Friday, 29 September 2023

Pension day!


When I was growing up you had to go to the Post Office with your pension book (or Family Allowance book) every week to collect your pension in cash.  Where I lived it was a Thursday and there would be a queue of OAPs (including my Gran) standing outside before 9am waiting for it to open.  Then they'd take that hard cash and go to the Co op supermarket, butcher and greengrocer to get their weekly supplies.  My Gran would famously visit every shop to get the best price on everything.  She never bought everything in one place.

All this to say I got my first pension payment this morning.  Electronically paid into my online account and I was notified by text.  I did have a mild panic when the text said a much smaller amount than I was expecting.  But I get 3 separate payments from the 3 different schemes that I paid into over 35 years 🙄 so I only got 1 text instead of 3.  I checked my account and it's all there! Phew!!  Grand total of £729.14 a month.  It doesn't cover all my expenses (car payments/car insurance/council tax) so I'm relying on my savings to pay those until I sell the house and pay off the car next year.  But reality has now set in! 😱

My dear Gin Queen friend was 60 last week so I splurged and got her a very special gin that has her name on it!  I hope it's a good one!! 🍸 From now on presents will be small and hopefully hand made.  

And my last internet spend for a while (possibly ever!!) was some sock yarn!  I like to have socks on the needles as a pick up and drop activity for Winter.  Someone will get a pair for Christmas and there will be some lovely new colours to add to my leftover sock yarn blanket.

Thank you so much for the good wishes for my Lovely Mum.  I spoke to her last night and she's doing well.  She might get home tomorrow (Saturday) and I'll hopefully be able to go visit her soon 😊

Thursday, 28 September 2023

No spend October?


I finally did a thorough inventory of the freezer in the garage!  I thought it would take me about 10 mins.  Nope, a full half an hour but it's totally sorted out now.  I've put 'like' things into carrier bags to make them easier to find.  As expected there's a lot of food in there!!  For example 17 mugs of soup!! 😱 Plenty of lunches sorted then!

I've worked out I have at least 20 meals' worth of meat or fish as the main protein.  I have tons of veggies and plenty of fruit.  I have a fairly well stocked storcupboard.  Could I do a no spend October?  I've checked all my non food essentials too and I think I could.  So, there's my challenge.  No spending in the supermarket unless it's an 'emergency!'  Never done a no spend at all before so this could be interesting!

I found some mashed potatoes in the freezer so made some potato scones.  I've been having them with a fried egg for my breakfasts these last few days.  I still have some of the red Desiree potatoes stored in the garage so they'll be good for next month's meals.

I ordered some seeds from Real Seeds.  They came yesterday.  Even this early I couldn't get some of the varieties I wanted.  I really like this company as they actively encourage you to save your own seed.  They also do low/no wage packs so growing food is accessible for everyone.  I think it's done on trust, you don't have to prove your income.   I'm going to try growing their quinoa on the plot next year.  If you check out Toni's post on Simple Frugal Life, she grew some successfully this year.  I thought it was worth a shot!

Today I'll be mostly keeping myself busy painting bits and pieces in the kitchen as my Lovely Mum is having fairly major surgery.  Interestingly, it's being done by robot!!! 🤖  Don't know if this is good progress in medicine or not!  We'll see how it turns out!  If you can send some positive thoughts her way today for a safe procedure and a quick recovery that would be greatly appreciated 💖

Friday, 22 September 2023

Say aye tae a pie!


I made a pie using some of the turkey meat and some home grown veggies.  I think it might have been the best pie I've ever made!!  The pastry was made with half lard and half home made butter!  It was flipping delicious!!! 😋 It made 4 hearty and cheap portions.

I served it with some home grown sweetcorn.  The cobs weren't fully formed so I guess they weren't properly pollenated.  But they did taste lovely and sweet!

I had a few small potatoes lurking in the veg basket (my Maris Peer from the plot) so I grated them and mixed them with finely chopped onion (also from the plot) and made a large rosti style potato cake.  I've made smaller ones before and they were much crispier but this one was good too.

