Sunday 31 December 2023

Hogmanay 2023

It's Hogmanay and a time when everyone reflects back on the year that has passed.  2023 certainly threw a lot at me and my family!  It was not the year that I had planned!!

I started the year off by being ill, my school got inspected and I decided that I'd had enough of the bureaucracy of education.  I then became even more ill and was signed off for several months before officially retiring early at 57 at the end of the academic year.

My Lovely Mum took ill very suddenly and I spent most of the Summer back in my childhood home.  My garden and allotment were sadly neglected although they produced a small of edible produce.

I impulsively bought a puppy (although it was in my long term plan of retirement) and she has taken up a lot of my time and money to get her healthy after a nasty puppy illness.  Here she is watching the snow falling yesterday ❄❅❆

So even though this year hasn't quite gone to plan, I still made it!  I'm even more grateful for my health now (physical and mental) and it will continue to be my number one priority next year.  I need to be in the best shape for all the changes 2024 is bringing to me and my family.

Happy New Year to all my lovely readers wherever you are and may you enjoy peace in 2024 πŸ’• xxx

Tuesday 26 December 2023

100 days


Happy Boxing Day!!  I spent it knitting, eating and chilling!  I finished another pair of socks (for myself) and cast on a new pair in a green and blue colourway.  I also got a hand knitted pair from my aunt so I'm well stocked up on woolly footwear 🧦

I made myself a sourdough pizza, using some of the tomatoes I got in the TGTG bag.  I put 3 other bases into the freezer to make a quick meal in the future πŸ˜‹

I part baked them as the dough was quite sticky and I wasn't sure how to keep them separated to freeze.  I hope they're ok next time!

My youngest son and his fiancΓ© have a wee countdown thing to their wedding πŸ‘°  From today, it's only 100 days until the big day.  I have my dress already, I just need to make sure I can still fit into it in 100 days!!! 

Monday 25 December 2023

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all you lovely people who read my ramblings!  It's just me and Luna up and about just now and I'm sounding like a bull frog.  Lots and lots of coffee needed to get me going today!!

I hope you all have the kind of day you need or want πŸ’•


Saturday 23 December 2023

I said I wouldn't but I did!


I said I wouldn't get another TGTG bag but I did!  I'd noticed on the app this week that the M&S bags in my area weren't selling out so I thought since it's Christmas I'd give it a go.  I got 2 last night and gifted one to my son and DIL.  Each bag cost me £5 and both bags were identical except one had a loaf of bread and the other had a tub of chocolate brownie bites.

Full retail cost should have been £37.95!  So I got £75.90 worth of goodies for a tenner!!

In case it's not clear in the photo, each bag had a chicken breast kyiv, a fish pie, a king prawn bhuna, feta filled falafals, houmous, a quiche lorraine, a smoked ham and coleslaw sandwich and some wee tomatoes.  One bag had a wholemeal loaf and the other had brownies.  My DIL took the loaf and brownies and she swapped me their quiche and sandwich.  Everything freezable was put in the freezer and the rest will be used up today.

I haven't bought any so called special Christmas food from the supermarkets so this plus my 'free' lunch from the other day is my festive food.  With the other bargains in the freezer there's plenty of fancy food to last me through all next week πŸ˜‹

Thursday 21 December 2023

Stinky cold!


I am full of a rotten, stinky cold!  My son had it first.  He caught it from the group of pre teens that he works with.  Then my DIL had it and now I've got it!

Good job I've done all the essential Christmas stuff and don't need to go out anywhere.  

Interestingly, this is the first cold I've had since I stopped work in March 😲

Tuesday 19 December 2023

This really made my day!


My youngest son who is the radiographer, got this message from one of his colleagues.  She'd put two and two together and realised who he was.  She sent him these messages.

She was a lovely supportive parent and he really was a lovely wee boy!  It really made my day to hear he's doing well and that they remember me fondly! 😊 

Monday 18 December 2023

Bruised bone


I had an MRI scan on Friday on my sore wrist which was exactly 3 weeks since my fall.  I got the result this afternoon.  I have a bruised bone next to the scaphoid.  Thankfully no breaks/fractures but it can take time to fully heal.  I'm just so pleased no further intervention is needed!  I've to give it a few more weeks to see if it improves and goes back to 'normal' before deciding if I need physio.

