Friday, 12 August 2022

Sorting out my energy bills

Back in June I was having a huge hassle sorting out my energy bills as my energy company SSE had been taken over by OVO.  Read about it HERE.  I really was NOT happy!!  

But I'm happy to hold my hands up and say I'm rather impressed (so far) with OVO now that I seem to have a meter reading history and their website lets me play around with my account.  For example, the above screenshot shows me my June and July usage and costs (excluding VAT etc)  If I submit a meter reading I can see how much energy I've used since the previous bill and how much it's costing me.  I love this feature!!  In the absence of a Smart meter (still no appointments in my area) I could submit my meter readings at the end of every day or week and see how much I've used.  Not sure I'm motivated enough for that but with the coming increases you never know!

I also know my daily standing charges (53.04p for electricity and 30.5p for gas) and the cost per kWh I use (27.92p for electricity and 7.35p for gas.)  I didn't know any of this with SSE.  I guess I could have asked but it wasn't readily available.  If I can easily access all this information then you know this website is idiot proof!!! πŸ˜‚

I've now sussed that if I send a meter reading every month on the 6th I get an accurate bill on the 7th for the previous month's usage.  I've always paid my energy bills quarterly but I'm liking it monthly now I'm in the habit.  I check and pay my credit card bill every month so I'll do my energy bill in the same way.

I don't like change especially when it involves money or using technology so I'm pretty relieved to find it's all working out.  Like everyone else I still dread to think what my Winter bills will be but I feel I'm back in control of it now.  I think I might even become a bit of a nerd watching the numbers but if it saves money it's worth it πŸ€“ <--- nerd emoji apparently!! πŸ˜‚

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Because jam is cheaper than honey


I normally have overnight oats for breakfast in the warmer months.  Typically I'll put in oats, soya milk or yoghurt if I have it, flaxseeds or chia seeds and a generous spoonful of honey.  Then add any fruits and nuts if I have them.  I prefer to use honey from small independent bee keepers rather than the blended factory produced stuff but it's expensive.  And rightly so!  Since I'd just finished a jar I put in a spoonful of my home made blackcurrant jam instead.  Oh my, it's delicious!! πŸ˜‹

Jam is cheaper than honey plus I know exactly what's in it since I made it!  And I have loads in my storecupboard!!  Now I can use my precious local honey to make some fire cider and elderberry syrup like I did last year HERE and get ahead with my Winter preps.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Day 47: Potatoes


I finally started digging up my potatoes!  These are actually earlies (Cassablanca) despite being quite big!  They never flowered but they've died back a bit so I thought I'd see what they were like.  The ground is really dry so they were nice and easy to dig.

I've already boiled about half the above basinful (that's all I could fit in my huge pot!) to make mash.  I had some with just butter (goat's) and chives.  Oh my goodness, they were delicious!  πŸ˜‹

5 generous portions are already in the freezer!!  I still have the other half of the basin to process plus the rest still in the ground on the plot!  I don't think earlies/new potatoes keep well (I'll need to research that) so I'll cook them all in some way.  I still have my maincrop Caras to lift as well.  I know they store ok in my garage.

So the best producers grown on the plot so far are rhubarb, raspberries and potatoes.  Basically the 3 things that thrive on neglect!!  

I also removed a rotten fence panel from the old raspberry/strawberry patch. 

It really opens up the area where I want to add some more of the B&Q raised beds.

I also got my hair cut!  It hadn't been cut for 13 months so was rather long!!  Luckily I have a 'style'  that doesn't need regular maintenance and I can easily put it up for work (remember the nits situation?!)  It cost me £47.50 for a cut and blow dry.  That's a bit pricey for here but if it lasts me a whole year then it's worth it!!


Sunday, 7 August 2022

Day 44 Catch up


I had a lovely break away with my 2 amazing friends.  We righted the world and drank prosecco and gin.  We went to see The Drifters (surprise gift from our host!) and boogied all night.  I even got a wee bit sunburnt on the beach!  This beautiful one HERE  But it was just what we all needed before thinking about going back to school *sighs* 

I popped down to the plot this morning intending to sort out the polytunnel and dig up my potatoes.  I didn't get round to the potatoes as the nasturtiums took aaaages to sort out!!

Before and after!

I kept some of the flowers for eating and the seeds for pickling.  Hopefully I'll get a few more before the end of the season.

The raspberry season is almost over just as the bramble/blackberry one is beginning πŸ˜‹

And I picked my first courgette/zucchini of the year!  It wasn't very big but it was enough to add to a veggie mix to make lasagne.

School is open this week for the cleaning staff to do a 'deep' clean so I'll be popping in to get some tidying/sorting done.  It will make my life easier if some stuff is done before I officially start back on the 15th.

