Tuesday 31 July 2018

Day 2: Cook, Clean, Clear and Create

Today's cook was a triple batch of Almond and honey pancakes for the freezer.  It's getting pretty full now!

Clear and clean was clearing out the utility room cupboard above the sink.

It's lovely and clean as well as tidy!

Create was finishing off a sock I started ages ago.  I took it with me on holiday but just had the toe shaping to finish.

I also knitted another square for my sock yarn blanket.  I had a look for my collection of squares and discovered I have another 36 squares to add to it!!  I guess that's the rest of this week's create taken care of as I stitch them together!

Monday 30 July 2018

Day 1: Cook, Clean, Clear and Create

For the next 2 weeks I'm challenging myself to do these 4 things every day.  I'm going to cook something for the freezer. I'm going to deep clean something that isn't part of my normal weekly cleaning routines.  I'm going to clear a cupboard/drawer/box and declutter.  And I'm going to create something from the crafty resources I already have so no cost is involved.

So I started by cooking 1kg of steak mince and made 4 portions of meatballs and 4 portions of bolagnais sauce for the freezer.

I cleaned all the kitchen cabinet doors and kickboards.  Goodness knows what DS cooked when he once here but he's definitely inherited my messy cook genes!!

I cleared these 2 boxes of plastic ware and matched lids to boxes. A few lidless boxes will be used for a clearing project tomorrow.  I now have a single clean box containing 6 soup mugs and a few small containers.  Everything else is gone.

I took this damaged canvas painting and added bits to it to create a usable picture to hang in my family room. 

I've also (finally!) updated My upcycled home blog and added this project to it.  Have a look HERE 

I really need to get cracking on all the unfinished projects in this house and get some new ones started.  This wee challenge will give me the kick I needed!! 

Sunday 29 July 2018

Filling the freezer for less

One of the things I enjoy about being on holiday is having time to cook for the freezer.  I love it!  OH actually said to me this morning "Are you cooking again?" Lol!!  I find it very satisfying to see those boxes pile up especially when I know it's saving me money.

Top picture has 6 portions of cooked chicken breast (plus 1 more I ate at the time) that cost £5.25 for 1kg (Sainsbury's frozen chicken.)  That made 7 portions of chicken @ 75p each.  I made 4 portions of cooked minced beef with veggies.  The mince cost £3.50 for 500g making each portion 87.5p although I have discovered Lidl's steak mince is £3.15 for 500g that would make it 79p a portion. And I made some goat's milk yoghurt which worked out around 80p for 400g (shop bought is £2.40 for a similar amount.)

I made 3 portions of Chicken and Coconut soup and 3 portions of Shakshuka (a sort of spicy tomato stew)  that gets served with 2 eggs and little yoghurt. There are 2 of each in the freezer now.  I also made 4 portions of Chicken Jalfrezi but OH thought it smelled good so we ate it last night (3 of us!) with a little leftover for my lunch today.

The only thing growing abundantly in my garden is rhubarb so I used 1 kg of the stuff to make...

...chutney!! Love the stuff 😋

I made a double batch of Almond and honey pancakes.  One for breakfast and one for the freezer.

All the above meals and portion sizes are from my Body Coach plan.  I'm trying to stick to the portion sizes I was given. I'm back on my healthy eating and exercise plan as I'd like to lose a bit more weight.  I put on 0.5kg on holiday so I'm still on track to my target.

I've also signed up to try a 1 to 1 class in Pilates (half price offer) to see if that will help with my aching bits!  I'll report back on that 💪

Saturday 28 July 2018

Waiting for the sales

Earlier this year I realised that despite repeated washing, my pillows and duvet were done.  They just didn't 'smell' clean any more.  And I reckoned the actual duvet was at least 12 years old!!  So I started looking around for new ones.  Good quality bedding is expensive!  To be fair I didn't spend a lot of time researching prices but I kept it in the back of my mind to look out for any good sales.

Yesterday I was in town to turn my leftover Australian dollars back into sterling ($225 became £115) which I was treating as 'bonus' money. I use the M&S currency shop as I get a good exchange rate if I use my card.  As I walked past the household department I noticed their Egyptian cotton bedding had 20% off.  I do like nice sheets! So clutching my bonus £115, I worked out I could get a 7.5 tog duvet, 2 firm pillows, 2 pillowcases, a valance sheet and a fitted sheet. Total cost £110.  I hope they last as long as their predecessors.

I'm hoping to decorate my bedroom soon.  All it needs is painted (the peach walls HAVE to go!!) and a new carpet.  My lovely mum has offered to make me a quilt so we need to get choosing some fabrics soon, hopefully in the sales.

I also need new towels but haven't spotted any good ones yet.  I'm happy to wait.

Thursday 26 July 2018

My poor garden

Oh dear, my poor garden is really suffering in this continued heat.  It's been 29 degrees here today.  Too hot to be outside and too hot inside to do much either.

While I was away my son was house sitting.  He's not a gardener but tried to keep everything watered for me.  Because I knew I wouldn't be here I deliberately didn't buy or plant any new seeds this year.  In fact the sum total of my garden spend this year was £8.50 for some coir pellet pots!  My focus was getting some perennial fruit bushes set up and these were all free (cuttings from established bushes or gifted).  My new fruit garden has survived but is looking very straggly!

