Friday 19 July 2024

Standing still


It feels like life is at a bit of a standstill until Luna has her op (10 more days!) and can go back to daycare.  As she is so demanding I've stopped all attempts at decorating.  She has so much energy and is the kind of dog the more exercise she has, the more excited she gets!  Last night she had the zoomies, threw herself off the deck at speed and face planted onto the slabs 🙄 It would have been funny if there hadn't been blood!  She's fine but she's got a wee skint chin. And was feeling sorry for herself!

The weather has been very weird here.  It's warm and humid with lots of rain.  I haven't seen a blue sky for ages, it's always cloudy.  My pots are doing ok but this is the first rose to come out.  It's a bit small but it's so pretty!

There's not even a hint of colour on the blueberry bushes and there aren't many berries at all this year.  I picked the first berries on this day last year! HERE.  Other than cutting the grass and keeping on top of the weeds, I've not done much actual gardening.  Especially as the pollen count is very high and my hayfever is really bad.

In the last few weeks, I've discovered a wee bit more about the previous owners.  They haven't redirected their mail 👀  Anything with their actual names on it I've put back in the post with 'not known at this address' on it.  But I've opened the other ones to find out they didn't have a TV license and were being threatened with a final demand before court proceedings.  They had a TV in every room and there's a huge Sky dish on the front of the house.  So they def watched TV!!  There was also an unpaid parking fines letter that said bailiffs would be visiting if they didn't get in touch.  I've had this before in a previous house so I know I just need to show them ID to prove it's not me.  So I'm not worried about it.

I've met a few of my new neighbours and they've all made comments about the state of the house and how I'm getting on with it.  It seems the previous owners were the talk of the street!! 

Thursday 11 July 2024

Rhubarb and custard


I had some rhubarb in the freezer from the allotment.  I had picked some on one of the few visits I made this year.  I couldn't decide if I wanted to make jam or chutney so chucked it in the freezer.  Today I thought some stewed rhubarb and custard would be nice.

I knew I had an unopened tin of Birds custard powder lurking in the storecupboard but didn't realise it was a little out of date!!  No worries, I'll be using it any way.  So I made some custard and it's currently cooling.  I'll make a sort of rhubarb/custard fool dessert 😋 Just out of interest I googled 'uses for custard powder' and found these ideas HERE.  I'm definitely going to try the biscuits/cookies!

As I'm a bit limited in what I can safely do with Luna around, I decided to move my bedroom furniture around to create more space.  I moved my bed to the wall that backs on to the semi next door.  

As I was lying in bed the falling off wallpaper was really annoying me.  So I started pulling it off.  It came off in strips and I had stripped the room in 5 minutes!!

I had my bed against this wall facing the window from day 1 but it made the room feel smaller.

The walls under the blue wallpaper had previously been painted cream.  I remembered that I had 3 rolls of Laura Ashley wallpaper with a pink and cream design.  I've had it at least 14 years!!!  I'm going to use it behind the bed as the feature wall and paint the rest cream.  Zero cost as I already have a ton of magnolia paint leftover from decorating the flat.  I'll swap the purple headboard for the leather one I had in my previous bedroom and use the matching chests of drawers.  The cream chests of drawers will get donated and I'll have more space to move around the room!

Sunday 7 July 2024

Orange and blue


Here are the almost finished bookends.  I think they need another coat of wax.  The Harry Potter figures are temporarily fixed to the holes but you get the effect.  Pre painted cast iron bed thingies HERE.  The bookends are to hold my HP books which will sit on top of the blue and orange bookcase beside a painting of a niffler.  In case you didn't know, I'm a huge Harry Potter fan!!! 🪄

The bookcase is painted and varnished.  I had the bright idea 😱 to paint the wall behind it before I moved it back into place and put all the books back.  Yeah, that's a much bigger job than I thought!!  It's going to take several coats of paint to get rid of that brown/mocha/coffee colour!  You can see the painting where I got the orange and blue inspiration.

I'm trying to do some 'nice' crafty things in between the hard graft bits so I don't get too scunnered by doing it all on my own.  

Friday 5 July 2024

Accidental collection!

The 2 green plates in the photo were rescued from my hoarder uncle's house when we cleared it out in 2020.  They were obviously my Gran's and I just loved them.  They're Carlton Ware circa 1950s, maybe a bit earlier according to my research.  I had them displayed in the dining room of my old house and my DIL loved them too.

