Thursday 31 August 2023

End of the month August

 Stay still, I need a photo to show you're not sad and feeling much better!!

Stealing shoes and slippers!! 

Oi, where's my sun gone?? It was here a minute ago!

Yep, someone's feeling a lot better!  But now Emma has had a bout of nasty diarrhoea 😬 A quick trip to the vet suggests she's probably got giardia too (no idea how as we're being scrupulous with hygiene!!) so we're treating it in the same way.  As she's got a mature immune system it shouldn't be as serious as it was for wee Luna 🤞 But that was another £99 in the vet's bank! 🙄

I'm not even attempting to do an end of the month totals.  It's been a disaster of a month.  I know my credit card total is sitting around the £4000+ mark though.  Means I'll get a decent amount of vouchers next quarter!!

Wednesday 30 August 2023

Pupdate and vets


Home again!

The problem with a new puppy is that you haven't had them long enough to know what is normal for them.  Is it normal for them to poop 6 times a day?  Should they pee every hour? And so on.  I didn't realise at the time but Luna came to me with giardia and another parasite infection.  Or else she picked it up in the first day of being here.  But since Emma is absolutely fine, I'm confident it came from the breeder although I can't prove that!

She had diarrhoea which from past experience I know puppies get due to the stress of leaving their mum and litter mates.  So it took a few days for me to realise that this was a bit more than that.  Not knowing her well enough meant I relied heavily on my vet who prescribed a range of meds and for a wee while she picked up.

Then she was unwell again and the vet took us down a whole scary road of more meds, more tests and an overnight hospital stay.  This maxed out the limit of my insurance who only pay up to £1,500 in vet fees. I paid it upfront and should get most of that back in due course.

So when the vets (I saw 4 different vets at my practice)  convinced me there must be something seriously wrong I had to take their word for it.  She was investigated for Addison's disease, Cushings and a liver shunt.  All these tests, scans and yet more meds plus 4 nights staying at the vet school in Glasgow have cost me £2,700. And I won't get any of that back.  At least I know she doesn't have an underlying health condition.  She still has the original infections and that's why all the blood tests were skewed.

I'm not bashing vets but I do think they jumped very quickly onto pushing me down a route that has put Luna under major stress.  I hope she bounces back quickly after all the scary procedures she's just been through.

Having a pet is a luxury when you're trying to live a frugal life.  Luna's investigations have cost me the equivalent of a full month's salary and I've still to pay for her vaccinations (which are now late so we'll not be able to go outside for walkies for a while yet!)  Thank goodness I had savings or else this story might have had a different ending.

Normal frugal blogging will resume with extra emphasis on having less savings to live on until I sell the house!!!

Tuesday 29 August 2023



I popped down to the allotment early this morning to do some more tidying up.  The weeds are just awful!!   I'm waiting for an update from the vet hospital so needed a distraction.

Luna's scan yesterday didn't show up anything to be concerned about which was a huge relief!  I'm hoping she'll get home today but I need to wait for the vet dealing with her case to call me.  He said he'd call either before his rounds at 9.45am (he didn't) or after them.  I'm still waiting!!!!

Edited to add:  I'm picking her up at 2pm!!  😁

Sunday 27 August 2023

Really poorly puppy


Sadly Luna is still unwell.  My own vet was stumped as to why she's not getting better despite IV fluids, antibiotics etc So she's been referred to a specialist and is currently at the vet school in Glasgow for a few days of investigation.  Blood tests have shown that her liver isn't functioning properly so she's getting a scan tomorrow (Monday) to get a clearer picture.  It's possible she may have been born with something genetic and that's why she's not able to fight off infections.

I'm over my insurance limit so from now on I'm paying for the tests myself.  Current estimate from the vet school is at least £3,000.  She's a really poorly puppy.

Friday 25 August 2023

Sourdough and weeds


I managed to make a half decent sourdough loaf!  Look at those holes, I'm so chuffed!!  It's chewy and moist with a nice crust.  Almost perfect 😋

I made a very quick visit to the plot and pulled up the brown onions as the green leaves were falling over.  They range in size from a golf ball to a cricket ball in size.  No idea how/why they do that when they all had the same growing conditions 🙄

I picked some more brambles (blackberries) to add to the freezer bag.

