Sunday, 25 September 2016

Shiny and new

A few shiny new things have been appearing here lately.  My laptop died hence the blog silence for 2 weeks :-(  I'd had it for 5 years and to be honest I've been nursing it along for the last year.  I'd been backing up my files and photos so when it literally fell apart it wasn't a shock.  I shopped around and eventually chose a new one similar to my old one with £100 off as the added bonus!  I'm still getting used to it.  I've discovered I'm not good with new technology, I just don't have the patience.  Definitely a sign of getting old!

Another new thing is The Teenager's black belt in TKD.  I think the smile says it all :-)

Work is hectic, in all honesty I'm not enjoying it at all.  I'm hoping that will change.  I'm working long hours in school and still doing a few more at home every night.  Housework/gardening and decorating have all been abandoned.  Although I did manage to defrost and thoroughly clean out my black fridge freezer.

I picked all the ripe tomatoes from the polytunnel.

And all the green ones!

I've been using up as much as I can from both freezers before stocking them back up again.  I stewed some gooseberries with a couple of sad apples from the fruit bowl and turned them into crumble. Yum!

Life is trundling along nicely.

Oh, there will be one more shiny new thing arriving in the next few weeks. Yesterday I bought a new car!  But that story deserves a post of it's own!! :-)

Sunday, 11 September 2016

A new era

This morning I took The Teenager to Glasgow to move into halls.  Gulp!! My baby has flown the nest and I'm now officially an empty nester.  We were both prepared and ready for it so no tears or drama.  It's the next stage in both our lives and I know I'm looking forward to mine.  I'm always at the end of the phone and it's only a 40 minute drive down the motorway..  I've had a few texts from him this afternoon but all seems to be well so far.  His biggest problem was figuring out how the cooker works!  His flatmates seem ok with a mixture of subjects being studied so plenty of scope for discussion (and drinking!)

When I got home I kept thinking I needed to go the supermarket as I hadn't been for a week.  But I had a look in the cupboards and freezers and realised they were actually pretty full.  Just not full of quick to grab n eat stuff!! I had no non dairy milk left but remembered I'd seen something on Pinterest about making your own oat milk.  So I gave it a go!

This brand is quite nice and costs £1.40 per litre.  I made about 700ml for 10p!!  It's a little watery so next time I'll use less water but hey, for 10p it tastes great.

Oat Milk


Soak 100g of rolled oats in a bowl with 500ml of room temperature water for 15 mins.  Drain and squeeze through a sieve.  Put oats back into the bowl with 200ml of water and leave for another 10 mins.  Drain and squeeze (I used the back of a spoon to really get all the creamy juice out!)

Next time I'll use 400ml of water for the first soak.  It keeps for a week in the fridge apparently.  I'll report back on that.

This week I'm going to try to live out of the cupboards and freezers and use up all the sugary and processed stuff so I can make a start on cutting out refined sugars.  OH's Teenogre will eat up stuff The Teenager has left behind so I can re stock with even more healthy foods.  My diet is pretty healthy but I do succumb to the odd packet of crisps or cereal bar.  If they're simply not there then I can't eat 'em!!  Definitely a new era round here :-)

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Ruff week

I honestly don't know how I got through this week! But I know I'm exhausted and I've got a hectic weekend ahead. On top of the mountain of paperwork, I have a very difficult class to manage.  Most of my time is taken up dealing with behaviour issues.  When I come home from work and tell OH some of the stuff the kids get up to he just laughs and says it's like an episode of Bad Education The Early Years version!

This week's highlights include 2 of my boys peeing in the playground and 2 different boys running out of the playground onto the road for a dare.  I was on line duty and had several older boys (not even my class!) refuse to come in after break.  That was a management issue, I just ignored them and left them.

Yesterday we had a fire drill in the morning and then in the afternoon just as I was about to start my Textiles stuff with 20 kids we had an actual fire incident and had to evacuate the building for real.  In the rain.  And while we waited for the 2 fire engines to arrive to deal with it (smoke alarm in the kitchen was triggered) the council workers CONTINUED CUTTING THE GRASS AROUND THE 200+ KIDS STANDING IN THE RAIN!!!!!

You couldn't make this stuff up!  Oh, and Emma's back in season so I have a howling whiny dog when I get home exhausted from work!  At least I don't have to think about dinner when I get in :-)

Friday, 2 September 2016

Free lunch

When a member of the management team approaches you in school and opens with the words "Did you know that just outside your classroom we've got some raised beds?" And then follows that with "Some of the children in your class last year planted seeds as part of their Grow, Cook, Eat project." You know that you're going to end up being responsible for the upkeep of the school's raised beds!! :-)

So this morning we went outside to harvest the vegetables they'd planted before the summer holiday.  Sadly the beds hadn't been touched for months and were completely overgrown.  A lot of stuff had gone to seed but we managed to pick peas, runner beans, lettuce, carrots and radishes.  The peas were a bit big and hard but most of the kids tried them and some loved them! We had a fab discussion about seed saving, pollination and eating stuff straight from the garden :-)

No one wanted to try eating the nasturtiums but everyone agreed they looked pretty

Even after the kids (and me!) had munched loads of peas there were loads of pods left so I brought them home. Waste not, want not!  I had a generous full bowl so turned them into a simple Pea and Mint soup (peas, potato, onion simmered in veg stock then blitzed with a handful of fresh mint).  I got 3 mugs of soup so that'll do 3 (free) lunches for work :-)

Every night this week before I've gone to bed I took a 'ready' meal and a mug of soup out of the freezer.  No thought required and saves so much time.

