Thursday, 6 October 2022

Chicken Soup

 

Thanks for all your lovely get well wishes!  I really hope I've headed this thing off by taking some time off now.  I spent yesterday in bed and I'm doing the same today.  I'm coughing a lot and my ears are 'full' which is making me dizzy.  I'm taking cold and flu tablets, Benylin and drinking loads of hot honey and lemon.

I also made a pot of the fastest chicken soup ever!  I'd made some chicken stock overnight in the Crockpot on Monday night.  So I chucked it in a pot with a handful of frozen sweetcorn, some cooked shredded chicken (from chicken legs I cooked at the weekend) and a crushed up rice noodle nest.  Rice noodles are cooked within minutes in hot water or stock.  Wee bit of seasoning and I had a pot of soup in minutes.

There's something really comforting about chicken soup when you're not well.  It's all I've eaten for 2 days but it feels nourishing.

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Off sick

 

I called in sick today and will probably take the rest of the week off.  Feels exactly like when I had Covid but my test this morning was negative.  I'm back in bed propped up on pillows to help my breathing/coughing and frankly feeling very sorry for myself.  

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Of course!!

 


Of course it's October now so obviously I've caught a nasty bug/virus!!! ๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„๐Ÿ™„  I literally woke up yesterday morning with streaming sinuses, blocked ears, a sore throat and a raspy cough.  So far I'm managing work but frankly I don't know if I'll last the week.  I've tested negative for you-know-what but it's mutated so much I suspect the tests don't pick it up.

I'm getting by on paracetamol and drinking hot honey and lemon.  We've currently got 4 members of staff absent with it (and loads of kids) and I fear I may be the 5th!!

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Big Changes

 

Yesterday I moved from my upstairs bedroom to the downstairs one in preparation for my son and daughter in law moving in with me. I intended to start by just moving my clothes into the downstairs wardrobe and it kinda snowballed from there!  I did it by myself as everyone was away/unavailable so it took me all day!!  It's amazing how you can move furniture by yourself by slowly bumping it down the stairs one at a time! Good old gravity!!๐Ÿ˜‚  Although I did manage to smack myself on the cheekbone with the large chest of drawers so might have a lovely bruise for a few days!!

This room was decorated in blue tones almost 3 years ago (photos HERE) so all my purple/green themed bedding/curtains clash horribly.  Luckily the beautiful quilt my Lovely Mum made me (photo HERE) is a lovely cream pattern on the reverse.  The purple and green will be hidden for now but will definitely reappear in the future.


The room is roughly the same size so my cream chest of drawers and bedside cabinets all kinda fit in. I've kept the leather headboard mainly because it's fixed to the wall and I don't want to have to repair the damage it would make to remove it.  The wardrobe is smaller so I've had another big clearout of clothes plus I've gained the extra chest of drawers in the alcove. 


They match the headboard.  There's no room for the chair with the patchwork seat cover but it will go into my craft room.  There are still a few things to sort out so a final photo or maybe video of the room will follow at some point.  I've treated myself to a new laundry/linen basket (£18 from Argos) and I'll collect it later today.

Edited to add:  I've just realised that every piece of furniture in this room (except the mattress and the 3 fold mirror) is at least 16 years old and has been moved from 2 houses!!

At the same time, I'm also collecting a mini toaster oven. This one HERE.  Frugal Queen regularly mentions cooking in hers so I did the research and it definitely uses less electricity.  It will be cheaper to run than my big oven if I just have a few things to bake.   Last month I got my half share of an unexpected repayment from an old policy of £67 so it's a free mini oven really!! 

Saturday, 1 October 2022

September Spending

 

My pear tree grew a single pear.  I haven't eaten it yet as it hasn't ripened.  Pears don't ripen on the tree so it's a waiting game to choose the right moment to eat it at it's best! ๐Ÿ˜‹

September flew by!  I can't believe we're into October already.  There's 1 week of school left (HOORAY!!) then we get a 2 week break.  But my 2 week break will be filled with decorating and moving furniture between my house and the flat. Ah well, it'll be good once it's all done.

