Thursday 31 December 2015

So that was 2015...


It's so easy to look back over the year's posts and remember what I've done!  Imagine my surprise when I realised I hadn't even mentioned buying the campervan at the start of February.  OH and I love our campervan.  We both scrimped and saved hard and did our research before buying this one.  We love spending time away exploring hidden areas of Scotland, mostly wild camping with the odd campsite thrown in if we have teenaged company.

OH finally got his license to carry a passenger and took me up in his microlight.  No mean feat when you know I'm scared of flying!!!  He's taken me up a few times since and I love it.

OH spent weeks in his spare time building me a fully enclosed chicken run.  I finally got my chickens :-)

A rare one with all 3 girls!
At the end of term I dyed my hair pink and we sent off to Northern Ireland for a fabulous holiday.  We will definitely go back there on day.

My kitchen saga rumbles on but I painted my door purple to match the tiles.  I've still to resolve the flooring issue but I have some money saved so will splash out on something suitable in the new year sales.
This picture still makes me laugh!  That post was my most viewed one and got the most comments.  It was lovely to see lots of us have been in this position and how we've flourished and grown :-)
I've ended the year with a full blown attack on my health.  I've spent the last week being really not well and I'm determined that in 2016 my health and fitness is an absolute priority.
I try not to make resolutions but there are a few things that need to be addressed asap beginning with a focus to improve my immune system.  I am susceptible to every bug and virus that sweeps the school.  I suspect my work/life balance is key here and once I get that sorted it will be easier.
Hopefully 2016 will be the year my job situation gets sorted out but beyond that being healthy and happy are all I hope for.
Thank you to you all for reading and commenting on my blog.  Here's wishing you a very Happy New Year, may it bring all you deserve and more.
Ali xxx

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Pearl and Crystal Necklace

I finished my necklace and couldn't wait to share :-) 

Here it is on my dressmaker's dummy for scale.  It has 50 soft grey freshwater pearls.  Each one is separated by a tiny clear Swarovski crystal bicone bead.  There's a tiny silver letter A for Ali. The focal point is a red Swarovski heart pendant.  I had all the other jewellery findings as I used to make a lot of stuff

You can just see the A peeking out!
Total cost £11.36 for the heart, £3.12 for the tiny crystals, £1.99 for the A and £5.99 for the pearls so £22.46.

This was the original necklace that inspired me.  A beautiful Claudia Bradbury piece costing £133.50.  It has a silver heart.
I might change the findings on my red heart so it can be removed and swapped for other focal points, making it a versatile piece of jewellery.
I'm rather pleased with it :-)

Christmas washout

Once again I have been knocked sideways during the school holiday.  Christmas was practically a non event for me as I was too ill to enjoy it.  I prepped and cooked a full Christmas dinner for 7 people but barely ate any of it. I'm still not well and have been nagged by most of my family to see my GP.  I will attempt to get an appointment when the surgery re opens again.  I know I need to sort out my work/life balance as I'm exhausted at the end of every term and I'm always ill.
But my washed out Christmas is nothing compared to those families devastated by the dreadful flooding in the North of England :-(   The rivers here have also burst their banks and there are fields surrounding Stirling full of water with only a few houses affected.  Everywhere is very wet and muddy, walking the dogs is a messy business.  We are on Amber alert again for tonight so although it's dry atm I'm expecting storm conditions tonight.  My poor wee chickens are very soggy!

I've been mainly confined indoors.  Resting doesn't do much for me but when you have uncontrollable coughing fits when you move about there's not much choice!  I've been knitting and playing with my jewellery tools.  I'm attempting a copycat version of a beautiful pearl necklace I saw costing £133.50.  My version, still with real pearls, will cost me a lot less than that!! 
I've also been doing a lot of thinking and planning.  2016 will be a significant year for me as I turn 50 in March.  I feel the need to do something different next year.  Watch this space ;-)

Wednesday 23 December 2015

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

I'm finally on holiday but suffering from another round of nasty bugs!  The food shopping was done this morning at 8am and Sainsbury's was pretty busy even then.  I used my points to buy our Christmas meal and had plenty left over to donate.  Grand total in money was £49.35 but I got it all free :-)  That doesn't include the turkey (OH gets that) but everything else is in there.  Plus there will lots of leftovers to feed us for another couple of days. 

