Sunday, 10 November 2019

Plum Toffee bargain


Couldn't resist this bargain pot of mistinted paint for £5.  It's a glorious rich purpley plum colour.  I'm going to use it inside the cupboard on the upstairs landing.

I'm painting my house white to have a neutral background for my colourful accessories.  But when you open cupboards you find...


My Brothel Red bedroom wardrobe  😂😂😂


Saturday, 9 November 2019

Decorating the Guest Room


I'm decorating again!  This is my downstairs bedroom, the guest room.  It's usually a dumping room for anything that doesn't have a place, only getting tidied when someone (usually family) visits.


It's been on my list to decorate for ages and now I have a good reason to get it done asap.  That disgusting green carpet had to go!!!


There were 2 built in cupboards and about a year ago I had the idea to turn one of them into a dressing table area as the room was too small to have a proper one.


So in the last week I've stripped the walls and removed the carpet and underlay.


A big plastic pipe from the old cooker extractor fan was removed (the kitchen is on the other side of that wall) and the hole to the outside vent was insulated and blocked up.


And the surprise mould under the wallpaper has now been cleaned and treated.  I'm ready to start the painting and wallpapering.  I'll be ordering my carpet tomorrow so fingers crossed they can do it before Christmas.


It's been a busy few weeks with work (but still managing to find those yellow stickers!!) Busy but positive.  I have another mature post grad student.  She is doing really well but as it's her first ever placement I'm constantly planning with her, observing her lessons and giving her feedback.  I'm mentoring a teacher from another school in our writing scheme, which I'm enjoying but again takes up time.  And my union rep duties are just ridiculous with everything that's happening here!!

But my holiday has done me good.  In fact, I've booked another one!  I'm going to Australia for Christmas and the New Year to see my middle son!  ✈🎄🐨 My flights are booked and I've arranged a housesitter to look after Emma and the chickens.  Hence the need to get my guest room finished asap! 🛏

Sunday, 27 October 2019

Tightening my frugal belt


To be honest it's not been a frugal few months here.  Yes, I chose to go on holiday but I'm counting that as a health choice (physical and mental well being).  And I loved it so I'm not going to beat myself up about the cost.  This week Emma needed a small operation to remove a nasty cyst above her eye.


She's no longer insured (for a variety of reasons) so that was £336 on top of recent vet bills (£219) to get her itchy infected ears under control.  Good job she's worth it!  She is looking rather sorry for herself as she has to keep the collar on for another 5 days because she scratched her stitches.  Bad dog!
 

Luckily I had enough money saved to cover my holiday and vet bills.  But as the title says I need to tighten my belt and build up my savings again.  So, to avoid going to the supermarket I made do with what was in my cupboard and freezer to make some meals for the coming week.  I made vegetable chilli with dumplings in my new Crockpot.  Truthfully it wasn't great (esp the dumplings!) but I've got 4 more meals of it to use up.  I've also got a couple of frozen cod fillets in the freezer to use up so that's this week's dinners sorted.


The dumplings were a bit solid even for GF ones.

I made a big pot of soup so that's my lunches sorted.  Breakfast will be porridge as the weather is too cold for overnight oats now.  Every morning I make a big pot for me, Emma and the chickens!! 🐔

I get paid this week (it's been a long 5 week month!!) so I'll be able to do a big shop at the end of the week.  I've been stuck in a rut of just doing stir fries for my evening meal so if anyone has any good cheap meal ideas I'm all ears.

Sunday, 20 October 2019

My first solo holiday


I'm not a good flier.  Never have been.  But usually I have someone to hold my hand on take off.  Not this time! So some pink champagne was required pre flight.  Cost me £16 for a glass!!!!! 😮


But I made it!  This was sunrise on my first morning.  Quiet and peaceful.


 My room was lovely! 


The hotel was huge!!!!


This is a selfie I posted on FB on my 3rd morning.  I'd spent a couple of days by the pool just people watching.  There were folks of all shapes and sizes.  All confident in their own bodies.  I took this on impulse (actually I took about 30 shots and they were all similar, so it wasn't a fluke!)  I realised that I'm in ok shape for a woman of my age and experience.  I'm too hard on myself.  I have grey hair.  I have wobbly bits.  I'm 53 and had 3 kids.  My body reflects this and I'm happy with that.


