Thursday 31 December 2020

Get stuffed 2020!


Oh how I started the year naively thinking I'd be closer to my retirement goals and finally enjoying the life I wanted.  Even without Covid, this year has sucked for my family. Organising funerals in the midst of a pandemic wasn't nice.  Clearing out a hoarder's house definitely wasn't nice.  My youngest son's relationship broke down and he moved back home. Not nice for him.  And I finally severed ties with someone who just couldn't be a friend once our relationship had ended.  So yeah, 2020 can do one!!

But since I'm not a negative Nelly I can acknowledge the positives that have come from this year.  Like many others I have been forced to slow down and reassess what is important.  And practise gratitude for what I do have. Throughout the year my job was secure and my family stayed Covid free.

I can now look back at my 2020 goals and realise I have achieved some of them, to some degree.  

1.  I did work out a retirement plan then changed it, several times!  I'm changing stages in school next year and have committed another 2 years to my school.  So I'm still teaching but I have a few other things in the pipeline.

2.  My son is currently living in the extended part of the house so we'll see how the Air BnB concept 'could' work.

3.  I managed to save then spent my savings!!  Ah well!

4.  I did reclaim my back garden from the chickens.  It's a work in progress but it's much better than it was.

5.  Gigantic FAIL!  Neither fit nor healthy atm but I'm working on it.

6.  I did grow more fruit and vegetables thanks to my new allotment!

7.  I've made a few permanent changes that will help but I could definitely do a lot more.

I really have no ideas what my 2021 goals are yet.  Obviously to stay healthy and Covid free is in there, plus growing more stuff on my allotment.  I'll have a think and read what other people are planning.  But right now 2020 can get stuffed!!

Sunday 13 December 2020

Hanging on...

Just 7 and a half teaching days left until the Christmas holidays!  We're all just hanging on for dear life!!  Despite the data from Public Health Scotland suggesting some types of schools are more likely to have outbreaks, my school is bucking the trend and so far we've had zero positive cases of Covid.  Staff, kids and parents have been following all the safety rules and it seems to be working.  It does hang over us all the time but it's worth it if we can keep this up.

In the midst of teaching in a pandemic and still dealing with my uncle's 'stuff,'  I did manage to get my wee downstairs shower room renovated.




It took longer than planned as they found a few issues including the outside wall having no insulation!  They fixed that but it means the rest of the extended part of the house probably doesn't have any either 😲 So that's on my list for next year.  I've been told there are grants available for insulation so I'll investigate it.  As much as I love my new shower room I won't be using it.  It's mainly for visitors and guests (my guest room is downstairs) and for my son who is living in the extended part of the house for now.  But it does make me want to update my stuck in the 1980s bathroom upstairs!! πŸ˜„

Sunday 22 November 2020

Still here, still busy!


Happy Stir up Sunday!  Sadly I haven't been making my Christmas pudding today as per tradition.  Mainly because I'm up to my eyeballs in report writing and clearing my downstairs bathroom ready for some long overdue building work.  I'm still dipping in and out of blogland but life is just too hectic to bore you all with how busy I am.  Doing boring stuff mainly.  Hey ho!

I popped down to the allotment this morning.  It's doing well for November.  I did manage to plant some garlic as well as do a little weeding.  I was just grateful that the polytunnel has survived the high wind and heavy rain of the last few weeks.

I put my Christmas tree up yesterday.  And so have loads of my friends.  It's been that kind of year!!

I do hope you are all well in the current circumstances.  I'm living in a tier 4 area, which means everything is shut except essential businesses and schools.  I'm not even going to get started on that one *sighs* 

Stay safe lovely people πŸ’– xxx

Tuesday 6 October 2020

How much???


It's been a while since I've had to hire a skip (7 years to be exact) but I was rather shocked to find there's been a huge increase in cost.  I've just hired one for 7 days to clear my uncle's house and it will cost us £378!!!!

If I lived in the same council area I would just keep filling my car (or hire a van) and go to the recycling centre.  At least then I could sort it into the different materials.  But the recycling centre where he lived isn't fully open yet and only residents' cars (which are pre registered) can book a recycling slot.

