Archive for food

THE DARWIN ELEVATOR By Jason M. Hough – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by stanleyriiks

Set a couple of hundred years into the future the world has been ravished by a murderous disease that has wiped out most of the planet’s inhabitants. In Darwin, Australia, the sole human habitation on planet earth leads a dirty and struggling existence. In the shadow of a mysterious elevator built by aliens that leads to massive human-built space farms and habitations outside of Earth’s orbit, and surrounded by subhumans (those infected with the disease), people survive hand to mouth if at all.

Skyler Luiken and his small crew are immunes, rare humans who don’t catch the disease immediately upon leaving the few kilometres from the bottom of the elevator that are not infected. They are scavengers, climbing the elevator and flying out from it above orbit to stop in the desolated cities of old earth, and taking what they can find before the subs attack.

But is the elevator failing? The climbers that take air and water up and bring food down keep losing power. And the man is charge of the fortress that surrounds the base of the elevator will do whatever it takes to increase his power.

A post-apocalyptic world, a thrilling plot, great characters. Hough’s first novel is immensely entertaining. The first in a series, the book set up the crumbling world incredibly well, Skylar is fleshed out nicely as are some of the other characters, and it all moves along as a nice pace, with plenty of action that doesn’t overwhelm the story telling.

A remarkable debut, that ends on an amazing cliff-hanger that will have you begging for the second book.

Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Downgrade your expenditure

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2010 by stanleyriiks

There are two simple ways downgrade your grocery shopping.

The first is by downgrading your supermarket. If you shop at Waitrose (you rich bastards!), you need to start shopping at Marks and Spencer. If you shop at Marks you need to start shopping at Sainsbury. If Sainsbury then Tesco. If Tesco then Asda. If Asda then move to Morrisons. Morrisons to Iceland, Iceland to Lidl/Aldi/Netto. If you have the misfortunate to shop at Lidl/Aldi/Netto you need to get a big stick and start mugging homeless people!

Ok, Morrisons might be above Asda, and its unlikely you’ll have all of those options in your area, but remember online shopping.

If you haven’t got the choice of which supermarket you can go to then you can always downgrade your label. A store-branded product can replace a brand name product. All the major supermarkets are getting in on the store value-brand now, even Waitrose. Both Tesco and Sainsbury have three levels of products, Tesco Finest and Taste the Difference being the top level, and the nicest, although sometimes only slightly. But also the most expensive.

The thing to remember when purchasing your food if that no matter how nice and yummy and delicious it is when you put it in your mouth, it all comes out the same at the other end. If that doesn’t induce you to purchase a Tesco’s value lasagne for 89p than I doubt anything will.

But seriously, downgrading your shopping should be taken slowly. Dropping down from a regular Tesco’s Finest menu to the value range will leave you feeling hard-down-by. Ease yourself down the range in small easily manageable increments.

Also, look at other things that can be downgraded. Your mobile contract can be downgraded as long as you are far enough into it, normally about 9 months. If you’re not using your current allowance give your mobile company a ring and reduce your contract.

Insurance can be downgraded, although check carefully that you are still covered for the things that you want to be covered for.

Downgrade your car. Sometimes this can work the opposite way too. A friend of mine purchased a newer car that had a slightly smaller diesel engine, the lower cost of insurance, lower tax and lower fuel meant that it cost £14.00 a month less to run than the older car. That’s including the more expensive hire-purchase costs. Obviously I cannot recommend getting into higher levels of debt, but in this case I can see the advantage. But debt is still bad.

Start downgrading now.

Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Smaller Portions, Bigger Savings

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Have you ever seen a Weight-Watchers microwave meal? Have you tipped it out and tried to spread it out on a plate? I’m not having a go at Weight-Watcher here (Please don’t sue me!), most supermarket ready meals actually have similar portion sizes. When I tip one out onto a plate I’m struck by the smallness of them. When I cook (ok, when my girlf cooks) I don’t want to see the plate for food. To me a decent portion size is when I struggle to squeeze in dessert, and I can always squeeze in dessert!

