Saturday, 26 April 2014

Ready for inspection

Me, this week!!! This time next week it'll all be over. 

On the plus side I've hardly spent a penny :-)

Normal blogging will be resumed thereafter (if I survive!!)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Gluten and dairy free eating ain't frugal

I've known for years that too much dairy and gluten in my diet makes me feel crap.  I don't have coeliac disease (been well tested for that!!) but I definitely have an intolerance to gluten, dairy and mushrooms.  I love mushrooms but they make me really ill!!

So when my OH found some research that suggested his chronic back pain could be linked to an intolerance of gluten and dairy we decided to give it a go.  Since I've cut them out before I think I know where a lot of the hidden gluten is in stuff.  For example, did you know there's gluten in soy sauce and malt vinegar?  Easy switch, use tamari (a Japanese soy sauce) and cider vinegar instead.
In fact it's so easy to switch to Free From products as all the main supermarkets have their own ranges now.  But here's the catch, they're more expensive.  Much more expensive!
For example, I can buy a 500g of value pasta for 29p (tastes the same as the premium stuff when it's covered in bolagnaise sauce!!)  A 500g bag of gluten free pasta ranges from £1.40 (own label) to £2.50.  Up to 8 times more expensive!!!!!  A small loaf of bread is double the price at £2.99 and stick a free from label on a pack of muffins and you can charge triple the price of a 'normal' pack.  Rice noodles (much used in Thai cuisine) are more expensive than Chinese egg noodles.  Soy milk is more expensive than cow's milk etc etc......
So the challenge is to find a way to keep food costs down while still eating well.  All it takes is a little thought and planning plus inspiration from blogs like The Gluten Free Girl
Tonight's meal will be chicken risotto, naturally gluten free.  I'm still using goat's cheese as I know I can tolerate it so it'll be served with a sprinkling of grated goat's cheese.  Yummy stuff!!

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Nearly got distracted

I would love one of these in my living room.  Flat, streamlined, efficient, cheaper to run than burning coal and logs in my open fireplace.  My thinking was that when I come in from work on a cold night I could quickly heat one room instead of having the heating on in an empty house just so it's not freezing when I get in.
I got a quote.  £2,600 for fitting the fire (not much difference between gas or electric) plus I'd have extra expense removing the brick fireplace and getting the wall replastered.
There's no way I'd spend that amount of money.  It's easy to get distracted by the thought of saving money in the long term but realistically it would be several years before it paid itself back. I need to think of another plan to make the above fireplace work for me.  To start with I'm thinking of installing a chimney balloon to stop heat loss and maybe boarding it up.  Might put a free standing electric fire in front of it.  Dunno, might look naff so I'm thinking about it.

Spring might finally be here :-)  Since I'm now on holiday I have time to wander round my garden. I spotted this wee ladybird crawling in my soil this morning.

My tree that produces apple like fruit is in full red/orange bloom.  No idea if it's a quince, crab apple or persimmon tree.  Will need to get some advice on it.  Any one recognise it?

Lots of plants are starting flower and lots of wee jobs are needing done in the garden.  Lovely time of year :-)

Monday, 7 April 2014

Something gave

Yep, something had to give and in the end it was my OU course.  I just couldn't do the course work plus all the prep I had to do for school so it was the OU that went.  I am disappointed as I really wanted to finish my degree.  But it wasn't necessary to further my career, it was just for my own development.  My job pays well and frankly that's what counts at the moment.  Especially as we've just been told the school is getting an HMI inspection!! GULP!!!!

Fortunately I have the 2 weeks of Easter holidays to get my classroom in order especially my files.  I have inherited a bit of a mess from the teacher on maternity leave and for my own peace of mind I need them sorted just in case the inspection picks it up.  I'm not worried about my teaching being assessed as I was "quality assured" just a few weeks ago but I loathe paperwork with a passion so know it's my weak area.

I just celebrated a birthday (very quietly!!) so had some money to spend on clothes ( a dress, some underwear and a pair of shoes)  I haven't included it in my annual budget but I did buy 3 pairs of leggings on Ebay.

The above yellow sticker bargain was bought and eaten before I put myself on a gluten and dairy free diet.  Past health issues have reared their ugly head so I had to take action. I feel much better already and as a bonus seem to have finally got rid of my never ending cold!!

If it ever stops raining I'm hoping to get my raised beds planted up and do a little outside painting.  However, as I'm typing here the rain is battering off the windows.  Where's Spring???