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

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


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





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)