Sunday, 17 December 2017
... a lot like Christmas! With just one week to go (3 full and 2 half days of teaching left) I'm beginning to feel a wee bit Christmassy 🎅 On Tuesday afternoon (my non contact time) I did my huge supermarket shop for the meal on Christmas Day. I had planned out my menu before and made a list of ingredients I needed to buy specially.
However, as I was shopping I came to realise that instead of making some things from scratch (like the cranberry sauce and a GF Christmas pudding) it was actually cheaper to buy some things ready made. It was £1 for a jar of quality cranberry sauce instead of £2 for a tub of fresh cranberries plus the sugar/orange juice/spices. The GF pudding was £4. Just buying the dried fruit and nuts alone would have cost me that. Then I still needed the suet, treacle, brandy etc so it was a no brainer.
In the past I have made absolutely everything from scratch (including the bread to make bread sauce!!) Equally I've also bought everything from the Marks and Spencer Food Ordering service!! Now I have a happy medium with a mix of ready made and home made.
So, this year's menu will be:
Prawn and mango cocktail
Cheddar Jalapeño Sticks (veggie/fussy option)
Pigs in blankets
Festive stuffed peppers (veggie option)
Christmas Pudding and custard
I decided to do everything gluten and dairy free instead of offering guests a choice so has cost a bit more than 'normal.' Excluding alcohol the food bought specially came to £53.65. I used £30 of my Nectar points to bring it down to £23.65. OH has ordered the turkey from the butcher so that total is everything except the bird. I bought 2 bottles of Prosecco that were 'reduced' to £7 each but it's only me that likes it (no one else really drinks alcohol) so suspect they might be gifted.
Now I need to think about presents. I usually give the 'kids' money to spend as they like plus a wee parcel to open. I might make some edibles if I have time but as usual I will not be going into any shops to buy anything.
My tree is up complete with my 'tasteful' collection of Santa ornaments 😁 The Teenager took some of them for his tree but I still have lots of them. Apart from 3 wee angels that sit on my sideboard I don't have any other decorations and I rather like it that way.
For newer blog readers HERE is an old post about how my Christmas came to be low key.
Saturday, 16 December 2017
Marjorie, Winters End Rambler, Starry A, Elizabeth Yule and Janice!!
If you email me your addresses I'll get your wee Scotties dogs in the post.
Huge big thank you to everyone who left me a comment and letting me know what you like about my blog. It's lovely to know lots of people like my ramblings 😊
ETA I've got everyone's addresses now so I've removed my email. 👍
Sunday, 10 December 2017
I've finally made a great tasting gluten and dairy free Yorkshire Pudding! I've tried several recipes over the last few years and they've never risen or tasted like these ones. Crispy round the edges and soft in the middle. We had them with some venison I got at the Farmers Market. Absolutely delicious!
Recipe HERE. It made about 36 yorkies but you could easily halve the quantities. I re heated some tonight and they were fine. I've also put one in the freezer to test it.
My first batch didn't work as well. My muffin tin was too deep and the bottom was soggy so for the next batch I used a fairy/cupcake one (see above). Next time I'll take them out a few minutes earlier as they were a bit dark.
Huge thanks to everyone who posted a comment yesterday. I've loved reading where you're all from and what you like reading about. I'll close the giveaway on Wednesday 13th December and pull names. Good luck!
Saturday, 9 December 2017
Sometimes I play around on my blog and check out things like my stats. I'm always thrilled to see all the different countries that pop up on my page views. This was the data from last week. Hello to all you lovely people around the world! 🙋 I don't promote my blog anywhere and am always amazed that people actually read it and comment.
So as a thank you I'm doing a wee Christmas Giveaway. All you have to do is leave me a comment telling me the country where you live, if you have a blog and anything you'd like me write more (or less!!) about. I'll pick 5 names out a hat and send you one of the Scottie dog brooches I used to sell. 3 are made from genuine Harris Tweed off cuts and 2 are felted tartan from vintage kilts. (old post HERE on how I felt the kilts)
I'll post them anywhere in the world! I'm really looking forward to meeting you all 😊
Sunday, 3 December 2017
It's been a busy few weeks and all of a sudden it's December!! The end of the year is fast approaching. Christmas seems to have arrived late here or maybe it's just because I usually avoid shops. Now Sainsbury's is playing that piped music, aargh!! But I did score a couple of fruit bargains the other night. Can't knock a 10p pineapple!
It's currently dehydrating. I really must try to use my dehydrator more and not rely on my freezer to preserve fruit and vegetables.
