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.