Today's been a day of 'getting things done'  in my countdown to putting the house on the market.  I've got someone coming to look at the external walls on the extension part of my house.  This is the side door into my utility room (we use this door all the time) and the window is my shower room.  The roughcasting was so badly done it literally started falling off in chunks!!  I've been let down by 3 different roughcasters who were supposed to come and repair the damaged walls.  One even removed all the loose stuff and left the grey bricks exposed.  It's been like this for 2 years.  I don't mind if trades folk can't/don't want to do a job, just tell me.  One even left a load of equipment (including a cement mixer!!) in my front garden for 6 months then it disappeared over night after several calls to ask when he was going to start!!

I've also been painting the window in my craft room and have got all my wallpapering stuff ready to get started.  I just need puppy sitters to let me get on with it now!! 

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Pension news at last!


I finally got the details of my pension!  Hooray!!  I can now get planning for each month and I'll try not to dip into my savings.  As expected it's less than £9,000 a year.  It keeps me under the limit for paying tax so that's a bonus.  I also get a single lump sum of just under £10,000 which I'll use to pay off my car next year.  They're not huge sums of money to live on but totally doable with effort.  I'm not entitled to any benefits until I reach the UK pension age, which is 67 for me.  As I live in Scotland I get free prescriptions, free eye tests and cheaper dental check ups any way.  I'll get a free bus pass at 60.  Honestly, I'm feeling so relieved this morning as I can now just  'get on with it!'

I popped into Morrisons yesterday as it's good to change up supermarkets every now and then.  I got a  whole turkey leg (1.6kg) for £5,39!  I slow cooked the thigh and roasted the drumstick as it couldn't fit in the slow cooker!!  Overnight I made 2 lots of stock to make 2 large pots of soup this morning.  My usual chicken/turkey and rice and a potato and leek one as I found a bag of leeks lurking at the bottom of my freezer.  Once cooled, I'll portion them up to freeze.  

I'll come back later to note how many mugs they make! Edit: 14 portions!

There's loads of turkey meat to make some pies and maybe a curry if I feel in the mood 😋

Tuesday, 19 September 2023



Finally, Luna was allowed to go out for a walk!!! HOORAY!!!!!!!  She was a bit overwhelmed with all the noises and her wee back legs were shaking.  But it was just 10 mins and this is her 10 mins after we got back home!! 😂  She can have a 15 mins walk 3 times a day.  Rule of thumb is 5 mins for each month of her age.  She's 14 weeks now and absolutely ready to be out in the big wide world!

I had about half of the sourdough loaf left and some eggs that needed using up.

So I made French toast/eggy bread!

Out of curiousity after Sue (A Smaller and Simpler Life) posted about Heinz baked beans on her blog, I weighed mine when I opened a can yesterday.  Mine were also short of the 415g weight.  When you think of how many cans Heinz sell that's a lot of underselling going on!!  Check yours next time!!!!

Monday, 18 September 2023

Stressful week


Eurgh!!  It's been a stressful week.  Luna is still testing positive for giardia so she's had another course of treatment.  She's 'clinically well' so was able to get her vaccinations and is allowed out on restricted walks from tomorrow.  She's 14 weeks old now and frankly stir crazy, as am I!!  She still has to be kept separate from Emma in case they reinfect each other so poor Emma is rather stressed too.  And both my son and I have had a serious D&V bug (giardia possibly so we're getting tested too!!)  So yeah, it's not been fun round here.  Fingers crossed we're getting to the end now.

I managed a quick pop down to the allotment to find a rugby ball from the club next door has smashed a window.  New perspex has been ordered but I need to see if they'll reimburse me for it.  I know it was a rugby ball as I have it in my shed as evidence!!!

I harvested the last of the cucumbers in the polytunnel.

And made bread and butter pickles! 😋

The last of the Roma tomatoes ripened so I made tomato and onion sauce for the freezer.

The 1.5kg bags of organic flour were on offer in Waitrose at the same price as Tesco's 1kg bags so I got 2 for the storecupboard.