I picked some cucumbers and have already started a batch of bread and butter pickles.

There's a lot of debate going on in my allotment site's FB group about weeds.  Mainly what to do with the current over abundance of them!  Many plot holders dump them (and their waste plants) in a semi-designated area on the river bank but it's clear that there's just too much of it.  So we're looking at ways to deal with them.  One of my plot friends is passionate about composting everything including weeds with seeds.  She has 6 compost bins and spends a lot of time turning the contents.  

I like watching Huw Richards on YouTube and he recommends using weeds to make different types of feed.  So I'm going to trial that.  I'm pretty good at identifying the weeds on my plot and finding out if they have any benefits/uses but I'm stuck on these 2 in the above photo.  I think the one on the left is smartweed (?) but the other one I can't identify.  It has a single tiny pink flower and the stalks go wispy once they're done flowering.  See above close up of the pretty 2 tone pink flower.  t's not rose bay willow herb as it doesn't have a flower spike.  Using a plant ID app and googling pink wispy weed hasn't yielded a decent answer for me so if anyone in the UK can identify it I'd be grateful.

Of course I can't end a post without a photo of my pretty girl lying in a patch of sunlight yesterday.  This puppy has caused me so much stress and worry.  Fingers crossed we're almost out of the danger zone and so can get her second lot of vaccinations next Thursday! Then it's walkies and a whole new set of stresses!!!

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Poorly puppy


Luna is still a poorly puppy.  After her meds finished last week she got a UTI so we had a weekend of drama which included an overnight stay in the vet hospital where she needed IV fluids.  We're stuck in the cycle of her having an immature immune system so she's picking up all the nasties.  And because she's been poorly the vet can't give her the vaccines against the nasties!!  It's all been rather stressful and we're not quite out of danger yet.  She's on yet more antibiotics so fingers crossed they work to get her stable enough for the vaccines.

I managed to visit the allotment for a few hours.  My polytunnel was a riot with blackfly so I picked all the tomatoes and pulled up all the plants.  The green tomatoes should ripen on my windowsill.  I've left a few cucumber plants and nasturtiums that were ok so we'll see if they produce any more.  

I brought home my chilli plant so I could watch it ripen here in case I don't get back to the plot often enough.  This one is Apache.  Apparently they are mild when green but rather hot when red!!  I might pick and use a green one to gauge the heat level.

As expected the weeds were having a field day so I cleared the path and entrance at my gate.  Rabbits and pigeons have eaten my carrots, pumpkins and my recently planted purple sprouting broccoli.  My fault as I didn't net them!! They've not touched my onions or potatoes though!  And I picked some of my thornless brambles (blackberries) to add to the freezer fruit collection!

Since I'm still confined to the kitchen areas with Luna (laminate floors clean easier!) I've been cooking.  I pulled these lamb steaks out the freezer and did a basic slow cooker stew.

Red onions were from the plot and the potatoes (Pink Fir Apple) were from pots in the back garden.  It was delicious and did 2 full meals 😋

I've got a sourdough starter on the go using organic white flour.  I've been using the 'discard' to make sourdough pancakes.  They're delicious with jam and I've had no issues with the gluten content (so far!) I've cut out all processed foods and now eat my big meal of the day at lunch time.  This seems to be helping my digestive system as I really haven't had any 'issues' for weeks now.  My trousers are a bit looser so I think I'm starting to shift some weight.  I'm still reading Ultra Processed People to keep me motivated!  I need to be fit and healthy to get the most out of retirement!! 😊

Thursday 17 August 2023

What have I done?


There's usually a day or 2 in the first few weeks of owning a new puppy when you ask yourself "What have I done?  Have I made a mistake?" 😂 And it's usually when you're sleep deprived and the over tired puppy is having a tantrum because you're trying to stop it biting everyone cos it's teething.  I think I've passed that point now and Luna's here to stay!  Having a nasty illness from the get go didn't help her get settled quickly but she's finished all her meds now and seems to be chunking up nicely.  She's smart and has learned to sit, give/drop it and wait (kinda) on command so far.  I think once she's allowed out a walk after her second round of vaccinations I'll be able to tire her out more!!!  