I've had a small bowlful of blackcurrants.  What they lacked in quantity they made up in taste.

However my rhubarb has done well despite taking a mauling from Penny the chicken!!  I hope to get some rhubarb chutney made this weekend.

This apple tree is looking a bit sickly.  It had lots of blossom then a windy May caused it to blow away.  Now the leaves are yellow. Maybe needs feeding?

In one of my raised beds at the front I simply threw in some (very) old calendula and cosmos seeds I found in my seed tin.  Only the calendula seeds grew but they look ok and the bees and hoverflies seem to like them.

The middle bed has parsley and basil, again grown from really old seeds .  The 'chives' are self seeded from the place I had some shallots my lovely mum gave me last year.  We're not sure if they were in the compost or if they're actually shallots.  There's no bulb at the base of the leaves and they had purple chive like flowers.

Leeks are doing well but the cabbages have been nibbled.

2 of the blueberry bushes are fruiting, 1 has died and the other 2 have teeny wee dried up berries 😕

Not much but they were delicious

I hadn't planned on growing much this year so I'm not disappointed.  But I am quite envious of fellow bloggers' crops.  Maybe I should take a look at what I could be planting now for Autumn and Winter.  I'm definitely thinking kale.  Anything else?

Wednesday 25 July 2018

Back tae auld claes and porridge

It's a fab Scottish phrase meaning back to wearing old clothes and eating porridge.  In other words the holiday's over and it's back to normal. That means watching the pennies even more closely!

Speaking of clothes, I did go on a wee spending spree before I went away so I've updated my clothing budget on the side.  I've spent just over half of my annual target.  I know I'll need to change my working wardrobe a bit as I'm in a hotter classroom this year *rolls eyes* so I'll be keeping an eye on the Summer sales for some lightweight tunics.

*Edited to add how I came to my £500 clothes budget if anyone is interested.

Holidays are expensive even when they're carefully planned in advance.  OH remarked that the cost of living in Australia had gone up significantly since his last visit 2 years ago.  Staying with my son for the first part helped keep costs down.  When we went out and about we took a packed lunch and snacks with us.  OH and I even took our travel mugs with us as buying teas and coffees can add up quickly!  I noticed that my son and his partner buy an awful lot of fancy takeaway coffees ☕

Yesterday I was checking through my credit card transactions online and discovered that every time I had used my credit card on holiday I've been charged a non sterling payment fee!! Luckily I didn't use it very often but it's enough to be annoyed about.  I've yet to discover if this is a new M&S policy or an Australian thing.  I've never been charged this before when I've used my card abroad so I'll contact them to find out.  It's on my list of Things to Do which seems to be getting longer and longer  📄

Monday 23 July 2018

Back to normality

Michaelmas Cay from the boat
I got home yesterday morning.  We had an amazing time but I was ready to get back to normality after almost 3 weeks.  My digestive system was starting to protest even though I was able to stick to GF foods most of the time.  Eating out was relatively easy but we got a bit fed up with it and were longing for simple home cooking.

We spent the first half in Cairns with my son and enjoyed hot temperatures in the late 20s and early 30s despite it being Winter.  We did lots of touristy things like snorkeling and diving (OH and The Teenogre) on the Great Barrier Reef, visited Kuranda on the original train route up the mountain (came back down by cable car),  and went inland a bit to see some spectacular waterfalls and visit a platypus farm.

But mostly it was lovely just to spend time with my middle son and meet his partner for the first time.

My gorgeous middle son

The second half was spent in Perth where OH lived for 7 years.  We stayed in a lovely hotel in Scarborough for this week.

View from hotel balcony

Perth by night 

Again we did touristy things like visiting Rottnest Island, AQWA, the Maritime Museum where I went inside a submarine and the markets and prison at Freemantle.  We spent time with OH's brother and his new family.  We also caught up with some old friends and shared a Christmas in July evening with them!

 OH's farm

OH still owns a farm so we went to visit it. His brother has a license to fly drones so he took one with us to have a play.  The Teenogre was a natural and took this photo of us standing in the garden.  OH was a bit annoyed that the farm's tenant has neglected the house and garden.  Lots of fruit trees had died as the sprinkler system was broken and he hadn't fixed it.  (OH charges him a very low rent in return for maintaining the property.)

At some point in the future (when we're retired) OH and I may spent some time there working on the property before selling it.

The highlight of our Perth trip was definitely meeting this wee cutie, OH's niece.  She's 6 months old and absolutely adorable.  OH's brother is the same age as me(!) so he's coming late to fatherhood. You may remember I went to their fabulous wedding in Singapore a few years ago.

So far the jet lag has been ok.  I managed to stay awake yesterday and went to bed early.  I got up this morning after 11 hours sleep!! I think a few early nights will soon get me back to normal.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

Land Down Under

And we're off!! Eeeeeek! See you in a couple of weeks 😎

Sunday 1 July 2018

Embracing the grey

Today I dyed the blonde bits of my hair steel grey with a little help from my lovely mum.  The top 3 or 4 inches are naturally grey so it blends in nicely.  I rather like it 👵