Our menu is fairly simple.  Marinated prawns to start (cheese stars for The Teenager), turkey with all the trimmings and veg (or 3 Kings cheese tart) and trifle or Christmas pudding for dessert. 

I've done the last of my present shopping too.  I've managed to make a few gifts which pleases me greatly but I won't post pics until after the day ;-)

So for the rest of today I'll be drinking lots of hot drinks, wrapping presents and watching a movie or 2 to get me in the mood.  Tomorrow I'll start prepping the food to be transported to OH's house. 

Really is beginning to feel like Christmas, at last!!

Saturday 19 December 2015

Eat well for less

I must confess I love watching Greg and Chris on this BBC programme. I think I'm doing as much as I can to save money on food but I do pick up the odd useful tip here and there.  The recurring theme seems to be that people think they don't have the time or skills to cook from scratch and that they'll actually spend more on ingredients if they do.  Enter Greg and Chris to prove otherwise.

This week's Christmas special of Eat well for less has caused a bit of a ripple in frugal blogland!  The family featured spent £1400 on food for the festive period.  So here's my confession.  In my previous life I used to spend that amount of money.  Over Christmas we hosted the Christmas day meal for the whole family, many of them staying overnight and spending Boxing Day with us too.  We would have friends for dinner between Christmas and New Year.  We would have drinks and nibbles parties.  So we'd easily spend around that amount BUT we could afford it.  We chose to splash the cash and share with friends and family.

But as you know from my previous post about unplugging Christmas I wasn't happy with it.

Once again this year I'm using my Nectar points to fund Christmas.  I have over £90 worth!  That's more than enough to buy the Christmas meal and lots of foodie treats (GF stuff is expensive!!) and buy plenty of things to donate to my local food bank.  Win win!!

Friday 18 December 2015

Some job news

It's still under negotiation and obviously confidential ;-) but since I know you won't tell anyone, I'll let you in on it!  I have job permanency rights as I've now got 24 months continuous service.  This means I have the right to apply to the Education department to convert my temporary contract into a permanent one.  This doesn't mean I have the right to an actual post but it's a significant move forward.  The annual staffing review takes place in January/February where they look at the number of teachers available and the posts needing filled in August at the start of the new academic year.  I could be sent anywhere but right now I'm happy with that.

In the short term it looks like I'll be staying where I am until the summer with a high chance of job sharing from the end of April to the end of June.  That's ok with me as it all counts towards continuous service according to the lovely HR lady I've been dealing with today.  At the moment building up my continuous service to the magic number of 30 months is more important than halving my income.

Although it's not a permanent job yet, it's a huge step forward and frankly, a weight off my mind.

Wednesday 16 December 2015


Take one pack of reduced sausages and remove skins

And one pack of stuffing mix (water and oil added as per instructions) and squidge it all together
Bake in the oven until lovely and crispy on top

Serve with sweet potato mash and beans.
And very delicious it was too!  It was a bit of a dry run for Christmas day dinner.  I find using sausages instead of sausagemeat gives you a better quality of meat.  On the day I'll use more sausages but the above 6 sausages made 6 good portions of stuffing.  I picked up a few reduced packs of sausages so they're now in the freezer waiting for turkey day :-)
After Christmas you can usually pick up reduced stuffing mixes. One year I got loads of a cranberry mix one for 10p. It's a quick cheat's way to make meatloaf if you've not got the time or inclination to make breadcrumbs/chop and fry onions/prepare the herbs.

Sunday 13 December 2015

Mincemeat and apple sponge pudding

OH is a huge pudding fan.  Gluten free puddings can be a bit iffy  but mostly I prefer to go without.  So yesterday he had a real hankering for a pudding to have with custard.  BTW Alpro's vanilla custard is so good everyone eats it without realising it's dairy free.

So looking at what I had in the cupboard and fruit bowl I had an idea for using up some of that 5p mincemeat from earlier in the year.  I couldn't find a recipe so I made this one up.

