Wednesday 31 July 2013

Bothered about food banks

This has been bothering me since I first read Jack's post last night.  I follow Jack's blog and on Facebook too so when she posted a link there as well, I shared it.  Coincidentally a friend also posted last night a plea from my local food bank for donations.  Again, I shared it asking my local friends to also share it.

Both posts got 1 response each.  One from a friend who actually volunteers her services at a food bank and a friend who works within the charity sector herself and sees life at the sharp end.  In other words, 2 people who are already aware of the need.

No one else has since liked, shared or commented on either link.

This has bothered me since and I'm trying to work out why.  I sometimes post links to funny dog clips (lots of my friends have dogs too) and they get lots of likes and shares.  I guess thinking about food poverty just isn't funny.

Sue has written a great post about it too and what we can do about it so I don't need to say much more.

I consider myself fortunate to have always had a roof over my head.  But when I unexpectedly become a single mum life was a struggle financially until I got myself together.  I know what it feels like to constantly worry about having enough money just to survive. 

So I've packed a box for my local food bank and plan to do this on a regular basis.  It's not much but lots of small actions add up to a big one

Monday 29 July 2013

Plodding on

Moving day is now only 5 weeks today.  EEEEEEKKKKKK!!!!!
We're plodding on with the sorting and packing.  There's just so much stuff accumulated over the last 25 years and since I'm the only adult dealing with it (don't even get me started on that!!!) sometimes it feels overwhelming.  However, I'm being very ruthless and I'm letting go of a lot of 'aspirational clutter'  You know, the stuff that you collect for the life you aspire to one day.  Some of it has been very useful it helping me get started on this frugal lifestyle but some of it is just plain old clutter.
I've recycled, sold and given away a lot of things so far but now it's time to step up a gear.  Freecycle is getting a big listing today!  Time is running out.  Out of the next 35 days I'm not going to be here for 11 of them due to events planned long before the move.

One of those events being a family wedding in Stornoway.  I bought the above fabric online (risky I know but I can't spare a whole day to go to my favourite fabric shop in Glasgow!!)  It's a fine cotton lawn style fabric in beige and black.  I'm planning on making the dress with a black bodice and a large polka dot skirt.  I just hope I have enough time to finish it!

Finally, just a wee note to say I'm now a contributor on Refashion Co op There are a lot of very talented folks out there and I'm so chuffed they've allowed me to join :-)

Tuesday 23 July 2013

10p bargains

While the Teenager is away with his dad for the week I'm trying to 'get on with things.'  I'm not doing as well as I'd hoped so far.  Decluttering and sorting is happening, just not quickly enough!
One thing I am succeeding at is running down my storecupboard and freezers.  It certainly makes for interesting meals!  Mostly vegetable based I have to say but it's healthy and frugal so win/win.

However, a wee trip to M&S with some vouchers resulted in the above bargains.  Can't go wrong with 10p stuff!  7 Fairtrade bananas for 10p with 6 in perfect condition, the 7th slightly bashed.  Veg medley will be tonight's meal. I got 3 packs of the Bird's Eye chillies which yielded 33 chillies :-)

I would normally have frozen them but even I couldn't use that many in 6 weeks so I searched online to find out how to dry them.  Sliced and left to dry on paper towels in my hot conservatory for a few days, they will give me enough dried crushed chillies to keep me going for wee while.

And back to decluttering.  This arrived yesterday.  I have a huge garage to clear plus a load of garden rubbish.  I've offered stuff on Freecycle and local for sale groups.  But the lack of response makes me suspect a lot stuff will just go in here and to a furniture recycling charity.

Thursday 18 July 2013


Yeah yeah, I know.  I should be sorting and packing but that's dull.  Today I made a dress :-) 

I put in a zip.  Not my best effort but no worse than some shop bought dresses I own!!

I love this style of dress. It suits my pear shape!  Pattern is Simplicity K2444 and fabric is some old cotton my mum had.  It's a mock up (muslin) of the dress I want to make for the wedding.  But it's so bright and cheery I might just wear it anyway.

Ok, back to packing and sorting!

Wednesday 17 July 2013


Hmm, this packing malarkey isn't going as well as I'd hoped despite help from Emma.  So far all I've managed to pack is my knitting stuff.  For me knitting is a winter hobby, clicking away as I watch TV in the evening so I won't need it between now and September (although I haven't packed the socks I'm knitting, they're a great portable project for waiting rooms!)

But I'm having a wee bit of difficulty with my sewing supplies.  Mostly due to the fact I'm in the middle of several projects (including a corset for my friend's 40th) and I've decided to make a dress for a wedding next month.  My sewing area is rather a mess!!!

I've narrowed down my dress for the wedding (which will be in Stornoway) to these 2 patterns. 

And I'm sure I've some suitable fabric in there.  Somewhere!! *sighs*

I've also been playing with paint.  Have a look on My Upcycled Home blog.

Monday 15 July 2013

My new house!

