Thursday 30 June 2022

June Spending (and some bargains!)


I can't help rescuing plants in the bargain corner of my local Dobbies.  Usually all they need is water, dead heading and a bit of TLC.  I filled all my big pots and raised beds in my front garden last year with similar bargains and about 75% of them have survived 😊 Today I got 3 dahlias, a dianthus, a tray of 20 snapdragons (69p!!!) and 2 trailing brachyscomes (rock daisies) for a bargain total of £12.34.  The snapdragons are annuals that flower from now until October and the rest are all perennials that should last forever if I look after them.

They also have a Sainsbury's outlet so I picked a few food bargains as well.  The strawberries are Scottish ones from Perthshire, just up the road from me.

As much as I love strawberries, even I couldn't eat 2 punnets in one day so I chopped and froze one of them.  They'll be handy for smoothies, overnight oats, porridge etc when you just need a few to add colour and flavour.  And I'll enjoy snacking on the other ones today.

I popped over to the plot yesterday and cleared another area of weeds.  That one bed plus the area around it filled another 3 rubble sacks.  It's not perfect but already looks much better.  I'm beginning to see a difference every time I leave 😊

Today is the last day of June so it's time to look at this month's spending.  I received confirmation of my single occupant discount (25%) from the council for my council tax.  That's a saving of £636.55 a year that I hadn't budgeted for so I'll add that to my savings account.

Total spending this month was a whopping £696.83 😲 That's almost £200 over my monthly target!! 

The good thing about writing down every penny spent is that I can see where I've overspent.  Around £120 was on school related stuff like end of year gifts for the kids and the staff who work closely with me.  Our photocopier/printer at school has been broken for a month (it needs an obscure part replaced) so I was printing more things at home and needed to buy more ink than usual.  I've also paid to get some extra blood tests done to check my vitamin levels.  And I treated myself to a pair of comfy casual trousers.  So it's all accounted for I guess.

That means once I've paid all my monthly bills, I can add £195.99 to my savings.  Plus the over budgeted £636.55 from my council tax discount.  Plus the £509 kitchen and bathroom repayment from my inheritance money.  Making a total of £1341.54 this month to put into my account.  

Savings total at 30th June 2022 is £6463.51.  Still on target for the year so far 🀞

Monday 27 June 2022

Day 3: Rest!


I spent a couple of hours on the plot yesterday clearing weeds.  I've declared today a day of rest as I worked hard and might have over done it.  My poor apple tree had a huge dock growing up it.  That's gone!  I discovered that docks are in fact edible and their leaves were once used to wrap butter and cheese. 

The bark chipped area beside the tree and in front of the seating area was full of grassy weeds.  Also gone now!! πŸŽ‰

And the side of the path opposite my potatoes is also now mostly clear of weeds!  It took 2 hours and I  filled 5 large rubble sacks.  Luckily my brown bin is due to be emptied this week so it's now full of the weeds.  I wanted as many as possible of the weed seeds off the plot.  

Weeding is very satisfying.  I put the sacks in the wheelbarrow to carry them to the car.  On my way back one of the plot holders commented on how breathless I was!!  And that was from an octogenarian!!!!!

Next step is to remove all weeds from the 2 raised bed areas (on the right in above photo) and get them ready for planting.  I might pop out to Dobbies this afternoon and see if they have any courgette plants or similar.  Or I might just do some knitting and watch something on catch up as we're having very heavy showers today ☔

I'm also tired because I was 'out out' on Saturday night.  I got a last minute call from a friend who had a spare ticket for Priscilla Queen of the Dessert.  Her daughter was performing in it.  It was a fabulous night but even socialising takes a lot of energy!

Saturday 25 June 2022

Day 1

 And so it starts! 😊

My Summer challenge - 50 days


I am now on holiday for the Summer! WOOHOO!! πŸŽ‰ I have 50 consecutive days of not needing to get up and go to school.  And it feels great!

Health wise I'm definitely much better, maybe about 85 - 90% so I'm still being careful not to overdo it.  But I have so much I want to do I need to pace myself.

My Summer challenge is finish off all the projects that I started but couldn't finish due to timing and being unwell.  50 days of finishing! Oh and not to start anything new!!!!

I've started a To Do list that mainly includes things like finish decorating the bathroom and kitchen.  Finish the cardigan I started knitting when I was off work with Covid.  Finish rearranging the rooms vacated by my son and his fiancΓ© when they moved out.  You get the picture.

Today's task is to finish writing the list so I have a firm plan 😊

Saturday 18 June 2022

£1.50 Lidl box


I popped down to the plot first thing this morning to water my tomatoes and peppers in the polytunnel.  All is looking good with flowers starting to appear on my tomatoes πŸ…  On the way home I went to the 'big Lidl' and scored a £1.50 fruit and veg box.

