Saturday, 13 July 2019

Here's the Skinny!

Saturday morning is my club weigh in.  I know it's not for everyone but I need the accountability.  So far I've lost 5lbs 😊 I really have been eating well and haven't felt deprived at all.  I've even eaten chips and crisps this week and had gin (!!) and Prosecco.  It's all about balance.  I think the digging at the allotment helps too.

On the way back I popped into TK Maxx.  They've just had a load of Skinny Syrups delivered.  I'd read loads of enthusiastic comments about them so thought I'd give them a go.  Yep, all true!  Just a wee splash of syrup and squirt of foam turned my healthy waffles and plain soya yoghurt into a breakfast treat adding zero calories.  I'm a convert!!

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Girls Day Out (aka Gin Queens on Tour)

Yesterday I went to Edinburgh with 3 of my colleagues to do an Edinburgh Gin Distillery tour.  It was a riot from start (Prosecco on the train!) to finish (coffee and chips in Wetherspoons!!)

It cost £25 for a 75 mins talk and tour about the history of gin, tasting the botanicals used, inspecting the stills and finally tasting the many types of gin and gin liqueurs they make.  It was great fun.  The tour included a miniature of their classic gin and I bought the Seaside Gin and a tour exclusive orange blossom and mandarin liqueur.

Then we went to Tigerlily for lunch and cocktails.  We all had a veggie yellow curry.  It was delicious!

We had the Disco Ball cocktail for sharing! 🍸

After that we went to a speakeasy for a few more cocktails  then decided that coffee and chips were in order before heading back on the train.  It was a lovely day out for 4 ladies of a certain age.  We've decided to do it more regularly!! 😮😆

Monday, 8 July 2019

Allotment video

Here's a wee video I took this morning at the allotment site.  Blogger won't let me upload the one with me talking.

Try this link and let me know if you can access a quick tour of my corner in the communal garden!

Talking video

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Getting started

So I'm all paid up (£13 a year for the rent!) and the lease is signed.  I went back this morning to find my plot had been strimmed as promised!  I made a list of jobs to do and equipment needed.  First job is to fix the rotten gate post.  I was allowed to take a post from an abandoned plot but I had to wrestle it from a HUGE spider!!!

If I leave a path on each side, a seating area at the gate end and a compost area at back, I still have a veggie patch that is 4 metres wide by 12 metres long for planting up. The tower you see on the Ochill hills in the distance is The Wallace Monument

And facing the other way you can just see a wee bit of Stirling Castle in the top right hand corner.  It's just brilliant!!

I can't put a shed on it as it's part of the communal garden so I need to think outside the box re storing tools.  I have a few ideas I think might work.  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

I am so excited!!

I've been given a veggie patch on my local allotment site!! And yeah it looks like this!!! 😮😂

At the start of May I put my name back on the allotment waiting list, thinking I might get one next year if I was lucky.  Yesterday I got an email offering me a (large) veggie patch in their communal garden on the allotment site.  I went to see it and accepted a lovely corner patch near the water tap 😊 If I prove I can keep it in order I'll be offered a full allotment plot in due course.

This is a different site from the one I belonged to before.  It's almost city centre next to the rugby club.  I could easily cycle there!  I had a good walk round it and it's full of quirky sheds, greenhouses and makeshift polytunnels.  Just my style.  The site I was on before didn't allow any of these.  I met a few plot holders and it all felt good.

As it's late in the sowing season here I've ordered some Autumn and Winter cropping vegetable plants to get me started.  Cabbages, cauliflowers, kale and purple sprouting broccoli and maybe some flowers as well.  I've got a month to clear and prep my patch before they start arriving.

Cannot wait!! 🌿

Monday, 1 July 2019

I made it!

It was a very long term 4 but I made it to the holiday in one piece.  It's been a tough one personally and professionally. My life is taking a different direction to the one I had planned and to be honest I'm still working it all out.  But it's all good and on my terms.

I took the plunge and joined Slimming World.  I know it's partly my age and some bad snacking habits but I just cannot lose weight easily any more.  One of my young colleagues has lost 3 stone so when I asked her about it, she invited me to go with her to her group.  It was actually great fun!  I'm 2 weeks in and 3.5lbs down already.  And the amount of food I can eat is fab! I was rather chuffed with my homemade healthy waffles for today's breakfast.  Joy over at The Frugal Factor has loads of great ideas I'll be using 😋

Last week's weather was rather bizarre.  The hill outside my house was flooded thanks to heavy rain and flash flooding.  Apparently there was footage of my town on the BBC Breakfast News! This wee sports car tried to drive through it.  Clearly not a local or he would have known about the weird dip in the road there.

