Monday, May 09, 2011

Decent start to the week

Despite faffing around for most of the day yesterday, not getting a lot done (although I did get a second draft of my CV finished) and really wanting to go out for a walk once it cooled down a bit in the evening, I decided before I left to cook the pasta sauce I'd decided to do to have for lunches this week.  Of course, once I started doing that, I decided to also make the banana bread I wanted to do to use up the really on their last legs bananas as well.  So once I got going, I ended up spending the best part of an hour and a half in the kitchen, it was after eight when I put the pasta bake into the oven and I was so tired I knew I was better to just go to bed early.  If I had gone out I would have also felt good but I would have gotten a second wind and ended up staying up late again.  I think it was the right decision as I went to bed around half-nine, read about two pages before falling into a deep sleep and slept right through until the alarm this morning.  I needed a good sleep.

But, I did get the pasta done.  I used two jars of tomatoes with herbs that I bottled in August and had totally forgotten about.  Sauteed a couple of chopped up onions and a large carrot for a few minutes, added the tomatoes and as a bit of an afterthought threw in the last handful of last year's broadbeans from the freezer.  Let that lot simmer away gently while the banana bread was baking and at the same time let some pasta cook in the tupperware poacher.  Put the pasta in an ovenproof dish, poured the sauce over it, topped with some grated cheese and once the cake had finished baking, put it in the oven to finish.  Ended up with three normal and two very generous portions of pasta bake, all neatly waiting in their tuppreware in the fridge to be taken to work as lunch (except on Wednesdays, when I eat in the canteen but I will bring some pasta bake for tea before choir practice so it's more or less the same thing).  Had one today and it was lovely.  So apart from Wednesday, shouldn't be spending a lot of money this week. 

I also saw a very interesting post on Food in Jars with a recipe for breakfast baked eggs in a jar - I think I will give this a go as I too feel the need to get back to some more veggie heavy meals.  I quite fancy the idea of preparing the veg on Sundays/making sure I cook something on Sundays that leaves me with leftover veg, then taking five minutes to assemble these on a Monday morning and leaving them to bake while I get ready for work.  Lovely substantial hot breakfast to start the week and then a cold jar already waiting for you each morning.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Random tip on logging into gmail and blogger with different accounts at the same time

Not sure anyone else ever has this problem but since I've accidentally found a way around it, I thought I'd post it.  Of course, this could well be something that has a much easier solution that I just never knew about and somebody smarter than me will comment to let me know how bad my knowledge of technology has really become.

My problem being that when I created this blog, I was (and still do) mostly using a yahoo email address.  At some stage I wanted to create a new email address (I have several, some with my real name, some with usernames from various forums or websites, some just used to sign up for newsletter or something that might potentially lead to increased spam etc.) and I decided to use gmail, which lots of people seemed to have taken to using.  I have to admit, I really don' like it but I used that address for a couple of things that have become fairly regular (such as organising book club) so I do need to check it regularly.  And if I was already logged into my blog I couldn't log into my gmail account without logging out of blogger first.  Which kind of irritated me. 

Entirely by accident I recently discovered a workaround though.  If I'm logged into blogger and open a new window (or tab), go to youtube and log in there with my gmail account I can then go straight to the gmail site and it will open my email.  Without making me log out of blogger first.

So there you have it.  I may be the only person that had that problem or found it annoying but that's how to get around it if you need to.

Spending recap - week 18

For as long as I manage to keep up daily tracking, I'm just going to go ahead and post a summary each week. But without reasons or justifications or excuses. Sometimes I'll spend money I shouldn't on things I don't need and I'm not looking for comments on on silly that is, believe me, I already know.  This recap is only cash or debit card transactions for day-to-day spending.  Anything that is paid in a different manner (e.g. monthly bills going straight from account) and bigger one-off expeneses are not included.

Food necessities = ordinary food, essentially three meals a day kind of stuff
Food luxuries = anything not really necessary to keep me fed, mostly junk like chocolate, crisps etc.  Also includes eating out.
Canteen food = eating lunch out or getting something delivered if I don't bring lunch to work
Transport = anything above and beyond my monthly ticket.

