Sunday 23 December 2018

Christmas loading...

Well I made it to the end of term, still full of the rotten cold and frankly exhausted. Most of my colleagues are in a similar position.  I now have 2 whole weeks to relax aka catch up on sleep and housework!!

I've done all my present shopping (to be fair it wasn't that much) and the fridge is groaning with food.  My youngest son is home for a few days so that's lovely.

I'm switching off for a wee while so I can spend time with my family.  I know Christmas can be hard for some people so I'm sending out love and good wishes to those who can't be with the ones they love most 💕

Merry Christmas everyone xxx

Monday 17 December 2018

Poinsettia, Pancetta, Panettone

A few years ago my stage partner was a lovely NQT (Newly Qualified Teacher).  There was almost 30 years between us in age but we worked well together and had a laugh as we taught.  At Christmas our 2 classes were part of the Nativity show.  We had a parent volunteer who played the piano for us and we decided to buy her a present to say thank you.  Everyone suggested a poinsettia and as my NQT friend was going late night shopping she offered to get the present.

Just as she was leaving school she came into my room and asked "How much poinsettia should I get?"  I replied "Just one."  I could see she was puzzled.  Then she said...

"Poinsettia is that fancy Italian bacon, isn't it?"


At home that night she started telling her dad the story but he interrupted her by saying "You daftie! It's not bacon, it's that fancy cake."


Apparently her mum didn't stop laughing for hours.

So every Christmas when I see a poinsettia I think of my lovely young friend and have a wee giggle to myself.

Just 3 and a half days left!

Saturday 15 December 2018

A Pinterest Fail

I had some rhubarb tucked away in the freezer and found a lovely recipe on Pinterest for Rhubarb Marmalade.  I thought it would be a nice addition to my food hamper gifts.

As you can see, mine didn't look quite like the Pinterest one!! 😆 It tastes lovely but I'm not sure if I'll add it to my hampers.  Ah well.  Recipe HERE if you're interested.

I went back to work on Tuesday.  I'm still coughing a bit but feeling better each day.  I might be back to full health by Christmas!

Only 3 full and 2 half days of teaching left.  Cannot wait!!!

Monday 10 December 2018

Still sick

I'm getting really fed up with this now 😷 I'm now into my 4th week of this lurgy!! I really thought a weekend of rest and taking the meds would have me back up on my feet. But no.  I've called in sick again today.

Fortunately it's my non contact day so I'm not inconveniencing my poor colleagues too much. The Deputy Head took my class for the first 90 minutes and half of that was assembly! Then the RCCT teacher took over.  But it does mean my planning/marking/assessments will be behind.  Ah well, looks like I'll be busy during the holidays.

So, I'm trying to be positive and am thinking about what I've learned from this.  And hopefully next time I'll bounce back quicker. 

1.  I should have gone to the doctor sooner.  I know that when I get a rotten cold  I get infected sinuses so should get the antibiotics sooner.  Over the counter medicines, honey and lemon drinks and steaming with menthol doesn't work on a bacterial infection.

2.  I know that if I get a second cold sore I should get the antiviral tablets quickly to halt the spread.

3.  I need to take time off work sooner and not keep dragging myself in.  I've made myself sicker by pushing my body too hard.

4.  I need to stop feeling guilty about taking time off.

No 4 is the hardest one, I really need to work on that one.

Friday 7 December 2018


Time to follow the advice I give everyone else at school.  I'm off sick today.  This dreadful cold/virus I've now had for 3 weeks has given me infected sinuses and multiple cold sores.  I just couldn't go in.

Luckily I managed to get an early telephone appointment and have got some kickass antibiotics for the infection and antiviral tablets for the cold sores.  I've taken the first doses and am feeling queasy so fingers crossed that means they're working already.

As a profession we are so bad at looking after ourselves.  The staff room has been full of poorly teachers this week.  I'm feeling very guilty as it's the first Nativity performance today and I'm missing it.  They'll be absolutely fine but I still feel terrible I'm not there to cheer them on.

I have no plans for the weekend except catching up on sleep as I've been unable to lie down in bed.