September spending was very low.  I hadn't planned to have such a low spend month but it just worked out that way.  I mentioned previously that I've spent around £100 on stuff for school and I had to get petrol for my car.  Other than food, I haven't spent money on anything else.  Total spend for the month was £316.89!  That means I can put an incredible £1114.74 into my savings!!! ๐Ÿคฏ

So after 9 months of saving I have £9492.52 in my savings account.  I'm almost at my £10k target for the year!!  I can't believe I've managed to get this far.  I used to think I was pretty frugal before I started this 4 year challenge but I've had to seriously up my game this year!

Monday, 26 September 2022

End of the growing season

 

I made a very quick plot update video yesterday.  Oh my goodness, it's such an overgrown mess of weeds but I'm trying not to beat myself up about it.  I've been putting in the new raised beds so there's a lot of unseen stuff I guess only I know about.  I didn't show the cabbages under the netted bed (they're growing well) and you can see my leeks are well established although they are showing some signs of rust ๐Ÿ˜ก  The climbing rose is a David Austin one (Gertrude Jekyll) I bought ages ago with a hefty discount code.

These 2 beds will be asparagus and strawberries.  The one on the right is in the video before I filled it with the spent compost from the peppers, a bucket of free compost from the tip, a leftover bag of potting compost and a bag of top soil my Lovely Mum gave me.


Here is my apple harvest this year!! ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚  The red one is James Grieve from my garden and the other is an unknown variety from the tree on my plot.  Both are the size of a golf ball!!!  They came off in my hand, I didn't need to pull them.  The James Grieve is an eating apple (similar taste to a Cox) which is good to grow in my colder climate.  I think the unknown one is also an eating variety.  It wasn't quite ready but still didn't taste sour which makes me think it's for eating and not a crab apple as I suspected.

My growing season is coming to an end.  There's not much left to harvest now.  Hopefully the cabbages and leeks will survive the Winter.  I haven't planted anything else for Winter, poor planning on my part.  So I'm just tidying up the plot and garden now.  We have a 2 week October break soon so I want them both done by then.  I didn't get the chance last year thanks to the first chest infection and it really impacted on the start of my season this year.  So far I'm managing to stay healthy so that's the plan! ๐Ÿคž

Saturday, 24 September 2022

Family news!

 

With just a week left until the end of the month I'm trying to be creative and using up what I have left.  I had some leftover sweet potatoes after cooking a whole bag in my Crockpot earlier this week (8 hours on Low.)  So I made some sweet potato/black bean burgers.  Recipe is this one HERE.  I haven't made these for a while but they taste amazing ๐Ÿ˜‹  I had 2 for my lunch today and the remaining 6 will go in the freezer.


I had to pop into the wee Lidl (the one nearest me) and picked up a few 20p bargains!  They actually had a lot of good stuff reduced.  I think the bigger Lidl in town has taken away a lot of their business.  I didn't 'need' anything so left a lot of meat products for other folks.  Now I know they have a good reduced section I'll try to pop in more regularly.

A quick adding up of my spending so far this month shows I'm well under £300 for the month so far.  About £100 of that is stuff for my classroom!  I keep saying I'm not spending any more money on work but then I do ๐Ÿ™„ Plus I had to fill the car up with fuel.  I'm 'off' work on Monday (getting my non contact time back from the Bank holiday last Monday) so I'll be going to B&Q to stock up on paint and decorating supplies.  

I have a deadline of one month to get the upstairs bedroom, bathroom and hall landing finished because my eldest son and his wife are moving in with me!!  They will use the upstairs rooms and the family room room as their living room.  I'll move my bedroom downstairs into the current guest room and use the rooms/bathroom downstairs.  We'll share the kitchen.

They both have long term health conditions and are concerned about being able to afford their bills this Winter.  I have a 4 bedroomed house that has empty rooms I don't use/need.  This is our solution for the time being.  No idea how it work out in the long run but sharing one set of bills is the solution for now.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Plot, preserves and yellow stickers (not mine!)


