Saturday 29 April 2023

Shopping, socks and gin cocktails!


I've been up since 6am.  I booked a saver delivery slot for £1 between 6am -10 am.  You get given an hour's delivery slot just before 6am so when I got up I knew it was coming between 7.05 and 8.05am.  But I had to check my email for any substitutions.  I refuse to do email on my phone!!  Only sub was 15 eggs for the 12 I had ordered.  Win win, as you get the sub for the lower price!  

When you put it all together it doesn't look much for £92.25 (that's minus the £1 delivery fee) to last me until the end of May with maybe a few fresh fruit/veg top ups.  No meat except bacon rashers and I got a frozen fish pie mix.  Good job I still have a ton of cooked meat in the freezer.

I've been slowly clearing out the 'stuff' from my craft room and my 'room of doom' where all the 'stuff' from the upstairs cupboards was dumped when my son and DIL moved in.  We finally managed to get all their storage boxes into the upstairs cupboards which just leaves mine to clear.  I'm sorting out all my teaching resources into donate/dump piles.  That's taking ages so I do an hour at a time.  I've still got assessment folders full of kids' work from my previous school!!  These kids are all sitting Higher exams right now!  Which proves that all that 'evidence' we have to gather never gets looked at or taken in by anyone in management or the education dept.  Urghhh!  Lots of burning/shredding paperwork is going on as it all has names/DOB etc.

My relaxation is sock knitting 🧦  Here's my latest one hot off the needles last night!  I had an idea to use up wee bits of leftover yarn and make a stripey multicoloured pair.  But it's such a faff joining yarns and I'm not very good/patient at knitting in the tails.  So I stuck to just 2 colours.  The photo doesn't do justice to the lovely bluey green colours.

I'm signed off work for another 4 weeks.  I've not yet been summoned to an attendance meeting so it looks like HR have accepted I'll not be back until I retire.  Not sure if I want to go back for the last week or 2 yet.  I've been told by my work besties that the teacher covering my class of now 14 kids (one has been moved into the other P1 class!!) is struggling with them and has said he doesn't know how I managed without the support he has in place.  In retrospect, I don't know either!!

The planning for my retirement garden party has been taken out of my hands and is being organised by my work besties.  I'm not sure if I'm scared or relieved!!  It's taking on a life of it's own as there's now a Whatsapp group (I'm not in it!) to organise everything.  My previous 2 headteachers have been invited!!  If everyone comes I may have over 40 folk here!! 😱 All I need to do is make the garden look good.  

I bottled the blackcurrant gin liqueur I started last year and started a new rhubarb one with the first rhubarb of the year.  Look at that pretty pink colour already!  Now we've got a start on some cocktail ingredients.  I'm planning on buying Prosecco so we can add some to make a Kir Royale with the blackcurrant gin and maybe a Rhubarb Gin Fizz!   I have an idea to create an Ali Cocktail using things grown in my garden or allotment.  Wee bit of research need I think! 🍸

Thursday 20 April 2023

Team building and tidying up!

Down on the allotment site this morning we had a bit of a barn raising time helping one of our elder members aka Dahlia Man put a new covering on his polytunnel.  He grows thousands of stunning dahlias and hasn't been able to use his polytunnel for 2 years.  It was a fab team building exercise!

In total there were 11 of us mostly holding on to it and making sure the cover didn't blow away while others hammered on the wooden supports!  It took us 48 mins to get the cover over and secure.  And a total of 2 hours to get all the sides dug in and the ends secure.

The finished job!  There's been a change in the committee (not without huge drama!!!) and there are more community events to make the site a better place.  It was actually good fun although I'm exhausted now!!

On the home front this week I've treated myself to a new mini greenhouse so I can harden off all my seedlings.  This one can be anchored to the chicken coop so fingers crossed it won't blow away like my old one!

