Saturday 30 April 2016

What DO you eat?

I regularly get asked 'What DO you eat then?' Most people think following a gluten and dairy free diet must be awful.  In the early days it was a challenge but I've been gluten and dairy free for nearly 2 years now with just the occasional glutening (accidental or deliberate!) And it definitely gets easier.  The biggest challenge I have is sticking to my budget.

If money's no objective then paying double or three times the price of  'normal' stuff isn't a problem.  You can buy GF versions of just about everything now.  They vary hugely in taste.  Sometimes they're so awful I just don't bother with them at all.  Or they are so processed.  So I mainly stick to food that's naturally gluten free.  Rice, potatoes, quinoa, pulses, meat, fish, eggs, fruit and vegetables.  I can eat goat's cheese, butter and milk although it's a bit more expensive than cow's milk products.  But it's for a treat.

I can eat some types of crisps and quite a lot of sweets.  And dark chocolate :-) So it's not all bad.

There are 4 GF things I buy and am happy to spend more on.  They are Tamari (a wheat free soy sauce), Helen's Bread Mix (tastes like a farmhouse style crusty loaf), Sainsbury's free from pasta (tastes the same when it's covered in sauce!!) and GF wraps (B Free or Warburton's Newhouse are the best)

I use Alpro soya milk and yoghurts and am happy to pay more for them.  But I eat them sparingly.  Since I'm doing WeightWatchers atm I stick to the recommended serving sizes on the packs which are much smaller than I'm used to!!  So I'm not just saving calories but also money by making my food last longer.

Thursday 28 April 2016

Wee bit famous!!

Just a quick post to say that Mavis over at One Hundred Dollars a Month has shared my personal savings story on her fab blog. If you're a long time follower of my nonsense you'll probably know most of it any way but I'm thrilled to share my story in the hope it might help someone else. Do pop over and leave a comment :-)

Wednesday 27 April 2016

More progress

Maybe I spoke too soon in suggesting Spring has arrived.  Today we've had sunshine, rain, sleet, snow and wind!  Today was a non working day and I had hoped to get more of my shed painted before assembling it.  But so far all I've managed is to paint the sides and door (twice) before running out of pink paint.  I've still got some blue left over from the raised beds and green from the fence so it'll now end up being a multi coloured shed!

Things are growing in the polytunnel.  My spinach, peas and courgettes are now showing leaves.  I get ridiculously excited every time I go in to see what's popped up next.  I've got some Growbags now with tomato plants, 3 cherry tomatoes (Moneymaker) and 3 plum tomatoes (Roma).  Some for salads and some for sauce.

I've planted the runners from my lovely Mum's strawberries.  They came from her old allotment.  I now have some outside and inside.  It'll be interesting to see if the polytunnel ones produce earlier and how many I get.

I made a big slowcooker batch of Chicken Cacciatore.  Very healthy but very tasty and only 2 SmartPoints per chicken breast. Total weight loss is now 6kg (13lbs) with 5kg to go.  People at work have noticed and commented on the loss mainly because my clothes are looser!  Now there's a good excuse to spend some money on eBay!! ;-)

Friday 22 April 2016

Spring is springing

There are some signs in the garden that Spring has finally arrived here in Scotland! 

We've had a few good days in a row with actual sunshine this week! 

The Spring flowers are in full bloom at last :-)

Even my peony is in bud 

But most exciting of all is that things are growing in the polytunnel!!  The radishes are up.

My rocket is up 

My bargain Jamie Oliver Grow Your Own kit of salad leaves is producing shoots despite having a sow by date of 2014!  This is on a sunny window sill rather than in the polytunnel.