It took an hour for the fire engine to pump the water away!  View is me hanging out my bedroom window!! 😂

I'm not going away this summer so I have 7 lovely weeks to spend in my garden and work on my house.  Can't wait!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Self Care

I'm taking a break from blogging for a few weeks to focus on a few things.  All is good, I just need to put myself first so I can make it to the summer holidays.

See you in a few weeks.

Ali xxx

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Wild Kitchen

Yesterday OH and I did a foraging day called Wild Kitchen.  It was at Gartur Stitch Farm which isn't too far from Stirling.  It involved a woodland walk led by a lovely lady called Kat with opportunities to identify and gather edible greens.  I surprised myself by knowing more than I thought!  The best discovery for me was pignuts (top left in collage.)  They look like carrot tops but when you dig down you find a wee 'nut' that tastes a bit like a hazelnut.

Back at the farm we had the chance to make a few things from our finds.  I made a dandelion leaves and wild garlic tops soda bread.  It was delicious!  We also made a spruce tips simple syrup and some pressed wildflower cookies.  Kat had made some sweet ciceley ice cream that was served with roasted rhubarb.  Everything was yum!!!

As it's a smallholding type of farm they have lots of animals and we got the chance to meet some of  them including 3 week old kittens 😍

Here's Zeus (or maybe this one is Thor 😆 ), one of the baby goats! 

Petunia the friendly Jersey cow loved licking OH's legs! 😂

This is Kevin, Kat's hubby, introducing us to BoyBoy the kunekune pig, assorted goats, geese, chickens, Soay sheep and a random peacock. 🐖🐄🐓🐐🐑

Despite having just had a hot weather week here, it rained all yesterday.  I had a decent rain jacket on but I forgot to take a jumper with me so I was really cold for most of the day.  When I got home I switched my heating back on, lit the woodburner and had a very long hot shower!  Emma had spent the day with The Teenogre and was more than happy to lie in her favourite spot.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day (OH liked some of it!!)  I loved finding out about more free foods I can forage and how I can use them.  I discovered that I'm glad I didn't get to have goats and pigs in my old house now.  I'm perfectly happy with my dog and chickens although I think I might be able to squeeze in a wee kitten 😸

Friday, 17 May 2019


By 5 o'clock tonight I was already one glass of wine down.  And I just ordered a GF pizza delivery for tea 🍕😳

It's been one hell of a week with my student failing his placement and being extremely unprofessional about it all.  He had a swearing rant at me after his tutor failed him so I sent him home (he's 45, not a silly wee boy!!), he bad mouthed me to someone who he didn't realise was actually a member of our management team (she quickly put him in his place!) and was very dismissive of my lovely colleagues who had kindly agreed to let him observe them this week as a personal favour to me.  He refused to discuss my report with him and basically left the building at the end of the day without saying goodbye.  Good riddance!!!

Then today I had several sick pupils including one who puked all over the library.  And one of my poor wee souls fell at lunchtime and has probably dislocated her elbow and broken her wrist.  Her mum came and was in bits so I ended up giving her a big cuddle as well as the wee girl while we waited for transport to get her to A&E.

I really am glad it's Friday!!!!!!

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Tomatoes, Strawberries and Potatoes

This year I'm trying to grow tomatoes in pots in my front garden instead of growbags in the polytunnel.  It's directly south facing and gets really warm so maybe I'll actually get a decent crop this year.  The one in the middle is Moneymaker but the other 2 are unknown.  My Lovely Mum was gifted some and she passed them on to me.  So no cost!

I went to B&Q really early this morning to buy compost.  It was mobbed!!  I've only got £30 left in my garden budget now!  I managed to pick up the last tray of Elsanta strawberries.  I've put some in my wee trough and the rest in a big pot (see below).  If I pot the runners at the end of summer I'll be able to keep my strawberry supply going for several years so they're good value for money.

They were selling off their seed potatoes at half price so I got a pack of 10 for 88p.  I've grown Cara before so I know they can do well here.  I've put 4 in a potato bag already and I'll do the rest in pots when I get more compost this week.

I've rounded up all my terracotta pots (and a plastic lookalike!) and lined them up along the chicken fence.  I've transplanted some sweet peas (again a gift of extras from my Lovely Mum) and the remaining 2 strawberry plants.  I've also got some chives I rescued from the attention of the chickens.  I'll add more seeds or plants to them as I acquire them.