I got a ton of carrots, 2 leeks (not much greenery on them but heyho), 2 cantaloupe melons, a huge pear, a bag of easy peelers, 3 large unwaxed lemons, 4 Scarlet tomatoes, a red pepper and a turnip (swede or rutabaga depending on what part of the world you hail from!) In Scotland it's a turnip or neep!! 

I'll be making soup with most of the veggies, that's lunches for next week sorted.  The lemons I'll slice and freeze for making elderflower cordial.  I hope the melons are still edible as they look a wee bit over ripe.  But anything past human consumption will go to Tuppence πŸ” or the compost bin.

A good £1.50 worth of food and all good for my digestive system (unlike the Too Good to Go bags!)

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Estimated bills


My energy company (SSE) has been taken over by Ovo and they assured me in many emails it would be a seamless handover.  Yeah, right!!  Normally I pay my energy bills quarterly after I've used the energy.  I would get a bill, submit my meter readings and the bill would automatically adjust to reflect the energy actually used.  Then I paid it.  Apparently Ovo can't do this πŸ™„  So they sent me an estimated bill of £718.54 for 2 months of energy use!!  And it doesn't say how much of it is gas or electricity.

Actual gas meter reading above is correct.  Estimated reading was 57638.  A bit of a difference!!!  My gas heating has been switched off for most of the last 2 months!

Electricity meter reading above is correct.  Their estimate was 40854.  Again a huge difference!!  But I was happy to accept that it was just initial handing over issues so I phoned them to sort it out.

My heart sunk when the call was answered by someone in an overseas call centre.  They always have trouble with my Scottish accent.  But we ploughed on and came to an agreement that I didn't have to pay the bill right now and to give another meter reading in 2 weeks time.  Their calls are recorded so if I get hassled over non payment of this bill I can get them to listen back.

I think it's time to get a Smart meter fitted.  I did arrange for one 2 or 3 years ago but they cancelled a week before saying demand was too high and they didn't have any contractors to do the work.  Everyone I know who has one says it does help to see how much energy you're using at any time so I guess it saves you money.  I'm willing to see if that's true.

Monday 13 June 2022

Busy Weekend


Despite the heavy rain showers and the wild wind blowing a hoolie, I popped over to the plot to water the polytunnel.  The irony was not lost on me as I'm inside it with the rain battering on the roof and I had a hose in my hand πŸ˜† But my wee tomato plants are thriving.  I also planted up 8 bell peppers.  I only had 8 seeds in the packet and all 8 germinated and grew into sturdy plants.  I've not grown peppers before so fingers crossed 🀞

The fruit bushes I planted last weekend were still alive plus the wee apples on my ancient tree are still there 😊  I'll need to thin them out so some have a good chance to fully mature but I'll need to do some research on that.  Main thing is the tree is producing again after many fruitless years! 🍎

I also pulled some rhubarb and took the time to stew it before portioning it up for the freezer.  It was delicious! πŸ˜‹

I had a bag of white potatoes that needed to be used up so I made a big pot of buttery mash.  Also portioned up and in the freezer!

I cleared out the fridge of last weeks veg and turned it into a tomato based sauce for pasta by chucking it all in the crockpot while i went to the plot.  It made 5 generous portions, also for the freezer.

I also made some play dough for school!  When my son and his fiancΓ© moved out they left a bag of regular flour so I used it up.  My wee kiddos love play dough activities!

In between the heavy showers Tuppence had a good forage in my mint bed!

One of my nephews and his wife came to visit.  Thanks to the pandemic I haven't seen him since my dad's funeral, 2 years ago.  And I'd never met his wife.  They got married last year in one of the tiny windows of opportunity where you were allowed to have a very small wedding.  I watched it by a live link!  It was just lovely to catch up with him.  My youngest son came with his fiancΓ© so the girls could all meet each other for the first time.  It was a lovely catch up!

So a busy weekend in all.  I only have 2 more weeks of teaching before we break up for the Summer holidays.  The longest 2 weeks of the year!!! 

Saturday 11 June 2022

Hayfever aka The Snotty Club


I would like to publicly issue a heartfelt apology to all hayfever sufferers.  I did not understand how awful it can be for you.  I am now one of those sufferers.  As my young colleague said "Welcome to the snotty club!" 😭

I've been sniffly for a week or two and thought I had a bit of a cold (again!)  I spent some time last weekend on the plot and in the garden pulling weeds and grass.  By Sunday night I was floored.  Looks like grass and weed pollen are now my arch enemies.  It explains so much.  On Sunday night I took my first ever anti histamine tablet.  I've struggled at work all week thanks to an all day Sports Day, 2 Nursery Transition events outside and a full day of Outdoor Learning.

