Sunday, 20 August 2017

Back to work prep

Spicy seafood pasta

I go back to work tomorrow, it's been a quick summer!!  But I'm ready and looking forward to the challenge of a smaller class with fewer behaviour issues.  Last week I tried to plan ahead and get myself organised to hit the ground running.  I've been trying out a few new healthy recipes as I need to get back on the weight loss.

Baked tofu with rice noodles and veggies

Thanks to my ankle injury I've not been exercising as much and eating/snacking more cos I've been on holiday.  It's much improved so I can increase my exercise levels again.

Sugar free jelly and fruit 

So I'm starting back on the WeightWatchers plan tomorrow *sighs* I've counted out 20 weeks until the Christmas holiday and have a target of 10kg (22lbs or 1 and 1/2 stone) *double sigh*  I've been batch cooking and have filled my freezer with meals with the SmartPoints (SP) calculated.  I've worked out that I fall down on not having a plan so have spent time on making a plan.

I made a batch of curry paste so I can whip up a quick healthy curry with chicken and veggies.  Ideas for using the paste can be found on my old blog HERE.  Each of these portions is 1 SP.

I bought some WeightWatchers grated cheese (I've been trying very small amounts of cheddar and haven't had a reaction) and portioned it into 1 SP amounts.  I can add it to flavour pasta, warps or potatoes

I made a healthy lasagne with turkey mince, tons of veg and GF pasta with this white sauce and divided it into 4 portions. I made a fajita mix of chicken and veggies ready to add to wraps.  I made soup and a portion of chicken and rice to stir fry.  All frozen, labelled and SP counted.

I made a batch of pancakes for snacks/breakfasts 😋 

I bought a box of miso soup sachets.  Low in calories/SP but high in protein so perfect for break time or after school meetings to keep me from snacking.

I've written out my meals and snacks for the week along with my exercise plan (click to enlarge).  I'm hoping this will motivate me to stay on track!!

In other news work on installing my woodburner starts this week 😁 In preparation I've cleared my living room and saved the wooden mantlepiece from the fireplace (to re use elsewhere!)  I'm really excited as I've saved and waited for nearly 4 years to decorate my living room.  I'm aiming to be finished for Christmas.  This includes painting, making curtains (you can see the fabric in the white sauce link!!) fitting a new carpet and repurposing some furniture.  I'm going to be busy!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Courgette, chestnut and stuffing bake

Tonight's meal was a use it up affair.  I'm trying to cut down on my consumption of meat so I've been looking at veggie alternatives.  I had a packet of GF stuffing mix that my lovely mum picked up in Morrisons.

Packet stuffing can be dry so I had a look in the store cupboard and fridge to see what I could add and came up with chestnuts for protein and courgette to add moisture.

I got these reduced chestnuts in Dobbies food hall a wee while ago. I chopped them roughly and added them with grated courgette to the stuffing mix.  I gave it all a good mix and threw it in the oven for half an hour.

It was crispy on the surface and moist in the middle.  I had it with my bargain beans and potatoes from the garden.  It was delicious!

Here's Emma my daft lab at the end of a long walk!! 💓

Friday, 11 August 2017

Productive garden

My wee garden is producing small amounts of fruit and vegetables.  My apples are nearly ready.  My 4 pots of Charlotte potatoes yielded a few meals.  I've picked handfuls of blueberries, blackcurrants and raspberries.  My pea pods are big and fat but the peas inside are small. Nothing in any quantity big enough to freeze or preserve. Ah well.

I have 18 tomato plants in the polytunnel with no flowers therefore no chance of tomatoes.  I'm going to pull them all out and maybe replant with something else edible.  Any suggestions??

You can see in this photo that the plastic is degrading between the green lines.   I'm seriously considering taking it down.  Maybe putting some raised beds in it's place.  Dunno.

We've celebrated a few family birthdays recently.  My 'wee' sister was 50, OH's daughter was 21, my niece will be 18 next week and OH's son will be 16. This photo was celebrating the 21st birthday.  I had a lovely meal from a gluten free menu but I did suffer with some digestive issues for a few days after.  Sometimes it's just not worth the pain of eating out 😔

Sunday, 6 August 2017


For the last 18 months I have been saving for a woodburner, technically a multi fuel burner as I want to burn more than wood.  Tomorrow I've got someone coming to do a smoke test on my chimney to see if I need a chimney liner.  I hope I don't (my neighbour didn't need one) as it will add to the final cost.  Then I'm going ahead to get one fitted!! 😎

I haven't made a final choice of stove but it'll be a contemporary style like these ones.

I'm going to get my 80s style stone fireplace removed, the gap in the wall will be plastered and it will be free standing on a slate/stone hearth.  The pipe will be fitted from the back rather than the top so I can boil a kettle etc on the top in the event of a power cut and all the heat from the stove will go into the room.

I had a woodburner in my previous house and I really miss it.  But over the last 8 years the cost of buying and installing one has tripled!!! However, my research suggests it will save me money on my energy bills (over a long period I suspect!) and could add 5% to the value of my house if/when I sell it.