They actually look ok!  Once everything grows a bit it will look even better 🌿

The weather forecast for the week ahead is looking promising.  It's to be sunny and dry so I'll be able to spend more time outside after school.  My fruit garden (under netting in the old polytunnel frame) needs weeding and the rasps need tying up again.  There's always plenty to do in a garden.

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Weird Weather

This week we've had heavy rain, very low temperatures overnight, bright sunshine, wind and hailstones. Weird weather for this time of year!  Usually May is lovely in Scotland but not this year.  So I was really happy to see the sun this morning!  I checked the forecast for the day and decided to spend my day outside.

I painted all the raised beds at the front.  OH had done a few repairs on them recently so a quick lick of paint had them looking fab again.

This one has shallots and some self seeded calendula.  I'll pull them out as I plant more stuff.

This one has some established flat leafed parsley, a few kale plug plants I've been hardening off and I also sowed some red kale seeds.  In previous years the snails ate my green kale but not the red stuff!  So we'll see how they fare this year.

This one has beetroot, spinach and marigolds.  The 3 tomato plants are just sunning themselves before I plant them in their final pots.

My 4 blueberry bushes are all in full bloom and buzzing with bumble bees 🐝  I topped them up with ericaceous compost recently so maybe that's why they're happy!

I rounded up and cleaned my blue pots ready to fill and plant with some white cosmos.  This is the path to my front door that nobody (except the postman) ever uses.

The mixed salad leaves I sowed in the back garden a few weeks ago are up and doing well.  My peas have wee shoots and my mint is rampaging nicely in it's container.  I sowed some climbing courgettes and spaghetti squash in similar pots.

I'm finding more and more that just being in my garden gives me so much pleasure 😊

My wee garden will produce some fruit and veg this year but going forward I'd like to be more self sufficient.  So I've put my name on the waiting list for an allotment again.  Last time I had just moved to Stirling, started a new job and simply didn't have the time to get the badly neglected plot I'd been given into shape. Hopefully I won't have to wait too long for one.  Last time it was only a wait of 8 months and I had a choice of 2!  Fingers crossed one comes up soon.

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Plan? What plan??

If you're a long time reader you'll know since I started this blog I've had many plans.  Over the years they've had to change and adapt to stuff totally outwith my control.  Once again I've had to make some life changes and the plan going forward is that I won't be selling this house after all.  I'll be living here indefinitely.  That's no hardship, as I've really grown to love this house and it's location.  With OH's help I can turn the house into a home that really reflects me and my personality 😊

I've spent some time tidying up my garden,  The chickens have had total free range but I've put up a barrier so they're now confined to free ranging in one main area.  I put some netting over the old polytunnel frame to make a fruit garden inside.  I have raspberries (red and yellow ones), gooseberries, red currants, blackcurrants and rhubarb.  I've moved my 2 cordon apple trees and have planted up some pots with a few veggies.  There's also a pear tree right next to the tunnel.

This area was completely trashed by the chickens.  Can you see what it should be??

It's a water feature!  The previous owners installed it but I've never used it.  I tidied it and to my surprise it still works!

My purple hair is now fading into pink/lilac/blue and silver.  One of my kids said I had unicorn hair!! 😄  I rather like that description!

Oh, and I'm giving up making plans.  I'm just going to go with the flow.

Sunday, 14 April 2019

Holiday round up

I over did it on the painting front.  I know I had a deadline for the carpet to be fitted (I set it myself so I'm not complaining!) but I pushed myself too hard.  There are still a few niggly finishing off bits to do especially as OH has been drilling holes for new handles and hooks etc.  I'll do them next weekend I think.

So I spent the remainder of last week doing some crafty things and some gardening (mainly tidying up).

I painted some gold photo frames (donated by my Lovely Mum) and the Dream cutout for my bedroom in Graphite chalk paint.  They were a bit boring.  Then I found some Glitter finish when I was browsing in B&Q.  What a difference a wee bit of sparkle made to the black!!

I printed off some quotes I saved on Pinterest and here they are ready to go on the wall in my study.  I posted this photo in my Thrifty Recycling Group on FB and got a fab response.  So I've entered these pics into the monthly 'Make it Yours' Rustoleum competition.  Looking at past winners I might be be lucky enough to pick up one of the 10 runner up prizes of a goodie bag!  Fingers crossed 👍

I made some Rhubarb vodka with some forced rhubarb from my garden and Elderberry vodka with some dried elderberries.  I love the contrast in delicate pink and almost black colours after just a few days!!

