Monday, 24 April 2017


No posts for a week, must be back at work *rolls eyes* Only 4 days last week but by Friday night I had a huge migraine that lingered all weekend.  Back to normal then.

One of my colleagues (similar age to me) was absent last week.  When she came back today she told us she'd been hospitalised with breathing difficulties and they found she had high blood pressure and an enlarged heart!!! She's slim and goes hill walking for fun.  She eats healthily and keeps fit.  So not lifestyle in her case.  She told me I should get my blood pressure checked!

I must confess I've not had it checked for a few years.  Or my cholesterol (which runs high in my family)  So I'm hoping that giving up coffee, sugar and alcohol along with gluten and dairy will have some benefits!!  I'm hoping that all the gym work and yoga will have a positive effect too.  I'll make an appointment to get everything checked.

Oh, and I've got a sprained ankle.  Properly turned over on it yesterday coming down a hill. Resting isn't an option so I'm hobbling about on it.

Healthy??  Pfft!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Kitchen Experiments

I was in an experimental mood today.  I made another batch of oatcakes this time with sesame seeds.  They were very nice!  I blended all of the oats instead of half.  The mixture was harder to roll and cut out.  The finished oatcakes were rather crumbly but worth the experiment!  I'll go back to blending just half the oats next time.

Tonight's meal was another experimental effort.  I had half a dodgy courgette hanging around my fridge along with loads of carrots.  I had leftover rice from last night.  So along with one of my bargain pouches of chestnuts I put together a quick stir fry.

It was rather tasty!

 I also made a shepherdess pie using green lentils with a sweet potato mash on top.  I didn't have a recipe, just winged it. 

That's one meal sorted for the week ahead.

Tomorrow is the last day of my holiday so it'll mostly be prep for going back to work *sighs*  At least it's the summer term, lots of outdoors activities will be on the agenda.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

The last vice?

I used to drink a lot of coffee.  Not quite to the point where I would make a cup as soon as the previous one was done but close.  I rarely drank anything else.

It's my first drink of the day, yep on an empty stomach. And when I got a travel mug, well that was a game changer.  I  had hot coffee on hand the whole day even when I was out and about.

Gradually as I've been making healthier choices over the last year, I've cut it down to 1 in the morning before work and 2 at the weekend and on holidays.

I cut out Pepsi Max at Christmas (I was seriously addicted!!) as well as cutting down on sugar (hardly have any now) and salt (just a tiny pinch of sea salt when cooking pasta and rice).  I've cut out alcohol (I last had some wine on my birthday) and I drink lots of water and herbal tea.  So having made all these healthy choices, why am I still drinking coffee?

I was drinking my second cup this morning and thought 'I'm not actually enjoying this any more.'  Maybe with all the changes I've been making my taste buds just don't like it.  So I'm going to try giving up coffee too.

Eeeeek!! Wish me luck! 🍀

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Home made yoghurt

Years ago I made a lot of yoghurt for my boys.  It was a sneaky healthy way to get calcium into them!  They loved it especially as they could add all their favourite 'toppings' and it was much cheaper than shop bought ones. Since I've been dairy free I've occasionally bought yogurt made from soya, goats milk, sheep's milk (really delicious!) and more recently coconut.  They all taste lovely but they're hugely more expensive than cow's milk ones *sighs*  So I thought I'd have a go at making my own again with alternative milks.

I know there are loads of ways to make it at home but for convenience I bought the Lakeland one.  Currently £21.99.  I also bought a bio culture (from Amazon) as a starter.

My first batch was using whole goats milk. It was very nice especially with blueberries but very runny.  I used some of this batch to start another one.

This time I strained the yoghurt overnight in a sieve lined with muslin.  Bingo!  Perfectly thick creamy yoghurt with no added thickeners and the chickens got the watery leftovers.

So, 1 litre of goats milk at £1.60 gives me 2 or 3 decent servings of yoghurt.  It works out at roughly the same cost as shop bought stuff.  I'm not saving any money but I know exactly what's in it.

Today I'm testing almond milk 😋

Friday, 7 April 2017

Holiday food prep

I can't believe it's Friday already! But I've had a lovely relaxing sort of week just pottering around the house and garden.  Just what I needed.  First thing on Monday I got a delivery.  Doesn't look like £100 of food does it??  I'm hoping this will see me through the month with just a few fresh fruit and veg top ups.