I heard this morning after 10 days of negotiation that my 3rd offer on the above house was accepted :-)  It's dated, full of painted woodchip wallpaper and needs a new kitchen.  But it's clean and it's been well cared for.  It has no grass in the garden (good for me but bad for dogs!) but has a large paved area at the back suitable for raised beds and lots of pots.  So I can still grow veggies, just in a creative way.

This is the first house I've bought for myself. I'm so excited and looking forward to making it my own.  I'm very lucky that I've bought it mortgage free but this means I have very little money left to upgrade and repair it.  However I'm planning to re use as much as I can from this house and upcycle items found/gifted/bought for a song. 

I've started a new blog called My Upcycled Home (see link at top) where I'll chronicle my effects to turn my new house into a special home for me and the Teenager :-)

Sunday 14 July 2013

Aviemore holiday

Last week was the hottest one in Scotland for many years.  It reached 29 degrees!! So our planned 4 nights camping holiday in Aviemore easily felt like a South of France break :-)
One of my favourite outings was to the Highland Safari Park.  They'd recently had 2 Amur tiger cubs born and I was desperate to see them.
So we made a packed lunch and set off in the blistering heat.

Turned out that the polar bears were the stars of the day!  This one was having endless fun in the big pool with a big bucket.  He was swimming around with his head in it.

A rare Scottish wildcat.  Only 400 left in the wild.  Of all the animals we saw I felt this pair weren't happy in their caged environment with the male constantly pacing up and down.  Maybe it was just the heat.

And the tiger cubs :-)  Six weeks old and just on show to the public this week.  It was mobbed and we had to wait patiently to get a good view.  These pics are taken through the glass so they're not great. 

They were so cute and rather wobbly on their feet.  They have just been named as Murray and Victor, a wee nod to Andy Murray's victory at Wimbledon.

We saw loads of babies including this elk

And back to the polar bears.  2 males both under 2 years old.  Still young and messing around in the pool like any young boys!!

A day trip like this isn't cheap.  It cost us £44 for a family ticket.  Even though we had a packed lunch with us we still bought ice lollies and coffees.  Once upon a time I wouldn't even have considered the costs of a day out but this day was planned and carefully budgeted and was still a great day out :-)

Thursday 4 July 2013

Summer or winter?

Yes, we Brits are preoccupied with the weather.  And we Scots are doubly obsessed with wind and rain.  So far it's been a wet summer here, interspersed with a few dry-ish warm-ish days.  In fact it's been so chilly at night this past week I've lit the woodburner and switched the Aga back on.
Thanks to the warm, damp and cool weather lots of bugs and viruses are doing the rounds.  We seem to be sharing a nasty cold one at the moment.  I've been dosing myself with hot honey and lemon to soothe my raspy throat and cough.
I keep seeing this cold remedy using honey and lemons on the internet so thought I'd give it a go.  So when I went to Sainsbury's to buy more honey I was delighted to see Manuka honey with 20% off.  I bought 2 x 340g jars of the 5+ at £6.55 each.  I would have loved to have bought some of the 10+ but it's slightly out of my budget.  The higher the NPA number the better the antibacterial properties but also has a higher price tag!

So I chopped up 2 unwaxed lemons and added them to a clean jar.  Then I poured over a full jar of the Manuka honey.  The instructions I've seen said pour honey until it's about a third of the way up the jar.

Once it settled it was about a third of the jar, this pic was taken almost straight away so it hadn't settled yet.  It now gets stored in the fridge for a few weeks until the lemons turn a deep brown colour and it looks marmaladey. Then you just add a spoonful to a mug and add boiling water for a soothing healing drink. Some recipes say use raw honey and some say any honey is fine.  The Manuka honey feels like a halfway compromise. I'll report back if it works :-)

In an attempt to feel more summery I made some elderflower cordial.  I just love the smell of it. The recipe is in the Soup Kitchen. 

I've changed the button at the top from My Other Blog to Ali's Soup Kitchen.  All detailed recipes from now on will be in the Soup Kitchen

Wednesday 3 July 2013

Hungry teenager at large!

The Teenager loves pizza, especially the stuffed crust variety from a well known chain.  But it's so expensive to buy and so cheap to make.  Last night I made him one and he declared it the best pizza I'd ever made! :-)
The details of how to make it are on my other blog (Click the linky at the top of the page)  Apologies for not posting it here but I have a good reason for the other blog.  All will be revealed when I move ;-)

I made a big batch of tomato sauce to freeze.  It's so versatile, I use it in loads of ways.  With the Teenager now on school holidays I need to have easy filling and cheap ways to stop him being hungry.  And stop him from grazing all day and eating all the food in my fridge.  He's already eaten a week's worth of yogurt in 2 days!!

On impulse I picked up a few boxes of these from the freezer aisle.  They were reduced to 50p as the use by date is August.  Although they don't say suitable for vegetarians there's nothing meat/fish derived in the ingredient list.  I would never pay £1.99 for them but at 50p they're a decent addition to bulk out a stir fry meal.

There's lots happening on the house front.  By the end of the week I hope to post more details.