I popped down to the plot this morning and spent 4 hours digging out the last of the raspberries and the overgrown grass.  Not a great before and after picture but the top one shows the old strawberry/potato patch after I started clearing it.  Then I added 3 of the cheap B&Q raised beds.  Today I cleared the last bit with the overgrown canes.  There's room for 3 more beds.


A closer look at the top end (I took out the random post too!)

I read an article that showed you how to fill a new raised bed without buying tons of soil/compost.  Layer the bottom with cardboard.  Add a layer of dead twigs/branches chopped up (I did some of that today.)  Then add some partially broken down compost (got a ton of that on the plot!!) and finally put some compost/soil on top.  I can get the free compost from the tip!  So hopefully I can fill my raised beds without spending any money! ๐Ÿคž


I cooked the beetroot from Lidl, grated it (oh my, that was messy!) and packed it into 2 very large pickling jars with hot spiced vinegar.  It tastes amazing already so I can't wait for it to properly pickle!

I also dehydrated some apples my Lovely Mum gave me from her garden.


I currently have a load of calendula in the dehydrator.  They'll be used to make some lip or skin balms.

My friend at school sent me this pic in the late afternoon.  She'd been to M&S to get her usual yellow stickers for the week ahead.  She was delighted with a bumper haul today.  My eldest son said Tesco also had a ton of reduced stuff. I guess with supermarkets being closed tomorrow they have a lot of stock to shift.   I was tempted to visit both places but I don't need anything.  It's not a saving if I don't need it!!

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Long weekend

 

Brrrr!!  It was a chilly start to my long weekend, 5 degrees C here.  Very autumnal!  I was woken up by next door's builders tipping a lorry load of tarmac onto their new driveway at 7.20am.  I'm hoping the (illegal) early start means they'll be finished sooner ๐Ÿ™„

First thing on my agenda today is to practise the best way for cooking/keeping bacon warm using my Crockpot.  I'm in charge of making bacon butties for our morning break at school.  We only get 15 mins so I need to perfect a way of cooking it (oven first?) then keeping it warm (or cooking it?) in the crockpot so everyone can get a hot bacon roll in time.  If anyone's ever done it please leave your tips in the comments.  There's no cooker in the staffroom hence the need for cooking in advance then keeping it warm.  Lidl are currently selling these large packs of 24 rashers for £3.29 ๐Ÿ˜‹

Other plans for the weekend include pickling beetroot.  Sadly my own haven't grown much but I picked up several bunches in Lidl for 99p a bunch.  It'll be messy but I'll wear gloves! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I've knitted a few more sock blanket squares this week so I'll be stitching them together and adding them to my blanket.  I'll try to get a decent photo of the blanket when I'm done.

I picked up a bag of tulips (30 for £4.99 in Lidl) and I'll be planting these on the allotment at some point.  The weather is to stay dry all weekend so I'm hoping to get a good tidy up session done.  Might even have some things to harvest!

But the biggest job this weekend will be to clear my craft room of all the 'stuff' that came out of the upstairs bedroom!  And that's just 1 room.  The family room next to it is equally full!!  But I'll settle for at least 1 clear room by Monday night! 

Sunday, 11 September 2022

Of Kings and Queens

 

I'm absolutely not a royalist but I've found the last few days interesting and actually quite moving.  From a historical viewpoint the accession and proclamations have been fascinating.  Thanks to modern technology we have been able to see the whole process that has taken place behind closed doors for centuries.  There seems to be universal praise for the Queen and a growing respect for our new King who I hope will modernise and slim down the monarchy.  I'm rather enjoying watching the ceremonies and traditions across the 4 nations of the UK and I'm glad that the transition is seamless.

Over the weekend my lovely mum finished stripping off the wallpaper in my back bedroom which used to be my youngest son's room.  I've emptied the cupboards of "stuff" (which I have to say was only about 50% mine!!) so it's all ready to paint now.  It's a north facing room so painting it my usual (cheap) brilliant white will brighten it up.

Now I just need to decide whether to get a skip for all the "stuff" or do multiple runs in the car to the recycling centre!!

Tuesday, 6 September 2022

Finally finished!!

