Saturday, 31 October 2015

Stripping and sanding

After stripping and before sanding
There's nothing like playing with power tools to cheer me up!!  This is the other side of that purple door!  It's the door between the kitchen and utilty room and yep, it's going to be purple too :-)  Mainly because a)  I've got tons of paint left and b)  I've got tons of purple (technically claret!) tiles left that will be used on the splashback in the utility room. 

After sanding
Sanding really makes a mess so I closed the door to keep the dust in the utility room.  It means I've still got the edges to do but that's ok as it'll be less mess.

I took the old manky handle off and gave it a thorough clean, sand and polish.  It's come up rather nicely.  That saves a few quid on buying new door hardware.

If a picture paints a 1000 words...

...then here's 2000 words on how I'm feeling today!

I'm finding this one tricky atm as there's a few people at work I simply don't respect.  I've just had another one of those weeks at work where some of us look at our colleagues and think 'How do they get away with it when we're working our butts off?'

Sunday, 25 October 2015

My dogs

My dogs are my luxury in my (semi) frugal life.  I simply wouldn't be without them.  When my life turned upside down they were a comfort to me and my boys, giving us unconditional love and a reason to leave the house.  I've been around dogs my whole life and had labs and retrievers for nearly 20 years.  Even though I love them to bits I'm not one of those sentimental owners.  My dogs don't eat human food.  Ever! They're not allowed upstairs or in bedrooms.  They don't get up on the furniture.  They're dogs and I'm their pack leader.  They know their place. 
I've always said that I wouldn't prolong the life of a dog just because I couldn't part with them.  I said I wouldn't keep a dog that needed daily medication.  But then there's Lucy.  That's her above in her bed with her new memory foam mattress (off cut bought from eBay for a third of the cost of a 'new' dog one) She's nearly 11 and was suffering from painful stiff joints.  The vet gave her a thorough MOT and apart from the stiffness she is a very fit, healthy dog :-) She's alert and up for anything when we're out a walk.  She can swim like a fish!  Even when she was hobbling she was still attempting to chase balls (she's very ball focussed!!) and jump off walls.

So it was with great reluctance that I started her on Metacam and Nutraquin+. And the effect was almost instant, she was moving a lot easier and no hobbling.  But... These 2 boxes yesterday cost me £64! GULP!!  They should last 2 months so that's £32 a month.  That brings the monthly cost of my dogs to £449 (£360 for dog walker, £30 for dried dog food, £27 pet insurance for Emma and now £32 for drugs)  That doesn't include things like vaccinations, worming, toys, leads, collars, poop bags etc. That's almost 25% of my take home salary.  See, my luxury!

And here's Emma, my pretty puppy except for her squinty ear (on the right in the photo above)  It still hasn't quite recovered from the haematoma.  I need to take her back to the vet to see if needs an op or if she just has to live with it.  Hopefully it will be ok.  She's due to come back into season in the next 2 months and I'm going to breed her this time.  She's nearly 4 which is a good age for a first litter.  If all goes well this could be a side line I could develop in the future.  I've always wanted to breed dogs and have done extensive research including talking to successful breeders.  I know the pitfalls but also the rewards (not just financial).  I'm doing it all properly through the Kennel Club which isn't the cheapest way to do it but there will be help available if I need it.

My dogs are worth every penny to me :-)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Winter is coming when...'s the last episode of Gardeners' World, my Friday night pleasure.  Monty Don is my all time favourite presenter, I've admired him since his Fork to Fork days.  However, my garden looks nothing like his!!

The view from above (The Teenager's bedroom to be precise)  That's Ginger and Penny mooching about.  I spent a couple of hours tidying up getting ready for winter.

I spent ages scraping moss and weeds from between the pavers (you can see the difference on the right?)  Very satisfying once it's done but dull, dull, dull!  I moved all the big pots and gave it all a thorough scrub.  I think I'll take them away completely next year.  It makes the paved area look bigger without them.  The garden is small enough with the double extension taking up a good third so any tricks to improve the visual size is good.

My veg plot hasn't really worked.  A few leeks are surviving but it's not really how I imagined it.  I'm thinking next year I'll put a wee polytunnel in there and remove the whirlygig (rotary dryer!!)  It gets the sun in the afternoon and evening.  I could grow tomatoes and peppers properly again.  Will think about that.

When I was cleaning out the chooks I was aware of being watched!  This is Doogie, the Burmese who lives next door in his favourite spot.  I'm sure he's trying to work out how to get into the run!!

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Playing with fruit


Remember the blackcurrant gin? Well it's now strained and bottled so I used the gin soaked blackcurrants to make Blackcurrant Gin Jam.  Just 2 and a bit wee jars so a proper gourmet batch of jam.  Tastes lovely, no gin flavour as such but definitely a slight tang of aromatics.  They're already earmarked for someone's Christmas hamper ;-)  I like the idea of giving something that you can't buy in the shops.
This batch is gooseberries in vodka (the gooseberries from my lovely mum's garden were in my freezer). Same method, 1lb of fruit, 1lb of sugar and 1 bottle of vodka.  The sugar is nearly dissolved already so once it's all gone I'll pop it in the cupboard for 2 months.  Just in time for Christmas!  Then I'll make Gooseberry Vodka Jam.
I love the idea of getting 2 different foodie gifts from the fruit :-)