And finally in other news, my son who has worked all through the pandemic in a very busy NHS hospital x-raying Covid patients has finally succumbed himself 😲  He tested positive this morning and while his fiancΓ© isn't feeling well, she's still negative.  I'm pretty sure we'll have an outbreak when school returns so I'll just have to keep being careful.

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Inside the polytunnel


This was my polytunnel this morning.  I'm really not happy with what's (not) growing this year despite my careful watering and feeding since I planted my tomatoes and peppers.  Definitely having a re think for next year.  

What do you or would you grow instead of tomatoes?  πŸ…

Monday, 1 August 2022

Day 38: New month


It's a new month so I arranged for my big monthly shop to be delivered first thing this morning.  By 8.30am it was all packed away with a chicken roasting in the oven and a gammon joint in the Crockpot.  This cost me £105.03 plus £2 for the saver delivery slot!!  It really doesn't look much.

Last month I set myself the challenge of getting my food and supermarket shopping down to £120 a month (£30 a week) plus a £10 treat allowance.  I spent £122.74 plus £11.22 on 'treats' so I'm rather pleased I got close!  And I still have plenty of stuff in the storecupboard/fridge/freezer from that.

Fridge items to last the month.  I'll need to top up on the fresh salad stuff that my garden and plot can't produce.  I'll go to my big Lidl for that.

Storecupboard items

My vitamins and anti histamines will last the month but the cold and flu tablets are for my Winter first aid kit.  During lockdown, paracetamol etc was hard to get so I like to keep a decent stash just in case!! 

And these are my holiday treat items.  I'm going away for a few days with my Gin Queen friends so I'm packing some GF items that I can rely on if I need them.  I do have a holiday budget (accommodation is free as it's my friend's holiday lodge) but it will be interesting to see how much it costs me overall.  

I've not been on a holiday since Christmas 2019 when I went to see my son in Melbourne.  One of my friends has already been to Cyprus for a week and then London for a week.  My other friend has been to Shetland for a week and stayed in her lodge for 2 weeks.  I've always preferred staying home for the Summer holiday and going away at the October break or at Easter so this wee break is my only 'Summer holiday.'  But I'm ok with that 😊

Sunday, 31 July 2022

Day 37: Jam, flowers and July Spending


I made more jam this week,  strawberry and blueberry.  I found some blueberries in the freezer from last year (I really must get a better system in place!!) and the strawberries were a Lidl bargain (at least they were local Scottish ones!)  They looked fab in the pan and smelled amazing!  

I'm definitely not an expert when it comes to jam but I have made a fair few jars in my time.  And I don't always get it right!  Look at this year's efforts as an example.  The strawberry/blueberry is in the middle (too runny), the blackcurrant is on the right (too thick) and the raspberry is on the left (perfect!) πŸ˜‹ They all taste amazing despite their differing consistencies.  I could re do the ones that aren't quite right but that would be too much of a faff.  The runny one I can drizzle on pancakes/waffles and the thick blackcurrant one I could just spread on hot toast or use to make a hot soothing drink.  It's all good!

We finally tracked down an Old John rose πŸ’– They're difficult to buy!  My Lovely Mum bought one for me, my sister and one for herself.

It's a really vivid orangey pink colour 😊  I just need to decide where to plant it now.

I've also discovered another medicinal plant growing in my garden, a gorgeous yellow self seeded goldenrod.  It's another plant I can dry and use in a tea.  Like sage, it's also good for sore throats and colds (occupational hazard!!) so I'm thrilled at the discovery!  It's a perennial and spreads easily so I'll try to keep on top of it.  I'm loving the colour contrast with the Red Hot Poker crocosmia in front!

It's also the last day of July.  Sometimes I remember that this day was the day I got married and sometimes I don't.  It was a FB memory comment that reminded me this morning.  Really doesn't make me think anything other than 'Oh yeah I remember that day' now 😊

So, on to the end of the month totals with some of my more 'unusual' buys πŸ˜†

  • I spent £25 on some kombucha equipment (large Kilner jar and water filter jug)
  • I spent £60 on 3 raised beds for the allotment
  • I spent £66.44 on fuel for the car, first time since April
  • I spent £29.55 on jam equipment (lids, labels and jars)
  • I spent just under £60 on storage boxes for my new craft room
  • I also had to pay for my annual car tax £155 but that was already budgeted for back in January

Once all my usual costs and monthly bills were paid I've saved £871.88 this month.  That brings my savings up to £7335.39 😲  I'm really pleased with that, definitely still on target!

I go back to work in 2 weeks!  As always the Summer holidays fly by but I feel I've achieved a lot already.