And my seed potatoes arrived, also chitting on the sunny window sill.  I chose King Edwards (main crop, good for roasting, baking and home made chips) and Sarpo Mira (a good all rounder, late main crop) These will be grown in potato bags in my front garden.  It feels like the growing season has now begun :-)

I've had my first week of changed hours at work.  It was nice to be off on Monday.  Working with the older kids on a Tuesday is going to be demanding as they've got 'attitude.'  Then I had 3 days with my own class.  I know it's early days but it's going to be a tough term.  I know already I just don't like this job sharing arrangement.  However, it's a means to an end and I can suck it up for the next 9 weeks then I'm back full time for the new academic year in August.

Next week I'm off on Monday and Wednesday.  I'm hoping the weather stays dry so I can do more to the garden and get more edible planting done :-)

Friday 15 April 2016

Filling the polytunnel

Over the last few days I've rounded up and thoroughly cleaned my collection of pots and have started to fill the polytunnel.  I haven't decided what the best layout is yet so for this year I'll stick to pots and growbags while I do my research. I might build a raised bed, I might not.  If anyone has any tips I'd be grateful if you shared them.

These strawberry plants came from my mum's garden. I'll be putting them in a growbag and comparing the yield with my outside ones.

So far I've planted a couple of lettuces, radishes, spinach, squash, peppers, pumpkins, courgettes and peas.  And sweet peas!  (not all pictured)  I've run out of compost so will need to twist The Teenager's arm to come with me to get more. He's got the muscle to lift and shift stuff for me :-)

I found a bag of these labels which I got free with something, can't remember what.  I stuck on some Frog masking tape and made some eye catching plant markers.

I planted my rhubarb crown in the space between the polytunnel and the fence but Emma immediately went to investigate what I'd done and trampled all over it.  Grrr!! I hope it survives . I stuck in some bamboo canes to stop her going back up there until it establishes itself.

The chickens are fascinated by the polytunnel and kept peering in while I was inside.  Then they 'shouted' at me for ages.  Funny wee things!

Wednesday 13 April 2016


I cannot stop myself!!!!!  I just can't walk past a good yellow sticker deal.  It's TKD night so I popped into Sainsbury's and hit the jackpot.  You always get good bargains at the end of a miserable wet day and it's been a very wet one today. Tonight's haul 2 x Chantenay carrots (500g) 10p each, 1kg carrots 14p, baby spinach leaves 10p, baby watercress leaves 10p, 8 x garlic flatbreads 24p each, triple cheese pizza £1.25, 2 x Warburton's toastie loaves, 24p and 2 x shortcrust pastry 24p.  The Crunchy Nut cornflakes were a half price deal at £1.57 for the big 750g box so technically not yellow sticker but a good deal.

I know I'm trying to use up stuff from my freezers but we were low on stuff for The Teenager so most of it is for him.  The pizza is one meal.  He sometimes puts cheese and veggies on a flatbread to make his own pizza or eats them with soup, that's at least 8 meals (or more if he only uses a half at a time) The pastry will make a couple of quiches.  The carrots will become various soups and the spinach/watercress will go in a smoothie or another soup.

And yesterday I got 2 veggie haggis reduced in Dobbies.  Yum!

So big fail on using up what I already had but everything was too good to pass on and I'll get a lot of meals from the total haul.  I did walk away from some lamb neck chops and smoked salmon as I knew I didn't need them so it's not all bad!

Tuesday 12 April 2016

More using it up

In the spirit of using stuff up, I've been clearing out my bathroom cabinet.  As a teacher I often get toiletry gifts that are not to my taste or get lots of the same thing but because they were gifts I'm loathe to throw them out. So a perfume became an air freshener in my wee downstairs loo!  And I've put some hand cream in there too for any visitors that might want to use some.  I've also been using up sachets of hair conditioner and those wee bottles of shampoo you get in hotels. Waste not, want not.

I'm still using up the contents of my freezers.  The chest one is running low especially on stuff for The Teenager.  I'll soon be able to transfer everything into one freezer then I'll get rid of this one.  I did think about moving it to the garage but if I've only got one then it'll stop me buying too many yellow stickered items in the first place!