It's been suggested that since my immune system has been severely damaged thanks to Covid and the subsequent chest infection, my body has over reacted to the pollen and produced too much histamine.  Someone also suggested it's another menopause symptom πŸ™„  Either way it sucks and warrants further investigation!!

Following on from my last post I can report that the cheaper coffee actually tastes rather good.  And the beans were ok, definitely less sweet than Heinz so I guess that's no bad thing 😊

Tuesday 7 June 2022

Stop being fussy!


I'm sure many of you here watch or know about Frugal Queen in France on YouTube.  She regularly posts about living a frugal life in France but she's been around blogland a long time as well.  One of her videos last week really hit a nerve with me.  This one HERE called Get Ready for Rationing.  She never pulls any punches but this one was a cracker!!

She talks about the cost of inflation and the shortages of certain foods being available in supermarkets.  And her first point was Stop Being Fussy!  I didn't think I was but actually I've been justifying to myself that certain brands are worth paying extra for because I like them better.  When I realised that my regular jar of coffee has jumped from £5 to £7, I had a look at the own label coffee.  I got 2 larger jars for less than my usual jar 😲  No idea what it tastes like but I need to learn to stop being fussy!  In a similar vein I got a tin of own label baked beans to try as well.  Beans are beans, right? 🀞

Sugar was 75p for a kilo so I got 2 more bags to add to my store cupboard.   I'll be needing it to turn my currants and rhubarb into something tasty.  As much as I love fruits like pineapple, mangoes, grapes and melons, they are luxury items that I can't grow here.  I can grow strawberries, gooseberries, currants, rhubarb and maybe apples.  Oh and blueberries!  3 out of my 4 bushes are covered in flowers/berries already!  So I'm using what I can grow at home/on the plot and I'm not going to be fussy!!

Monday 6 June 2022

Progress at last!

A quick pop down to the plot and at least one area looks semi decent!  On the left my early potatoes are doing well and on the right the fruit bed is planted up with 2 blackcurrant bushes, a redcurrant, a green gooseberry (donated from my lovely mum's garden) and a red gooseberry bush (mislabelled as 'grun' but def red!!)  It will all need to be netted so I get the berries and not the birds!! 🐦 I'm not expecting much this year but it's a marathon not a sprint!

The currant side

The gooseberry side

On my next visit I'm hoping to pull out the weeds behind this bed and let the wild flowers I planted last year flourish 🀞  So far we've taken 10 bags of weeds to the recycling centre (they have an industrial hot composter system that kills the weed seeds) and filled 5 bags with the resulting free compost they make.  Win win!

I pruned the redcurrant bush before planting and stuck the sticks into wee pots of potting on compost. If they take, I'll have a few more bushes to plant next year!  More free plants!

I planted some strawberry runners in the asparagus bed πŸ“  I chopped and froze some rhubarb from the garden as I didn't have time to do anything else with it.  I've picked some mint leaves to dehydrate to make my own mint tea ☕  It feels good to have made a wee start on preserving home grown stuff for the months ahead.  After months of being unable to do much even the smallest of jobs are big progress 😊 

Saturday 4 June 2022



One of my goals is to plant as many perennials as I can and take as many cuttings as I can.  These are 3 blackcurrant prunings from last Autumn that I stuck in a pot.  I literally pruned my mature bush, just stuck a few of the 'sticks' in a pot and left them out to overwinter.  They're about 10 to 20cm already and the tallest one even has a few currants!  I now have 5 bushes in varying stages of maturity.  Blackcurrants are a bit tart so are best used in something but they're packed with vitamin C.  I'll be making a syrup with them to boost my immune system during the Winter months.  All from free plants!

One of my patio apple trees has 5 teeny apples on it.  Last year they all dropped off in July so fingers crossed they hang on to maturity.  This is my James Grieve tree.  The other is a Charles Ross, both self fertile and suited for my colder climate.  The one on the plot also had a few teeny apples so it's earned a reprieve for another year.  I'll keep on pruning it hard and feeding it.

I've got a few more fruit bushes to plant on the plot this weekend that include a redcurrant and a red gooseberry.  All bargains from B&Q during the initial pandemic lockdown where you could order a mixed bag of fruit bushes for £10 and it was just luck what you got when you went to collect.

It's my lovely mum's 75th birthday today.  We're keeping it low key as she doesn't like a fuss plus I'm not feeling great, again πŸ™„ We have 2 teachers who tested positive this week, one of whom is a very close friend and has now had it THREE times!!  I'm testing daily and so far I'm negative but it's still out there.  Take care this Bank Holiday weekend everyone!