We had a family Christmas dinner yesterday (Sunday) at my Lovely Mum's house.  Turkey and all the trimmings πŸ˜‹ Luna came too and was reasonably well behaved despite the larger number of people!  The weather was absolutely appalling so the journey there and back took longer than usual.  At least I got all the presents delivered! 🎁

As usual there were many photos taken.  We got a nice one with me, my sister and mum 😍

Saturday 16 December 2023

Better than a TGTG bag!


I've mentioned before that the Too Good To Go bags aren't always good value for me as I don't eat the bread and cake based items that seem to fill them.  Plus they can be full of over processed foods that I just don't eat.  I noticed that our local Aldi has now joined the scheme and a bag costs  £3.30 with a guaranteed value of £10.  I thought I might test one out at some point as I've seen a few YouTubers talk about their bags.

But then by chance my DIL was in our local Aldi around 5pm when they started marking down the meat by 75%.  She got 2 x 500g packs of Pigs in Blankets and stuffing balls, 2 x 248g packs of the Brie and Cranberry Candy Canes, a 500g pack of beef mince and a 1kg pack of chicken breasts!  She also got a pack of 4 cakes.  Grand total £5.20!!!!  Better value than a TGTG bag methinks!

She gifted me the pack of chicken breasts so free chicken for me 😊  I poached them for 2 hours in the Crockpot on High with a little water, salt and sprinkling of mixed herbs.  Then I sliced it and made 6 generous portions to freeze.  I'll definitely do that again as the meat was so tender!  I used the poaching liquid to make chicken flavoured veggie soup! πŸ—πŸ₯•πŸ§… That made 7 portions so that's 7 lunches sorted!

My DIL is a pescatarian but my son eats meat.  When she sees a good price on meat she shares with me and when I see a deal on fish I share with her.  It takes effort (ie going to different stores at different times!) but these kind of deals plus a decent Lidl veg box or bag from the community shop could seriously reduce meal costs.  

Thursday 14 December 2023

My 'free' Christmas lunch


Remember I said that I'd get a few more M&S vouchers thanks to all the vet bills being paid by my credit card?  Well I got £14 worth instead of my usual £4!! Free money to spend in M&S!πŸ’°

So when I was in town on Tuesday I got some reduced Christmas food to put in the freezer for Christmas day.  I got all the above plus the one single card I'm sending this year (to my Lovely Mum) and paid for it all with my vouchers 😊 I'm donating to Social Bite and my local food bank again instead of sending cards.

It's a very low key affair for me this year.  I'm not putting up the Santa tree (Luna would just wreck it!!) so I've put up my garland with lights and displayed a few ornaments.  And I'm happy with that.

I bottled up some of the gin liqueurs I made in the Summer with fruit from the garden or allotment.  I'm gifting each one with a bottle of fizz so my friends can make a cocktail.  All my other gifts are very simple.  Money for the kids plus some nice sweet treats.

I had lunch yesterday with 2 of my Gin Queen besties to give them their (above) gifts.  One of them is going on a week long Christmas cruise!  They asked me how I was spending Christmas day.  My only plan is to do a quick visit to mum (weather permitting) and then eat my M&S food if I feel like it.  Or I might just have a sandwich.  I'm not cooking or want to be cooked for.  My kids are all doing their own things so it's very easy for me.  They both looked at me and said that sounds perfect!!  It might not suit some people but I've done Christmas every which way for over 35 years and this year I'm pleasing myself for once 😊

Tuesday 12 December 2023

Batch cooking day


It was a batch cooking day yesterday.  I cleared out the fridge and veg basket of sprouting potatoes, forgotten about sweet potatoes, a wrinkly pepper sand 3 bendy carrots.  I chopped them all up and roasted them in the oven with oil, salt and garlic powder.  When they were done I sloshed some balsamic vinegar over them.  Really tasty!!! πŸ˜‹ I got 4 decent portions from basically leftover veggies that my DIL said she would have just binned!!

To fill up the oven I chucked in some baking potatoes.  When they were done I cut them in half, scooped out the flesh and mashed it with butter and cheese to make stuffed baked potatoes.  These have been a family favourite for years!  They keep well in the fridge for a few days and can be frozen too.  Nice on their own for lunch with baked beans or as part of a main meal πŸ˜‹ Another 4 or 5 generous portions made.