Hope everyone stays clear of the nasty bugs!!

Sunday 2 December 2018

Santa Tree

 I put my tree up 🎄 complete with all my wee Santas 🎅 It's definitely put me in a festive mood!!

Saturday 1 December 2018

Ho ho ho!!!

It's December and I must confess I'm getting into Christmas mode already.  Probably because I've already spent weeks singing Christmas songs at school getting ready for our Nativity.  First performances are this week!! I treated myself to a dairy free Advent calendar from Heavenly Chocolate 😋 and I'm actually considering putting the tree up this weekend 🎄

A quick pop into Sainsbury's the other evening scored me some bargain pate although I didn't notice at the time it wasn't British pork.  OH doesn't like pate so I don't make it any more.  It was lovely on some GF toast!

I also got 2 packs of GF stuffing reduced.  I think I might add some chopped apricots to it.  I already have a nice veggie stuffing in the freezer so that's one more tick on the Christmas meal list.

I didn't get any chicken bargains so next week's soup for lunches was an assortment of what's in the fridge and freezer.  I came up with Broccoli soup made with the ends of 2 opened bags of frozen broccoli, 4 bendy carrots, 3 small onions, stock powder and a tin of Basics potatoes.  It was quite nice but was missing something.

So I added a full pack of Aldi's soft goats' cheese and it was yummy!  I served it with a sprinkle of grated hard goat's cheese and some Ancho chilli flakes.  Lovely! 😋

I've got a huge food delivery order coming on Tuesday evening that I hope will see me through December.  I've got a few extra things for my storecupboard as well as my monthly shop. Sainsbury's is a nightmare in the run up to the big day so I try to avoid it if I can.  I'll use the Lidl which is round the corner for any fresh stuff and tbh if I've forgotten anything I'm not fussed.  We won't starve.

Have you started getting into a festive mood yet? 🎅🎅🎅

Sunday 25 November 2018


I survived my busy week including my union meeting and the first Parents Evening thanks to Benylin and Sainbury's Cold and Flu tablets!  This is a proper stinker of a cold 😷  Plus my car was serviced (£168 at my wee local garage instead of  almost £300 at the Honda garage!) and my bedroom carpet was finally fitted 😊

I've still got a few finishing touches to do before I can say it's finished.  But here's a wee peek at something my Lovely Mum has been working on for me.  It's absolutely stunning 💜💜💜

Today we took advantage of Historic Scotland's free ticket giveaway and went to visit Tantallon Castle  which is about an hour's drive from here. It's a fab ruin with a lot of Scottish history due to it's strategic location on the Scottish/English border.  I always muse that if I'd lived back then I'd have been a cook and not a lady!!  The bit on right hand of the photo is the kitchen below and the dining hall was above.  The big open fireplace was still visible and the slop drain was still intact (basically pour everything down a hole directly into the sea!!)  You can climb up old stairs to the top of the towers and look out to sea and The Bass Rock.  The castle has stood above the cliffs since 1350 and has survived the harsh North Sea winds and attacks from The English!!  And all built with just basic hand tools.  I love history!

And so to a modern building issue.  My upstairs bathroom toilet isn't flushing.  Thank goodness OH is handy when it comes to these things.  He managed to get the part at B&Q but needs to do something with an angle grinder to make it fit.  It might take a few days before he can finish the job but way cheaper than calling out a plumber!  I've promised him a surf n turf dinner next weekend! 😋

I feel like I'm definitely making progress in my wee house 😊

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Who was it??

I don't know anyone who's got a rotten stinky cold at the moment so I have no idea where I've caught this one.  I managed to avoid the vomiting bug doing the rounds at school for the last few weeks but I'm now floored by this.

I was just a bit sniffy yesterday but today it's the full on sneezing, blocked nose/sinuses and throat on fire.  Not good when you talk all day for a living! I was home at a decent time tonight but tomorrow night I have a union meeting and on Thursday night it's Parents Evening.

Since staying in bed isn't an option it'll be the usual paracetamol and honey/lemon remedies to get me through the week.  Urgh!!