Even though I'm managing to eat from the freezers and storecupboard I was low on a few fresh things so popped round to Lidl which is just 2 mins from my house.  Pears, tomatoes, spring onions, 2 kiwis, prawn crackers and a bottle of Pepsi Max (my vice!!) all for £3.15.  Bargain!

And the pears and kiwis were perfect for eating now.  Perfect for pudding!

Today's weather was truly awful.  Just 6 degrees C and very wet :-( No gardening but I rearranged furniture in 3 rooms to create more space.  I may move some of it back, I'll sleep on it.

Monday 11 April 2016


It's just a wee one cos I can't afford a proper greenhouse but finally I've got a polytunnel! :-) Length 2.5m x 2m wide and is 2m high.  It cost me £48.90 from Ebay with free delivery.  I watched loads of Youtube videos of people buying similar ones and what they thought about the quality.  I picked up lots of tips re digging trenches etc to anchor it to the ground.

It was pretty straightforward to construct by myself.  I only needed The Teenager to help me lift it into place and pull the plastic over it as he's much taller than me!!

I dug a trench all around the sides to bury the overhanging plastic.  I weighted it down with bricks then filled it in again.  I find digging very sore on my back so I took my time with this bit.

I've also strategically placed some big pots to help anchor it down too.  I had a bit of leftover scaffolding plank that was exactly the right size for a 'doormat' to weigh down the excess flap of the door.  I think I'll paint it with my pink paint! ;-)

And here's the view from above.  It backs onto the chicken run so might protect them a bit from the wind and rain.

Now I need to get a move on with my plants and seeds and fill it up with veggies :-)

Saturday 9 April 2016

Aloo Tikki

I was looking for a different potato recipe to try and found this recipe for Aloo Tikki.  They're vegetarian so perfect for The Teenager too.  I tweaked it a bit so here's my version.

  • 4 medium to large sized potatoes, skin on
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, grated
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/3 cup coriander (I used frozen)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp gram flour
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • cooking oil
Either chop potatoes and boil until tender or microwave them.  I microwaved mine.  Roughly mash them leaving a few visible lumps.

Gently fry onion, ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala and cumin for a few minutes to release the spices then mix with mashed potatoes.  Add everything else and stir well to combine.

Roll mixture into small balls (golf ball size) and flatten into pattie shapes.  Fry until golden on both sides.

I got 26 patties from this amount of mixture.  I'm going to try freezing them (if there's any left) to see if these would be good for The Teenage to keep on stand by for a cheap easy meal with beans.

Friday 8 April 2016

Tattie scones

I had some leftover mashed potatoes from making yesterday's Shepherd's Pie so thought I'd try making some traditional tattie scones.  I haven't made these for years!!  I used GF flour but that's the only sub I made to a traditional recipe.

You need approx 4 parts mashed potato to 1 part flour.  I had about 400g of mashed potato (mashed yesterday with some goat's butter that was past the date but tasted fine) so added 100g of self raising gluten free flour (Doves Farm).

It helps if you warm the mashed potatoes before adding the flour.  Mix together until you get a soft dough.  Then roll out to about 1/2 cm thick.

Traditional tattie scones are shaped into a circle then cut into quarters.  You can see I keep the skins on.  Waste nothing!

I don't have a proper girdle pan so would normally use a hot non stick frying pan. But since The Teenager was given a crepe maker thingy for Christmas I thought I'd try it out for these.  Worked a treat!  He loves tattie scones so we'll add them to his repertoire of stuff to cook when he's a poor student!

I used a glass to cut out some round ones too.

Cheap, tasty and filling!

Thursday 7 April 2016

Outdoors, indoors

The weather is still not behaving here!  We get spells of rain followed by a few dry hours.  So I've been doing some outside jobs when I can.  Here is my garden plan with the shed and polytunnel marked but not yet erected.  Biggest priority today was cleaning out the chickens.  I'd just about finished when the postie shouted over the gate "Got some parcels for you!"  One of them was my worms.