First thing was to get the chicken, some potatoes and the butternut squash in the oven. 

Then I split some turkey breast mince (750g)  into 2 portions.

400g went into my turkey con carne with a ton of grated veggies and red lentils

The other 350g became turkey meatballs.  I found a tip that said instead of adding dry breadcrumbs to chicken/turkey mince try soaking the slices of bread in water (or milk) to keep them moist.  Squeeze out the water and add it to the meat and spices.  GF bread is really dry so I was chuffed that it really helped them stay moist!!

I made my cheesy stuffed baked potatoes with goats butter and cheese.  Very nice!  The chicken was stripped, portioned up and frozen.  The bones made stock that became chicken and rice soup.  The butternut squash was simply mashed and I've been having it as one of my veggies in each meal.

So I got 8 generous portions of cooked chicken meat, 4 portions of turkey con carne, 9 big meatballs (3 meals), 10 potato halves and a huge pot of chicken and rice soup.  As usual some was shared with eldest DS.

The Teenager was home briefly so I emptied my cupboard and freezer of all the foods I can't eat so he went back to student land with a ton of good food and I made more space by using up yet more stuff.

I used up some GF wraps and goats cheese to make a quesadilla

 I chopped another one up and fried it to make...

...crispy tortilla style chips to dip 

I popped into Dobbies (I was on a mission in Lakeland, more details to follow 😉) and scored a few bargains in their food hall.  You know I love chestnuts especially bargain ones for a cheap protein.  I also got a jar of organic dried thyme for 50p that should have been £3.99!!  The lid had a wee crack but the seal was intact.  The pistachios and corn rolls were just snacks 😉

I've really enjoyed being in the kitchen this week with a few on going experiments to follow🍜

Sunday, 2 April 2017

I'm on holiday!

Woohoo!  I'm finally on holiday.  I've spent the weekend not thinking about getting ready for work tomorrow.  Instead I've been planning and sorting and cooking and just chilling.  I never normally have time to do any of these things.  My cupboards and freezers have been run down (on purpose) so I can see what I really need and actually use.  I've been meaning to make my own fajita/taco spice mix for aaages.  And I finally did it yesterday.

I wrote down all the ingredients from my usual brand and just played about with the quantities.  I subbed dried oregano with sage as that's what I had and I didn't have any dried lime juice.  But basically I used 1 tsp of chillies and 1/2 tsp of everything else.  I sprinkled it on both sides of a butterflied chicken breast and then pan fried it.

I forgot to take an after photo as I was so hungry!  It tasted pretty much the same as my branded one and I already had all the herbs and spices. 

My cupboards are really empty and I was out of oatcakes.  I've been meaning to have a go at making at own.  Turns out they're really easy and really cheap to make!!

I used

200g oats (half blended in my Nutribullet)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3tbsp oil
boiling water

Mix oats, salt, pepper and oil together.  Add enough water to make a rollable dough.
Cut into circles and bake for 15 mins (160 C/Gas 4)  I turned them over and baked them another 5 mins.

They cost me less than 30p for 12.  My usual brand costs £1.10 for 218g.  Another frugal saving and they're really tasty! Next time I'll roll them even thinner and see how many I can get from the mixture.  I eat a lot of oatcakes instead of bread!

Edited to add that OH and his hungry offspring declared them better than the shop ones!!

Another thing I've been meaning to do is go back to making my own environmentally friendly cleaners.  I took the petals off the roses in the flowers OH gave me for my birthday and they're currently soaking in white vinegar to make a window cleaner.  Frugal and effective.

I found a wee tired bee on my windowsill.  No idea how it got inside.  I gave it a sugary drink and left it sitting in the sunshine.  When I went back out to check on it there was no sign of it 🐝

I have lots of things I want to do to make the most of my holiday.  So better get a move on...

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Great boots

I'm currently wearing a great but old pair of knee high brown boots to work (Emma chewed my good black ones!!)  as my winter work uniform is leggings, boots, tunic and cardigan.  On Friday in the staff room someone commented that they loved my brown boots.  I had a quick think and then said 'Oh I've had these for years, they must be about 10 years old. Worth every penny.'  My lovely probationer friend quietly said 'I was 12 when you bought those.'  Cue much hilarity from everyone!!!

