Sunday, 28 February 2016

A real fire

Last year I blocked up my fireplace and started using an electric fire to boost the room temperature when it was cold.  My thinking at the time was that it would be cheaper to use the electric fire when needed instead of buying coal/logs etc to build a real fire.  I was also conscious that I was losing precious heat up the chimney when a fire wasn't lit (although when the fire is lit much of the heat goes up the chimney anyway!)

Then I discovered this damp mould patch inside my bedroom wardrobe which is adjacent to the chimney wall upstairs.  After a thorough investigation by OH who crawled into the tiny roof space (where I also discovered I am well insulated!) he worked out it was probably a build up of condensation inside the chimney as it wasn't in use.  Basically any moisture that got in wasn't being dried off by the heat from a fire.

So tonight we pulled out the chimney balloon etc and lit a real fire.  I think Emma liked it :-)

I had already been pondering on the feasibility of a woodburner as I really miss having one.  Several nights this week when I've gone outside to put the chickens to bed I've smelled the lovely smell of my neighbours' woodburner.  They really splashed out and installed one that heats 2 rooms.  They're also convinced it warms the upstairs bedroom (ie the same one as mine) and that they rarely need the heating on. 

I'm going to investigate costs ;-)

Friday, 26 February 2016

Finally back to full(ish) health!

Ok, maybe not 100% (who is??)  but yesterday morning I woke up feeling good.  No coughing, no spitting up yucky stuff, no runny nose (although I do have a cold sore inside my nose!!) for the first time in about 6 weeks.  On Tuesday night OH was home too late for our usual gym session so I went for a run.  Outside.  First time I've run outside for months and it was good :-)

Last night was the first time in ages I had a good gym session and I really felt it this morning.  In my legs, in my core.  OUCH!!  So def back to normal, whatever normal is round here!

On the food front, I've discovered a really good gluten free recipe that I love.

I love these and they work out at 1 SP each with WeightWatchers if I use 1 cal oil spray to cook them and omit the sesame oil. I didn't make the chilli sauce but I used my usual bought one.  Really yummy!!

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Another dream dashed

It's been a long held dream of mine to breed Labradors.  Over the years the timing wasn't right or the dog wasn't right but I'd always planned that by the time I retire I was going to breed dogs as a way to earn an income and top up my pension.  A KC registered Labrador pup can cost £500 and an average litter is 6 to 8 puppies.  So even with stud and vet fees you can make a decent amount. With 2 or 3 breeding dogs you could make enough money to live on.

When I got Emma 4 years ago it was with the specific intention to breed from her.  Her pedigree is immaculate and she meets the 'standards' set out by the Kennel Club.  So I had the 'right' dog.

The timing would have been good as the pups would be born in May when I was on part time hours plus The Teenager is still around.  And the pups would be ready to go to new homes at the start of our school summer holidays.  Perfect timing.

Except Emma was having none of it!! She wouldn't let the stud dog near her (he's an experienced stud).  My daft sweet natured lab turned into a snarling bitch.  She knows the dog well and his owner (he's actually my dog walker!) We tried in his garden and in my garden but both times it was a bust.  I won't go into the gory details but we did try several ways.  All our research suggests it's normal for the female to snap if it's her first time but short of muzzling her, pinning her down and holding her tail up, nothing was going happen this time.  I'm not that keen to further distress a dog that clearly doesn't want to mate.  And I'm not too keen on being bitten by my own dog!

So the dream is on hold for now.  I'm not sure if I should try again in her next season or give up altogether with her.  Anyone had puppies?  All advice gratefully received.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Sock yarn blanket

I'm still not back up 100% health yet, this thing is taking such a long time to shift!  Although I have managed to cough and sniff through a week back at work.  While I was confined to the sofa I managed to add to my sock yarn leftovers blanket.  I've now added another 20 squares to it.

It uses all the wee leftover balls of yarn leftover from knitting a pair of socks.  Each square uses 6g of yarn so doesn't need much yarn at all.  It's a simple basket weave stitch of K4, P4 over 28 stitches.   This is a very long term project, I've no idea how big it will become or how long it will take. But I love making something lovely and practical from materials that aren't really useful for anything on their own.  And as sock yarn is 95% wool it is rather cosy as a lap blanket already :-)

The weather here is still truly awful.  Cold, wet and windy with some frost and snow thrown in for good measure.  The garden is still very soggy so nothing much is happening out there. 

