Saturday 28 March 2020

Z for Zachariah

Many years ago when I was in 3rd year at secondary/high school (so about 14yo) we had to read the book Z for Zachariah.  I've been thinking about this book all week for some reason and looking back this has actually had a profound effect on me.  Basically, the plot is that a 16yo girl survives a nuclear event on her isolated farm in a valley and has to continue to live her life thinking she is the only person alive.  That is until a man arrives in her valley wearing a radiation suit.  He is the last man alive (A for Adam being the first) hence the Z...

I didn't know it had been made into a film although looking at the IMDb site they added another male character to create a 'love triangle.'  *sighs*

Anyhoo, as a child of the 70s/80s I grew up with notion that the Cold War would result in a nuclear event at any time.  And I was always thinking about how would I survive if that happened.  Combine that with my childhood love of Little House on the Prairie and pioneer life and you get a glimpse into how my tiny brain works!! 

Fast forward many years and many life experiences later  (that I've written about extensively here and elsewhere so won't bore you about it!!)  I (and millions the world over) find myself in a situation where my fascination with preparedness and pioneer life should help me.

For example, this is my fridge today.  I have no fresh food left.  But I have loads of food in the freezer, some veg in the garden and I have eggs.  (Btw I'm re thinking keeping chickens!!)

So, I made a rice crust quiche with leeks, peppers, garlic and chillies.  It was bloody tasty!! Recipe HERE But there's still scope to add more home produce to what I'm already doing.

It was a beautiful sunny morning here so I went to the allotment.  It counts as exercise under the new rules of lockdown.  There were a few people there but we all kept our distance from each other.  I cleaned out the storage bench that had been filled with water and floated away when the river burst it's banks. 

I cleared 2 of my raised beds of weeds and prepped them for the seeds/plants I have in my 'indoor greenhouse.'

I'll tackle the 3rd raised bed tomorrow/or Monday as it was a bit weedier than the other 2.

I didn't think anything except weeds had grown in the 3rd bed until I took a closer look.  My purple sprouting broccoli had survived the flood!!! Yeay!  It's my favourite vegetable! πŸ˜‹ I also picked lots of rhubarb which has already been stewed.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that given my long held need to be prepared for any disaster scenario, I need to up my game in planning what to grow for my storecupboard and freezer.  Although I already had a plan that I worked out when I was in Australia, I'm majorly reviewing that in light of recent events.  And also reviewing my retirement plans!  More on that another time!!

Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—

Thursday 26 March 2020

The challenge is on!

So it's now been 11 days since I've been to a supermarket.  Yesterday I used up the last of my fresh veggies to make a huge pot of tomato sauce.  Some of it is already bagged and frozen.  The only fresh produce I have left now is 3 ripe bananas.  I'm not planning any supermarket visits in the near future so the challenge is now on to eat healthily from my freezer, storecupboard and garden!!  This will help me work out how self sufficient I can be in the future.

Last night's meal was some rice, tomato sauce and the last of my vegan cheese.  It was ok.  It lacked something so I soaked some pinto beans overnight and cooked them this morning.

Today's lunch was rice, pinto beans and tomato sauce with Nutritional yeast to add a cheesy flavour.  It was actually not bad so I'll be making this one regularly.

It was a bit of a chilly day so I lit the woodburner.  Emma does love lying as close as she can as soon as I light it!!


Tonight's meal was some leftover macaroni cheese with sprouts and green beans from the freezer sauted in garlic and chilli.  I'm noticing my meals are quite starchy so I'll keep a eye on that.  Doing the daily Joe Wicks workouts will help!!

Working from home is going well although I'm not liking being tied to the laptop most of the day.  I need to be 'available' between 9 and 3 to support parents with home learning.  So far only 3 out of 18 parents are regularly interacting.  Maybe things will change the longer this goes on.

Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Comfort cooking

Someone is enjoying me working from home!  When I'm working on the laptop she lies near me but today she was actually ON me 😊

Cooking is my go to activity when I'm stressed or feel the need to be organised/in control.  So today I did a bit of comfort cooking.  As well as using up/making better use of the food I've got, I'm making an effort to cut down on my portion sizes too.  I made a batch of French toast this morning, my reward for doing another morning Joe Wickes workout!! πŸ’ͺ Normally I would have eaten 3 slices (the GF bread slices are quite small!) but today I only had 2, leaving 4 slices to make another 2 meals.  French toast reheats nicely in a toaster!