Last week she found a teapot, sugar bowl and salt/pepper set in a charity shop and messaged me.  They were £12 for the set and she wondered if I'd like them.  I said "get them!" and now I'm kinda collecting them! 😂😂😂

I spent some time last night researching the patterns.  It's Carlton Ware Australian Design on a green background and the flower designs are Primula and Wild Rose.  The surface and flowers are raised.  They were made in green, yellow and white and have different flower designs.  If you look at the salt and pepper set they are actually the Foxglove design.  They're not particularly valuable although a similar teapot and sugar bowl is for sale on Etsy for £45.  I like them because they connect me to my Gran and I do think they're pretty.

So today my DIL was in a charity shop and saw this!!  

It looks like a bonbon dish!  The label said £5 x 2 but the second item couldn't be found.  So she paid £2.50 for it!!

So the collection is already growing! 😁  I have no idea how to display them and I do want to use them (carefully!!) so any suggestions welcome! 

Thursday 4 July 2024

Reality sets in


The first few weeks in a new house are always scary and exciting in equal measure as you get to know it's quirks.  Unfortunately most of this house's quirks need money thrown at them 🙄  And the reality of not having much savings in reserve to deal with them is beginning to sink in.  The integrated fridge freezer was beginning to be very erratic temperature wise and was making loud banging noises 😲 So I made the decision to buy a free standing one that will be more energy efficient and will hopefully last a good few years.  But it wasn't in my plan to spend £300 on an appliance so quickly.

My shed is in place!  It took them 45 mins from start to finish!!  The guy said all the hard work is in the construction in their workshop but I was still impressed.

I've started moving all the DIY and garden stuff in already.  Not shown is the new lawnmower I had to buy as the grass was almost knee high in places!!  I've not needed one for over 20 years!  It lives on the right hand side.  I've bought some shelving for the left hand side to store more stuff.  £121 for the lawnmower, £890 for the shed and £35 for shelving.  It's all adding up 😭

My DIL shared a good £1.50 Lidl veg box with me!  She's really enjoying scoring all the bargains 😂

I got the tomatoes, green peppers, a cucumber, the lemon and the carrot.  She also scored a dozen reduced eggs so I got 6 of those too.

I prepped the peppers and carrot with some red onions and sliced the lemon.  It's all in the new freezer now!  I made a chunky tomato sauce with the tomatoes, some onions and seasoning.  When it's cool I'll freeze it too.  I'm going to have to get used to having much less freezer space 🥶 I think more shelf stable storecupboard supplies are going to be the way forward for me.

Thursday 27 June 2024

Just loafing around


I had some bananas that needed to be used up so I made a banana loaf.  I just used the Mary Berry recipe as it's a chuck everything in the mixer for 2 mins.  Recipe HERE  although I actually used 3 bananas! 🍌🍌🍌

I also had some chicken mince in the fridge that needed to be cooked or frozen raw as it was on it's date so I made a meatloaf.  Chicken mince was the cheapest mince per kg in Tesco last week.  I keep an eye on the prices per kg of all the meat minces and they do change week to week.  I just mixed it all up with some oats, mixed herbs, garlic powder, Worcester sauce, some cooked bacon chopped into wee bits and an egg.  I only have one 2lb loaf pan and it was full of banana goodness.  So I made it in a flat casserole dish and threw some bacon top as it was also nearly out of  date.  I cooked both loaves in the oven at the same time!  I had meatloaf with a stuffed baked potato made from the reduced bag of spuds my DIL got me the other day.  Wee bit of salad and it was a lovely meal.

I sliced up both loaves when they were cool and froze them flat in the freezer ready to pull out for a quick meal or snack 😋

I'm noticing my oven runs a wee bit hot so the banana loaf is a bit browner than normal despite being covered in foil!  Still delicious! 

Monday 24 June 2024

A word on potatoes


We keep getting told there's going to be a shortage of fresh British vegetables this year especially field grown veg because of the really wet weather.  Some farmers haven't even bothered to plant anything at all.  I'm a bit concerned as I didn't get any veg or potatoes planted at the allotment this year so I know I'm definitely going to be lacking in spuds.  So I'm exploring other sources.  I've tried tinned potatoes in the past and they're ok but they use calcium chloride to keep them firm.  I do have a couple of tins in my storecupboard just for emergencies.  They're fine in soups and casseroles.

I've been trying the instant mashed potatoes as another storecupboard standby.  This Tesco one doesn't have any nasty additives although it does have palm oil.  I 'think' most palm oil is responsibly sourced now but I need to look into it a bit more.  I made a 'deconstructed' cottage/shepherd's pie with some turkey mince I had in the freezer.  It was actually very nice although I did add extra butter and salt to the instant mash.

I had some leftover instant mash so made some tattie scones.  There are only 2 left so that tells you they were quite good!  These 2 will go in the freezer.  You can't beat fresh potatoes but it's good to have a back up just in case.