I made another sourdough loaf, they're improving!

I bought a 600ml carton of double cream and made butter.  Not on offer but still cheaper at £2.30 than a 250g block of butter plus I got buttermilk to make scones.

And someone has learned how to jump up on the chair in my craft room!  I'm at the stage where I don't care how and where she sleeps (I know I'm making a rod for my own back!!) as long as she sleeps because an over tired cranky puppy is a nightmare!

Saturday, 9 September 2023

Doubling down on no/low spending!


Unfortunately despite doing really well, Luna didn't get signed off by the vet school as her liver enzymes are still a bit high.  She's to take a liver support supplement for the next month and they'll do more blood tests.  So a bit more expense!  And I finally heard back from my pet insurance who said they can't pay out as the 'condition' was diagnosed within the first 14 days of the policy starting.  So puppies are insured from when they're born until they leave the breeder.  Then there's this 2 week/14 days window where they're not, even though you pay for the policy to start from the day you get them.  And you can only start a policy from the time of legal ownership, no earlier to cover that 2 week gap.  I'm not surprised they've not paid out (bunch of crooks!!!) but I am annoyed.  It's a heck of a lot of money to come out my savings so I'm doubling down on the no/low spending.

Frankly I'm not spending money on anything but the barest of bare essentials.  I'm eating out of the freezer and storecupboard for the next few months and looking at every single thing I eat and drink!!  I need to get creative!

I'd drunk all my Rocks blackcurrant squash.  It's my absolute favourite but at £3.50ish a bottle it's very much a luxury.  And I discovered when I looked closely at the label it only has 740ml.  Not even the standard 750ml of most other squashes!  Shrinkflation again!!

So I've decided to make my own cordials. The worst that's in them is sugar!  (BTW I looked at the ingredients on a Ribena label!!! 😦)  I had loads of dried elderberries in the store cupboard so made around 1 litre of  Elderberry, ginger and lime cordial.  (I had some frozen lime juice and chopped ginger in the freezer.)  It's blooming delicious!! 😋 And very dark as you can see in the photo, that's a clear glass bottle!   I have some ideas for other fruit cordials/squash so I can use up more of the fruit in the freezer and create drinks without additives and artificial sweeteners.  Since giving up my diet Coke habit I've been looking for drinks that are less processed.  Obviously I could just drink more water 🙄 but I do struggle with that.

I finally had enough ripe Roma tomatoes in the freezer (I've been adding them as they ripen on the window sill) so I cooked them.  Just tomatoes, nothing else added.  I've got a very disappointing 3 freezer tubs worth (each around 350g) which isn't even the equivalent of 3 tins of chopped tomatoes.  They taste good but nothing special.  I can buy a tin of basics tomatoes for 35p.  Hardly seems worth the effort and asking a favour of my plot neighbours to water the polytunnel when I wasn't able to get to the plot.

I harvested my chillies.  I let some ripen fully and left some green.  Neither have any heat.  Zero chilli flavour.  My green fingers have deserted me this year I think!

But my DIL is developing hers!  I've even got her saving seeds for next year!!  Sunflower and poppy seeds drying off on the window sill 🌻

And she's becoming an expert on finding yellow stickers!  Note how it says Too Good to Waste instead of reduced!!  She just happened to be in Waitrose at the right time and got around £65 worth of meat and fish for £22!!!!  She gifted me the above lamb mince 😊 Down from £6.55 to an amazing £2.59.  It's already cooked with grated carrots, courgettes (home grown) and onion (home grown!) and in the freezer. She also got a large fillet of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon down from £15 to £5.  We cut it into 4 decent portions and she gifted one to me!  It's also in the freezer 😋

I did get one of my important jobs ticked off my list ✅ I got my chimney swept!  It cost me £100.  I had the woodburner installed 6 years ago and the chimney hasn't been swept since 😳  So it's now all ready to be used when the weather turns colder (garage has a decent store of wood and heat logs bought in the sale) and I can also tell prospective buyers next year that it's been done and leave them the certificate!