I made some rice pudding for lunch, using up a carton of almond milk that's been open for a few days now.  I used up the last of my brown sugar so it has a lovely caramel taste.  It's also in the fridge for more meals (nice for breakfast as a change to porridge!)

But my big job for the day was to make a new batch of elderberry syrup as I'd finished the last one on Sunday.  It's really easy, just a bit messy when it comes to the straining bit!!  Recipe HERE

I filled 2 x 250ml bottles plus the leftover syrup I put back into the honey jar.  It will be extra sweet!!  I take a tablespoon every day in Winter.  I use the elderberry syrup as a preventive measure and the fire cider I started on Sunday is meant to be used as a 'cure.'  I hope I don't need to test that theory!!

I hope everyone is well and coping with the new restrictions to our daily lives.

Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—

Monday 23 March 2020

Working from home

My day started with a workout with Joe Wicks who is effectively doing a daily PE lesson for kids throughout the UK (and the world) every morning at 9am.  I thought I'd video myself taking part to post to Twitter to encourage my class to join in.  Errr, no.  That video ain't seeing the light of day!! 

I posted activities several times on Twitter throughout the day but there wasn't any response.  And it was the same for most teachers in my school.  I actually think our parents are overwhelmed with the information and stuff we've sent them.  Maybe things will pick up in a week or 2 when the novelty of being home has worn off.

Once 'school' was over I took my seeds out to play and started planting them.

I did peas, tomatoes and courgettes in the pots I got from TK Maxx.

I planted my onion sets in a random assortment of pots and recycled tubs.  I have 50 red, white and brown onions.

They're all zipped up inside the greenhouse in my study, along side the many bags of 'stuff' I brought home from work.

And to round off my first working from home day I found a fairy egg in the nesting box.  Usually produced by young hens at the start of their laying years but also from old hens at the end of theirs.  This is probably from Penny who is nearly 6!!

My head is ok after my comedy accident.  Think standing on a rake with the handle hitting my head, only with a rusty polytunnel frame!!!  It's a small but deep cut and it's healing nicely.

Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—

Sunday 22 March 2020

Happy birthday to me!

It's been a strange birthday and for those us with birthdays in the next few months it will certainly be one to remember.  I've spent most of it outside in the garden.  I'm celebrating tonight (on my own) with a large gin and tonic and nursing a split forehead (don't ask!) 😡

In these uncertain times (and that's all I'm going to say cos I'm being blog positive) I think I should really make an effort to not waste a single piece of food.  I'm pretty good any way but the chickens mostly benefit from leftovers or veggies nearly past their best.  I made a batch of potato scones with leftover mashed potato and froze them. They're great toasted or fried!

I grated some bendy carrots.  Some went into a huge pot of soup and the rest got bagged and frozen for future use.

I made a pot of veg soup using up leftover veggies, lentils, rice and leeks from the front garden.  It's portioned up and 5 are already in the freezer.  I also had a very ripe banana so made my banana oat pancakes.  Recipe HERE They'll do for snacks or even a breakfast or 2!

And I made my first ever batch of Fire Cider.  It was one of the easiest home remedies I've ever made!  It will sit for a few weeks before I add some raw honey.  It's very good for cold and flu symptoms.  I based it on a recipe from an online friend from waaaay back.  Check out the recipe on her Youtube channel HERE.

Working from home starts tomorrow so life is going to be very different for the foreseeable future.

Stay safe and stay home everyone! πŸ’—

Friday 20 March 2020

And so it begins...

It's been a very strange time in school this week.  Everyone else in the country was told to stay home, work from home, don't get close to other people.  ALL council staff were told to clear their desks and work from home.  Libraries, community centres and even public toilets were closed as the risk to staff was too high.  And yet we were told it's ok for schools to be open.  Children just carry it, they can't get sick from The Virus.  But teachers could.  Support staff could.  Parents could.

Then teachers were declared front line employees, the same category as doctors and nurses.  But doctors and nurses are given protective equipment.  We were providing our own soap for children to wash their hands.  Many parents kept their children home. But just as many sent them to school as normal.  And we tried so hard to keep it normal for them.

Today after many many difficult negotiations between government, councils and unions, schools were finally closed to children AND teachers. Although some school 'hubs' will be open for front line staff's children.

Starting from Monday I'll be working from home.  We've set up Home Learning online through many websites we use in school and good old Twitter!  Sadly many of our parents don't have devices at home to access these so we made up home learning packs too.  All teachers I know have brought home loads of admin, materials to create new resources as well as literature for professional development.