The chicken enclosure got a good tidy up with the old kennel coop removed.  It took 3 of us to try and dismantle it as the enclosure was built round it.  It wouldn't fit through the door so I had to remove a side of chicken wire and we took it out over my asparagus/strawberry raised bed!  The Eglu was moved under the roof area so it doesn't get as wet in the rain.  I still need to prune back the ivy and put a ton of fresh sawdust down.

I filled a skip with all the bits of 'stuff' lying round the garage and the back garden.  I'm having a retirement garden party at the end of June and I want the garden to look nice.  The rules about what can go in a skip now are very strict, everything has to be recyclable.  So it was a good chance to get rid of a lot of big old pieces of wood and broken garden furniture.  Mostly stuff that wouldn't fit into my wee car to take to the tip. 

I finished the socks I was knitting for my DIL and she loves them! 🧦

We seem to be having a nice run of lovely sunny weather so hopefully I'll get more allotment stuff done before the rain returns! ☔🌧

Friday 14 April 2023

Feeling fruity!


I had my appt with the mental health practitioner this morning.  Waste of time, he was useless.  He talked over me for 30 mins about himself!!  Opening line to me "What are you stressed about?  Work?"  Quickly followed up by "Have you thought about retiring?"  Thank goodness I wasn't in dire need of help or that I had to pay for it.  And he stank of cigarette smoke 🤮  But it ticked the box so I can get my Fit Note extended next week.  As I was out and about nice and early I managed to score a decent £1.50 fruit/veg box at Lidl.  First one for aaaaages!

I peeled and chopped the 12 apples and 5 pears.  Only 1 apple was completely rotten right through and some were a bit bashed.  I squeezed the satsuma juice into my big pot and gently cooked the fruit for about 20 mins.  Because they were eating apples they didn't break down and I didn't add any sugar as they are sweet enough.  Once they'd cooled a bit I added a wee bit of local honey.  They're now portioned up into single portions and in the freezer.  I think they'll be good for yoghurt or porridge or even a wee healthy fruit crumble!

I sliced and diced the peppers with some of the Tesco 19p onions.  They're really useful to have in the freezer for stir fries and fajitas 😋

Sadly the peaches and nectarines were a bit rotten from the stone out, even the chicken refused to try one!  Clever bird!!  But I had the plums with my lunch, they were nice.

I've started saving chopped up bits n pieces of veggies in wee pots if I've done too much.  They're really handy to pull out the freezer and boost the veg content.  I had a stir fry for tea last night with frozen peas, sweetcorn, red onion, spring onion and spinach plus a tub of cooked chicken 😋  I'm loving my freezer right now!!

As well as knitting socks, I've also been working on sewing up my cardigan!  Soooo many loose ends to weave in!! ✂  But I'm making progress!  It might even be finished in time for the hottest part of the year!!!! 😂

Thursday 13 April 2023

Socks, buckwheat and kefir


My friend loved her socks! 🧦 She sent me a photo of her wearing them 😄  And because she's creative herself she really appreciates the work needed to knit socks.

I've already started work on my next pair.   One completed so far!  This was a ball of sock yarn I've had for years.   I don't remember buying it, might have been given to me to use up in my sock yarn blanket.  I'm not keen on the black/orange/blue combination but my DIL loved it so they're for her!

In an effort to boost my heath and my immune system, I've been looking more carefully at my diet and I'm trying to eliminate processed foods.  I bought some buckwheat to try as it's naturally gluten free and seems quite versatile.  My first attempt was simply to use it as a sub for rice.  I cooked it as per the packet instructions and it was a bit more akin to porridge!!  Heyho, still tasted ok with my minced beef mixture and some greens.  My next attempt was pancakes (see above.)  I soaked some grains overnight, drained them and blitzed them with coconut milk to make a batter.  Turned out ok!  I got the idea from a new to me YouTube channel I found called Fifty Sister.  Interesting lady!  Recipe video HERE.  I sprinkled some mixed seeds over the top while they were cooking to boost the goodness!  I've also been watching some videos on sprouting buckwheat so I might give that a go as well.

