Saturday, 23 September 2017

Long week


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

Who to believe?


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

Some progress


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

Less of me!


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

It's September!


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.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Woodburner saga


Well, the excitement of getting my woodburner installed has well and truly worn off.  This is what it looks like at the moment.  I have to wait a few more weeks before the next stage.  Removing the stone fireplace and knocking out a larger opening created a huge mess of dust throughout the whole house 😞 I did get an apology for the mess but that doesn't undo it.  A larger area of the walls will need replastered than originally thought.

Then I found out my chimney failed the smoke test so it needs to be lined (this is a legal requirement)  at an extra cost of £775 😢 So the original verbal quote of around £2000 has gradually crept up and now stands at just over £4000.  That's just for the woodburner.  I need a new carpet and obviously will need to repaint.  I have savings that were earmarked for other projects that will need to wait until next year.

Ah well, everything will work out in the end.  I hope.

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

Woodburner


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 😋