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Clothes clear out

When my environment is cluttered and untidy I feel stressed.  I get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing because I just don't know where to start.  Yesterday I took a long hard look at my home and thought 'Where do I start?'  There were clothes everywhere.  I hang clothes to dry from my open stair case (less ironing required), I have a clothes dryer (we call it a clothes horse here in Scotland, is that universal??)  There were clothes drying on the radiators.  I had piles of clothes in my bedroom (all clean I hasten to add) Basically clothes everywhere!   And I'm really not that into fashion or what's trendy.  So, I decided they were a good starting point.  Using the 6 rules above I ruthlessly decluttered my wardrobe.
See, ruthless!!  Using Pinterest as inspiration I worked out what my work uniform consists of and got rid of everything that didn't fit into that category.  For work I usually wear a dress with a cardigan over it, thick tights in winter and flat shoes/boots. None of my dresses are expensive (usually eBay stuff) and are all machine washable (essential when working with small kids!) I kept a couple of pencil skirts and white blouses and a good pair of black trousers.  Everything else went! 

It's a very odd collection of clothes, some impulse purchases on eBay that didn't fit/suit or free stuff from my mum.  I'll be donating it all to the charity shop The Teenager works in.  Next task is my casual wear.

On the food front, I 'decluttered' my 2 freezers and made an inventory that is now stuck to the side of the fridge/freezer.  I've asked The Teenager to score out what he uses so we can keep a track.  There was so much food in there I could feed a family of 4 for a month easily!!  Both need defrosted so I want to run them down and give them a good clean out.  I also scored another huge 7.5kg bag of potatoes for 70p.  So far we've had roast potatoes last night with pulled beef from the freezer.  Might make some rosti today, they went down well the last time.  Chutney is also on today's plan.  Trying to get ahead for Christmas there ;-)

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Thinking time

OH and I managed to get away in the campervan for a few days.  One night in Inverness followed by dolphin watching off Cromarty then 2 nights in Aviemore at our favourite campsite.   The weather was kind and we enjoyed a day at the safari park and a spot of walking up the Cairngorms.  Fab view isn't it? :-)

I didn't think about work the whole time we were away. It wasn't intentional I was just enjoying the company and the outdoor activities.  It was just what I needed.

This morning I was sitting quietly and trying to identify what exactly is the cause of my not enjoying my job any more and what exactly is making me stressed.  I feel the pressure of 'needing' to work to provide for my retirement.  I thought that meant I had to have a permanent post so put the added pressure on my myself to find a permanent post.  The competition for them is so high but I did get an interview for 1 out of 3 I applied for so my CV must be ok.  I will have another look at it and update it again with all the stuff I'm planning to do.

However, my phone is constantly getting text requests for supply work.  There's work out there, it's just a few days here then moving onto a few days somewhere else every week.  No planning, no pressure and I could pick and choose which schools I want to work in.  It's not as bad as it could be.

I re read the article on how to be a good teacher only working 40 hours a week in school and bringing very little work home.  I still don't see how it can be done but I'm going to try to reduce my time in the actual school building.  The negative atmosphere in the staffroom is probably best avoided so I could use most of my lunch time to go for a walk outside then do some marking/prep instead of listening/joining in with the moaning!

I thought about the things I enjoy doing that me happy like knitting, cooking, gardening and reading.  And I realised I haven't finished a single knitted item this year (I can hear Sarah gasp!)  I've finished reading 4 books.  FOUR books this year!!! I used to read 4 a week.  I still cook but it's functional cooking, I've really lost my creativity this year.  I need to get it back.  And as for my garden... :-(

An online friend commented that I was future proofing my old age but at the rate I was going I would be spending it in the funny farm!  She was absolutely right.  I've been spending too much time worrying about my financial future instead of enjoying the present. 

I am going to try to enjoy my job again. I am going to make time to read, knit, cook and plan my garden for next year. I am going to keep applying for jobs.  Something will turn up.  It might not be what I expect but I'm open to whatever the universe sends my way :-)

Friday, 9 October 2015

Tin lid

Definition of put the lid or the tin lid on it in English:

British informal
The culmination of a series of acts or events that makes a situation unbearable:
She has had a tough week at work and coming home to another job application rejection email just put the tin lid on it.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Eggs, flying and doors

A random collection of thoughts today!
My chickens seem to be thriving!  On the left is a huge egg laid yesterday morning!! It weighs 102g!  Most of my other eggs weigh around 60-65g.  They enjoy free ranging/trashing my wee back garden and get fed organic layers pellets and a handful of corn daily.  It seems to be working :-)
One of OH's hobbies is flying.  He has a half share in this microlight.  Like me he is frugal in his daily life so he has the means to fund his hobbies.  He is not a big spender in other areas.  On Saturday we flew to Bute, a wee island off the west coast of Scotland.  It was a beautiful morning but I got very cold despite all my thermal layers.  I'm wearing my 99p ski jacket and £4.99 salopettes from eBay!! That's the skyline of Arran in the background.  It's a rare privilege to see where you live from above.  I'm very lucky.
Meanwhile, the on going kitchen saga is still on going.  My floor budget is back to zero as I've now got to fund 2 new outer doors before winter sets in.  And that's a 4 figure amount.  2 steps forward, 3 back *sighs*
On a happier note, 4 more days until October break!! :-)