I'm also having a go at making water kefir.  I've known about the benefits of  kefir grains for a while but I've always seen them done in milk or people making kefir cheese.  I can't eat dairy.  I didn't know water kefir grains even existed until last weekend!  So, I ordered some and have started the ferment.  I loved making my kombucha last year but as it's fungus based it didn't agree with my digestive system (me + mushrooms = serious digestive issues!!)  Side note, same issues with Quorn!  I'm hoping kefir is a bit more gentle as the probiotic benefits are worth having.  Fingers crossed 🤞

Saturday 8 April 2023

It feels like Spring!

It's amazing what a few continuous days of sunshine can do to your mood 😊  It's been cold and frosty  at times but Spring is here at last.  Now it will rain and snow for weeks cos I jinxed it!!  My heather is in full bloom and attracting bees 🐝  My peaches and cream tulips are opening up 🌷 The asparagus is finally popping through the surface.  I was worried planting the strawberries in the same bed had killed them even though they're recommended to be planted together! 🍓  And Tuppence is in good health as you can see by her bright red upright comb 🐔

Today I checked my cuttings from last year and topped them up with fresh compost.  These were the prunings from my bushes at the plot.  They rooted really easily!  So I now have another 3 redcurrant and 3 blackcurrant bushes, all for free!!  The other one is from the goji berry plant my mum rescued and gave me.  I have 2 plants with no idea how to encourage fruit.  I'll need to do some research!

After my big supermarket spending last month I did a stocktake of my cupboards and freezer.  These freezer tubs have single servings of a type of cooked meat (chicken, beef stew, sausage casserole and beef in gravy.)  That's 21 meat based meals plus the cooked chicken sausages from the other day and a pack of smoked duck my DIL got at Lidl for 70p.  So I have plenty of food to last me through April.  I took the last tub of rhubarb out the freezer to make a crumble as this year's rhubarb is almost ready for picking. 

I finished another pair of socks 🧦  These ones are for my friend who is Irish (the one who drew my allotment picture.)  I hope she likes the vivid greens ☘  I've cast on another pair from a ball of sock yarn I've had so long I can't remember if I bought or it was given to me!!  It's an odd combination of white/blue/orange/black.  My DIL said she quite liked the colours so I'm now knitting them for her!  She's a bit excited! 

And just because, here's another photo of my beautiful Sarah Raven tulips! 🌷🌷🌷

Thursday 6 April 2023

Weird and reduced!

The weather has been weird this week.  Hot, cold, wet, damp, sunny, warm and often all on the same day!  Maybe that's why I have a weird cough again 😞 It could be the tail end of the virus having a last hoorah or I've got something else.  On one of the weird weather days I was out in the garden weeding, mulching and topping up containers with Emma beside me.  Here she is supervising us!  She's 11 now and going a bit senile but seems happy enough.

I've had my cooking mojo this week.  It comes and goes so I make the most of it.  Leftover mash from Sunday's dinner was turned into tattie scones 😋 Recipe HERE.

I popped into Tesco to collect my son's prescription and got some 19p veggies.  I also got some reduced chicken sausages, bread, spring onions and GF bread.  I'd been keeping my eye on their reduced mincemeat as they had a few cases on their reduced shelf.  It was finally down to 40p yesterday so I picked up 3 jars.  It's from their Finest range, has port and brandy in it plus it's vegan.  Best before date is Oct 2024!!  I might try to keep it for next Christmas but it's useful to have in the storecupboard.  I've added it to a sponge pudding before and it was delicious.  Recipe HERE.  And I think I've seen a recipe somewhere for a fruit cake using mincemeat.  I'll go investigate.

I got a carton of Alpro cream too (£1.20) but was pleasantly surprised when I got to the checkout!!  I'm using Tesco more and more as their yellow stickers and Clubcard deals are just too good pass up. 

Unfortunately the reduced GF bread is rather dry and crumbly so I'm off to batch cook a load of French toast for breakfast and for the freezer! 😋