In addition to the cost of installing the stove I'll be painting the room, fitting a new carpet and finally getting round to making my curtains (I've had the fabric for nearly 4 years!!) Busy few months ahead!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Home grown meal

My first complete zero miles meal this year.  Home grown potatoes, peas, lettuces, carrots and white turnips with this week's single egg from lone chicken Penny.  I have to confess I'm feeling very disillusioned with my garden this year.  The constant wet weather interspersed with mini heatwaves has caused lots of things to run to seed instead of producing vegetables.  And yet my tomatoes in the polytunnel haven't even flowered yet!

I need to have a long hard think about how I'm going forward with my plans.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Thinking outside the box

It was always my intention to use the contents of the boxes of the enchilada kit in different ways.  I can't eat the wraps but they'll be useful for guests.  I opened one yesterday.

Interestingly the sell by date on the box is 28-10-17 but this is just the wraps' date, the tomato puree is 2nd May 2018 and the spice mix is 19th March 2020!! 

I used some wraps at lunchtime to make tuna crunch wraps for OH's daughter.  The rest of the opened pack is now in the freezer.  I used half of the pack of spice on some chicken and veggies for last night's meal.

Today was chilly so I made a huge pot of  Taco soup, based on a WeightWatchers recipe I found on Pinterest.  Lots of veggies, the other half of the spice pack, the tomato puree pack and I added a can of the red kidney beans from my AF order.  It was delicious!!

In between the heavy downpours today 🌂 I've been scraping away the moss between the monoblocks.  Boring but very satisfying to see the difference!  My back garden is a bit of mess so I'm trying to get it tidy by the time I go back to work. 

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Approved Food Order

I haven't placed an Approved Food order for ages, over 2 years in fact.  Mainly as there's not much I would eat due to my dairy and gluten issues.  I do look every now and then but have never found enough to justify an order.  But since I'm on holiday I took the time needed to really search the site.  Plus they had a code for free delivery, SUMDEL50 usable until the end of the month I think

And here are the contents of those 2 boxes!  Most of it is for me and OH but there are a few things I got to suit The Teenogre.  Inside each large box were some smaller boxes. I've worked out all the prices as individual pack prices for comparison to supermarket prices although some were case or pack deals.

The first box had 10 packs of gluten free spaghetti (75p), 4 boxes sushi rice (50p), 5 packs of bread mix and a case of snack packs of Oreo Thins (12p)

Next box: 6 Enchilada Kits (99p), 4 packs soup mix (50p) and a case of snack packs of raisins (20p)

8 tins of Branston Baked beans (25p), 9 tins plum tomatoes (33p) 

2 boxes of buckwheat flour (99p), 5 boxes granola (99p) 

6 tins red kidney beans (50p), rice protein powder (£9.99), Tetley Immune tea (99p)

From the Approved Food site:

"Every year in the UK over 7 million tonnes of food and drink is thrown away, a lot of which has past its 'best before' date, but would still be perfectly good to eat.
We specialise in surplus and short-dated stock, food that is either near or just passed its 'best before' date – allowing us to pass on huge savings to our customers.

  • We have over 2000 products including - Big Brands, Cupboard Fillers, Ex Supermarket & Department store products across a wide range of Food, Drinks, Household & Toiletries, Gifts plus much more.. all at huge discounts.
  • Our regular customers typically save around £60 on their monthly shop compared to high street prices. That's over a whopping £700 per year you too could be saving.
  • Our stock is constantly updating so we'll always have something new for you - all at incredibly low prices.
  • We do not sell anything past its USE BY date.
  • Quick & Easy online ordering - delivered direct to your door"
Everything I bought is still in date.  A few tins of tomatoes had a dent but everything else was in perfect order.  Everything is a big brand name that works out cheaper even than supermarket own labels.  My invoice said I've 'saved' £95.22.

A few things are a bit experimental.  The bread mix was only 49p and turns out there are actually 2 packs in each box!  So I can make 2 loaves for 49p.  My usual bread mix is £2.50 to make one loaf so I can make 10 loaves for £2.45!! Worth trying.

I googled the sushi rice to see if you could use it for risotto.  You can!  Gallo risotto rice is £2.50 a pack so for 75p it was worth a go.  I'll report back on it.

And I've never tasted Branston beans!  Definitely an experiment!

I don't know how much time I've spent on searching the site, researching the equivalent supermarket prices and googling the products and their uses.  But I do know that when I'm on holiday I have that time so I should use it wisely to stock up and make life a bit easier for me when I do go back to work.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cutting more costs

I finally got round to upgrading my phone.  I'd been putting it off as I knew it would take a chunk of time to actually go to the shop and get all the paperwork etc done.  But my old phone kept freezing and switching itself off so I knew it was time.  I'd done a bit of research and worked out what type of package I needed.  Basically unlimited texts and calls with a bit of data and I wanted to keep my number.  So after 55 minutes with a slip of a girl I had upgraded to a better phone (Sony Xperia L1), got the package I wanted AND saved myself £19 a month.  That's £228 a year!!!  Win win especially as she transferred all my stuff and set it up for me!