So most of the stuff has to be skipped πŸ˜– I'll sort and donate as much as I can but as charity shops aren't taking donations either, we're a bit stuck.  And we're now under a wee bit of time pressure from HM Revenue and Customs!  The government always get their money first!!! Good job I'm nearly on holiday and can get cracking.

On the plus side, I've spoken to yet another long lost cousin 😊

Sunday 4 October 2020

Even my tired is tired


I know it's been over a month since I blogged.  And it's not for the lack of 'stuff' to blog about.  I'm just so tired all the time that I don't want to whinge or moan.

Work pretty much sucks all my time and energy.  My wee people deserve the best from me and my profession is one of the few that has job security so I'm not going complain about that.  We are living in very unusual times and I'm giving myself (and you) permission to deal with it however it needs to be done.

Lots of 'stuff' has been going on last month.  My youngest son (the newly qualified radiographer) has returned home to live after splitting with his girlfriend.  He's living in the extended part of the house that I'd intended to become the Air BnB.  We're treating it like a test run so I can see how/if it would work.  We're sharing the kitchen but other than that it can be pretty self contained.  No idea yet how long he'll stay but he's saving up for a deposit on a flat/house in Glasgow.

I mentioned during the summer that my uncle died suddenly and that I was the one sorting out his affairs.  I didn't say at the time that it was a huge legal mess plus he was a hoarder.  And I mean like one of those hoarder's houses you see on tv!!  It's taken all this time to track down some long lost family (we had to use a tracing agent!) and I am now legally allowed to start clearing out his house.  I also know a lot more about our Scottish laws of succession and how NOT to write a will!  On the plus side, I'm now back in contact with one of my cousins who I've not seen since I was 4!!

My allotment is plodding along nicely.  It's still my favourite place to go and just chill.  I've put in some Winter and Spring veg and it's gradually getting tidied up.  I'm on half term holiday very soon for 2 weeks so hope to get my polytunnel cleared and secured for the bad weather.  

I have 4 more teaching days  (and 1 non contact day) then I'm on holiday.  I cannot wait! 

Monday 7 September 2020

Wise words

Last week I removed myself from someone's life.  Someone I thought was my future.  I should have done it a year ago but I wasn't able to at the time.  Today this popped up on my FB feed and it felt so appropriate! I feel no guilt what so ever.

When someone disrespects you (and there are many many ways they can do this) you need to stand up for yourself.

Onwards and upwards lovely people πŸ’– xxx

Sunday 30 August 2020

August Plot Update


A wee update from the allotment.

All is good(ish), I'm just emotionally and physically tired at the moment xxx

Tuesday 28 July 2020

The plot today

A wee video update on my plot.  It's a mess with over grown weeds thanks to weeks of heavy rain interspersed with the odd hot day.  It is what it is 😁

Sunday 26 July 2020

How MY community food shop works

This photo is from my wee community food shop FB page earlier this week.  Just recently the council has given them this former beauty salon to use.  They clearly say open to all and if you can use it then take it.  Their ethos is simply to stop food waste.  It's only open for 2 hours each day.

Community food shops might be different in other towns/countries but in my wee city there are lots of different ways to access 'free' food.  Needing food and wanting to help reduce food waste can be 2 different things.

We have an excellent food bank service here (I won't comment further other than that it's disgraceful we even need one!!) Local supermarkets donate huge amounts of food and money through their community schemes.  Local businesses and the public can donate food (and money) directly.  As a school this is the main charity we support.  My food bank cannot take fresh goods (bread, cakes, fruit and vegetables) and legally (for health and safety reasons) they cannot accept out of date items.  They use the cash donations to buy fresh food on the days they send out food packs.  To use our food bank you need to be referred.

As I mentioned in my comments yesterday to Marksgran, during lockdown a group of local cafe workers/cooks on furlough set up a kitchen to make and donate food to families.  Supermarkets had a huge excess of fresh food going to waste and were happy to donate it all.  Local businesses like an egg producer and a fruit farm donated produce that would have otherwise gone bad.  This group of amazing people cooked and delivered meals to families and vulnerable people DAILY free of charge.  No referrals, no questions asked.  If you needed food, they delivered.