  • Transport  13.50
  • Food necessities  30.66
  • Food luxuries  55.82
  • Canteen food  27.10
  • Toiletries 0.00
  • Gifts (incl. postage)  21.85
  • Clothes  12.00
  • House/garden  25.85
  • Medical 0.00
  • Other  23.70 (12.50 was music for choir)
Total spend this week:  210.48
Total spend this month:  210.48

This week's recap includes two weekends as I did last week's a couple of days early to coincide with the end of the month.  And this week includes the final day of my holidays as well, with some slightly frivolous shopping and eating out.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

A slight error

But a very frustrating one.  I had planned to use some of the money I am due back from my annual house expenses to pay to visit my sister in France at the end of June (on a side note, when I brought the annual reckoning to the renters' association to get it checked out she said that normally, for an apartment the size of mine they would expect heating costs to be around 700 a year - mine are closer to 200, I'm getting a refund of over 300 - by her reckoning I should normally need to pay an extra couple of hundred every year and I'm very glad I don't need to).  As I will only have a few days off work and not an entire week the 8 hour train journey might have been a bit much so although I prefer not to fly, I promised her I would check out flights - the train costs a bit less than 200 euro so there was a chance flying might also be a bit less expensive or even that a flight one-way and train the other might work out cheaper. 

I was waiting for the refund to actually arrive (should be any day now) when I saw today that Lufthansa were doing a special offer.  Flights have to be booked by tomorrow so I assume it's a mother's day campaign (it's mother's day here tomorrow).  I was able to get a flight for 99 euro so decided to go ahead and book it using my company credit card.  We are allowed to use these for private purposes as well, as the bill is paid directly from our own bank accounts anyway.  However, it's a typical German credit card, which needs to be paid off in full each month.  I don't use it often but using my ordinary card would have taken me right up to the limit so I decided to use the company card to be on the safe side.  Then I noticed on the booking page that if I used paypal instead of just doing a direct card transaction, I wouldn't have to pay a 5 euro credit card booking charge.  So I added my company card to my paypal account and chose that as the payment method.  And when completing the transaction got a little mouse-trigger-happy and ended up clicking complete before actually changing the paypal transaction to the other card.  I've transferred the money immediately to my card from my Irish account but that leaves my Irish account very close to its overdraft limit.  I will leave things like that for a week and if the refund hasn't hit my bank account by then I'll just go ahead and transfer money from my annual expenses savings account to cover it. 

I hate having to juggle like that, especially because of a silly mistake on my part.  On the other hand I am very pleased to be planning an extra-long weekend with my sister and her family.  It will do my soul good to spend some time there and it'll be lovely to see the house they bought and just moved into a couple of months ago.

Maybe it will take my mind off the dentist.  I went to the old dentist on Monday to have the repair done on the broken crown.  He said that if a bit breaks off again, he will replace the entire crown.  Then on Friday I went to my new dentist for the planned cleaning and organising a timeframe for the three onlays I need to get (he did a temporary cement filling to give me time to pay off the crown work before needing to pay out more).  After the cleaning was finished (the usual, she said everything looked fine but I really need to try and keep up a more regular flossing habit - I have promised to try harder on that), the dentist came in to have a look.  He was not impressed with the broken and repaired crown story at all, particularly when he saw that the repair leaves a big gap between that tooth and the one next to it with no contact point at all.  He has told me that I should definitely complain about it and insist on getting a new crown as that kind of gap will just lead to paradontical (periodentical? - sorry, not sure of the English translation and the online dictionary's not helping at the moment) problems.  Wonderful.  I'm not looking forward to that conversation with the old dentist.

From the new dentist I received the forms to send in to the health insurance place to get their part of the payment organised (but this time it should be organised properly so that I don't have to pay and get a refund, they will just pay that portion directly to the dentist).  I'll send that in and in the meantime wonder about how I'm going to find the 1,400 or so I need to pay for my portion.  This new dentist doesn't have a fance agreement with a central billing place you see so financing it over six months isn't an option.  The assistant told me that if I made fairly big downpayment I could spread the rest out over three months so that's what I'll do, I suppose.  Pay 400 when the job is done and then three further monthly payments of just over 300.  I'm hoping the health insurance will take a long time to get back to me (and that my teeth hold out!) so that I can potentially push the appointment out to July.  Once I've finished with my loan repayments, I can put that money towards the new dental work, so not having to pay anything until the end of July would be ideal.  It means making more than small payments to the credit card and overdraft will have to go on the backburner again but it has to be done.