My DIL scooped up some reduced baking potatoes for me last night, 87p for 7 potatoes.  I'll bake these, cut them in half and stuff them with cheese and butter.  They freeze well so I'm stocked up on potato ideas for a wee while 😋

I got a Tesco delivery yesterday.  I'm starting to build up my stock again on a few storecupboard and bathroom essentials.  There's no alcohol or high value items in there but those 2 bags cost £98.  I don't drink bottled water as I'm lucky enough to have excellent soft drinking water but I like to keep some for emergencies.  Twice in the last few years I've had no water due to burst water mains and was caught out!  See HERE!

I can't believe we're almost at the end of June. I've given myself some grace on my finances as moving house always throws up unexpected costs.  But starting 1st July the serious business of living on just my pension begins.  I have very little savings left so it's a bit scary.  This was always the plan.  I've talked about it for so long now it's time to actually do it!!! 

Thursday 20 June 2024

Painting and digging


I'm a bit at a standstill until I get my new shed put up as all my main DIY stuff is still packed away in boxes buried deep at the back of the spare bedroom.  But I ordered some paint any way and managed to find some random paintbrushes.  Yes that's bright pink kitchen cupboard paint! 😉

The bookcase has had one coat of Annie Sloan chalk paint in Giverny blue.  It's much brighter in real life.  It'll get another coat and then finished with wax to protect it. The inside and shelves will be orange.  Barcelona orange to be exact! But I'll need to decant all the books first 😂

I'm using some old cast iron bed supports as book ends so they've just had a first coat of orange. They're really heavy!  I love chalk paint as there's no prep and you can literally paint anything!

Outside, I've been digging out the existing border in my back garden.  It was so full of weeds and no plants at all!  The right hand corner wasn't too bad but as I've got over to the other side I've found some old rotting membrane under the weeds.  I knew it was there as Luna has been ripping off the bits sticking out and chewing them!!

Both my brown (compostable garden waste) and black (non recyclables) bins are now full so I've laid the offending membrane on some cardboard to dry out so I can maybe pull off more of the plant material.  If the bins are too full or too heavy they won't get emptied!! 

I'm planning to fill the border (once I've painted the fence) with the plants I brought from my old garden and maybe just a few from bargain corner too!!

Monday 17 June 2024

My poor allotment


My plot is a mess 😞 I haven't been over since Easter when it was so wet and muddy I was advised by a seasoned plot holder it was too wet to plant my potatoes.  Obviously moving house then took priority and in those 2 months, it's turned into this! 😳

I had more or less resigned myself to getting a warning from the committee although I have kept them up to date with the changes going on in my life.  Then unexpectedly a kind wonderful committee member offered to help me get it cleared enough to get planting.

She messaged me on Saturday to say she'd 'made a start.'  Omg I went over this morning and it's more than half cleared!!  I was so overwhelmed 😭

I had Luna with me on a long lead and despite having been a long walk, she went crazy!  I think it's all the smells, Emma was the same.  But using just one hand I was able to plant out my surviving shallots and threw netting over my fruit bed.  Last year the birds ate all my berries (see HERE) so I'm taking no chances this year!! 

Long term I don't know what to do about the allotment.  I can't work it when I have Luna with me and she can't go back to doggy day care until August (3 months after her season has finished and she's been spayed.)  She's not used to being left on her own in the house although I'm working on this.  I'm going to try taking her there as often as I can in the hope that she'll eventually calm down a bit.  But I'll not be able to work it properly while she's there.  Fingers crossed I can keep it ticking over until August at the very least.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Best yellow sticker bargain ever?


I can't claim credit for this one.  Now that my son and DIL live right in the town centre they can nip into M&S and the Sainsbury's Local just before closing and scoop up any bargains.  This is an Indian meal bag for 2 reduced from £9.25 to 10p.  Yes, 10p!!!!

My DIL froze it for me in their freezer and I picked it up when I took my son to work.  It's now in my freezer and will make 2 very nice treat meals for me at some point.  Since we all lived together we know what each other likes so we're always on the lookout for good bargains to share.

I don't think I've ever had such a good yellow sticker bargain on it's own!!  She's an expert now! 😊

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Another birthday!!


I am terrible at remembering dates and often mix up days and dates.  When I was teaching I always made a point of double checking I'd made a note of the correct date against the correct day.  Well, true to form I mixed up Luna's birthday 🙄🙄🙄 TODAY 11th June is her 1st birthday!! 😂😂😂  She doesn't mind!!

