t by their cleansing wipes, it’s like cleaning your face with a brillo pad.

After Aldi it’s over to Iceland for chips, pizzas, frozen fish, and their bread which is 2 loaves for £1.50, which really is the best we’ve seen and is a constant offer. I also buy meatballs and sometimes chicken breast there.

Ok, I’ll admit, it’s a bit of a faf, particularly Iceland because you can’t take the trolley to the car, but it took us less than 90 minutes today, which is around the same time as it takes to saunter round asda with the ensuing cacophany and stress.  If , like us, you’ve got to find piano lesson money, multisports, dance lessons, rehearsal rooms and other lovely stuff then every extra penny counts (and if the damn tories get in we’ll need it to pay the mortgage, bugger the fun stuff).

So, continuing in the spirit of being a complete sadsack I’ve sat down today and discovered the cost of shopping on the high street is very interesting, very interesting indeed (if you don’t get out much). This is a like for like table, where no option in tesco exists I’ve given them an equal price.  If the food weights weren’t the same I’ve used a price per kilo price making it correct. I used own brands in tesco where i’ve got discount brands on the high street.  In favour of tesco I will say that a few things were cheaper and their own brand gold coffee (and asdas for that matter) is great and their pasta is unmistakeably the cheapest and best I’ve yet to see.  I buy my flour and other baking stuff from Asda still. Their own brand bread flour is great value and bakes well, though I haven’t shopped around too much. This list is this week’ shop, it does vary, and I’m buying for 3 adults, 1 teenager and a five year old. We have two dogs and I still buy their dog food from Asda.

Item Quantity/offer Bearwood Tesco Difference

McCoys 18pck 2pks £4.00 £9.54 £5.54
Granary baguette 1 £0.52 £0.67 £0.15
French dressing 1 bottle £0.49 £0.87 £0.38
100 Island dressing 1 bottle £0.49 £0.87 £0.38
mature cheddar 2 x 400g £4.00 £5.00 £1.00
Tomtao sauce 605g £1.50 £1.90 £0.40
HP sauce 450g £1.50 £1.65 £0.15
Munch bunch pots 2 x6 bogof £1.55 £2.00 £0.45
Diet Pepsi 1 £1.00 £1.00 £0.00
Pepsi 1 £1.00 £1.00 £0.00
Pepsi cans 2 x6 for cinema etc £2.75 £5.50 £2.75
Courgettes 1 pack £1.35 £1.75 £0.40
Strawberries 1 pack £1.35 £2.29 £0.94
Bearwood butcher

Rack of ribs
£3.99 £4.04 £0.05
Bacon 2×8 rashers £1.50 £3.96 £2.46
Gammon steaks
£2.49 £4.00 £1.51

Hot chocolate 1 jar £0.99 £1.33 £0.34
sugar 1 pack £0.75 £0.98 £0.23
Thick creamy yogurts 6 £1.62 £3.68 £2.06
Big eggs 20 not free range 🙁 £1.98 £2.18 £0.20
sugar free sweets 3packs £2.67 £2.69 £0.02
Aerosol cream can £0.89 £1.25 £0.36
Double cream 284ml £0.79 £0.84 £0.05
Red grapes 1 punnet £0.69 £2.17 £1.48
Spinach 1 bag £0.79 £1.40 £0.61
Broccoli 2 large heads £1.38 £1.74 £0.36
Spring onion 1 bunch £0.49 £0.50 £0.01
Bananas 1 bunch £1.19 £1.49 £0.30
Funsize apples 1 bag £1.59 £1.00 -£0.59
Satsumas 1 net £0.99 £1.74 £0.75
Leeks 1 pack 2/3 leeks £0.85 £2.16 £1.31
Peppers Pack of 3 £1.39 £1.87 £0.48
Conference pears 1 bag £0.99 £0.70 -£0.29
Blueberries 2 tubs £1.98 £3.98 £2.00
Medium chicken 1 £2.99 £4.00 £1.01
Garlic sausage sl 1 pack £0.37 £0.54 £0.17
Smoked lean ham 1 pack £1.79 £2.99 £1.20
Deli sliced salami 1 pack £0.99 £2.00 £1.01
Parma ham 1 pack £1.99 £2.49 £0.50
Nurnberger sausage 1 pack mini sausages £1.49 £1.49 £0.00
Peach slices 1 tin £0.39 £0.45 £0.06
Malt wheaties 1 box £0.99 £1.45 £0.46
Rice snaps 1 box £0.95 £1.20 £0.25
Wheat bisks 36 £1.69 £1.92 £0.23
Peanut butter 500g £1.59 £1.30 -£0.29
Pesto 1 £0.99 £1.84 £0.85
Tomato puree 1 £0.33 £0.48 £0.15

Garlic bread 2pk £1.00 £1.00 £0.00
Cornish iceream 1 litre £1.00 £2.00 £1.00
Kids lollies 18 or 20 £2.00 £2.00 £0.00
Olive Oil 1 litre £2.50 £3.34 £0.84
Chicken strips 1 pack £1.50 £2.00 £0.50
Lean mince steak 820g/800g £4.00 £3.83 -£0.17
Chicken breasts 500g £3.00 £4.12 £1.12
Thin crispy pizza 2 £2.00 £3.00 £1.00
Branston pickle
£1.50 £1.73 £0.23
Chocolate mousse 8 £1.00 £0.80 -£0.20
Meatballs 24 £3.00 £3.00 £0.00
Potatoes 5kg £2.00 £2.25 £0.25
Lambrini 750cl £1.69 £1.49 -£0.20
£94.24 £130.45 £36.21

I hope you didn’t fall asleep. Or at least I hope the total at the bottom woke you up. What would you spend the extra £36.21 a week or £1882.92 a year on? A holiday? A better home? Lessons for the kids? Save for 10 years and you could buy a very nice car, no messing.

Obviously there are other ways to cut back, meat free mondays (yea, that’s no meat), freaky fridays (the only day we get the fizzy pop and sweeties out unless we go to the cinema). You can also bulk mix cookie dough. Split it into portions, roll it into a sausage, wrap in cling film and freeze as sausages. When you want some get a sharp knife and cut enough for a couple of biscuits each, put the rest back in the freezer. It stops over eating and because it takes just 10 mins to bake, by the time the washing up’s done and the kettle’s boiled the biscuits are ready, smell luxurious and taste better than the sawdust you usually buy. If you make a basic dough you can shove a few choc chips on just as they’re going in the oven. yum yum. I’m sure you’ll have your own ways of saving, like not feeding the husband now and then.

Oh and by the way, the Lambrini is for the beautiful au pair. I hid it under the coke incase someone saw me. Honest.