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Another year older

I celebrated another birthday this week 🎂  It was just a normal work day and then my lovely mum, my aunt and 2 of my boys came to visit at night.  OH was working away so I hadn't planned anything fancy.  Mum brought a selection of buffet foods and pizza for the boys so it was a lovely easy night.  I even had a GF birthday cake!

Imagine my surprise when these gorgeous flowers arrived at work for me!! Most unlike OH but a lovely gift that really made my day 💑 And it gave the kids something to talk about!! 

Today was a beautiful sunny day.  A tropical 17 degrees C!!  The girls had a lovely time free ranging while I potted up some blackcurrant bushes and did a bit of weeding.  This is them sharing a dust bath.  I even had my lunch outside!

And Emma just loves lying in the sunshine as long as she has company.  She's happy to be outside with me when I'm just pottering but every time I went inside she followed me!

The clocks go forward tonight ⏰ Even though we lose an hour it really makes a difference getting up in the mornings.  Spring is on the way and it's the last week of term. I can just about hang on for 5 more teaching days then I have 2 weeks and a day off! 🎉🎉🎉

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Productive Weekend

The weekend weather forecast for Central Scotland was wet and windy. It was certainly windy but the rain never appeared so this meant I've had a productive day in the garden today.  The girls enjoyed a bit of free ranging.

I planted my Epicure potatoes.  1 potato per pot in 4 of them and 2 teeny ones in another.  Emma was determined to get in on the act!!  OH and my lovely mum got some to plant too so we'll see who grows the most 😉

I cleared my newest raised bed, it was full of weeds.  This bed had my salad crops and peas last year.  It needs topped up with some fresh compost from my Recycling centre (they take all our garden and food waste and turn it into free compost).  I'll do this during my Easter break.

There are still a few leeks in the winter bed.  I used some this morning to make soup.  They're not very big but they do taste lovely.

This is my most productive bed atm with purple sprouting broccoli, curly kale (in the middle) and spring greens.  This will be my salad bed this year once I've eaten everything!

I did some tidying up and weeding at the front.  My purple heather is thriving a bit too much!!  Once flowering is over I'll chop it back a bit.  Despite the local dogs stopping to pee on it (!) it seems to like where it's growing.

Last night's whisky peppered steak for OH and me!  You can't really see the flames of the whisky in this pic.  It was very tasty 😋

I did go to Sainsbury's yesterday as I was out of coffee, loo roll and shampoo!!  I stuck to my list and spent £65!!! That included a bottle of wine (as it's my birthday next week and OH is away so we kinda celebrated last night) plus a few major store cupboard items.  That should see me through the next 2 or 3 weeks (I hope!)  I managed to get a reduced organic chicken.  After cooking I stripped all the meat off it and made stock with the bones last night.  Today I made Chicken and rice soup and put all the wee scraps of meat back into the soup.  I got 6 portions so that's lunch sorted all week!

The rest of the meat will be portioned up for freezing/using this coming week.  So far my meal plans are:

Overnight oats/porridge with fruit for breakfast and soup for lunch each day.

Monday - Chicken stir fry
Tuesday - Pulled beef and veg in a wrap (one portion left in freezer)
Wednesday - Birthday meal with family (provided by my lovely mum)
Thursday - Salmon and veg dish (I've got some cooked salmon lurking in the freezer)
Friday - eating out with OH
Saturday - chicken pot luck
Sunday - leftovers

Only 2 more weeks until the Easter break.  I'm really looking forward it.  So far I've got no plans other than planting lots of seeds and painting DS's bathroom.  And sleeping a lot!!

Monday, 13 March 2017

A low cost week

I'm always reading that it's possible to live on £1 a day and I'm full of admiration for those people.  I've read that some people save money by meal planning and then sticking to their lists.  And some only live off yellow stickered stuff.  I meal plan, make lists and take advantage of yellow stickers but I still spend more than I want.  So, after checking my freezers and cupboard I'm making this a low spend week.  I gave myself £10 and popped into Sainsbury's after gym tonight.  I spent £9.35 on 1kg of brown basmati rice, 1kg of carrots, goats cheese, frozen blueberries and a bag of unwaxed lemons (cos I'm full of the cold!) The goats cheese is my luxury item at £3.40 for 240g!  It's a hard cheese so can be grated like cheddar for cooking. 