 

I finally finished the pink socks!!  For weeks they've sat in my project bag with just the toe to finish on the second sock.  No idea why I waited so long as it only took 20 mins to do the knitting and graft the toe.  Procrastination is my middle name!! And there's plenty of yarn leftover to knit a few more squares for my sock yarn blanket.

My aunt sent me some wee balls of sock yarn to add variety to my blanket.  They don't look much but the squares only need about 5g of yarn and they're all around 8 to 10g.

So I'm done with socks for now.  I didn't get my cardigan finished (it was part of my 50 days of Summer project) so I guess that's my next knitting project.

But my current big project is to get some painting and wallpapering done in preparation for something else that's happening soon ๐Ÿ˜‰


Monday, 5 September 2022

Souper soup


I chopped up the overgrown courgette (zucchini) and made 7 mugs of Courgette and Leek soup.  I chopped up 2 leeks from the back garden and chucked them in a pot of chicken stock (made from the bones of the large chicken I got last week) with a onion and a spoonful of stock powder.  I blitzed it with a little soya cream and voila - work lunches for the next week or 2 sorted.

They're now in the black freezer along with 6 mugs of Chicken and rice soup I made yesterday with some stock I defrosted on Saturday.  

I think there are still a couple of mugs of soup in the garage freezer (no idea what kind) which gives me enough lunches for work for the next few weeks.  I do love my soup! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Freezing!

 

This was my early Sunday morning view when I got up and it stayed like this for most of the day!  Cold and drizzly then muggy and drizzly!! ☔

I did an audit of the indoor freezer and found a few interesting things I'd forgotten about!

After doing my indoor freezer audit, I emptied it and left it to defrost overnight.  Fridge and freezer got a thorough cleaning ready to be filled again.

The garage chest freezer was pretty full once I'd put the indoor stuff in it.  It's next on my list to clear out and defrost.  My Lovely Mum visited today and brought 5lb of frozen plums from her neighbour's tree.  She'd kindly stoned and halved them before freezing them for me in 1lb bags.  Makes it easy to weigh them to make jam or chutney later.

The same neighbour also gifted her some more plums yesterday so she brought even more for me!  I'll eat a few then freeze the rest for jam or chutney or maybe a fruit crumble.  Last year the neighbour's tree hardly produced any fruit but this year it's gone plum crazy!!  These are all extras that she can't use herself!  Plums are currently £2 a punnet here so getting these for free is amazing.

She also brought me an overgrown courgette!!  I'll make that into soup tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜‹  I do love free food.

Friday, 2 September 2022

£95.28

 

I got my start of the month Sainsbury's delivery last night, arriving rather late at 9.50pm but heyho it got here in the end ๐Ÿ™„ It was a very basic order absolutely no treats/snacks.

Edit to clarify this is for the whole month of September.


I made a mistake with my apples.  I put Pink Ladies in my basket then saw Royal Galas much cheaper and added them.  But either I forgot to cancel the Pink Ladies or the system didn't accept my cancelation.  So I had 12 apples although I'm not actually that keen on eating apples!  I use them in cooking mainly or in salads.  I took 2 to school today and we ate them chopped up as a snack because our new sound this week was 'a' for apple!! ๐ŸŽ

I also got a large chicken, a dozen eggs (Tuppence isn't laying!!) some goat's butter and some pecorino romano (sheep's milk) cheese.  On the veg front I got sweet potatoes, onions, carrots, peppers, a wee red cabbage, an aubergine and a cucumber plus frozen broccoli and sweetcorn.  I got a 9 roll pack of loo roll, my multivitamins and a 24 pack of Diet Coke (it was on offer.)  Total £95.28!!! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

It doesn't look like a lot of meals for a month but I do have plenty of oats and rice in the storecupboard and frozen fruit and veg in the freezer.  Plus a few veggies from the plot.

It looks like some very creative meal planning this month is needed if I want to stay under budget!! 

Wednesday, 31 August 2022

August spending

 

Another month has flown by and it's time for the end of the month totals!  I knew I'd failed miserably on sticking to the £120 food/supermarket budget before I got the calculator out ๐Ÿ™„

I spent £170.42 in supermarkets PLUS £53.26 in takeaways ๐Ÿคฏ No excuses, just a lack of planning and being too tired to batch cook.