Mincemeat and apple sponge pudding

150g Pure spread
150g sugar
150g Doves Farm self raising gluten free flour
50g ground almonds
2 eggs
4 tbsp. Alpro Vanilla milk

1 apple, cored and chopped into small pieces, skin on
2/3 jar of mincemeat

Cream Pure spread and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time with a spoonful flour and beat.  Add sieved flour, almonds and milk and beat together until smooth.

Grease a medium sized casserole dish and put mincemeat on the bottom.  Add the apple then the sponge mixture on top.

It took 50 mins in the oven at Gas 5 until the middle of the sponge was firm.

Serve with custard.

OH declared it the best pudding he's ever had, not just the best GF!  Bit chuffed here :-)

BTW, this morning I worked out that in 100 days I'll be 50!!

Friday 11 December 2015

Tree time

I gave in and put the tree up.  It's a pre lit one, obviously artificial.  Real ones are lovely but so expensive.  So out came the tree box and 1 single box of decorations.  I genuinely couldn't remember if I'd kept anything from last year.  I definitely had a big clear out so found no baubles or tinsel.  Just Santas!!! I've been collecting wee Santas for years.  Not expensive and definitely not tasteful.  They do make me laugh though :-)

I still have my 3 angels, one for each of my boys. I've got a quilted wall hanging and a small handmade yarn themed wreath and that's it.  Very understated.

I'm going stud some oranges with cloves and tie some cinnamon sticks together with ribbon.  And that's probably all I'll do this year.

Monday 7 December 2015

Faith restored ( a wee bit!)

Sainsbury's finally refunded my money.  It only took 3 weeks and 5 days!! They owed me £83.25 but they rounded it up as a 'goodwill gesture' to £90.   Plus they sent me a voucher for 2500 Nectar points on my next spend which is worth £12.50.  So I'm around £20 better off. 

I'm lucky I had savings in reserve but for many people it could have been a tricky situation where they found themselves short of cash for the best part of a month.  This is the second time recently I've had to fight to get my own money back from a large company.  Everyone I spoke to was very pleasant and tried to be helpful.  It was the electronic payment system that was at fault.  Apparently!!

A quick pop in last night resulted in a few yellow stickered goodies for the freezer.  Pancakes for The Teenager, cupcakes and croissants for me!  I've not tried the Genius croissants before.  I'm saving them for Christmas morning as we always had croissants for brunch.  The boys liked them toasted with cheese.  One Christmas family tradition I'm keeping :-)

Sunday 6 December 2015

Occupational hazard

The downside of working with young kids is that they get lots of bugs. Teachers do build up an immunity but every now and then you succumb to the sniffles.  I've been fighting off a sniffly nose and a bit of a cough all week but I've woken up this morning with a full blown stinker.  After getting up to feed dogs and chickens I've gone back to my bed.  Not like me at all!!

I know there's no cure for the common cold but if there's anything I can do to ease some of these symptoms then I'm game.  I've been doing some googling and have so far found these natural remedies.  Some I knew about and some are new to me.

Cayenne pepper in orange juice sipped through a straw to ease a sore throat.  Easy one to try.

Garlic in everything.  Already knew about that one for colds.

Pomegranates have more antioxidants than green tea and red wine.  Drinking the juice helps fight throat infections as well as having all round immune boosting properties.  New one for me.

Sage tea.  I've tried this one in the past, really works!  Fresh sage is good if you've got it, just infuse and drink.  Dried sage works best as a gargle.

Carrots, cooked not raw.  Full of good stuff.

Kiwi fruits, more vitamin C than oranges.  Apparently eating them reduces the number days of having a sore throat.

I know I've got garlic, dried sage and carrots in the kitchen so will be having those today.  Another good one is honey and lemon.  I did a nice Manuka honey and lemon remedy once.