Tonight's meal was a use it up veggie risotto. Rice is the sushi rice I got from Approved Foods ages ago. Veggies were an onion, half a courgette, quarter of a sad red pepper and the end of a bag of frozen broccoli. At the end I stirred in some creamy goats cheese my lovely mum brought me yesterday. It was delicious and I have leftovers for 2 more meals.
On the decorating front I'm nearly finished making 2 pairs of curtains for my living room. Mum and I spent 4 hours on just measuring and cutting! I've 'misplaced' the curtain heading tape so had to order more online as nowhere in town stocks it. Clearly people don't make their own curtains in Stirling!! My living room is nearly done 😊
This picture popped up on my Facebook page. It pretty much sums up my work life at the moment. Except change flu outbreak to diarrhea and projectile vomiting!!! So far I've had 6 kids absent with it. I have 3 weeks of school to survive then I get 3 weekends and 2 whole weeks off. Really really looking forward to the break.
Monday, 20 November 2017
Thanks to everyone who contributed to Saturday's post on Friends. It's good to know we're not alone in our thoughts and is something I'll be coming back to very soon.
Yesterday was a chilly day that called for proper comfort food. I made a roast beef dinner with all the trimmings on Saturday night for OH and The Teenogre. I had some beef and roast veggies leftover so added a few raw potato cubes and made Stovies. Essentially it's a leftovers dish (traditionally made with the leftover meat and gravy from a Sunday dinner) so it's a cheap filling dish. But there are loads of different ways to make it. And all of them are traditional! 😆 My version is to put chopped up cooked beef, gravy, carrots, onions, potatoes in a big pan (wok!) and simmer together until the potatoes start to break up. Some people use sausages or corned beef. Some people make it in a casserole dish and put it the oven. It gets a crust on top. Do you have a version and what do you call it?
On impulse I bought this GF cake mix. It was amazing!! I filled one sandwich cake tin and 5 muffin cases with the mixture. You can just see some muffins in the photo above. We had the cake (no icing) with Alpro custard. Definitely recommend it for a treat!
Saturday, 18 November 2017
Do you have a circle of friends you can call on for support, a laugh or a glass of wine? Or maybe you have a best friend who has been with you through thick and thin since school days. Then you're lucky, very lucky. I have neither. I started this post over a week ago and waited to see if I felt any better for writing it (I may delete it in the end) But then I read Frugal in Norfolk's post this morning and realised I'm not alone. So here goes.
Let's back up a bit. I hated secondary school. For lots of reasons it wasn't a happy experience. I had a few friends but when I left I only kept in touch with 2 of them. After a short while only M and I stayed in touch (phone and letter as it was pre computers!) She was training to be a nurse and I was doing my teacher training. We went to each other's weddings but I had my children very early and we lost touch beyond the annual Christmas card. TBH I don't think she liked my ex. Then Facebook happened and we stayed in touch that way. A few years ago without any warning she took herself off (I think she had some online hassles) and we've lost touch 😔 She has my address here but I don't have her current one. So for the last 3 years I've been waiting for her to contact me.
Pre divorce I thought I had a wide circle of friends. We moved around the country a bit with the ex's job but I worked hard on staying in touch with people. Some of them were very good friends. We went on holiday with some of them. We even helped some of them financially (that's a whole other story!) Our house was the social hub for the ultra running community. I've lost count of how many dinners/weekends/bbqs/parties I hosted and catered. When we split people were sympathetic and I continued to get invited to a few events that didn't include my ex as most people were shocked by his behaviour. A few friends even refused to speak to him.
Until one day a good friend invited me to dinner with the words "We've invited your ex and his partner as well so can you all sort out between you who comes?" I didn't go partly because I didn't want any public confrontation but I was also very hurt. Then most invitations were issued along the same lines and someone actually told me I "should be over it by now." Yeah, being left after 24 years of marriage for someone in our friends circle and her putting it all over Facebook was easy to get over in a few months! The final straw was being told that "I don't like your ex or what he's done but we have to be friends with him because of who he is."
It would be easy to say they weren't real friends anyway. But in the aftermath of the initial split some of these friends were on the end of a phone in the middle of the night. Some drove miles to hold my hand and cry with me when I needed it. I thought that was real friendship.
But they're not here now. Once I sorted my new life out they practically disappeared despite my repeated efforts to stay in touch. I get an occasional comment on my FB posts but nothing in person. There's only so many times you can suggest coffee/lunch/dinner without them confirming a date.