Every night before dinner I took a selfie then I went to the dining room with a book.  The first night I ate dinner in 20 mins.  By the final night I took over an hour.

Yes, going on holiday by myself was challenging.  But I spent a lot of time simply reflecting on life and making plans for the future.  It made me realise I can do anything, be anything I want. And that was empowering 😎

Friday, 11 October 2019

October Break


Well I made it to the October break.  I've been constantly ill for the last 5 weeks with one virus following another.  I even had to take a day off work this week as I could not stop coughing. I'm totally run down.

Tomorrow I'm heading off to Gran Canaria for a week in the sunshine.  I'm going to a 4 star adults only hotel.  By myself.

I'm excited and terrified in equal measure as I've never holidayed on my own before.  Could be interesting!

Sunday, 29 September 2019

September round up


I finally managed to pop down today to plant my Spring cabbages.  Life (ie work) has been rather busy and full on at the moment so finding time to go down to the allotment was lovely. It truly is an oasis of sanity.  I'm really not happy at work for lots of reasons so I'm looking for joy in the other things in my life.


Cauliflowers and Kale in the raised beds at the front of the house


Purple sprouting broccoli


Inside the polytunnel: 2 types of spinach, cauliflowers and purple sprouting broccoli plus my strawberry runners planted up in pots!  I feel such pleasure when the things I plant actually grow!

In other news:  my eldest son's girlfriend has moved in with him and I spent yesterday moving loads of boxes (mainly books) into his wee flat.  They're good together and I'm really happy for him. 💕

My middle son turned 30 (eeeek!) and got his PR (Permanent Residency) to stay in Australia.

And my youngest has started the final year (4th) of his degree (radiology) and looks set to get a First if he maintains his grades.

When I'm doubting myself, I look at my kids and think I did ok 💓


Monday, 16 September 2019

Sneaky Supermarket!


I popped into Sainsbury's at lunchtime to pick up a few things.  I had around £24 cash in my purse and wanted to use that instead of my credit card.  I used the calculator on my phone to add up the cost as I went round (this really concentrates my mind on 'do I really need this?') 😄 My total was exactly £24.50.

However, when I went through the checkout the total was £26.65.  I had to use my card!  I checked my receipt and nothing seemed amiss but how did my shopping come to be £2 more than my total???

I'm guessing the shelf ticket prices didn't match the till prices.  Very sneaky! And I'm sure it's illegal!!

Since I'm making an effort to get back to more frugal ways, in future I'll be noting the ticket prices and comparing them to my receipt!  Then I'll be complaining 😠

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Preserving for Winter


The weather here is definitely on the turn and thoughts are turning to getting ready for Winter.  I was rather pleased that I successfully grew some outdoor tomatoes this year.  Sadly, not that many ripened before the vines succumbed to wind and disease.  So I have loads of green ones.  According to Pinterest they can be sliced and frozen for fried green tomatoes (dip them in cornmeal while still frozen then fried as normal) so I'm giving them a go.  I also made some pickled green tomatoes.  These will be stored in the fridge for a month before eating with cheese.  I'm looking forward to trying them!  And I still have plenty of tomatoes left for some chutney.


I also did some poached pears in white wine and stewed apples in vanilla and cinnamon.  My Lovely Mum grew them but the pears would not ripen.  She also gave me some plums that she'd already halved, stoned and froze for me.  So I have a few fruits preserved for Winter in jars and in the freezer.
 

I decided to reinstate the polytunnel in my back garden by buying a new cover.  Unfortunately the frame was an unusual size so I had to buy one that was 50cm too long!


I've pulled it down at the back and weighted down the excess with some heavy pots.  It survived last night's high winds so I'm confident(ish) it will last the Winter.  I'm hoping to add some hanging baskets to overwinter my strawberry plants without them getting eaten by the slugs!!


I had to pull out all the rasps and currant bushes to put the cover back on.  They really didn't do well at all this year.  Some have been relocated but most are done.  As I've been rather poorly this week (again!!) I hadn't got round to chopping them up for the compost bin.  The chickens have loved pecking at them so I don't feel too bad.  That's on this week's to do list.

I have some more Winter plug plants arriving this week for the allotment.  My plan is to put some in the polytunnel too so I can compare yields.   I've been watching some Youtube videos on using a  polytunnel throughout Winter so I hope to keep producing edibles for the next few months.

I think I'm getting my mojo back at long last 😊


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 😸