But my personal favourite thing for a cold is homemade chicken soup.  And luckily I just happen to have made a big pot of it for my visitors yesterday :-)

Saturday 5 December 2015

Things making me smile today

I had a visit today from 2 of my oldest friends.  I've reached the stage where I find I can count true friends on the fingers on one hand.  I have many 'friends' that I've not seen in the last 5 years.  Guess they're not really friends then.  This couple are the kind of friends that you might not see for ages then when you do get together it's like you saw them last week :-) Although we've met up a few times in the last few years they hadn't seen my house so they came for lunch today and brought me a housewarming present.  A purple teapot and butter dish to match my purple tiles!  They know me so well :-)

And something else that made me smile.  These are some of The Teenager's toiletries.  I discovered he's cut off the top of the Nivea tube to get the last of the cream out.  Chip off the old block ;-)

Wednesday 2 December 2015

December eggs

The weather here is truly awful.  It's been a very wet November and the first 2 days of December so far are exactly the same.  My poor chickens will start thinking they're ducks soon if it doesn't let up!!  But they're still laying lots of eggs for me.  So far this week I had 3 on Monday, 2 on Tuesday and 2 today.  I had expected them to stop laying as there's very little daylight atm.  In the morning when I open the coop they don't even stir!  When I get home from work, they've already put themselves to bed.  But they're still laying so I'm happy.

Sainsbury's update:  It's now over 3 weeks since my delivery wasn't delivered and I still haven't had my money refunded despite repeated calls.  Tonight's phone call assured me (again!!) that the refund has DEFINITELY gone through and it should be back in my account in 3 days.  We'll see!!!!!

Sunday 29 November 2015

Unplugging the Christmas Machine

Twelve years ago I purchased the above book.  Put simply, it changed everything for me.  On the outside it looked like I had the perfect life.  We lived in a beautiful 5 bedroomed house that had been expensively interior decorated from top to bottom (it was the ex show house on a small exclusive estate), we drove 2 new cars (a 4x4 and a sports car), we had a holiday house on the isle of Arran, we had an extensive social life of entertaining and being entertained.  But I wasn't satisfied with it.  I was living the life that I had aspired to since I got married at 20 and yet I wasn't happy with it. 

It was a few months before Christmas when we were planning our festive season, trying to 'co-ordinate our diaries' with family and friends to make sure we had lots of 'fun activities' planned.  I was bored of the usual round of drinks parties and full on dinners with people that I only saw once a year.  People who were 'useful' to my ex's career.  People who weren't really interested in who I was or what I thought or anything I did.

I was browsing online for alternative Christmas ideas and this book popped up.  Like I said, it changed everything.  Definitely recommend it if you're caught in a Christmas maelstrom. We dropped out of the social whirl and just had a simple Christmas.  A few months later we took the huge leap of buying an old house with some land in the Perthshire countryside and set out with the intention of leading a much simpler life.  I loved it and embraced it but the ex didn't. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!

But back to Christmas.  Over the last 10 years or so it has gradually become a much quieter affair and I like it that way.  In fact I'd be quite happy to skip it altogether but my 3 boys still like to celebrate so I go along with it.  But on my terms.  I refuse to go shopping in an actual store, preferring to buy any gifts needed online.  I make a lot of edible gifts and I craft some too.  Sadly not as many as I used to as I just don't have the time atm.

All the young people (my kids, his kids, my nephews and niece, ages 28 to 14) all get money.  It would be lovely to be able to buy them an actual gift but I'd rather they were able to buy whatever they wanted themselves than buy a gift that lies unused in a cupboard or drawer.  Sad but true.

The older generation (parents, aunts, uncles) usually get something edible.  We've all agreed that we don't actually need or want material things so everyone's happy.  I don't spend a lot of money but I do spend time and effort sourcing nice jars/bottles/baskets etc that can all be recycled or repurposed.  Sometimes I even get them back to refill!

I've kept very few traditions from when we were a 'family' preferring to start new ones instead and deliberately doing something different each year.  This is the third Christmas in my own wee house and already I know there will be a different routine this year.  The Teenager will be working on Christmas day, my middle son will be at his dad's and my eldest has chosen to spend it in his own flat.  And that's all fine with me.  I'll be at OH's house making new traditions.

Nothing is perfect but at least I can say I'm happy with my life. I have a Christmas on MY terms and not some commercialised version big companies tell me to have.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Bread and purple hair

Following on from my efforts to minimise my supermarket use, I had a go at making a gluten free loaf without using the Helen's Bread mix.  It's the recipe on the Doves Farm Free from Gluten White Bread Flour bag.  Wee bit more of a faff but the results were good.