It's hard making new friends when you're older. I had great work colleagues in my previous school and we socialised but again they're not really in touch. My current colleagues are lovely and we've socialised a few times so I do have a bit of a social life beyond OH. But we're all at a different stage in life so work is all we have in common.
I spend a lot of time on my own. I'm an empty nester with a partner who still has his own house with a dependent child. I know where we're heading but it's still a few years away *sighs* I'm content with my own company and I'm never bored. I'm blessed in so many ways and don't want to be moany about it. But it would be nice to have someone remember I'm still here and suggest we get together for something. Anything...
Sunday, 12 November 2017
I finally gave in and took down the polytunnel cover. It had degraded so much that the tiny pieces of plastic looked like snow all over the ground. I'm undecided whether I should leave the structure up and try to re cover it in Spring or just take the whole thing out and go back to having a veg patch. I'll decide in the new year. My garden is pretty much shut down for Winter now with just leeks and sprouts the only things still growing.
Life has been a bit humdrum lately. Work, gym, painting, sleep and repeat/repeat/repeat. I've been fighting off yet another nasty virus and an outbreak of cold sores. I'm hoping that's the reason I've been feeling so low this past month or so. Really fed up with a few things going on atm. At least Emma keeps me smiling.
I've finally got to the stage where I'm getting my new living room carpet fitted in a week's time. I've reconfigured the layout and taken out a lot of furniture for a more minimalist look. I think it works and I know Emma likes her new posh bed!
On the work front I've introduced patchwork to my Fab Friday group (all teachers have groups of kids to teach 'life skills') I've got 20 kids from age 8 to 12 and so far we're doing ok. Threading needles seems to be their biggest challenge!! But they've learned a wee bit about the history and frugality aspects and are so proud their creations. All the fabric has been donated by my lovely mum and her quilting class so they're learning about using up scraps of leftover fabric. I'd forgotten how satisfying it is turn wee bits of cotton into pretty 'flowers' so I've even started a project of my own 😊
Monday, 23 October 2017
I came home from work today to find that there was a burst pipe just outside the house across the road. My water was cut off this morning, after I left for work!
Luckily my neighbour (who retired early from teaching at 49!!!!) knew beforehand and filled up containers with water before it was cut off. He kindly filled my kettle so I could cook dinner and have a cuppa!
But I'm annoyed at myself for being so unprepared. I didn't have any bottled water for drinking or cooking. I didn't have any hand sanitiser or wipes. I don't have any rainwater collection systems in place (for flushing the loo) Just a few short years ago when I lived in a very rural area I was the Queen of Preparedness! Every winter I'd get snowed in at some point, the water pipes froze, the power lines came down in windy weather and the telephone wires regularly came down willy nilly. The road at the end of the lane got badly flooded a few times too.The nearest supermarket was 15 miles away so I was always prepared with supplies. Plenty of food in the cupboard, bottled water in the garage, candles, gas stove etc etc
This weekend I ran out of toilet paper (I thought I had a pack in my cupboard) 😳 Today I had no water. Both timely reminders to GET PREPARED!!
I might be living in suburbia but I could still have a power cut or have a burst pipe. First of all I need to:
1. Keep some bottles of water for emergencies in the garage (rotate regularly)
2. Keep some hand santiser gel in stock
3. Order a water butt ASAP!
4. Get my wood pile sorted in case the electricity goes out.
Then I need to look at my general preparedness for any type of SHTF scenario that might happen in the future.
Years ago I read this book, it had some good ideas to get started. Must look it out again to refresh my memory!
Saturday, 21 October 2017
Well, that was a quick week!! Back to school and the new term is already in full swing. Last weekend I didn't do any meal planning or prepping. Every day this week I felt like I was wasting time making each meal individually as I needed it. So, today I spent several hours using up what was in the fridge so I didn't waste a thing.
I made a rice crust quiche to use up a bowl of cooked rice, a wrinkly green pepper, an onion and some eggs near their use by date (!) That was my lunch today with some date and banana chutney I received as a gift. And one portion left for a school lunch.
I've had a butternut squash lurking in the veg basket for a few weeks so I roasted it with some apples from my lovely mum's garden with a drizzle of honey and chilli flakes to make Butternut squash and apple soup. TBH it didn't taste as amazing as it normally does but that's 4 work lunches sorted.
I saved some of the roasted butternut squash to recreate a quinoa salad I had on our break to London. I'll report back on that!