I had defrosted a 1kg bag of chicken breasts overnight.  Currently £4.92 with your Nectar card in Sainsbury's.  There were 6 good sized breasts.  I used 3 to make some fajita spiced strips (using my home made fajita mix) and 3 for a creamy chicken in sauce. I got 5 portions of the fajita one and 4 of the creamy one. That's 55p a portion!  Obviously that's just for the meat.  Spices, stock powder and a splash of cream were the only other additions probably adding another 10p per portion.  If I was a bit meaner with the portion sizes I could reasonably get 10 portions from the 6 breasts.  This is all good research for my budget planning for 2024.

I had one portion of the fajita chicken for tea with some of the roast veggies.  The rest I portioned up into my new (smaller) freezer tubs.  These square tubs hold 400ml, better for smaller portions than my 700ml ones.

I also cooked a gammon joint in the crockpot.  It's already sliced up and in the freezer.  It felt like a very productive day!

Monday 11 December 2023

Happy half birthday Luna!


Luna is 6 months old today! πŸŽ‰ She's an absolute looney but I wouldn't be without her 😍

Sunday 10 December 2023

December Dark

I'm finding the dark mornings of December hard.  The dogs still need fed and toileted at 7am but it feels like the middle of the night.  Because it's still dark I can persuade Luna to come back to bed after feeding her and I spend another hour or 2 in bed until it's light.  The dark evenings don't bother me, just the mornings where I struggle to get going.

I was woken up at 9am by the builders who had come to finish off the wee fiddly bits.  They were supposed to come yesterday πŸ™„ But the cladding and new guttering is now officially complete πŸŽ‰  The electricians came yesterday and did all the wee fiddly bits of electrical work I've been needing done.  The above light switch is on the wonk by about 1cm πŸ™ˆ  It doesn't look too bad in the photo but it's obvious in real life.  I'm at the stage where I'm not going to sweat stuff like this any more.  I'll fill in the wee gap, paint it and leave it alone.

I got a Sainsbury's delivery this morning, a big one or so I thought.  Hopefully it will do me the rest of December with just a few bits 'n' bobs from M&S to buy.  As I was putting it away it really didn't seem like much food at all for just under £130.  And there were a few substitutions I returned.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Before and nearly after


It's nearly finished πŸ™„ The weather hasn't been kind to the guys working outside and they can't use sealant etc as the temps are too low for it it to cure.  But it's nearly finished (wee fiddly bits to add) and what a difference it makes.  Shame I'm not going to get to enjoy the benefit of it.  It had to be done as it would have been a 3 on the Home Report and a 3 for anything can lower any offers I get.

Other than that, not much else has been happening here.  Wrist is still sore so I'll need to go back for a second x-ray.  Luna is still being Luna so I'm looking at working with a behaviourist.  She still won't do the toilet outside, is a nightmare in the car and when out a walk, and the other day tried to hump poor Emma.  Time for some expert help especially as the puppy day care doesn't seem to be doing the promised training.  All she does is run wild with the pack so I don't think I'll be using them long term.

And I still haven't put up any Christmas decorations.  I'm just not in the mood yet πŸŽ„πŸŽ…

Saturday 2 December 2023

Afternoon Tea at The Balmoral

My youngest son and his fiancΓ© treated me and her mum to afternoon tea at The Balmoral in Edinburgh.  It's an old beautiful 5 star hotel in the heart of the city, more recently famous for where JK Rowling finished writing The Deathly Hallows.  More details HERE.  It was my retirement gift from them 😊  I must confess I've never had afternoon tea before.  But it was such a gentle and relaxed few hours, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Someone was playing Christmas songs on a harp.  It was all very civilised.  We had a teeny cup of delicious pumpkin and vanilla soup to start.  Then sandwiches and scones.

Then came the pastries!  I couldn't eat all of mine as I was full so I brought 3 of them home in a posh doggy bag.  They had a choice of 88 different teas.  I chose a white jasmine.  It was so delicate and delicious!  We also had a glass of champagne!

Even though the weather was cold and snowy and Edinburgh was so busy it was worth forcing myself out of the house to be sociable!  Here's a decent photo of me and my baby πŸ’•

Friday 1 December 2023


This seems to be doing the social media rounds today.  I haven't heard it yet so I'm still in!!  Sorry for the sweary words Mum! πŸ˜‚

In our family we always say it's not Christmas until Noddy Holder yells "It's Christmas!"

What song tells you it's Christmas?