I ordered them from Ebay on Sunday.  I dug out my wormery and gave it a thorough clean before adding the worms.  They immediately burrowed their way into their coir bedding.

Here it is fully assembled again and ready to produce lovely wormy compost and worm tea :-)

I also got my compost bin assembled with some help from The Teenager.  It was fairly straightforward but very fiddly!  I might have said a few swear words!!

When it was too rainy to do anything outside I did a little more decluttering.  I've had these Irregular Choice shoes for a few years but not worn them much as they're an unusual colour.  I was considering selling them.  However, they are comfy.  On a whim (eek!) I removed the large bows and dangling cherries charm.  I think they look better and you can see the purple flowers now.  I've got lots of purple clothes so I can wear them more :-)

Tonight's tea was a deconstructed shepherd's pie (LOL!!) with the lamb mince I scored last night.

Now the plan for the rest of the evening is TV and knitting.  My jumper is steadily growing.  I'm not a fast knitter but this is knitting up quickly as it's chunky yarn and 6.5mm needles.  I'm already on the waist shaping.  I might just get it finished before the end of my holiday after all.

Wednesday 6 April 2016


Tonight's tea was a use it up beef stir fry with the ends of a stir fry veg bag and tub of rice from the freezer, the remains of a tin of sweetcorn The Teenager had opened at lunchtime and some of the pulled beef I made and froze in portions a few weeks ago.  Ready in 5 mins.  Lovely!

Wednesday is a TKD training night for The Teenager so as I'm passing anyway I popped into Sainsbury's.  I stuck to my list except for some reduced lamb mince and GF steak pie.  Oops! So much for emptying the freezer!!

I also got 3 bags of compost reduced to £1 because they'd burst at the seams.  Again, too good to pass up.

The weather here is still very mixed with lots of  heavy showers.  So far I've not been able to get out into the garden long enough to get the shed and polytunnel up.  But the pink paint is ready and waiting for when the sun comes out! Until then it's more decluttering and knitting :-)

Tuesday 5 April 2016

On being greener

My friend Sarah makes me think about stuff.  We 'met' online many years ago on the It's Not Easy Being Green forum.  Despite living at opposite ends of Britain living quite different lives, we had loads in common.  But the fact she was a Scottish lass transplanted to Dorset meant we clicked.  Our friendship lasted several years online before we met in real life in 2010 when she came to stay with me for a few days.  That was fun!  Shortly after that both our lives took a different turn and we've both spent the last few years quietly getting on with re building them.

But what I enjoy most about our friendship is that she challenges me to think about my beliefs.  Not in a ram it down my throat way but by posting links and articles on her blogs and on FB.  I've said before I'm a member of the Scottish Green Party.  I've delivered leaflets and will be campaigning in a small way for the upcoming Scottish election next month.  But there are lots of ways I could be doing more to live a greener life.

I think most of us are beginning to realise the impact plastic is having on our environment.  For example plastic is polluting our oceans and getting into the food chain but I hadn't given any thought to the impact of plastic in things like our fleece clothing until Sarah posted the link.  So I thought about it, and researched it and thought some more.  And decided not to buy any more fleece clothing.  Instead I'm going knit myself proper woollen jumpers that will keep me just as warm.

Starting with this one.  It's called Owls by Kate Davies.  

The yarn arrived this morning and after one false start (Magic Loop is a bugger!) I've got a few rounds done already.  Yarn is an undyed British Sheep Breeds Chunky by Rowan.  It's a soft grey colour.  I know it's a very small contribution to solving a global problem but if lots of us make small changes they'll add up.

So thank you Sarah for reminding me to live by my principles and keep making small changes where I can.  Those beautiful flowers were a surprise delivery from her this morning.  I'm very lucky to have such a good friend :-)