In the end I made pancakes from the yoghurt whey.  They were delicious with the last jar of last year's raspberry jam.  I haven't made any jam or chutney yet this year.  I still have 4 small jars of blackcurrant jam and 2 larger jars of apple and plum chutney from last year.  I'd like to use it up before I stock up again.  I've been eating fruit on the plot and from the garden as I pick it or just chucking it in the freezer.  I picked another tub (about 500g) of blueberries and my Lovely Mum has been gifted a large amount of plums from her neighbour.  So there's plenty of fruit in both our freezers.  I think I'll wait until I have a more settled mature puppy who'll let me get on with it!

I saw this recipe in my frugal FB group yesterday and thought it looked good .  I've got a ton of brambles (blackberries) on my plot getting ready to ripen.  I do love a nice hot sauce. Then I wondered if this would be a good way to use up those apple cider vinegar soaked dehydrated raspberries I have lurking in the freezer.  Brambles and raspberries have a similar seedy structure so sieving the sauce at the end would take them out.  Hmm, I think that's a plan, when I have the time obviously!! 🙄🤣

Tuesday 15 August 2023

First day!


I got a message last night from my work besties asking me how my first day of retirement went.  My reply was 'mainly puppy wrangling!'  Luna continues to thrive and her feisty personality is coming through.  Like all puppies, she's a whirlwind for a time then just falls asleep where she is! 😂 I'm starting to do more things while she plays by herself and found her asleep in her crate (door is always open during the day) while I made myself lunch.  Yes she's cute but she needs a firm hand!!

One of the wee jobs I did yesterday was to sort and save the seeds from some astrantia that came from my Lovely Mum's garden.  They are a very pretty pink colour.  I'm hoping to plant them at the allotment as part of my aim to get more perennial flowers there.

I did manage a very quick pop in to the plot with Emma (to give her a break from Luna!) to check on my tomatoes.  They're growing well and getting big, none are ripe yet.  But I did pick my first ever home grown cucumber!!!  I've planted them a few times but they've never got to this stage before.  It's so delicious!!! 😋 I hope I get a few more so I can make bread and butter pickles! 😊😊

All in all not a dramatic or particularly exciting first day of retirement but I did have a huge grin on my face when the clock hit 9am.  I looked at the sleeping puppy at my feet, took a big sip of coffee and thought yep, this is definitely where I want to be right now 💕

Sunday 13 August 2023

Officially retired!


This will be me tomorrow when my colleagues go back to work! 😂😂😂

Today is my official retirement date and frankly I couldn't be happier 😊😊😊

Saturday 12 August 2023

Demons and whey


Do not be fooled by that sweet face!!!  This demon had a 2 hour long tantrum this morning because a) she was over tired and b) I wouldn't let her jump up on the chair onto my knee.  She ran around barking, yelping, biting my feet and took many a flying leap at me including once at my face as I was trying to distract her with a toy.  

In the end I put her in her crate and let her bark and howl for 2 mins.  Every time she stopped I gave lots of praise and a piece of kibble if she sat on command.  She quickly learned that if she sat quietly she gets a Scooby snack!!!  Wee madam!  I've now got her on a house line (long lead that I hold all time) so I can control her if she starts to do something she shouldn't be doing (like biting poor Emma!)  I've never needed to use one before so I'm interested to see if it works.  So far so good 🤞 Sitting training is going well and she can play fetch although she hasn't grasped the give it back part yet! 😂

Unfortunately the tests from the vet came back positive for giardia and a few other nasty parasites.  The timeline suggests it came from the breeder so I'm in discussion with them as to who is paying the £400 for the vet treatment.  I do have the 4 week free KC puppy insurance but if I claim it back it will affect my monthly premiums going forward.  And from now on I'll have to declare she has had treatment for  a gut issue and she won't be covered for any future gastro upsets 😠 This is very annoying as the vet said we don't know if she'll end up having long term issues as a result of this upset.

I splashed out and bought a new digital yoghurt maker.  This one HERE from Lakeland although I got mine on Amazon.  It comes with a great wee booklet on the different ways to use it.  I've really enjoyed eating a lot of Greek yoghurt lately as part of cutting out ultra processed foods but it's rather expensive to buy.  So I tried making my own.  Oh my goodness, it's flippin' delicious!! 😋 I need to work out the costings but I reckon it's still cheaper to make (despite the initial outlay) than buying the vast quantities I've been using!  I used 900ml of organic whole milk and 100ml organic plain yoghurt  and that made just over 550g of thick yoghurt and 300ml of whey.