Although today I noticed that my snowdrops have started to pop up.

And my crocuses are trying despite the rampaging chickens munching on them!! 

Yesterday my new job share partner came in for a 'keep in touch' day.  We spent the morning talking and planning how we're going to make it work and she taught the class in the afternoon while I did some report writing.  I think we'll be able to work well together. I was pleased that she was impressed by my organisation of the class and the dreaded paperwork.  (OH is always amused at how tidy my classroom is while my house is a tip!!)

I'm already starting to look forward to the reduction in my working hours after Easter.  It's all official now so I'll be off every Monday :-) and I'll work 3 days one week and 4 days the next.  It's only for one term so with careful money management I should be ok.  I never spend all of my income so I've been able to save a goodly amount to continue work on my house while I'm earning less.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

About 70% back to health

I went back to work yesterday even though I'm still not well. I'm probably back to about 70% today.  I spent most of last week in bed or resting on the sofa.  In 7 days I left the house twice.  Yet another holiday lost to illness, nothing achieved except trying to get healthy.  Maybe by the time the Easter holidays are here I'll be well again!!

I popped into Sainsbury's on the way home from the gym tonight (very gentle session!)  I didn't need anything but picked up a few treats.  Cheese for me and crisps, doughnuts and trifle all for The Teenager. I didn't pay full price for anything.

In preparation for going to back to work I made a huge batch of bolagnaise sauce - beef mince, carrots, onions, celery and red lentils.  I costed each portion at 80p. I made 10 portions and froze them, ready for adding to lunches and dinners with the SmartPoints marked on them.  I'm slowly losing the weight, so far I've lost almost 4kg/8lbs.  Slow and steady.  I should reach my first target of 6kg by my birthday next month!

Monday, 8 February 2016


Well, I didn't even make it until the holidays to be really sick. I had to call in sick to work today, the first time for years :-(  Luckily just 2 staff development days so the kids aren't affected.  Then I'm on holiday from Wednesday.

This nasty virus has gone deep into my chest causing a nasty cough. Again!  Medical advice is just plenty of fluids and rest *rolls eyes*

Since the last time I was sick (over the Christmas holidays) I've tried lots of preventive measures but my wee class is just full of bugs with most of my kids being off school at some point this term.  I had 5 off last week.

Someone suggested the flu jab might give me some protection.  I'm not sure about it but will investigate it as I'm really rather pissed off at being so ill again.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Half term

Thank goodness it's almost half term!  Kids are already on holiday from today, I've got 2 staff development days on Monday and Tuesday then I'm off for 3 days. Next Friday I've booked myself onto a dressmaking course.  I need a bit of refresher/kick up the backside to get sewing again.  I'm really looking forward to it.  The other 2 days will be catching up on housework!! *rolls eyes*

I managed to score a few yellow stickered bargains last night, mainly for The Teenager but I did get some low fat venison sausages that are actually delicious.

The Teenager has just had a bout of the winter vomiting bug so these vegetarian goodies went straight into the freezer.  He really has been a poor soul.  What's the betting I get it on my days off???

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Wee bit of stockpiling

Sainsbury's is currently selling my favourite tea in large boxes at £3.50 instead of £5 so I've stocked up on a few boxes.  That should do us for a wee while especially as I can get 2 mugs of tea from 1 teabag (I like it weak!!)


My favourite coffee was £2.50 a jar instead of £3.50 so I bought 2 last week and 2 this week.  My coffee is one of the few brands I won't scrimp on.  

Interestingly I've just checked the website and both items are back to full price.  So I'm glad I got a few to stockpile.There are still some tins of beans and sweetcorn left from a previous week's reductions. I think Heinz beans and Green Giant sweetcorn are worth the extra pennies but we use loads of Basics labels like ketchup and tinned fruit.

A quick pop into Sainsbury's after the gym tonight scored a few gluten free goodies for me, crumpets for The Teenager and a bag of rocket.  Sadly no meat bargains (we were too late) but the 2 sad looking whole plaice from the fish counter didn't tempt me.  A bargain's only a bargain if you'll use it!