Sunday, 16 October 2016

RIP Merida

Ginger (L) and Merida (R)

When I went out to open the coop this morning I found my favourite chicken Merida dead.  Totally unexpected as she was just over a year old.  Yesterday she was free ranging round the garden despite the pouring rain.  When I closed up last night all 3 were snuggled up together.  This morning she was curled up by the door.

I'm hoping it was just one of these things and the other 2 are ok.

RIP my brave wee Merida :-(

Saturday, 15 October 2016

End of the holiday

That was a quick week!  Although I did pack a lot in with a trip to Brighton at the start and then a couple of days in St Andrews in the campervan.  So this morning it was back to my normal weekend routine of shopping/cooking/housework.  After a trip to Sainsbury's it was a morning of roasting chicken and pumpkin, making chutney and putting a beef casserole in the slow cooker.  Sainsbury's had a lot of their frozen meat reduced, probably to make way for Christmas stuff.  So I got 2 x 500g bags of diced British beef for me and a pulled beef meal for my eldest son.  All at half price.  Worth checking out your supermaket freezers for good deals just now!

It looks tasty but contains gluten!

In the spirit of making good use of everything I had a go at roasting the pumpkin seeds from my pumpkin.  I followed this recipe where you boil the seeds first in salted water before roasting.

They're absolutely delicious!  Worth the fiddliness and they're free :-)

Tomorrow I need to do some prep for going back to school *sighs* and more housework chores.  It just makes life easier when I get in from work each night.

Thursday, 13 October 2016

A use it up day

I went to visit my parents yesterday.  My lovely mum had bought some low alcohol beer by mistake and offered it to me.  Sadly beer is one of the things I can't have as it has gluten but I knew I could use it up in something for my eldest son. He had given me some leftover cracked pepper beef sausages so I made him a sausage in beer casserole using up some of my onions and OH's potatoes.

  It smelled delicious so I hope it tastes delicious!

My lovely mum also gave me the remains of a bag of parsnips so I chopped them up with the sad carrots from the bottom of my fridge and some onions.  I sprinkled some ground cumin over the lot and roasted them for 45 mins.  I had half a wee carton of Alpro cream in the fridge so blitzed it all together with some veg stock and turned it all into Roast Root Soup.  That's 3 lunches for school next week sorted.

I pulled the last of the beetroot from the raised beds and baked them in the oven.  They're now sliced and marinating in spiced vinegar as per this Pickled beetroot recipe.  Yum!

Tomorrow will be another use it up day as I've got apples, plums and rhubarb from my lovely mum's garden that will need to be used.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Cutting my monthly costs

I mentioned recently I'd bought a new car.  I wasn't planning on changing my car (Honda Civic).  I got it brand new nearly 3 years ago not long after I started working again.  I had a deal that involved me paying a deposit then making a monthly payment for 3 years. I then had to pay the balance off and the car would be mine outright.  And that's what I was planning to do in February.  I'd been saving up so the money was already there.  My almost 3 yo car had a very low mileage (11,000 miles) and was in good nick.  I was happy with that deal.

But then I got a phone call from my dealer to say they had a special offer (yeah right!!) and had 10 brand new cars just like mine but the Sport version.  I wasn't really interested until they said they could buy out my contract and just swap my old car for the new one.  Still not tempted.  Oh and it would be cheaper monthly payments.  Now I was interested.  How much cheaper?  Just under £40 a month!  Enough for me to seriously consider it.

Turns out the Civic is getting an upgrade in 2017 and they wanted to get rid of their backlog of the current model.  I read all the small print.  It really was a good deal.  So I agreed.  I collected it today.  It looks like the one above except it has black alloys (whatever that means)  It has lots of fancy gadgets like reversing cameras, cruise control and a special braking 'thing' that stops you hitting another car.  All I care about is it's nice to drive and I have piece of mind that my car will get me safely where I want to go. And I've cut some of my monthly costs.

When The Teenager went off to university it was agreed that his dad would fund him (part of the divorce settlement) and so he would meet his own costs.  So from the end of this month I am no longer paying for his phone contract (£33), his contact lenses (£16) and his TKD membership (£46). I'm also going to cancel my Tesco pet insurance as it's gone up from £15 a month to £39.26!!! Not sure if I'll take out another policy yet.  I'm also planning on changing my bank account from a fee paying one (£13.50 a month) to a free one that rewards me for using it.

With all these changes I make that savings of just under £190 a month.  Or a whopping £2280 a year! YIPPEE!!!! And when my own phone contract is renewed in December I'm hoping to save a few more pounds.

That's a few more pounds added to the pension pot :-) :-)

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


I've just spent a few lovely nights in Brighton visiting my middle son and spending some 'us' time with OH.  I've mentioned before that my son works for Hilton so we get their Friends and Family rate.  This means we get to stay in a very nice room for a fraction of the cost.  And if the hotel is quiet we sometimes get a suite!  The hotel was quiet this weekend ;-)

We did a few touristy things but mostly just enjoyed walking along the promenade in the sunshine and browsing the vintage shops in The Lanes.

Our room had a balcony overlooking the sea.  Looking right was the recently opened i360 (we went up it even though I'm scared of heights!) and looking left you can see Brighton Pier in the distance.  The original pier (top photo) fell into disrepair and eventually burnt down.  I think the remains look rather beautiful and dramatic.  I took loads of photos trying to capture the right image of it.  I rather like that one!

We did splash out on a few very nice meals. But on the whole it didn't cost too much for the break with the cheap hotel rate and budget airline tickets.  Getting away from everything was just the tonic I needed!

Friday, 7 October 2016

Soooooo tired!

It's Friday and I'm now on holiday for a week.  I'm unbelievably tired.  I'm currently at the weepy tired stage and just want to sleep.

OH has booked a short break for us both (it was a surprise) and I'm really looking forward to it.   It's the first time in ages we've got some time for us as a couple with no teenagers in sight.  OH and I do not live together (yet) despite being together for 5 years.  It was too complicated with exes and our respective kids. So couple time is rare and precious.

I'll update you all when I get back.  Hope everyone is well and enjoying life xxx

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!! :-)