Saturday 17 November 2018


Although Brexit is a hot political topic right now, this isn't meant to be a political post.  But I do think we need to start a conversation about the practical realities while the politicians posture.  I've stated before I am member of the Scottish Green Party and I voted to Remain in the EU.  This post isn't a dig at anyone who votes differently but a few things have happened recently that have made me sit up and think maybe we need to do something.

Jack Monroe a long time campaigner on mental health issues, benefits and food banks, wrote this week about stockpiling food for a post Brexit situation.  This is a complete change of opinion for Jack.  Read it HERE, it's an interesting piece.

Also this week, the Brexit Minister resigned alongside five other Cabinet ministers so we're now on our THIRD Brexit Minister.  What do they know that we don't?????  The new Minister comes from the Department of Health so I guess he's going to have to be a quick learner.  We're leaving the EU on the 29th March 2019 and we still haven't agreed a withdrawal deal.  This is getting very serious!

Did you know we actually have a minister responsible for the food chain?  His name is David Rutley and he used to work for Asda.  So at least he knows something about the food supply.  But there are genuine fears that we may be facing food shortages and the government is stockpiling food in case we leave without a deal.  Are we going to need a rationing policy to deal with these shortages?

So, I'm thinking about this seriously now.  In the past I've prepped for living rurally and been prepared for bad weather situations where we were cut off AND lost power.  Since moving back into town I've not been prepping seriously.  Remember I got a wee reminder HERE?

Jack has a list of foods for stockpiling on a budget.  And if you search Pinterest or Google for stockpiling you'll get lots of ideas.  It needn't cost a lot but better to be prepared and not need it than be faced with not having enough.

Are you thinking about stockpiling?

Monday 12 November 2018

Frugal tips

2024 edited to say this popular post was written in 2018.  I've now been living a frugal life for almost 14 years and some of the things no longer apply as I'm now retired.  But these are still good tips!

When I first started this frugal lifestyle 8 years ago there were loads of blogs that inspired and helped me on my journey.  For various reasons many of these blogs no longer exist.  3 of the best were Mortgage Free in Three (Elaine inspired my 40k in 4 years), Frugal Queen and Our New Life in the Country. I know Elaine and Jane had technical issues so maybe that's why their blogs are gone.  Sue over at Our New Life in The Country also had fab ideas but she kindly left her blogs up for people to read. 

So when Mrs Frugal left a comment on yesterday's post it got me thinking.  What advice could I give to someone starting their frugal journey?

1.  Live beneath your means.

I live on less than half my salary.  The other half is saved.  In the last few years we've bought (and sold) a campervan.  We've been on 2 major family trips to Singapore for a wedding and to Australia to visit my middle son.  Plus I was able to buy a flat for my oldest son.

2.  Cut your food budget.  

Cook from scratch.  If you can't cook, learn!
Look for yellow stickers.
Eat more veggie meals.
Look at budget ranges in supermarkets.  Work out what can be substituted eg Basics ketchup v Heinz ketchup and what can't eg my Percol coffee is non negotiable! (2024 edit - I now drink Tesco's own brand coffee!)
Use up every single bit of food you buy.

3.  Research every single major purchase

Shop around for the best price.  Consider second hand options.

4.  Cut your clothing budget

If you don't have a budget make one.  Mine is £500 a year for everything.  Buy from Ebay and charity shops.  I get a lot of new stuff with the tags still on

5.  Just stop buying stuff

Only buy stuff you 'need' not what you 'want'

6.  Teach yourself new skills

Why pay someone else to do something if you can DIY?  OH and I will have a go at most things before considering getting someone else in to do it.  Yep you'll make mistakes but you get better every time.  OH is a pro at tiling now 👍

These are my main ones but maybe you could add to the list.  I did write an article with my tips for a US blog a few years ago.  You can still read it HERE

I had 3 wrinkly peppers left over from last week's shop.  So I mixed some onion, rice, black beans, salsa and fajita seasoning together, stuffed the peppers and topped them with goats cheese.  They were very tasty and cheap!