I think next time I'll use a bit less sugar as it was a bit sweet for my taste but the texture was okay.  I expected it to be more cakey but was pleasantly surprised.  The test now is to see if it keeps well and freezes.  It would work out at just under half the cost of the Helen's Bread mix loaf if I bulk buy flour directly from them so worth doing.  I also need to see if OH likes it! :-)

Last night it was my staff Christmas night out. A bit early but we left it too late to book.  I really wasn't sure if I should go or not as it was £32 per person for a 3 course meal plus half bottle of wine. In the end it actually turned out to be a fab night.  Lovely food (dairy and gluten free for me), great music and good company.  As you can see I dyed my hair purple for the event! (I had a bargain box of dye in the cupboard).  Just a temporary one much to my boss's relief.  The only new item I purchased to wear was a pair of sparkly tights at £3.50, everything else I had worn several times before.  In fact I wore the same dress as last year and nobody commented!!  I guess everyone was looking at my hair ;-)

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Pot luck lunch

It's half term for the kids tomorrow and Friday but not for teachers.  We have 2 staff development days, aka sitting in kid sized chairs in a classroom being talked at for hours.

Best part of these days is our pot luck lunch where everyone brings in something to share.  There's no real planning involved and it usually works out.

My offering above is a 3 bean salad with a honey and mustard dressing (fat free) and Mexican chicken.  I had 3 tins of beans in the store cupboard (red kidney, cannellini and chickpeas), onions in the veg basket and a bag of frozen chicken fillets in the freezer.  I always have honey, mustard, cider vinegar and spices kicking around so no need to buy anything specially for the lunch (unlike some of my colleagues who were going to the supermarket after work tonight!!)

I haven't skimped on ingredients but still managed to make something nice :-)

Monday 23 November 2015


Finally, after leaving school 5 months ago The Teenager has finally got himself a job.  To be fair, he did fire in a few application forms but in reality he could have tried a bit harder.  But we live in a university town and if you're not quick off the mark then you don't stand a chance.

So, relying on a wee bit of nepotism his big brother got him an interview with the place he used to work at when he left school.  Credit where credit's due, he did well in both interviews and was offered a job :-)  A casual contract at first but all going well he should be offered a full time permanent contract.  They are aware he is going university and will help him transfer to a Hilton in Glasgow if he wants a part time job while studying.

No idea what he'll be earning yet but anything is good after having zero money!  We haven't discussed dig money yet and we need to be very careful about the effect it might have on maintenance from his dad.  But he's really happy :-)

Now here's the eye opener.  His initial interview lasted 35 minutes followed up by a second interview several days later lasting 15 minutes.  Total interview time 50 minutes, for a waiter position.  My last interview for a teaching post lasted 25 minutes.  Something not quite right with that...

Sunday 22 November 2015

Saving money v principles

Despite a busy week at work (2 parents' evenings) I have been giving a lot of thought about using supermarkets.  I really want to stick the fingers up to them but my purse would be a lot lighter.  As a rule I'm not swayed by their BOGOF offers mainly as it's never on anything we eat.  But I do enjoy scoring a yellow sticker bargain or two!  For example yesterday's Apple and Plum Chutney was a result of scoring punnets of plums in the summer for 19p. And this morning I got a large joint (2.5kg) of British beef reduced by 50%.
I didn't have any apples for the chutney so I popped into Blairmains Farm Shop which is just a few miles from my front door.  I got some Braeburns at £1.95 a kilo (they're £1.85 a kilo in Sainsbury's this week). They have a policy of stocking local and Scottish products as far as possible including chickens and eggs from the farm next door.  A whole free range chicken was about £10 and included the giblets.  Pricy but I can see exactly where they roam in the fields next door!  And when was the last time you got giblets with your chicken??