I just need to crack the make ahead breakfasts and snacks.  I found a fab gluten and dairy free pancake recipe (original recipe here)  that I love.

My version:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 large eggs
1 large ripe banana
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups oats

Put everything in a blender and mix well.  I used my Nutribullet.  Then make pancakes in the usual way.  They're lovely drizzled with maple syrup.  And they freeze well!  So I'll be making a big batch of these for my work day breakfasts.

Monday, 29 August 2016

More meal prep

Yesterday I spent some time prepping my evening meals for this week as I'm just so tired when I get home from work.  I cooked extra rice and broccoli on Saturday night so I had leftovers.  I defrosted and cooked 4 chicken breasts, roasted some Mediterranean veggies, soaked and cooked some black beans, cooked a large turkey thigh in the slow cooker and made a big pot of mashed potatoes.  I also baked a GF loaf.  Then I divided it all up in different combinations into my containers.

I ended up with 6 balanced meals for me and a portion of chicken and a portion of mashed potatoes for my eldest son.  I kept one out for tonight (mashed potatoes/blackbeans/chicken) and froze the rest.  This week's meals all sorted!

Link to containers here 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

First week back at school

I'm exhausted!!  I have 28 challenging wee monsters with a lot of needs.  Luckily I have a support assistant with me most of the day (which is fantastic) but I'm not used to having another adult in the room with me.  So that's presenting a few challenges as well!

I spent the last week of my holiday trying to arrange the room into a lovely learning environment.  It's a tight squeeze but one week in and I think it's going to work. You can't tell from the pics but I have the school garden including the polytunnel just outside my room and I have the only classroom with an outside door.  So there will be lots of opportunities for outdoor learning.

This is my desk area at the end of the day!!

The meal prep I did a few weeks ago has proved to be a big success.  Coming home exhausted from work meant I already had a nutritious meal waiting for me.  So far everything has reheated well.  Last Sunday I made a big batch of turkey meatloaf using 1.5kg of turkey breast mince I got reduced.  I made some little burger patties and meatloaf muffins as well as the usual loaf.  I've still got lots in the freezer.

They reheat very quickly in the microwave!

Back door before shot

On Monday night my joiner phoned to say the doors I had ordered had arrived and could he could come and fit them the next day ie the first day of school for the kids!!  He's a very busy guy as he's so good so of course I said yes even though I wasn't ready for him.

But what a difference they make!   

Side entrance door, seen from the street (before)

And here it is after

I'm not a huge fan of the white uPVC look but they now match the windows.  They're energy efficient and have better security locks.  I'm also thinking ahead about when it comes to sell this house so making it buyer friendly too is important.  I decided to have a very plain look of half glass and I chose brushed chrome handles as I'm replacing the many colours of handles/switches etc with brushed chrome throughout the house.  There's still some plastering to be done as removing all the disabled entrance stuff from the previous owner has left big holes but it already looks heaps better.

While he was here, the joiner also finally put a door on my integrated dishwasher and made me 4 new cupboard doors for my utility room.  They just need to be painted white now.  DIY and decorating is a very slow process but I'm learning to be patient (ish) ;-)

I had a day off yesterday from thinking about/doing school work but I have to spend some time today prepping work for next week.  Every day last week I was in school from 8am to 5pm and also did a few more hours at home too. I know I can't keep this pace up but for the first term in a new place it's kinda essential to hit the ground running and make a good impression.  I think I'm going to be happy in this school :-)

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Portion Control

This was tonight's tea.  This morning I got a large chicken (free by using my M&S vouchers but normally £6).  I had roast chicken with some of my potatoes and broccoli.  And very nice it was too BUT it was a much smaller portion than I would normally serve.

Just out of interest I've been researching what is considered a serving of cooked lean meat for an average person.  It's just 70g.  SEVENTY grams!!!  That's not even a whole chicken breast.  It's just those 2 wee bits in my bowl above.  I would normally have at least double that and OH would have triple (but he trains hard and needs more quality protein than the average person)

I shredded it and added sweetcorn, pineapple, a little mayonnaise and a sprinkling of garam masala.  It looks a better serving size now!  A potato serving is 2 egg sized potatoes.  I chopped them up too ;-) And most vegetables have no limit on serving size.

So, my 1.8kg chicken should have cost £6 and it yielded 764g of meat.  That's 10 servings, each costing 60p.  (I'm always interested when I see bloggers costing their meals!)  The bones are currently in the slow cooker making stock for soup. I'll get about 6 servings of soup for just the cost of a few veggies, some rice and one portion of the chicken.  So 9 dinners and 6 lunches from one chicken.  In frugal terms it makes sense to stick to serving sizes as you get more value for money. 

I had already been looking at recommended portion sizes before today.  Last night I had some tofu.

It was £1.40 for 349g.  The recommended portion size for tofu is 120g so 3 portions from this pack @ 47p per portion.  Although I kept tasting and testing it so actually ate about half in the end!

I pressed it, dried it, sliced it and marinated it in Tamari.

I coated it in cornflour and fried it until golden.  The smaller pieces were crispier and tasted better.

I added them to my usual stir fry (at the end since they're already cooked) and drizzled sweet chilli sauce over it all.  Very nice indeed!

So portion control will save me money and keep me healthy.  Not exactly rocket science but sometimes I need to look at it differently to make healthy frugal changes.