She absolutely loves her new garden, mainly as it's all grass atm.  I have plans 😉  I'm loving all the daisies and buttercups.  Seeing all the daisies reminded me of Frugal Lizzy Bee on YouTube making daisy balm.  Check it out HERE

So I picked some from the edges of the grass where I know for sure Luna hasn't peed there!  I've previously made salves/balms from my calendula flowers so this is a new one for me.  They're currently drying out on my bedroom window.  I'll keep you posted! 🌼

EDIT:  Another of my favourite knowledgeable YouTube channels on foraging and herbal stuff is Home is Where Our Heart Is.  They also show you how HERE

Monday 10 June 2024

Cheese scones


I'm a bit obsessed with cheese scones at the moment.  I made a batch yesterday to test my oven for baking but remembered too late I didn't have a rolling pin any more (DIL took hers with her.)  So I gently patted the dough out into a round and cut it into wedges as I remembered seeing triangular scones before.  It worked out really well!  I'm doing it this way from now on!  Quicker and less faff than cutting them out 😋

Recipe loosely based on a BBC food recipe.  I'm writing it down so I don't have to keep searching for it!!

  • 225g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne powder
  • 55g chilled unsalted butter
  • 100 to 120g finely grated cheese (depends on how strong it is!)
  • 90 to 100ml milk
Sieve dry ingredients together.  Rub in butter until breadcrumb consistency. Stir in cheese. Add about 90ml milk to form a dough.  Add more milk if needed.  Gently roll/pat dough into a round and cut into 6 equal triangle pieces.  Brush tops with remaining milk and put on baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 200C/180C fan for 15 mins.

The weather here has been very cold for June.  Last night we had hailstones for a full 10 mins!  The sky was black on one side and brilliant sunshine on the other!  Luna was bemused, as was I!!!

Saturday 8 June 2024

A quick bathroom fix


The shower screen in the bathroom is useless.  It has a 1cm gap at the bottom and just isn't big enough to stop water splashing out all over the floor.  And I was being really careful!  So I decided to get a shower curtain instead.  Isn't it pretty?!  I used one of those tension no drill rods so we'll see how long it stays up!!!

I did try to take the glass screen down but the screws are so rusted in and it just wouldn't budge.  I can swing it out the way against the wall though.  It just fits neatly beside the heated towel rail which was once chrome but someone painted white.  Badly! 🙄

The sealant around the bath was very dodgy so I've covered it up with a sticky caulk strip.  It looks better but again I'll see how long it lasts.  Just a few quick DIY fixes so I can have a shower or a bath without flooding the floor!! 🚿🛀

Costs: shower curtain £11.99, shower rail £20.87, sealant tape £7.99 for 2 x 3m rolls (I only used 1 roll)

Thursday 6 June 2024

Happy 1st birthday Luna!


Luna is one year old today!  It's hard to believe that she's completely healthy and all grown up.  She's now 26kg which is about the average weight for a female Lab her size/build.  She's booked in for her wee op next month so there will be no wee Lunas running about!!

Today she 'helped' me build a flat pack bookcase.  I've made a mistake putting a bit at the top that should be on the bottom and vice versa.  But to undo it would mean me taking the whole thing apart and that ain't happening for a decorative piece of wood!!  I'll maybe add a trim over it and call it a hack!  My plan is to paint it a bright colour, maybe orange or turquoise.  Paint samples are on their way!

But I have too many books and not enough space to build another bookcase anywhere else.  I need to cull some (I've already culled them by half before moving!) or find other ways to display them.  I have at least 2 more boxes upstairs plus the ones in my bedroom 😮

Wednesday 5 June 2024

How much???


Have you seen the price of sheds???  Oh my goodness I went down a rabbit hole and know more about sheds than I thought I ever wanted to know!  I need a 7ft x 5ft shed.  That's the size of the slabbed area where the previous one stood!  At least I don't have to pay for that!  They range in price starting at around the £400 mark.  That's just for the shed.  Sometimes you need to buy the base and the floor separately.  You might need to pay extra for delivery.  And if you want someone to build it obviously that's extra too!

I considered a cheap one and I considered putting it up myself (I've built a small one myself before) but in the end I took Groatie's suggestion (huge thanks!!) of using a local company that build bespoke wooden structures.  Shed, delivery and construction in my garden is costing me £890.  I could have bought one from B&Q for a similar price so I'm really happy I'm supporting a local family run business.  My Lovely Mum gave me some money as a house warming present so I'm using that to pay for some of it.  It should arrive in 3 weeks!

Once I have a shed to store things, I can start to play Tetris with all the 'stuff' in the back bedroom then I can get started with the serious DIYing.  In the mean time I'll be stripping the wallpaper in the lounge and painting something in the kitchen 😉