My raised beds are still producing some veggies.  My curly kale is still good and it's free!

My purple sprouting broccoli is delicious!! 

My 10p mint plant from a few weeks ago is thriving on my kitchen windowsill.  It's made a few pots of peppermint tea.

Last week I tried something new.  I scored some baby fennel for 10p.

I sliced it thinly and dressed it with some of my homemade blackcurrant vinegar dressing.  I liked it!

So back to this week's meal plan from the freezer/cupboard.  Breakfast is either overnight oats or porridge with blueberries, bananas or raisins.  Lunch is Lentil, kale and quinoa soup I made at the weekend with oatcakes and a slice of banana loaf.

Monday - oats; soup: turkey and veg bolagnaise with penne pasta
Tuesday - oats; soup; turkey lasagne with carrots and broccoli
Wednesday - oats; soup; pulled beef with rice and carrots/sweetcorn
Thursday - oats; turkey sausages in cider gravy with rice
Friday - oats; soup; chicken and veg stirfry
Saturday - boiled eggs; tuna wrap; rump steak with polenta chips and veg
Sunday - pot luck!!!

The hardest part is going to be cracking my snack habit.  I just don't have many 'snacky' things so I'll need to be creative or go cold turkey.  Eeeek!!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Is it useful or edible?

Remember a few weeks ago I did a viability test on some old seeds? 3 of my artichoke seeds eventually sprouted and I wondered if I could transplant them into wee pots.  Well, I did it and 2 of them are looking ok so far.  Fingers crossed!

I bought a couple of gravel trays (£4 each) to make moving/watering my hotchpotch collection of pots easier. I also got the last windowsill greenhouse for £1.  I suspect it was from last year but it's in perfect condition so bargain!

My seed potatoes arrived and I've got my first earlies chitting on my windowsill. Epicure are famous as Ayrshire potatoes (I'm an Ayrshire girl!) and usually one of the first new potatoes to hit the shops.  There's a bid to get their identity protected as there is a long history of commercial growing.  Some more info here.   My dad reckons they're the best potatoes in the world!  Closely followed by Jersey Royals that already have EU protection.  He knows his tatties!

It's still too early to plant seeds here so I'm restricting myself to getting things ready for the Easter break in 4 weeks.  I do hope the weather is dry so I can spend most of it outside in my garden.  My planting philosophy from this year on will be 'Have nothing in your garden that you do not know to be useful or believe to be edible'  With apologies to William Morris!!  Any flowers must be useful for insects or be edible themselves.

I also bought a book called Free Range Chicken Gardens as I'm interested to learn more about how I can grow stuff in the back garden without it getting trashed by my hooligan hens! They're not happy at all just now as they're not free ranging thanks to DEFRA rules regarding avian flu.  I'm in a very low risk area but I'm still being cautious.  They do have a decent enclosure but they try to escape every single time I open the gate!!

In other news, I've been out running a few times and so far haven't suffered any ill effects.  OH has changed my gym routine a bit so I'm pushing my body in different ways.  And I'm still trying to get into a yoga routine as well. I do hope all this work on staying healthy pays off as I get older.

I bought another Icebreaker merino top in black.  I love the purple one I bought last year so when I saw it reduced again I splashed out.  I'm trying to keep to my green principles on clothing and thought a black top like this one would be an investment.

I've been steadily adding more sock yarn leftovers squares to my blanket.  17 in this picture.  I got a few donations from my lovely mum's knitting group so lots of new colours are being added.  Once I've done 3 more I'll stitch them on and post a picture.

Work has been good (long may that continue!!) with my efforts on raising attainment in writing being recognised by management and commented on in a staff meeting.  It's these small moments that make the job worthwhile.  Although I was brought back down to earth when I had 3 of my kids' parents brought in by the Headteacher because of their playground behaviour!!  😒

Just 4 more weeks until I get a 2 week break from school 😊