I am outing myself…. I shop in Lidl, and I am proud of it!

ussedI am jet lagged fueled, slightly preoccupied with returning to work tomorrow, surrounded by piles of laundry, (both washed and unwashed). I do however have a tan, and potentially a new career option! Noah is tucked up in bed, Neal is busy doing work in the dinning room.  I need chocolate, not any chocolate you understand, but a specific Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut. You see that way, I can fool my self that I am getting one of my five a day!

So it is a new year and a wonderful start we had, lots of celebrations, two birthdays, a retirement, a clean time anniversary and a fantastic two week holiday in the Caribbean, cruising on  Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. The year a head for us, is one of change, we are on a mega money saving jaunt, as well as a lets eat less and move more campaign. Now please here me when I say this, I love food, I love buying it, cooking it, presenting it and eating it. But I have over indulged in the last month or two. Mr Grump and I have decided to join a spinning class one a week!!! Watch this space! As for the money saving, my food bill was becoming ridiculous, I was spending around £120 a week in Tescos. I swapped to Sainsburys and then Asda and Morrisions. all the time my food shop a month was just under £500. So I tried Lidl, yes you do not get as much choice, but how many different brands of biscuits do I need to look at before opting for their own brand Rich Tea? Yes some times I come away having not purchased what I wanted but have always be able to find a substitute. And it is CHEAP, I mean really CHEAP. My shopping bill came to £67 today! whoop de whoop!!!!

My head is becoming increasingly fuzzy as I think of all the things I need to do, like returning all the clothes are accidentally ordered from Next online, pay this years car tax, send the car insurance company my no claims bonus. update the travel section of this blog with the wonderful adventure of cruising in the Caribbean (have I mentioned how totally amazing it was, and how we are absolutely going again, even Mr Grump smiled, in fact he stated on more than one occasion it was the best holiday ever. It might be the fact, we actually got time to do what married couples do when children aren’t around! hey hey, not that, I meant we got dressed up, headed to the casino for a wild night of virgin cocktails and slot machines! And yes maybe we did the other too!


Picture Perfect Christmas!

Noah and Mummy preparing mince pies for over 100 guests

T’was the night before Christmas….

Father Christmas’ messy footprints

Noah finding dinosaurs in his stocking!

And so the beginning of Superhero Christmas begins!

Christmas Lunch with Mr Grump (who was not grumpy at all) and Superman enjoying Tiger prawns baked in butter and garlic

Superheros, Grandfathers, and beautiful Ellie at Christmas Lunch

hhhhhhhhhhhhhh 008

Cake, Coffee and Conversation, much needed break from the busyness of Christmas

Sometimes the only place for Mr Grump, H and Noah is the naughty step!

The beauty of the Christmas period, afternoon naps!



It is a rant…it is, I know it is, but I am ranting! I am ranting because people annoy me, I annoy me! Everything annoys me today! Maybe I should have stayed in bed longer, maybe I should have drunk more coffee, eaten more cake, counted my blessings and not my pennies. But some days, well some days I want to scream not at anyone or anything in particular but just scream. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a designated place in every town you could go to and just scream. I mean really scream, grit your teeth, clench your fists and scream. Then just walk away, nodding perhaps at others who had just found that experience cathartic too and carry on with the rest of your day!

Today, at work I made the fatal mistake of “popping” into M&S at lunch time, big mistake. Too many people stopping and staring at the food, comparing the all butter mince pie to the lattice topped one. People please, just pick up what you want and more on. Starbucks was quieter, but I think that is because most people are still boycotting them for the tax scandle. I am in principle, that is to say I have not actually paid for a coffee in there since the scandle broke out. Not sure if that still counts though as my friend paid for it today!

I think the main thing I am annoyed at today, is me though. I had a pile of work to day, emails to get through and yet the day seems to have flown by with other things getting in the way. I am at a Recovery Event tomorrow, which I am really excited about, but it the back of my mind, I am thinking I could do with a day just catching up. I am so not prepared to Christmas, I have not even started buying presents yet, let alone sending cards, whats more I am expecting around 100 people at ours for a drinks party on Christmas Eve and I have only just sent the invitations out! Disorganised? me? always!

I have just got off the phone from my friend and as she hung up she said “I love you, your f***ing mad, but I love you” I guess that pretty much sums me up today. Other than Noah is a king in the nursery nativity play this Saturday and he is determined to go as Spider Man.


Our Nanny Jane

nannyjaneandnoahIt is Tuesday again! As I sit here thinking of all the things I want to write about, I have remembered that I am yet to introduce the fourth member of our family. This is Nanny Jane. When Noah was two and a half, I had the opportunity to go back to full time work. It was one of the biggest decisions I have ever had to make. Financially, we had been living on Neal’s salary since I had Noah, and had managed well. However, I was ready to start using my brain and I had a burning in my heart to do this job. Even though I did not want full time work, I took it knowing that there would be a possibility of reducing my hours after six months.