Today I said goodbye to my wee class of 7 year olds not knowing when I'll see them again and told them they were part of history.  As we all are.

And so it begins...

Friday 13 March 2020

When, not if...

We've been told that despite Boris saying schools in the UK will not be closing, here in Scotland it's a case of when, not if we close.  Today we've been preparing home study packs of work for children to work on and been told to organise admin tasks that we can work on at home.  Tonight I brought home my big planning folder and I uploaded a ton of data to my USB stick so I can make a start on my report writing.

I went to Sainsbury's last night as I hadn't been for 2 weeks. There was a ton of fresh fruit and veg available but no regular pasta, rice or flour.  Luckily I was able to get my GF pasta! A pallet of toilet rolls was being put on the shelves and a manager was patrolling that aisle!!  I took my usual 9 pack.  I got most things I needed for the next few weeks, nothing excessive.  I have a well stocked cupboard and freezer so I'm not panic buying.  If I have to self isolate it won't be too difficult as I'm an anti social introvert at the best of times!

I've got loads of paint so I can continue decorating my house.  I've got seeds and compost so I can start planting.  I've got yarn and fabric to play with and a ton of unread books.  If I can stay healthy I'll be absolutely fine and in a position to help my neighbours if needed.

Stay healthy everyone and don't panic!

Sunday 8 March 2020

Gardening time!

I checked the weather app on my phone on Friday and saw that yesterday was to be very wet and windy (accurate!) and today was to be mainly dry and sunny (fairly accurate!!)  I decided that I would be able to have a gardening weekend.  I bought a copy of Kitchen Garden as it had 10 'free' packets of seeds and a pair of gardening gloves.  Once I'd done all the boring essential household stuff I settled down to read and make plans.

When I was in Australia over Christmas I wrote out a detailed plan of what I wanted to grow in the garden and allotment this year.  Some of the free seeds I got were on my plan.  And those that weren't, I ordered from Real Seeds last night.

I went to Dobbies bright and early this morning to get some seed compost.  I ended up getting a few extra things as well!!  This 5 tier mini greenhouse was reduced from £44.99 to £29.99.  I had a crazy idea that I could start off lots more seeds indoors in my study.  It gets lots of light thanks to a rooflight/skylight and some direct sun towards the end of the day.

I rescued all the trays that were lying around outside and gave them a good scrub.  I have some old tote trays at school I could also use as we upgraded all our trays last year.  I've been saving toilet roll tubes, yoghurt pots etc to re use as plant pots.  They'll fit nicely into these trays πŸ˜‡ When the weather warms up (usually a month after the rest of the UK!) I'll be able to move it outside.  Or at least that's the plan!!

The 2 brown boxes in the second photo above were my Link-a-Bord raised bed from Harrod Horticultural made of recycled plastic and guaranteed for 20 years! It was so easy to assemble by myself and fitted perfectly into the space left behind by my polytunnel.  It's 2 metres by 1 metre.  I started to put in a base layer of old chicken bedding and Tuppence came to inspect it!

Part of the patio is under the puddle is on the left as it curves round so there isn't enough room for another bed the same size.  But there is room for a smaller one on the right.

I saw this purple metal one in Dobbies and I was really tempted!  But it wouldn't fit in the space πŸ˜’ So I've ordered another smaller Link-a-Bord one instead.  Hopefully by the time the school Easter holiday rolls round, my back garden prep will be finished and I'll be ready to make a start on the allotment.  The AGM is in 2 weeks and I'm hoping that I might get a full plot πŸ‘

Gardeners World starts again in 2 weeks (Hello Monty Don! πŸ’–) so it's starting to feel that gardening time is here again 🌱🌿🌸

Saturday 7 March 2020

Don't panic!

Two of my friends messaged me separately this morning to say our local Sainsbury's had no toilet paper left and that Tesco had no paracetamol or ibuprofen left.

I just don't get it.  Why, why are people panic buying?  I can sorta understand medicines (at a push!!) or anti bacterial soap/hand gel but loo roll???? How is that going to prevent coronavirus?  And I've seen the clips on FB of people screaming and fighting over trolleys filled up with just loo roll.  WTF?!

Doctors who work with infectious diseases are telling us not to panic.  Why are people trusting what they see online instead of listening to the experts?  Stockpiling hurts the most vulnerable people in society.  Those who can only afford to shop once a week due to benefits or those who can only shop with a carer. Or people who can't shop around and can only walk to their nearest supermarket.

Sadly another example of the selfish society we've become.  Me, me, me.  Sometimes living on a remote island is very appealing.