Sunday, 12 November 2017

November so far


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

Unprepared!!


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

Saturday Meal Prep


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

London baby!

 

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

Before and after


Before 


After 


Before 


After

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

At last!


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...


Hooray!!!!!!! 🎉🎈

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

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!