Since getting chickens I am more determined that I will pay a fair price for ones that been scratching around freely in the dirt like mine (see above for yesterday's garden trashing!)  I must admit that I wondered if I'd be put off actually eating chicken but no I haven't!! Although I am eating less but of a higher quality.
As well as trying to find out practical alternatives to the supermarkets I've been investigating buying directly from some of the brands I use.  For example if I bulk buy Doves Farm gluten free flours I can save money and get free postage but then I have storage issues.
Yeah, I need to work some more on this but I could maybe rely LESS on the supermarkets and use MORE independent food producers to find some kind of balance that satisfies my need to spend less without compromising principles.

Sunday 15 November 2015

Can't live without them?

I really wish I could live without supermarkets.  I've long avoided Asda (due to the Walmart connection and how they treat their staff), rarely visit Tesco (dominating in some towns resulting in small shops losing business) and now will avoid Morrison's thanks to their treatment of farmers highlighted in HFW's programme War on Waste plus the revelation that British dairy farmers are NOT receiving all the extra money from the sale of their milk.  How did we get to the point where supermarkets have so much power?  We're tempted by the 'convenience' of getting it all in one place.  In other words we're too lazy/busy to visit more than one shop to get everything we need.  They know this and encourage us in with the promise of making it easy.
And I hold my hands up.  I hate food shopping now I have to go at the weekend or after work. So doing most of it online seems like a good idea.  I know lots of people who've had a terrible time with their deliveries but in all the years I've done it I never have.  Until now.  I'm currently in dispute with Sainsbury's over an undelivered order that they took full payment for.  A total of £83.25 to be exact.  That's a huge chunk out of my food budget as I was stocking up at the start of the month. I've made several phone calls now and have been assured it will be refunded in the 'next few days.' That was a week ago. It should never have been taken in the first place and I'm still waiting to get MY money back *sighs*
Could I live without a supermarket? It's doable and would take a lot of effort/time but it's something I want to give some serious thought to.  I could support local farmers and stick a finger up at Tesco/Asda/Morrison's/Sainsbury's!! Watch this space ;-)

Winter weather requires soup!  I didn't have any chicken to make my favourite Chicken n Rice soup (chicken stock, rice, carrots and leeks) so knocked up this veggie version using whatever was lying around.
Vegetarian 'Chicken' n Rice soup
3/4 bag frozen chopped carrots/onion/celery (it was all that was left in my freezer)
3 'handfuls' rice
2 'handfuls' red lentils
6 teeny tiny leeks from my garden
1 carton of butter beans (only 5 months past the use by date!)
enough veg stock to cover
No real recipe, just put everything in the pot except the leeks and butter beans.  Bring to boil and simmer until rice is cooked then add leeks and butter beans for last 5 mins.  That's it.  The Teenager declared it 'delicious.' I had mine with some GF home made bread.
OH and I managed to sneak away for a night in the campervan.  We both have sole custody of our children with very absent exes and rarely have a night where it's just us being a couple. We ended up in Stonehaven, a lovely place I'd never visited before despite having a family connection to it.  We wild camped in the car park to Dunnottar Castle, full of history. We do like our ruined castles ;-)

Sunday 8 November 2015

When you should listen

Thanks to everyone who left a comment on my last post :-)  I haven't talked much about the events that changed my life 5 years ago and for newer readers who don't know the reason behind my blog I hope it gave you an inkling of how I got here.
It was good to see other women who have come through a similar thing and are enjoying life on the other side.  To Mrs G, no one can tell you what to do.  Only you can make that decision.  I ignored that voice telling me something wasn't quite right for years and then let him make the decision for me when I was least prepared.  Good luck with whatever you decide to do.
Today the weather is awful.  I put the heating on early as the house is so cold.  Since we're stuck indoors I'm getting on with finishing the kitchen.  Yep, that saga is still on going!!  My middle son is still here and he's quite handy so hopefully by the end of today I'll have some photos of finished stuff to share :-)

Friday 6 November 2015

Another picture says it all

My ex husband got re married today.  To the woman he left me for (who was actually a friend).  It's her 4th marriage.  Nuff said.  My children (ok, they're all technically grown up) now have a stepmother ;-)

It really doesn't bother me any more.  At the time I was devastated especially as it was all very public. But I truly haven't spent the day moping or thinking about it, my life is full enough!  They really are 2 people who truly deserve each other.  I don't wish them any harm but neither do I wish them well. And I'm comfortable with that :-)  