Next item to cost cut is pet insurance.  When I got Emma 5 years ago it cost £13 a month to insure her.  Last month (June) I paid £39.26.  This month I paid £48.92! WTF!!  I'm on the case.

ETA: Just spoken to Tesco Pet Insurance (I'm naming and shaming!!) and yes there was mistake.  My monthly premium should actually be £63 a month!!! Policy cancelled and now searching for a new one

Yesterday's breakfast from my garden 😋

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Work clothes

 Dress 1, original price £22

I was in Sainsbury's on Monday afternoon and noticed they had a huge sale on their clothes.  I'm guessing they're clearing their stock to make way for Autumn and Winter (other supermarkets may be doing the same??)  I had a quick look and realised there were a few things I rather liked that would be ideal for work.  I hate shopping for clothes and had planned a day either in town or going to Glasgow to do the dreaded deed.  So I did my food shopping first, put it in the car and went back to try on a few things.  

Dress 2, original price £20

I really dug around all the rails as lots of stuff was on the wrong size rack or hanger.  And I tried on a variety of sizes as I know from past experience that they're not all the same!

Dress 3, original price £28

And then I noticed a few rails that said 'Everything £1.' Yep, I got the above 3 dresses for £1 each!! Perfect for terms 1 and 4 when the school building is hot and they can be worn with a wee cardigan if it gets cooler.

Dark green tunic, black and white tunic and charcoal tunic each originally £22

I'll wear these with a long sleeved top underneath, leggings and boots

Sparkly black knit dress, original price £22

I got the dress and tunics for £6.60 each

So after a mammoth trying on session I got 3 cotton dresses, 3 tunics and a dress for the festive season for a grand total of £29.40 instead of £158.  You could say I 'saved' £128.60 but I wouldn't have bought any of them at full price.  And I definitely 'saved' time as I don't need to go on a clothes shopping trip.  For less than £30 I've got my work wardrobe sorted for the coming academic year.  I just need a new pair of boots (remember Emma ate my work boots!!!)  It's a bit too early for winter boots to be in the shops but I'll keep my eyes peeled as you never know when you'll spot a bargain!! 

Edited to add: Found a pair of black leggings in M&S sale for £14 (on the wrong size rack!)

Monday, 17 July 2017


We came home last night from a busy 2 weeks in Cornwall in the campervan.  We were blessed with decent weather (ie not wet!!) so I'm claiming that as a win after the last 2 summer holidays spent in Ireland.  I've even got a tan!! The only thing on my list was to see The Eden Project.  I wanted inspiration to take my garden forward and give me a few pointers on a greener lifestyle.

Recycled cutlery bird! 

Definitely want to try this in my garden!! 

Whilst I did enjoy my visit (OH and The Teenogre were less than impressed) I didn't come away with much inspiration.  I was impressed with how they've turned a disused ugly quarry into a tourist attraction but I really didn't like the artificial biomes.  It was expensive to get in and most of the staff we encountered were rather surly!

The boys got their adrenaline fix at Adrenalin quarry.  They did the zip wire, high swing and coaststeering off the cliffs.  I don't do anything with heights but over the 2 weeks I did go river and then sea kayaking, stand up paddleboarding (twice) and ecoasteering which was a bit less extreme.

We ate very well!! 

And visited some picturesque places

I loved these beach huts in Newquay

We marvelled at the ingenuity of house builders (you can stay here on this private island)

As always it was lovely to get away for a complete break but just as lovely to come back home.  The Teenager and his girlfriend were house sitting.  Dog, chicken and plants all survived! 😎

Thursday, 29 June 2017

One more day!

Yesterday I saw a physio about my ankle.  My headteacher referred me through Occupational Health services at work.  There aren't many perks working for a local authority and I know their priority is getting employees back to work quickly to save money.  But it's quicker than getting a referral through my GP and cheaper than going private.  Oh, did I mention it cost me nothing for a half hour consultation?  It's a FREE service! I have a follow up appt in 2 weeks.

Anyhoo, I have a grade 2 tear on the ligaments (a grade 3 is complete rupture!) and it'll take a bit of time to heal.  I have a series of exercises to do plus I now know how to tape it up with Kinesiology tape.  I love that tape!

On a happier note, just one more day until the summer holidays begin!!! 🙌

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Slooooow progress

It's getting better but progress is slow.  I'm VERY impatient when I'm ill or incapacitated.  I keep going until I'm forced to stop.  Today my Lovely Mum and I spent some time in the garden but my foot and back got too sore so I had to stop *sighs*

We topped up my winter raised bed with compost and planted 16 brussel sprout plants.  Fortunately I love sprouts!!

My blueberries are coming along nicely

Shallots and peas getting all tangled up together

Salad crops are starting to grow

Roma tomatoes and marigolds planted up in the polytunnel

And more tomatoes and marigolds!

My vegetables are also making slow progress but everything will work out in the end