I bought a pair of trousers for work.

I bought 3 more raised beds from B&Q (the £20 ones)  for the allotment.

I spent £49.17 on some stuff for my classroom.

And I got my hair cut ✀

Total spend for the month (excluding all the usual household bills already budgeted for) was £458.75!  I'm pleased with that and I'm not going to dwell on the fact that if I hadn't bought takeaways and stuff for school it would be around £100 less!!

So I can add £1042.39 to my savings this month.  WOOHOO!! ๐Ÿ™Œ

After eight months, my savings total now stands at £8377.78 which means I'm getting closer to my target ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

Tuesday, 30 August 2022

Normal

 


I had a check up with my GP.  I got a thorough prodding, poking and she listened to everything that could be heard through a stethoscope.  And everything is normal.

In the last 4 months I've had a scan, an x ray and loads of blood tests and they all came back normal.

So why am I soooo tired all the time and why am I still breathless on exertion??


She really doesn't know but maybe if I lose weight and get my fitness levels back up to where they were pre pandemic it will go away.  Easier said than done ๐Ÿ™„

*SIGHS* 

Monday, 29 August 2022

Disgraceful!

 

I was talking to my oldest son last night about how he and his new wife (both have health issues) were going to be able to afford to heat their flat this Winter.  In the course of the discussion he told me that our main library in town has officially been designated a 'Heat Bank' where people can go during the day to keep warm.  I'm beyond disgusted that food banks are a normal part of our lives now but now we need to have heat banks.

This article HERE popped up on my FB feed.  At first I thought 'good for you' then I thought how disgraceful that this is fast becoming a reality for many.  Choosing to disconnect from the grid thanks to poverty is disgraceful.

Sunday, 28 August 2022

Hanging by a thread

 

I've been back at work for 2 weeks and frankly I'm hanging by a thread.  I'm exhausted at the end of each day and I use the weekend to rest and catch up.  No idea how I can get out of this cycle (other than not working!!) so suggestions welcome!

I did manage to pop down to the allotment and pick my tomatoes as the trusses were keeling over and the tomatoes dropping on the ground.  The pink box is last year's crop and the wee basket is this year.  I put all the green ones on the windowsill to ripen and I froze the rest.  Once I have them all ripened I'll make some pasta sauce.  I've been counting them as I add them to the freezer.  So far I have 16.  Worst crop ever!!

Sunday, 14 August 2022

Back to school tomorrow! :-(

 


Today was the last day of my Summer holidays so it's back to school tomorrow ๐Ÿ˜ญ Can't in all honesty say I'm looking forward to it.  2 days of Staff Development (annual mandatory online modules plus meetings) then the kids are back on Wednesday.

I popped down to the allotment first thing this morning to take a video of the progress.  I did pull out 2 bags of weeds after I filmed it so it looks even better.  Just that last bit of the raspberry patch to do and fill the new raised beds with the free compost from the recycling centre.

We're in the middle of a thunderstorm just now but so far no sign of the predicted rain yet! ๐Ÿ—ฒ

Friday, 12 August 2022

Sorting out my energy bills


Back in June I was having a huge hassle sorting out my energy bills as my energy company SSE had been taken over by OVO.  Read about it HERE.  I really was NOT happy!!  


But I'm happy to hold my hands up and say I'm rather impressed (so far) with OVO now that I seem to have a meter reading history and their website lets me play around with my account.  For example, the above screenshot shows me my June and July usage and costs (excluding VAT etc)  If I submit a meter reading I can see how much energy I've used since the previous bill and how much it's costing me.  I love this feature!!  In the absence of a Smart meter (still no appointments in my area) I could submit my meter readings at the end of every day or week and see how much I've used.  Not sure I'm motivated enough for that but with the coming increases you never know!