The community food shop grew from this.  Even after taking what they needed to make the meals there was STILL a huge amount of food leftover and they began offering it to anyone who could use it.  And then if there was any leftover food it went to the local safari park for the animals!!

Now that lockdown has eased and cafes are reopening the food delivery service is continuing under another group of retired ladies.  They get first dibs on the excess food from supermarkets and restaurants.  Remember, most of the food they use would be thrown in the bin!!

So the food bank still gets their food, the meal service still gets first choice of fresh food that cannot legally be donated to the food bank, the community shop gets what's left from the meal service and the safari park gets whatever is left at the end of the day. Supermarkets don't dump their out of date food into landfill.  I think this is an amazing chain that stops food waste AND feeds people.  Something positive to come from lockdown!

I'm always happy to discuss issues in my comments but if you leave a rude or insulting comment I'll simply delete you.

Saturday 25 July 2020

Free lunches

There's no such thing as a free lunch so the saying goes.  But the above photo says otherwise!  Since poor Emma is getting too old and arthritic to do more than shuffle round the block, I've resolved to try and walk a lot more by myself.  I walked into town this morning to checkout my local community food shop.  Local supermarkets donate their leftover food at the end of the day and this shop GIVES IT AWAY FREE in order to help reduce food waste.  How brilliant is that?!  All they ask is that you only take what you will use.

Today I was looking for some soup ingredients.  I got parsnips, celery, broccoli, gluten free rolls and a wee loaf of GF sliced bread and a lettuce for the chickens.  All a mix of Tesco, Marks & Spencer and Aldi products.  Today they had milk, loads of bread and cakes from supermarket bakeries, flowers, tins of chopped tomatoes and chickpeas, potatoes, oranges, mushrooms and persimmons.  I'm sure there was a lot more but I really only focused on the veg.

I've already got a pan of spiced parsnip soup on the go.  And I'll make some broccoli soup later today.  With the rolls and the bread, that's my free lunches sorted for at least a week!! πŸ˜‹

Meanwhile down on the plot, I whacked back my raspberry patch.  I cut out about 2/3 of it, mostly old canes and discoloured leaves.  It looked like it hadn't been done for a while.  Probably not the best time to do it but it was so unruly I couldn't actually harvest any berries!  There's clearly a mix of varieties in there as some are just flowering now.  I tied some string round the patch to hold them in for now.  Not pretty but practical!

The strawberry patch hasn't yielded as much as I'd hoped (probably old plants).  I've put a lot of time into weeding it and covering it to stop the birds eating them all.  But I'm thinking of removing them and just making it a pumpkin patch next year.  Lots of ideas are floating round my head. It's still my favourite place to just escape from everything 😎

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Redesigning the front garden

I'm still here, just not blogging.  My life is rather full on just now with family legal stuff so my garden and allotment are my 'relaxation.'  The front of my house is due to get roughcasted to match the garage so I've been removing trees/bushes etc to make way for the scaffolding.  It's a good chance to redesign it all.

Before and after removing a wild hebe!

I've guiltily removed an acer, a hebe and a pieris.  All lovely trees/bushes, just too big and overgrown for the space.  All my pots have been temporarily relocated so the space is completely clear.  It's actually much bigger than I thought so I'm thinking about what I can do with the space.  It's south facing and gets lots of sun all day.  One thought is a rose garden on the lower part 🌹 and perennials in the raised beds.  Definitely flowers not vegetables 🌷🌸🌼

Wednesday 1 July 2020

More sad news

2020 is turning into the year that just keeps on giving!  Or taking away as my lovely mum puts it.  Sadly my elderly uncle died at the weekend, my dad's brother.  Although he was ill he wasn't expected to die so it's all a bit shocking.  As he was unmarried with no family of his own, it falls to me to sort out his rather disorganised affairs.  Fortunately I'm on holiday so I have the time to unravel it all.  It means I'll have less time to spend on my own projects this Summer but he deserves it πŸ’—

Saturday 27 June 2020

Day 2

It's been a rather rainy day here!  So much for my initial plan of pottering in the garden between the predicted light showers!!  I did harvest some more potatoes for my tea and picked some lettuce and beetroot leaves.