Sunday 11 November 2018

Christmas Planning

I couldn't put it off any longer so yesterday I actually sat down and made my Christmas lists.  Today I saw this a few times on Facebook and realised that my gift list neatly fits into the Make and Ethical Buy parts.  I am planning to buy (or have already bought 😉) from small or local companies.  Some of my 'makes' use upcycled items so I'm happy that my gift purchasing habits are fairly ethical. 😊

I've started planning my Christmas day meal (not sure who's coming yet) and once again I'm going to use my Nectar points to fund it all.  I recently won some extra points in a prize draw from my local Sainsbury's so I have a healthy £105 worth this year.  I'm going to use about half of the total for myself and the other half for our local food bank.

Today has been mostly wet and miserable.  I spent the morning making soup using a turkey drumstick for stock.  At £2.62 it was a good price and I got 350g of meat from it! 6 lunches and tonight's meal sorted!!  I've been busy with some work stuff this afternoon so haven't prepped as much food as I normally for the coming week.

Talking of work, one of the younger teachers who had a job interview last week is leaving us at the end of term.  She's joining the Civil Service.  Although she's taking a salary cut, she can work flexi time and can work from home up to twice a week. We're all very jealous!!!

On the plus side, just 6 more weeks of school until the Christmas holidays! 🎄🎅

Sunday 4 November 2018

Much better!

Thanks for the lovely supportive comments on yesterday's post.  I'm feeling much better today!  I just had a chill day yesterday.  I leisurely cleaned my kitchen, cleared some paperwork and let my OH take the dog out for a long walk while I had a lie down listening to an audible book.  Batteries are well and truly charged.

I was up early this morning and did my Sainsbury's shop by 9am.  I scored a few bargains!  The ice cream (for The Teenogre) and frozen GF pies were hugely reduced.  Supermarkets always clear out frozen stuff in the run up to Christmas.  Keep your eyes peeled for good bargains!

I also got lucky with some meat.  The beef joint was LESS than half price!!!  I've been neglecting the butcher's counter.  I must remember to keep checking it for bargains in the future.  It's been in the slow cooker all day 😋

The chicken drumsticks made a big pot of stock which became chicken and rice soup, aka lunch for 7 days.  My freezer is now pretty full!

I had a parcel delivered this week and was too tired to open it until yesterday.  I recently found a website that sells non plastic alternatives. Have a look HERE. I'm trying out these pot scourers made of jute and cotton.  They can be chucked in the washing machine when they get grubby and then can be reused.

Did you know that most teabags aren't biodegradable? Many have plastic in them.  I'm trying a reusable teabag made of organic calico.  It's working out so far.  I'm not sure how long they last but so far I've saved 9 plastic ridden teabags going to landfill.

I've been finishing off some wee jobs in my bedroom today and I'm ready now for the carpet fitters to come this week. My Lovely Mum has made me a fabulous quilt that's off to be quilted tomorrow.  It's all coming together!

Hope everyone is well and looking ahead to the festive season.  TV adverts are starting to talk about the C word so I guess I'd better get thinking about it too!! 🎄

Saturday 3 November 2018


It's been a looooong week at school.  A week where 1 teacher was off with stress, 1 came to my room at 8.15am and sobbed for half an hour, our excellent Principal Teacher requested to go part time and 2 others had job interviews for non teaching posts.

And I've been told I'm getting another new pupil with additional support needs.

I'm tired.  I need my weekends just to recharge my batteries.  I have no energy or enthusiasm to do anything except get ready for another week at work.

Oh and we're on a yellow warning for rain today.


Sunday 28 October 2018


Yesterday I went on a demo march and rally in support of fair pay for teachers.  Between 20 and 30 thousand people marched through Glasgow to George Square.  It was magnificant!  People applauded us and cars tooted support.

Out of the 36 OECD (Organisation for the Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, Scotland's teacher salaries are in the bottom 5.  And we're the lowest paid in the UK.  On average, teachers work an extra unpaid 11 hours a week.  That's an average, so people do more than that!

We're asking for 10%.  We won't get it but we 're hoping that we'll get a better offer than the current 3%.  Police officers here have just been awarded 6.5% and they deserve every penny.  Public sector workers have had their salaries frozen for years under austerity measures and now people are really struggling as the cost of living has gone up.  In real terms, my salary is worth 24% less than it was 10 years ago.