Sunday 1 November 2015


AKA National Novel Writing Month.  I've been taking part in this for years.  Basically you write 50,000 words in 30 days. I've done it every year for the last 8 years except last year (cos I was in Singapore for the wedding)  I've never achieved the 50k although one year I did get to about 30k.  You aim for 1667 words a day, no editing, no re writing.  You just write.  I usually write a Mills and Boon type of romance novel. People can be scornful of romance novels but it's a bulti million dollar a year industry!
This year I'm trying a semi autobiographical woman's fiction book about a woman who has to deal with the breakdown of her long marriage and how everyone has an opinion it and what she should do.  They say write what you know!!! It's funny as well as downright awful in places.  Bit like my life really ;-)

Saturday 31 October 2015

Stripping and sanding

After stripping and before sanding
There's nothing like playing with power tools to cheer me up!!  This is the other side of that purple door!  It's the door between the kitchen and utilty room and yep, it's going to be purple too :-)  Mainly because a)  I've got tons of paint left and b)  I've got tons of purple (technically claret!) tiles left that will be used on the splashback in the utility room. 

After sanding
Sanding really makes a mess so I closed the door to keep the dust in the utility room.  It means I've still got the edges to do but that's ok as it'll be less mess.

I took the old manky handle off and gave it a thorough clean, sand and polish.  It's come up rather nicely.  That saves a few quid on buying new door hardware.

If a picture paints a 1000 words...

...then here's 2000 words on how I'm feeling today!

I'm finding this one tricky atm as there's a few people at work I simply don't respect.  I've just had another one of those weeks at work where some of us look at our colleagues and think 'How do they get away with it when we're working our butts off?'

Sunday 25 October 2015

My dogs

My dogs are my luxury in my (semi) frugal life.  I simply wouldn't be without them.  When my life turned upside down they were a comfort to me and my boys, giving us unconditional love and a reason to leave the house.  I've been around dogs my whole life and had labs and retrievers for nearly 20 years.  Even though I love them to bits I'm not one of those sentimental owners.  My dogs don't eat human food.  Ever! They're not allowed upstairs or in bedrooms.  They don't get up on the furniture.  They're dogs and I'm their pack leader.  They know their place. 
I've always said that I wouldn't prolong the life of a dog just because I couldn't part with them.  I said I wouldn't keep a dog that needed daily medication.  But then there's Lucy.  That's her above in her bed with her new memory foam mattress (off cut bought from eBay for a third of the cost of a 'new' dog one) She's nearly 11 and was suffering from painful stiff joints.  The vet gave her a thorough MOT and apart from the stiffness she is a very fit, healthy dog :-) She's alert and up for anything when we're out a walk.  She can swim like a fish!  Even when she was hobbling she was still attempting to chase balls (she's very ball focussed!!) and jump off walls.

So it was with great reluctance that I started her on Metacam and Nutraquin+. And the effect was almost instant, she was moving a lot easier and no hobbling.  But... These 2 boxes yesterday cost me £64! GULP!!  They should last 2 months so that's £32 a month.  That brings the monthly cost of my dogs to £449 (£360 for dog walker, £30 for dried dog food, £27 pet insurance for Emma and now £32 for drugs)  That doesn't include things like vaccinations, worming, toys, leads, collars, poop bags etc. That's almost 25% of my take home salary.  See, my luxury!

And here's Emma, my pretty puppy except for her squinty ear (on the right in the photo above)  It still hasn't quite recovered from the haematoma.  I need to take her back to the vet to see if needs an op or if she just has to live with it.  Hopefully it will be ok.  She's due to come back into season in the next 2 months and I'm going to breed her this time.  She's nearly 4 which is a good age for a first litter.  If all goes well this could be a side line I could develop in the future.  I've always wanted to breed dogs and have done extensive research including talking to successful breeders.  I know the pitfalls but also the rewards (not just financial).  I'm doing it all properly through the Kennel Club which isn't the cheapest way to do it but there will be help available if I need it.

My dogs are worth every penny to me :-)