I also know my daily standing charges (53.04p for electricity and 30.5p for gas) and the cost per kWh I use (27.92p for electricity and 7.35p for gas.)  I didn't know any of this with SSE.  I guess I could have asked but it wasn't readily available.  If I can easily access all this information then you know this website is idiot proof!!! ๐Ÿ˜‚

I've now sussed that if I send a meter reading every month on the 6th I get an accurate bill on the 7th for the previous month's usage.  I've always paid my energy bills quarterly but I'm liking it monthly now I'm in the habit.  I check and pay my credit card bill every month so I'll do my energy bill in the same way.

I don't like change especially when it involves money or using technology so I'm pretty relieved to find it's all working out.  Like everyone else I still dread to think what my Winter bills will be but I feel I'm back in control of it now.  I think I might even become a bit of a nerd watching the numbers but if it saves money it's worth it ๐Ÿค“ <--- nerd emoji apparently!! ๐Ÿ˜‚

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Because jam is cheaper than honey

 

I normally have overnight oats for breakfast in the warmer months.  Typically I'll put in oats, soya milk or yoghurt if I have it, flaxseeds or chia seeds and a generous spoonful of honey.  Then add any fruits and nuts if I have them.  I prefer to use honey from small independent bee keepers rather than the blended factory produced stuff but it's expensive.  And rightly so!  Since I'd just finished a jar I put in a spoonful of my home made blackcurrant jam instead.  Oh my, it's delicious!! ๐Ÿ˜‹

Jam is cheaper than honey plus I know exactly what's in it since I made it!  And I have loads in my storecupboard!!  Now I can use my precious local honey to make some fire cider and elderberry syrup like I did last year HERE and get ahead with my Winter preps.

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

Day 47: Potatoes

 

I finally started digging up my potatoes!  These are actually earlies (Cassablanca) despite being quite big!  They never flowered but they've died back a bit so I thought I'd see what they were like.  The ground is really dry so they were nice and easy to dig.


I've already boiled about half the above basinful (that's all I could fit in my huge pot!) to make mash.  I had some with just butter (goat's) and chives.  Oh my goodness, they were delicious!  ๐Ÿ˜‹

5 generous portions are already in the freezer!!  I still have the other half of the basin to process plus the rest still in the ground on the plot!  I don't think earlies/new potatoes keep well (I'll need to research that) so I'll cook them all in some way.  I still have my maincrop Caras to lift as well.  I know they store ok in my garage.

So the best producers grown on the plot so far are rhubarb, raspberries and potatoes.  Basically the 3 things that thrive on neglect!!  

I also removed a rotten fence panel from the old raspberry/strawberry patch. 

It really opens up the area where I want to add some more of the B&Q raised beds.

I also got my hair cut!  It hadn't been cut for 13 months so was rather long!!  Luckily I have a 'style'  that doesn't need regular maintenance and I can easily put it up for work (remember the nits situation?!)  It cost me £47.50 for a cut and blow dry.  That's a bit pricey for here but if it lasts me a whole year then it's worth it!!

Cheese!

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Day 44 Catch up

 


I had a lovely break away with my 2 amazing friends.  We righted the world and drank prosecco and gin.  We went to see The Drifters (surprise gift from our host!) and boogied all night.  I even got a wee bit sunburnt on the beach!  This beautiful one HERE  But it was just what we all needed before thinking about going back to school *sighs* 

I popped down to the plot this morning intending to sort out the polytunnel and dig up my potatoes.  I didn't get round to the potatoes as the nasturtiums took aaaages to sort out!!


Before and after!


I kept some of the flowers for eating and the seeds for pickling.  Hopefully I'll get a few more before the end of the season.


The raspberry season is almost over just as the bramble/blackberry one is beginning ๐Ÿ˜‹


And I picked my first courgette/zucchini of the year!  It wasn't very big but it was enough to add to a veggie mix to make lasagne.

School is open this week for the cleaning staff to do a 'deep' clean so I'll be popping in to get some tidying/sorting done.  It will make my life easier if some stuff is done before I officially start back on the 15th.

And finally in other news, my son who has worked all through the pandemic in a very busy NHS hospital x-raying Covid patients has finally succumbed himself ๐Ÿ˜ฒ  He tested positive this morning and while his fiancรฉ isn't feeling well, she's still negative.  I'm pretty sure we'll have an outbreak when school returns so I'll just have to keep being careful.