But the supermarkets (and Weight-Watchers) are doing you a favour! If you can get used to those three-quarter sized portions you can save yourself a nice lot of money. Don’t actually buy the ready-meals, as we said before the bigger the bag of frozen chips, or the larger the packet of chicken, the better value it is, in general. But if you can squeeze down your portion size just slightly (you don’t want to starve yourself, and you don’t want to be so hungry that you need snacks!), you can save pounds every day.

It’s not about will power, it’s about what you are used to. At the moment I’m used to three lots of dessert, but previously I was used to one. So I’ll work my way back to the good old days when I didn’t spend more than twenty pounds a month on snacks.

Having mentioned snacks I have to say, as delightful as they taste, snacks are bad for the pocket. They are not good value. Often you can get two packets of crisps or a couple of mars bars for the same price as a meal.

Eat meals (slightly smaller portions), and may be dessert (I couldn’t go without dessert, life just wouldn’t be worth living!). Continue to decrease your portion size until you hit a good level, three-quarters, two-thirds; you know how much food you need. Don’t try to go too far, we’re trimming here, not cutting.

Which leads me nicely to my next tip: cut your hair shorter. Again, just a trim, although for the boys a buzz-cut is a great look! I have one myself. Saves on shampoo and conditioner as you don’t need to use so much.

Smaller portions actually works best with items that you don’t notice how much you use. But think about it, do you really need a handful of shampoo to wash your stubbly head? Do you really need to use that much bubble bath, or that much shower gel? Cutting back just a little on these regularly used (I certainly hope they are!) items, can save you pounds over the course of a month. Next time you do the washing put in a little less powder or gel, next time you do the washing-up use a little less washing-up liquid. There are many ways where you can save by using smaller portions and if won’t even matter to the quality of what you are doing.

Don’t fill your mouth with mouthwash. Buy an electric toothbrush (there are loads for less than £20.00), and just use a pea-sized squeeze of toothpaste instead of filling the entire manual brush. Your new electric toothbrush will pay for itself in a couple of years!

Remember: smaller portions equal bigger savings!

Credit Crunch: A Survivor’s Guide – Budgeting

Posted in Life..., Personal Finance, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Budgeting is not scary, it’s not difficulty and it doesn’t take a genius to do it. You don’t need a degree in finance, or 25 year experience as an economist, nor to you need a financial advisor or book-keeper do it for you.

Budgeting is about knowing what your incomings are (wages normally), and your outgoings (mortgage/rent, utilities, telephone, cable, shopping, credit cards, etc).

Start out by printing off your monthly bank statement. If you haven’t got internet banking then sign-up now. The easiest way to have control of your money is to know how much you have and how much is coming out. This is budgeting.

Make a list of your income:

To make it simple and give you an example we’ll say you receive £1000 wages a month and you have no other income.

Now make a list of your direct debits, standing-orders, and any other monthly payments that you can’t get out of, this should not include any spending on shopping or food:

Rent:               £300.00

Electricity:             £100.00

Gas:                £100.00

Water:                         £20.00

Taxes:             £50.00

Insurance:             £10.00

Travel:             £20.00

So you start with £1000

When you’ve paid all of the above you’re left with: £400.00

This is your working budget. Spend more than this and you’re going into debt. Debt is the enemy! You should always try to spend within your budget. Food, clothes, going out, holidays, petrol, everything that is not a regular bill will come out of your working budget.

Check your bank regularly, internet banking and telephone banking are very helpful in making sure you are aware of your spending.

Budgeting is the opposite of dieting, but both work in the same (although opposite) way: there are only two ways to improve your situation, get more money in or spend less money. (Dieting is use more calories up or take less in).

Being aware of your financial situation, however bad it may be, is always helpful. Remember that knowledge is power.

Next time: Bills