I've said before, teachers are leaving the profession in droves.  They're over worked and underpaid.  In my local authority (it's not that big) we have 4 primary schools without permanent headteachers. One more resigned this week saying she's had enough of education.  She's 42.  No one is applying for the vacant posts. Frankly, education in Scotland is in crisis.

*gets off soap box*

Here I am in my fetching yellow t shirt ready to go!

On the bedroom front, I'm just waiting for the carpet to be delivered and fitted.  Photos and more details coming soon!

Saturday 20 October 2018


Well, that's another holiday week just whooshed by!! But I've packed a lot in. As well as hours and hours of painting(!!) I've visted my parents, spent an afternoon with my eldest son shopping for house stuff and met up with an old colleague/dear friend for supper.  I feel quite sociable!

My peach bedroom is now pristine white.  It took 4 coats of matt white to cover it up.  It's got a few wee bits that need to be touched up but nothing major.  I've still got all the woodwork to do so that's today's job.

I had a tin of mystery paint in the garage that I got on the bargain shelf ages ago.  It had a label that said "customer return."  I couldn't even remember what colour it was as it was one of those Dulux mix to order paints.  Imagine my delight when I opened it up to find it was bright red or Brothel Red as I've been calling it!! 😂 So instead of wallpapering the inside of my wardrobe, I painted it red.  It took 3 coats!!!  I love it 😍  I've still got a few 'finishing touches' to add to it 😉

Emma has loved me being at home this week.  As much as I could, I've taken her with me everywhere.  She's such a good girl.  It's hard to believe she's almost 7!! She's still just a big puppy at heart 💓

Sunday 14 October 2018

Holiday Plans

I'm on holiday! Woohoo!!  It's lovely to know I don't need to get up tomorrow morning and go to work.  But I'm not lounging around.  Oh no, I'll be getting rid of this 'lovely' 1980s peach colour in my bedroom.

You can see that the eaves in my room are curved which makes it hard to wallpaper (although the previous owners have had a good go in my son's old room!!) It's also curved at the ceiling.  So painting is the easiest option.  Probably white.  I'll see what it looks like with the first coat.  My drawers are cream so maybe white might not look right.  I won't know until I do it.

Inside my wardrobe also needs painting as I had some damp treated.  This was before I got the woodburner installed and rain was getting in the chimney.  There are a couple of holes in the ceiling and walls where the pipes and wires that came to the old water tank must have come through the wardrobe.

You can see the capped pipes and a huge hole that's just been covered with a piece of plywood.  I might wallpaper the inside if I can get a cheap funky roll at B&Q.  Watch this space!😉

I was taking out some of the shoes from my wardrobe and put them in the hall.  They're rather colourful, aren't they? 😁

So, busy week ahead!  I'm hoping to have it all done by the time I go back to school next Monday!  Best get cracking then!

Wednesday 10 October 2018


We had our Harvest Service at school on Monday.  We collected tins and jars of food for a local charity that provides a food bank service.  Every week they provide food to 300 families in our community.

As part of the display we had fresh fruit and vegetables provided by 'Apple Lady.'  🍎🍏   Unfortunately the charity doesn't take fresh produce so staff were offered apples, potatoes (still covered in dirt), pumpkins and courgettes (zucchinis if you're outside the UK!!) No one wanted anything!!  One of the young teachers was revolted that there was a wee tiny slug in one of the potatoes!!!!!

So, guess who got a basketful of apples, big bag of potatoes and a huge pumpkin??? 👍

Sunday 7 October 2018

More meal prep

Thanks for all the lovely supportive comments on my last post.  It really helps keep me going 👍

As it's Sunday that meant meal prepping for the week ahead.  Meal prep now means I prepare some ingredients (rather than full meals) that will help make fast meals when I get home tired from work.  Thankfully there's only 5 teaching days until my October break! Yesterday I got a 2kg bag of red lentils for £3.  It's normally £3.80 so just a small saving but it all helps.  It will last me for months.