I started sorting some craft materials.  I found things I don't even remember buying 😳 I found a bag with 9 balls of Rowan Biggy Print (discontinued).  It's a super chunky wool that needed size 20mm needles!  The biggest ones I  had were 15mm ones.  I could only get 30 stitches on the needle!!!  I knitted 3 squares to stitch together to make a wee throw to go on one of my living room sofas.  The colours are even more vibrant in real life.

I went to TK Maxx to look for a large white plate/bowl to sit on my dining table.  I got a white picnic basket.  No idea what I'm going with it but I couldn't leave it!

I also got some bargain priced quinoa for my storecupboard.

And some green tea (I've discovered making cold brew tea!!)

I also got some PJ bottoms, a glass water jug and the white plate I was actually looking for!! 😆

Today is the last day of my holiday.  I think we're going to go out for a spin on the motorbike later.  Tomorrow it's back to work for 4 days then I'm off again for the long Easter weekend.  It's going to be an interesting week as I have a student teacher on his final placement.  I've already had the heads up he needs "a bit of support" and not to commit to other duties in school "in case you're needed in the classroom."  I'm trying to be positive and hope I can be a good mentor.  My last experience with a student was 'interesting.' 😒

I've also been given another half day to work with other classes to raise attainment in writing.  I love doing this!  So from now until the end of May I won't actually be teaching much.  Could be an interesting term!

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Decorating on a budget and The Great Escape

By far the cheapest way to decorate is to DIY.  Once, many years ago we paid a 'professional' decorator to paint our living room and dining room.  He dribbled paint on the carpets and left a few hand prints on my dining chairs.  And he overestimated how much paint he needed to buy.  That was the first time I realised that I could do just as good a job.  It takes me longer but I get there in the end!

In the last few years I've realised that painting is cheaper than wallpapering (unless you get a really good EBay bargain!) and white paint is hugely cheaper than colours.

I like Dulux paint, I know not everyone does. It's more expensive than a DIY store's own brand but I think it's better quality and I use less.  In B&Q a 10 litre tub of Dulux Brilliant White Emulsion is £22 or 2 for £40.  Same paint in a colour eg Natural Calico (that I used in my living room) is £20 for 2.5 litres!!!  About 4 times the cost of plain old white!  (to be fair I had loads of leftover Natural Calico from my previous house and only needed to buy 1 tin).

Same goes for the Satinwood I used on the woodwork.  £24 for 2.5 litres of Brilliant White or £18 for 0.75 litres of a colour!!

So for my dining hall and stairs I bought 2 x 10 litre tubs of Emulsion (£40), a 2.5 litre tin of Primer and Undercoat (£34) and a 2.5 litre tin of Quickdry Satinwood (£24).  Grand total of £98 for paint.

If I had wanted to use a coloured paint it would have been so much more expensive.  Hmmm, I'm now thinking the difference in cost between wallpaper and coloured paint might not be as big as I thought.

I did make a mistake though.  I bought specialist floorboard board for the actual stair treads.  It was nice but the colour was too yellowy beside the Brilliant White banisters.  Hopefully I can use it on another project.

All the walls, stairwell, treads and banisters are finished but I still need to finish off the half landing area.  These are the only windows so the room can be a bit dark.

I need to sand the stained wood and the weird light beige surround so it can be painted Brilliant White too!  Then I'll whitewash the floorboards and put down a rug.  Shouldn't take me too long.

I made a start on clearing out some craft stuff from the guest bedroom.  I found these 5 wee pictures I made ages ago for a craft fair.  I've put them up in the Family Room.  They're strategically positioned to cover a few holes in the wall!!  😄

The chickens spent today in their run with the gate closed and they were NOT happy hens!  Ginger MarmaLady escaped yesterday.  Luckily she only got as far as next door before my neighbour rescued her.  She managed to squeeze through a teeny wee gap round the side of my house and walk along a narrow wall before going under another teeny wee gap under the fence.  Sheer luck really!  The gap is now blocked and OH will add some chicken wire to the bottom of the fence to prevent another escape!  But they're confined to barracks for now and I have put lots of different treats in there for them.  My Lovely Mum is coming tomorrow to help me do a Spring tidy up outside so they might get back out if they behave.

Hopefully it will be another lovely sunny day like today 😎