I made a veggie (actually vegan now I think about it!) version of my Turkey Con Carne. I substituted the turkey breast mince with 200g raw weight of green lentils and 100g red lentils.
It was absolutely amazing! Maybe even better than the meat version!!
It made 6 generous portions plus a taste test sample 😋 I'll need to test it's freezability but I think this could become a firm favourite especially as I've just worked out each portion cost around 20p!!!! Healthy and cheap 👍
During the summer I bought a tofu press. It cost me £2. Today was the first time I tried it. So much liquid came out!
I just shallow fried it with a little salt and pepper. I tasted a few pieces (yummy!) and put the rest in the fridge.
I've also got leftover chicken from tonight (OH wasn't feeling great so didn't eat much) and some more rice so I have the fixings for a few stir fries and salady type meals.
I've got a chicken breast and 3 salmon fillets plus tons of veggies in the freezer so it'll be a use it up week of eating as I'm trying to avoid going to the supermarket. Saving time and money (I hope!)
Saturday, 14 October 2017
OH, The Teenogre and I had a short 3 night break in London. We packed so much in that I'm exhausted! We did some of the well known tourist stuff and some less known.
We visited The British Boot Company in Camden because OH needed a new pair of black DMs. He bought me a pair too!! Lovely purple ones as an early Christmas present. These iconic British boots are made in England (although you can buy a cheaper version made in China) and cost a lot more than the ones on their website!! It's a family company started by the current owner's grandfather and is a treasure trove of proper shoes and boots. I love that we supported a small business with a traditional product made in England. And they should last at least 10 years if looked after properly!
We went on The London Eye
The view at the top
We went to London Zoo. The lions were sound asleep. The tigers were sound asleep.
I wanted to see a show. The boys don't like musicals (boo!) so we compromised on The Mousetrap. It was brilliant!
We travelled to Greenwich and visited The Cutty Sark, went to The Royal Observatory and National Maritime museums.
We also did the V&A museum, Natural History Museum and popped into Harrods as we were in the neighbourhood.
Some museums are free but most of the big attractions cost an arm and a leg! And eating out is costly too for 3 adults. Breakfast was included in our room rate (we stayed at a Hilton as I get a Friends and Family rate) so we ate a hearty breakfast, had a light snack for lunch and then ate out for our evening meal.
As lovely as it is to spend time with OH away from our daily normal routine, it is good to get back home. OH spent the afternoon sanding the walls (again!!) in my living room and adding new skirting boards. Hopefully I'll get more paint on it all tomorrow!
Sunday, 8 October 2017
OH has spent aaaages filling and sanding all the holes in the walls, gaps in the skirting and fixing a damp patch. I did all the painting. It's starting to look good but boy am I exhausted!
I've used 2 tins of the leftover unopened paint I had in the garage and don't think I'll need to buy any more. I've still got plenty of white Satinwood for the skirting so don't need to buy that.
I've got a quote for carpet (way too much!!) so need to do more work on that this week.
I'm on holiday now for a week so I'm hoping to get most of the graft done then I can concentrate on the nice bits (curtains, cushions, light switches, sockets, pictures)
Thursday, 28 September 2017
My living room looked like this for a week! Then after a false start yesterday I came home today and finally it now looks like this...
Now I can crack on with painting, carpet ordering and making my curtains in my October break 😎
PS. I'm still full of the cold/flu/virus thingy
Saturday, 23 September 2017
Well, they came yesterday and took it back out. And the plasterer has plastered the wall. Just the wall with the opening, not the whole chimney breast as promised. There's plaster dust and drips everywhere. *sighs* I'm not complaining again as it's going to drag on even longer. So I'm just getting on with it now. The wall will be dry enough to paint in 5 days. I've painted inside the opening and it looks ok. Once the stove is back in it'll look better. I still had 2 x 2.5 litre pots of unopened paint leftover from my old house (Dulux Natural Calico) so used that. I think I'll do the whole room that colour and save some money at the same time.
It's been a long week at school as I've got the first nasty virus of the new session. It started with a painful sore throat, on the day I had an observed lesson! I croaked my way through and got good feedback. Phew! Now it's settled into a full blown cold with a deep chesty cough. I've been dosing myself with cold and flu tablets, Benylin cough mixture, throat lozenges plus all my usual natural tricks. Hopefully it will pass soon. Especially as I'm off diet and drinking tons of honey and lemon!