We met Nanny Jane through the local preschool that Noah attended. Instantly, Noah bonded with her, and we saw how she bonded with Noah. So Nanny Jane came to work for us. I felt comfortable going to work, knowing that Noah would be at home, playing with his toys in his environment. Nanny Jane fitted in to our family straight away. She is an amazing cook, perfect big sister for Noah and fantastic friend for me! We were so fortunate that everything went well, my parents also assisted in the childcare which gave Noah some quality time with them (lets be honest they spoilt him).

Now I only work part time, and Noah is attending a nursery before he starts school in September.  We do not see Nanny Jane as often. The house can seem empty when I get home from work and am not greeted by Noah and Nanny Jane at the window. However, we still see her, we love her to bits. Noah is keen to tell everybody that he loves Nanny Jane, and that she gives him chocolate and fruit shoots when they go out together! On Saturday it is Noah’s nursery nativity play, along with Mr Grump, myself , and my parents Nanny Jane has been summons by Noah!

We love Nanny Jane!


  • IMG_1602You frequently have a bath with more than three action men, two dinosaurs and a Ferrari.
  • You go food shopping and don’t think will he eat that, you think will that actually fill him up?
  • Instead of picking a pen out of your bag at work, you appear to be holding Spider Man.
  • Your bed is used as some sort of den, camp, or base.
  • You not only know all the names of the dinosaurs, you can spell them too.
  • Everything and anything will be used as a sword, gun or weapon. (even your make up brushes are not safe)
  • There is mud somewhere, you might not see it straight away, but there will always be mud!

Noah has been unwell all week, as has Mr Grump! I do not like seeing either of them unwell, and if the truth be told I am not very good at being a nursemaid. My motto is “sympathy is top shelf right hand corner and I am to short to reach” Instead I did what I think I do best, I cooked. All good Cypriot girls know how to make Chicken and Vegetable Soup. It is simple, easy, cheap and cures all ills. (or so my mother told me). I have a whole heap of recipes to upload on here, it is just finding the time, I know excuses, excuses! But I promise I am going too.

So there is one thing I have noticed since Noah has been doing Kumon, and that is he now loves to count everything. This morning he lined up his dinosaurs and said to me “mummy watch me count them”. It is a real joy to watch, he is learning and playing at the same time, and whats more he is enjoying himself. He also has started asking me what words say and his letter recognition has improve vastly. Yes it is a commitment, and yes some times I feel like a Sargent Major starting the stop clock and saying “go”. But he likes it, and somewhere in the process he is beginning to tell the time!

This week, there has not been enough tea, or coffee for that matter drunk, and there has not been a piece of cake to have passed my lips. This could be a good thing, as we are off on holiday in five weeks and I need to loose a few pounds around the mid drift!

How to cure all ills and mend a broken heart….or so I am told!

The Zarkos family Chicken and Vegetable SoupIMG_1646

This is a traditional recipe that uses fresh vegetables and half a roasted chicken. Some call it rustic, others call it frugal, still others call it simple. It is rumoured, in our family anyway, to cure all ills, and mend a broken heart.


  • Half a chicken
  • 3 medium sized Potatoes
  • 1/2 a sweet potato
  • 1/2 a swede
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 white onion
  • Teaspoon of double concentrate tomato puree
  • Bay Leaf
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Chili Pepper (depending on the severity of the broken heart)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Roast half a chicken in the oven for 30 minutes on 140 degrees (fan assisted)


Chop all vegetable up roughly into 3 cm cubes, place in a large flat based pan, I tend to use a paella pot. Glaze with Olive oil, tomato puree and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes on high heat continually stirring.

IMG_1641Add kettle boiled water. (enough to cover vegetables) Gently simmer for further ten minutes, continually add enough water to cover vegetables.
Allow the chicken to cool for 5 minutes and then remove the skin.


Place chicken and all vegetables and juices in large saucepan and completely cover with water. Bring to the boil.

IMG_1643Simmer for an hour. Best served with fresh crusty bread and butter. I tend to cook it in the morning, the reheat it for supper.




neallllMy husband is grumpy!

It is a male thing, I think. He had a tantrum on Friday night when we were “up town” watching the big Christmas Light Switch On. He was hungry and needed feeding, he is worse than our almost four year old son. A quick detour to the Chinese for a bowl of noodles, and I hoped this would appease the situation. But oh no! He then complained that he had indigestion, was sick in a pub toilet, complained about me rushing his food, and then whinged he was cold. He did not have much of the festive spirit.

I would like to say that this was a one off grump, but oh no! The festive mood of a grumpy old man seems to have stayed for the weekend. Saturday’s “issues” were, fishing bait or the lack of it  in our house, the cost of renewing his…

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