The cleaning I had done cost 50 euro (another change from the other place, where the basic cleaning treatment was 90 and they tried hard every time to sell the 'luxury' package that was about 130).  Since I am now paying a whole lot of money for dental insurance, I will phone them on Monday to find out how to claim that back.  If I recall correctly, I can claim up to 250 euro in the first year so I will claim for the cleaning and then the rest when I get the onlays done, which will help absorb the downpayment at least.  It's costing me a lot every month for that additional dental insurance but given the state of my teeth and the knowledge that they're really not going to get any better at this stage, it looks like I will be making full use of it in the years to come.  The amount I can claim increases every year until after five years, I should be able to claim around 90% of the costs of just about any work that needs doing. 

Right, not much else to report.  I showed my CV to some German people from choir who spent a good hour tearing it to pieces so it has taken me a few days to get over that.  It was all well-meant (well, most of it, one guy tagged along who I don't know very well and it was much harder to take criticism from him because I just don't have any basis of trust built up with him) and much needed but was also another reminder that if you ask a German for an opinion, you are very likely to get a very direct answer.  No pussyfooting around by any means.  Other than that, the only thing going on is that Düsseldorf is gearing up to host the Eurovision Song Contest next weekend and it's actually getting kind of exciting watching the Eurovision coaches passing by and seeing the signs going up all over.  I haven't watched the Eurovision for years, since before it was split into the format where there are semi-finals first.  But this year I will be finding a pub to follow it in.  Not just because it's being held just down the road from me (quite literally - a max. ten minute drive down the road around the corner from my street) but also because the Irish entry is Jedward.  And although I found them intensely annoying when they first made an appearance (and was glad I didn't live in Ireland anymore and therefore could easily avoid them) I have actually kind of started to enjoy them over the last couple of months.  They keep popping up on discussion board and twitter links and they are, to use a phrase sometimes popular in Ireland, completely for the birds ( here's a sample interview from youtube - they don't come on until about ten minutes in).  They've started making an impression here already so it'll be fun to see if they do well in the Eurovision. 

But that's enough waffling for now.  Off to floss well before heading to bed :-)

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Nearly there

I'm back in work but had to take a moment to check my Irish bank account - it was a holiday in Ireland yesterday so there were no updates.  But loan payment has gone out now and finally, finally, after five very, very long years I am down to just two payments left to do.  And once that's gone I can really attack the credit card and overdraft.  One more step down the road to debt free!

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Holidays - day 6

Got up around nine, ate a proper breakfast (including a newly opened jar of last year's raspberry jam - delicious although my notebook tells me that when I made it I didn't think it was as nice as the year before's jam).  Did the dishes and headed out for a walk to a nearby park.  While there I saw the May Day (Workers' Day) parade passing, which was interesting.  Didn't bother following along to go and listen to the speeches though, just headed back through the park and up an incline, where I sat in the sun for twenty minutes or so peoplewatching and musing.

I resisted the temptation to buy an ice-cream or something nice from the bakery on the way home and once I got here got stuck in to getting my CV finished.  Oh my goodness but OpenOffice can be a finicky, annoying program to use.  This is why I've kept putting off getting my CV finished - I ended up just starting from scratch as too much of the Word formatting was just getting skewed.  Have designed a completely different format based on some a found on the internet - I'd used the same old one for at least ten years and it was getting very old-fashioned looking even to me.  And of course I needed to make sure I was using the type of layout popular in Germany, with plenty of space for a photo on the front page etc.  Now it's very annoying that I can't manage to re-size the photo properly (for whatever reason it's opening up as a nearly full-page).  Sigh.  I thought I was going to have to sneak into the office this evening to do it there but as I'm typing this I am remembering a piece of software that was available for free download to do just exactly that so I may see if I can find that.  Just need to have something to send in to the recruitment agency I spoke to on Friday and want to send it early tomorrow morning. 

And I've caught up on some blog reading, done the ironing, put everything away and swept the floors.  Not a bad day's work so far really.  Just wish I didn't have to go back to real work.  I do still have tomorrow off but since I have a dental appointment at 12, the day is going to be a bit of a washout I think.  I'm getting the crown repaired which broke at the beginning of April (yes, the one I only just got at the end of November and which I have only just made the final payments on).  But for now on this sunny evening there are strawberries demanding my attention.