I like decanting them into my glass jars for tidier storage but 2 kg of lentils won't fit into a 1litre jar!! 

Obviously this week's soup had to be some sort of lentil.  I had some carrots, red onions and sweet potatoes lurking in the fridge and cupboard along with half a carton of chopped tomatoes.  This big pot of Spicy Tomato and Lentil produced  7 very generous portions so that's my lunches sorted plus a few for the freezer.

I poached 3 chicken breasts and shredded them.  I'll get 5 meals out of this lot, probably stir frys or pasta.  I find shredding the meat makes it go further.  Very useful when OH and The Teenogre are around as they eat SO MUCH MEAT!!!  Last weekend I made a vat of beef stew with 1.5kg of meat, loads of root veg and dumplings.  They pretty much ate the lot in one sitting!!!  I had planned on a few meals using the leftovers!

I made a chocolate cake and some muffins from the Betty Crocker GF Devil's Food mix.  Again OH and The Teenogre demolished them last night but I did manage to sneak a few muffins into freezer for later 😁

I also tried a new recipe but the jury's still out on it.  It's a Tuna and Egg Mayonnaise salad.  Can't say I'm loving it but I've made a big tub of it so I'll have to eat it.  Maybe I'll put it on oatcakes as part of my lunch.

Tonight I'll prep a few bowls of overnight oats for breakfast then I'm sorted 😋 Cannot wait until Friday now!!

Saturday 6 October 2018

A good laugh

It's been a dreadful week at school this week.  I've had several teachers in my room at the end of the day in floods of tears.  Some things I can't even mention (yet) as there may be legal action.  But I can say that various members of teaching and support staff have been verbally abused, spat at and punched.  We had a young teacher screamed at by a parent in her classroom in front of her pupils and other parents.  We had a group of parents verbally attack a child and their parent.  It was only thanks to the DHT's quick intervention it wasn't a physical assault.  And yesterday a lovely pupil found that someone had put a human poo in their school bag.  It's safe to say staff morale is VERY low.

We had a long standing staff night out arranged for last night and about 10 people pulled out.  I'm so glad I wasn't one of them.  For a few hours we just put aside all the crap (literally!!) and had a good laugh.  It was fab to talk with some of our new members of staff and get to know others even better.  Most people including me weren't drinking so it wasn't a boozy night.  Just proper old fashioned eating and talking round a big table.

It doesn't solve any of the issues from the past week but I think it's bonded us together and recharged our batteries for the final week of term!

I quite like this selfie I took before I went out 📷

Sunday 30 September 2018

Feed a cold...

...starve a fever!  I'm eating/cooking as normal so it's definitely a stinky cold.  Still got the lurgy (thanks for the get well wishes) but hanging in there.  This bug/virus is sweeping through the school.  Today I've got blocked/ringing ears and am coughing up lots of green stuff!! 😷

This week I was given even more apples!! This lady successfully stores her apples in her cellar over the winter so all I'm getting are her leftovers and windfalls.  She must have very established trees!!

I chopped some up to make Spiced Apple Jelly.  The smell was amazing!!  Once I'd strained it through the jelly bag it didn't look that promising.

But once boiled with sugar and potted it looks lovely.

When I got up this morning Penny had discovered my mystery winter squash!!  Naughty chicken! 🐔  I picked it so she wouldn't eat any more.  I roasted it with a few apples, chipotle chilli flakes and honey then blitzed it all with stock to make soup for my work lunches this week.  I had some for lunch today.  It was rather tasty! Recipe from my old blog HERE.  This is the kind of eating I really want to do more and more.  Grow fruit and veg in my wee garden and cook it simply.  Use locally grown produce.  I find it very satisfying. 

I tested the Beetroot and Apple Chutney on oatcakes and goats cheese.  It was nice but will definitely improve with keeping a bit longer.  Recipe says 6 to 8 weeks and I'd say that's about right.  Ah well.

OH has replaced the tarpaulin roof on the chicken run with clear corrugated plastic.  It's not quite finished but I'm hoping it'll last longer than previous coverings.

Only 2 more weeks of school left.  Can't wait!