I knew I could use up the whey in baking and maybe make ricotta cheese.  But I did some googling to find out other ways to use it up.  Have a look HERE for 18+ suggestions of how to use whey leftover from straining yoghurt.  Read the comments too as there's loads more ideas!!

Thursday 10 August 2023

Stuck in the kitchen with you!

Luna continues to make her presence felt in the house!  She's very motivated by food (like most Labradors) and can already sit on command for a scooby snack!!  The above photo is me halfway through rearranging where I'm keeping the food as having 2 different lots of bulky feed bags takes up space.  Plus I want it safely secured and away from a mischievous pup!!

Unfortunately she picked up a nasty D&V bug which meant an expensive trip to the vet.  Puppies often get an upset tummy in the first few days home but I knew this was more than that.  The vet thinks it may be giardia, a nasty parasite that can easily be passed around dogs, humans and cats.  I'm waiting for test results.  She got an anti nausea injection and oh my, she screamed the place down for 10 seconds.  She's definitely going to be a drama queen!!! 👸  She's already bounced back and is up to mischief again! 😊

Since we're stuck in the kitchen (apologies to Gerry Rafferty for the pun!) and utility areas, I've been doing some batch cooking/meal prepping.  I'm being especially noisy so she gets used to it while sleeping!  I roasted a chicken and will make soup today.  I made a meatloaf and some meat balls. Normally I would 'cheat' and just make up a Paxo type stuffing mix and mix it with the raw minced beef.  I'm trying very hard to cut out processed foods (thanks to reading the Ultra Processed People book! 😱) so fried some of my onions from the allotment with finely chopped bacon.  Mixed in some oats and added mixed herbs and garlic granules.  I filled my loaf tin and had some mixture leftover so made 10 decent sized meatballs.  Tasted rather good except maybe a bit under seasoned.  Already in the freezer 😋 

I also chopped up some unwaxed lemons and made my honey and lemon remedy for the Winter. I think it's the easiest, least faffy one I make.  Fill a big jar with lemons and pour over a jar of honey.  It's in the fridge now for a few weeks before it gets all gooey and marmaladey.  Just add some to hot water for a soothing drink.  It's really good for a raspy sore throat.  I picked up some of the Greek honey in Lidl a few weeks ago.  Greek Pine honey has good anti bacterial and anti inflammatory properties so it'll be good for those coughs and sneezes I always pick up.  Or maybe I won't this year now I'm not in school! 😉  I'll use the thyme honey in my next fire cider batch.  I'm already planning ahead!!

Today my plan is to make a big batch of pancakes for the freezer.  Scotch pancakes not the crepe style ones. I'm moving away from gluten free flours as xanthan gum is not good for the gut.  Apparently it's just like wallpaper paste, sticking everything together!  Instead I'm going to try organic wheat flour as it's the same price as GF.  It seems to make no difference if I exclusively eat GF or not.  I think moderation of any 'wheat based' product might work better for my wonky digestive system! 

Can't not post a last photo of my 2 favourite girls! 💕

Monday 7 August 2023

Settling in


Don't be fooled by the sweet photo!  Someone's feisty personality is starting to show and I'm being very strict with myself to not keep giving cuddles to get her to nap.  Or to constantly play with her as she is soooo cute!  She wants to play fight with Emma all the time but she is just too old and grumpy to put up with it for long.  Cue lots of barking and growling 🙄 She's mostly using the puppy pads indoors and loves being outside already.  Yep, safe to say Luna has made herself at home.  However, the lack of continuous sleep for me and early starts is a killer! 😴

Since I'm mostly confined to the kitchen area for now I cleaned out a few cupboards.  Even though I think I'm really good at watching dates on opened stuff, there were a few things that had escaped me.  The pretty gin bottle is my homemade vanilla essence.  It will last years!