I drizzled them with some of my home made chive flower vinegar. It's such a pretty pink colour! It was a simple but delicious side salad πŸ˜‹

I had some sorry looking apples left lurking in the fruit bowl.  No idea what variety but they were rather small.  I gently poached them with a tiny bit of sugar.  That's my dessert tonight sorted with some Alpro custard! πŸ˜‹ I didn't want to waste the peelings so I've started a batch of home made apple cider vinegar.  Never tried to make it before so we'll see if it works!  It's just apple peelings, sugar and water. Free vinegar, so worth a try! (loads of instructions on Pinterest)

I rounded up the finished hexagon flowers I've made this week to stitch together and join them to the quilt.  Each flower takes about 40 minutes to make so I usually make one a night while I'm watching something on tv in the evening.  I'm just making this for fun and to use up fabric scraps but in my head I'm imagining wrapping up my future grandchildren and saying things like 'Can you find the red bus?' 😍

Sue from A Smaller and Simpler Life has sparked an idea for a plan to get myself organised for the next 7 weeks. Watch this space πŸ˜‰

Friday 26 June 2020

Day 1

Last week I was very excited to see this asparagus shoot pop up in my new raised bed.  Even though it was tempting, I know it will be a few years before I can harvest them.

Today my 5 crowns looked like this!  I had planned to spend the first day of my holiday in the garden but heavy rain stopped play. So I've been inside instead.

I've been making some patchwork hexies from scrap fabric so added a few more today.  All hand sewn and made from fabric that was no use to my Lovely Mum and her quilting friends.

It's slowly growing.  It's totally random as long as patches made with the same fabric are not touching each other.  It's a nice easy project to work on at night or on rainy days.

As always the first day of the summer holiday has been a lazy one.  I have so much I want to do so I need to make a plan! 

Thursday 25 June 2020

End of term

I am now officially on holiday for 7 weeks. Yeay!  But I have no idea what teaching will look like when I go back in August.  Maybe we'll have the blended model (part time in school with half the class, rest of the time home learning) or maybe we'll be back full time business as normal cos this virus is just going to disappear in 7 weeks in Scotland.  That is what Mr Swinney said this week so must be true πŸ˜‘  This is what my stripped down classroom looks like 😒  Each child will have to sit at a table by themselves 2m away from the next person.  No play based activities, no active learning.  Good old fashioned chalk and talk teaching with kids sitting at a desk all day.  Not happening with 6 and 7yos!!  But I'm not thinking about it for the next 6 weeks.

This was the view from my polytunnel this week on the one rainy day we had.  I'll make a video soon as the plot is unrecognisable.

Today I picked some raspberries and strawberries.  The birds have been having a field day until I finally got some netting on them.  Sadly the crumbly raspberries are losing to the local blackbirds!

Tonight I had the first of my home grown garden potatoes for tea.  Just potatoes with non dairy 'butter' and spring onions πŸ˜‹

Emma has been enjoying me being at home, as you can see πŸ˜„

And so we come to the biggest unexpected expense of the year so far.  My neighbour has had major building works.  We share a wall (on the right) and he kindly paid for the work done to that.  But in doing so we discovered that my garage front needed some attention ie the roughcasting was letting in water.

So that wee tiny circled bit on my neighbour's side resulted in me needing to pay £1200 to get my garage front and roof sorted!!

Looks much better already.  Thank goodness I've got savings to cover it! I've been repairing the door and it's ready to paint now.  That will be my first holiday job 😊

Thursday 28 May 2020

Plot update

I can't believe it's been 3 weeks since my post! I've really not been doing anything that blogworthy plus it was report writing time for school (they're all finished and signed off now).

There's a general consensus among my friends that we seem to be living a groundhog day every day.  We've got ourselves stuck in a rut/routine and the lines between work and home are very blurred.  I've seen some of my colleagues interacting with parents on Twitter on a Saturday evening!! It's not healthy.