Sunday, 17 September 2017
No weight loss this week but I'm happy I haven't gained as I had a work night out on Friday. I did save up my points to compensate but I'm still recovering from 3 glasses of wine with tapas. The restaurant was very good at labeling the gluten free dishes although I had to work out if there was dairy in them. Obviously I didn't work out everything! Ah well.
Just out of curiousity I was looking at some of the info out there that's supposed to help you with weight loss. I did the NHS healthy weight calculator and it told me I was overweight for my age, height and activity level. Quelle surprise!!
But I found it interesting that it suggests I lose 15kg just to be in the middle of my healthy weight range. Eeeek!!
I've been watching the BBC's 'How to stay young' programme and did their How are you aging? test. I answered the questions honestly. Apparently I have the fitness level of a 20 year old!!
So I'm overweight and need to lose 15kg to be healthy but my lifestyle suggests I have the fitness of a 20 yo! Who to believe??
I'm interpreting it as I'm making sensible lifestyle choices but need to lose a bit weight. Common sense really!
Saturday, 16 September 2017
Well, the stove and hearth have been installed but I'm not happy with it. The opening has been rendered with a rough render that can be left as it is or painted. I had originally said I would paint it but for some reason they don't allow any time for the painting before installing the actual stove. Apparently you just 'paint round it once it's dry.' I did not know that. I don't want to do that as I don't think the finish will look good. Plus the application of the rough render is looking rather slapdash. After a very 'robust' telephone conversation and a visit in person to the showroom (where I had to use my teacher voice) 😀 they are returning this week to remove the stove so I can paint the opening.
They also left a big hole in the chimney breast as my chimney isn't straight and it narrows to one side. They had to knock out a hole to guide the liner in. Luckily the whole wall is being replastered but I'm not too impressed with this company's work or their customer service skills. And they weren't happy when I told them that!! But as I pointed out I'm paying them a large amount of my money for a 'quality product and service' (their words!!) and so far I'm not getting that. Fingers crossed it goes better this week!
Progress is slow but at least it's progress!
Monday, 11 September 2017
When I went back to work after the holidays I resolved to get my weight back down to a sensible level. As I'm getting older it's getting harder to stay at a constant weight. And a whole summer of little exercise thanks to my ankle injury and cider drinking in Cornwall meant it crept up again 😔
But as of yesterday I've now lost 3.2kg/7lbs!!! 🙌🙌🙌
I'm using WeightWatchers, exercising more and not eating after 7pm at night. Seems to be working so far but it is very hard. My first target is to lose 10kg by Christmas so I'm a third of the way there already 😎
Sunday, 10 September 2017
Time flies when you're enjoying yourself, apparently. It's now September and we're 3 weeks into the school term. Unbelievably it's only 4 weeks until half term!! So far my new class is ok, only one specific behaviour issue. I only have 24 kids which really makes a difference in terms of class management. My non contact afternoon is a Tuesday which happens to be the time when the whole school does community groups so I don't have a group to lead this year. I like to think of it as my reward for teaching last year's class!! Several colleagues have commented on how I look more relaxed this term. And my headteacher told me I'm very organised at my planning meeting! 😎
The weather hasn't been great here, very autumnal. I switched my heating back on last weekend. Luckily yesterday was decent enough to get my back garden tidied up. I emptied more potato pots. The pic above is the result of 10 Maris Piper tubers. Not great. And they fell to bits when cooked .
I rounded up and emptied all the pots then gave them a good wash. They're already for winter storage now.
I cleared the polytunnel of the remaining tomato plants. I had 18 and not one of them produced a single tomato. The last ones I removed yesterday did have some flowers but it's way too late in the season for them to produce any tomatoes now so I pulled them out. Very satisfying. I filled up the grobags with the spent compost from the pots and will add some feed to them. I'm going to try planting a few winter crops and some herbs to see if they'll survive.
We've also been doing some work on the outside of the house. The exposed bricks and the mortar between them are a bit crumbly. A lot of the houses round me have just painted them so we decided to go down that route rather than getting a builder to re point/replace. I spent £40 on 2 tins of Sandtex paint that will seal and protect them. OH has used a full tin already on the side (he'll do the wee bit on the front when the weather is dry enough again!!)
The colour is Plymouth Grey but it doesn't look grey on my wall. But it'll do, it looks much better already with just the first coat. And it'll save me the cost of getting a builder.
September is always the time when I reflect on the changes in my life in recent years. 7 years ago my marriage fell apart. 4 years ago I moved into this house. Life doesn't always work out the way you thought or planned. Getting back up is hard, really hard. But when I look at what I have now I wouldn't change anything that happened.