This cupboard is for my 'big' jars with things like lentils and flour.  I gave it a good clear out too.  There's something very satisfying about washing out big storage jars.  I usually write the BBE date on the jars if I've emptied a packet but again there were a few dates that had slipped through.  One was even 2021, oops! 😳

I strained out the dehydrated rasps I had put in apple cider vinegar.  Tastes blooming lovely and will go nicely on salad.  I swithered about pushing the rasps through the sieve to add to it.

In the end I just froze them and will decide what to do with them later.  Maybe make some sort of savoury sauce/jelly to serve with meat?  I'm sure Pinterest will help me out!

I've got a Sainsbury's delivery coming this afternoon.  I've just had a text to tell me it's coming between 2.26pm and 3,26pm.  Very precise.  I booked a saver slot which gave me a 4 hour window but since I'll be here any way it didn't matter.  Then I've got some food/meal prep to get on with.  The freezer is filling up nicely with home grown produce too 😊

Saturday 5 August 2023

Labrador genetics

 Current snoozing situation! 😍

Luna had a good night.  She went into her crate at 10.45pm and slept until 4.15am when she was whining and howling.  I let her out and she went straight to the puppy pad to pee and poo.  She wanted a wee bit of a play so I let her but didn't speak to her (except to praise using the pad) and I kept the light off.  She fell asleep again so I popped her back in her crate and she slept until 6.20am.  That's not too bad for a first night!

She likes my dressing gown!

I posted in my frugal group last night (cos someone asked me!) and I got a lot of lovely comments.  Except for 2.  Why is it that we always focus in on the negative ones??  Any way, in response (although I didn't have to) I wrote a wee bit about Luna's colouring explaining Labrador genetics 😊

Labrador Retriever genetics are fascinating. The 3 recognised colours by the US and UK Kennel Club are yellow, black and chocolate. Technically any colour of Lab can have a litter of puppies of any colour. Silver is recognised although not yet approved. So in one litter you could have 2 or 3 colours. Chocolates were uncommon when I first became a Lab owner 26 years ago and cost more than black or yellow. Breeders started breeding chocolates with chocolates to increase the chances of getting more chocolates or eventually all chocolates in one litter. For the most part black labs are black but my old girl had a chocolate mum and a black dad. In the sunlight you can see some brown shading on her coat. Yellow Labs can range from pale yellow to a beautiful fox red colour. I'm aware that Silver labs (a dilution of the chocolate gene) are seen as controversial as they have been bred to look a certain way. But so have labradoodles, cockapoos and all the other gorgeous mixed breeds. And I'm aware that some people have strong feelings about breeding. That's ok, my doggie posts aren't for you then. Luna is my 5th Lab over a 26 year period. I know the breed well and I did my research carefully. She's insured and hopefully will have a long and happy healthy life just like all her predecessors.

Friday 4 August 2023

Hello Luna!


Luna arrived home at lunch time today and is fast making herself at home! 

She's peed outside already!  Clever girl!!

It's all very tiring!

Emma is 'tolerating' her so that's about as good as it gets today!

I'm totally smitten 💕💕💕

Thursday 3 August 2023

Going, going, gone!


When Tuppence died, I knew I'd have to remove Fort Klux for any future buyers of this house.  I also knew it would be a big job!!

Basically, brute force was needed to get most of it down.  And as I don't have any, it took me quite a few weeks to get it all down.  Chicken wire is vicious and I have the scratches to prove it!

But finally, it's gone!  I managed to get all the rotten wood, chicken wire and Perspex roofing to the recycling centre/tip this morning.  I loaded up with free compost while I was there.  My poor car is a mess!  I've reused some of the fence posts to create 2 beds to grow some Winter veg.  As the soil is so fertile (8 years of chickens pooping!) the weeds are loving it so I need to do some more weeding.  But I'm burst today so it'll have to wait.  It's safe enough and tidy enough for a puppy now! 🐕

There are still 2 posts that are very well concreted in.  I just can't get them out so I'm leaving them in.  I'd like to put a bird box on them and maybe a big pot at the bottom with something colourful climbing up the post.  I'm definitely putting in some Spring bulbs along the front of the beds so there's some colour in the garden when the house goes on sale.

This how my I want my next chicken coop to look.  It's actually a goose house that a FB friend has built on her farm.  I'll need to get someone in to build it for me but it looks rather predator proof to me!