Thankfully the weather has been lovely (mostly) so spending time in my garden and on the allotment helps me switch off from work stuff.  Today's video shows the start of everything on the plot bursting into life.  I watched the first video of my new plot and was surprised to see just how much I've changed it already.  I love that people watch them but really they're for me to keep a wee record of my progress.  And a reminder of what I can achieve on my own 😊

Thursday 7 May 2020

Another week of new normal

I'm continuing my journey into more environmentally friendly products.  So far the shampoo, conditioner and safety razor mentioned in my previous POST have been rather successful πŸ‘  So I ordered some more products from Peace With The Wild.  I'm trying their dishwasher tablets and dish washing soap with a bamboo brush.  I got a vegetable scrub brush and some natural deodorant.  Plus some vegan honey and a bamboo hairbrush.  I'll report back on how effective they are in time.

I also treated myself to a new coffee machine.  This is something I've been looking at buying for the last year but hadn't seen one at a good price.  I wanted a bean to cup one.    These coffee beans arrived yesterday and the machine arrived today.  I'm testing it tomorrow morning ☕

This surprise parcel arrived from my youngest son and his girlfriend.  A hamper of fine Scottish foods.  It was amazing! πŸ˜‹ This has fed me for the last 3 days!!

I've had lots of meals that look pretty much like this one!!

Or this one!  Simple GF pasta with Scottish smoked salmon and veg

And finally my 'baby' was 22 on Sunday.  Unbelievably this photo is now 6 years old from when we went to the wedding in Singapore.  Long time readers will remember this POST.  This young man is 1 week away from qualifying as a radiographer.  Like many of his peers doing medical type degrees, he's being fast tracked into his employment with the NHS.  I'm hugely proud and scared in equal measure that very soon he'll be on the front line as a key worker.  His girlfriend is a nurse and she works on a Covid ward.  They are so young to have such responsibilities.

So remember, stay home and stay safe πŸ’— xxx

Sunday 3 May 2020

Plot Update

I remembered to take a video yesterday when I was at the allotment.  I meant to do it last week after I'd finished the polytunnel but I was just too tired! 

Our allotment site is looking fab.  Lots of people have been able to spend more time there and there's a great camaraderie on our Facebook page with lots of seed and plant sharing.  And all within the social distancing rules.  It's been a lovely respite to my week.

Hope everyone is well and keeping busy.  Stay safe, stay home πŸ’—

Sunday 26 April 2020

The days are merging

The days are merging together in these strange times often until I have no idea of the day, never mind the date.  I'm still doing remote teaching but the uptake has been poor. I do hope they're all ok.  Everyone seems to be enjoying lovely weather and I'm seeing photos of people doing fab things in their gardens.

Going to my allotment counts as my daily exercise (and Emma's!!) and keeping busy there and in my garden is helping me stay sane.  Dad's funeral is this week.  I think once we get past it things can settle into a new normal for us.

Today I finally got my polytunnel erected on my plot.  It took me all day.  A second pair of hands would have been useful but thanks to social distancing I had to manage by myself.

Dismantling the raised bed box took much longer than I thought!!  The concrete slabs were really heavy.  And moving the rhubarb was a nightmare.

But finally the area was clear.  You can see Emma was impressed.  Not!

The frame was pretty straightforward.  Everything was numbered and the diagram was really clear.  I splashed out on one with a proper door instead of a zippy one.  And I bought hot spot tape for the frame.  It helps prolong the life of the cover.  We shall see!

The door went on first.  It took a few goes before I realised one of the poles was backwards!  To be fair the diagram didn't show the difference.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it!!!

Ta da!!!  I'm flipping knackered tonight though.

I also made Lemon and Gin marmalade this week.  It's really good!

Especially on pancakes!  Pancake recipe HERE 

My friend brought me a jigsaw.  It's been a long time since I've done a jigsaw.  It'll be a long time before I do one again!

In a flash of inspiration I moved my bookcases out of the study into the living room.  The study will become the living room area in my Air BnB next year so I was wondering what to do with all my books.  I'm loving them being closer at hand in the evenings.

And finally to finish off this rambling post, Emma got a new pink bed.  She loves it.

Hope you are all doing ok.  Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—