Friday, 31 July 2009

Natural setting

For various dull reasons I had to hang around without little bear while waiting for dear heart to pick me up. I was next to a small triangle next to a sign saying 'Wildlife Area' which is quite remarkable in an urban zone. It was some distance from my normal area of travel, so I investigated. This did not take long, the area was quite small.

Well, there was a small tunnel made of bent willow branches, some of which had sprouted, and some plants. I couldn't identify all of the plants, but then I couldn't identify a lot of the lager cans either. I noticed some nettles, brambles, dockweed and thistles. There was a hopeful looking oak sapling rather overshadowed by lots of silver birch. I am sure it counts as an 'environment' but I would say that biodiversity was probably slightly less than the odd corners of waste ground and empty warehouses that I have seen. Still, it may well flourish and it's the thought that counts.

Thursday, 30 July 2009


I have always called little bear's wellie boots 'boots' to him, because I thought it would be an easier word for him to learn. And learn it he did, because now he is happily stomping around in his 'boo-tssss'. They used to be 'boops' but I think someone in the nursery made him say the words again.

I bought his boops from ebay (of course) £6.47, including delivery with great service (I shall put their name in when I remember to look it up - they have been extremely good) and they were quite simple boops, a sort of blue colour with spots.

Little bear loves his boops. He stomps and stamps and loves them. Of course he heads for puddles at the slightest chance, and he races up and down in them like a champion (of course he also falls over them while wearing them, but he is only two and one half).

Little bear so loves his boops that he will not be parted from them. He wears them all the time, even when he is asleep. I did once try to take them off when he was asleep, but that did not end well.

So I went back to the ebay shop and got an identical pair of boops, except in a camouflage pattern and I had the same great service (must remember to dig their name out) and little bear loves these boops as well. So I am hoping to have sleeping boops and awake boops. You see, even little bears with cute paws will have very stinky boops after a certain amount of time and there is only so much talc can do.

Found the name - outdoor-leisure-direct - purveyors of boops to little bears.

(And do you know, the nursery staff are marvellous - they noticed that little bear had new boots on, and his trousers were over the top of the boots, it was only the foot bit showing, and they complimented little bear on them as well).

Red Cross on the Door

Dear heart officially has swine flu and is not too bad, really.

btw it was initially a white cross on the door. The word quarantine comes from an Italian phrase for forty days. When the bubonic plague was a major problem there was a particular place (an island I think) at Venice where the ships from places at high risk had to stay for forty days, roughly the length of incubation time for the plague. In Medieval and Early Modern London there was not the plague hospitals and planning that Italy, the Low Countries and France had developed and without plague hospitals the sick had to be confined to their homes, with the cross on the door. Those guarding the sick were those too desperate to avoid being so near to plague victims, and were often threatened, beaten or killed as a family escaped from, or tried to, a death sentance of being shut up with a sick member of the household.

Little bear has been quiet, off colour, tired but refusing to nap, extremely green nosed and very hit and miss with his appetite. I suspect that dear heart may have actually caught it from little bear, but if you saw little bear hurtling round the room in his new boots, you would also not feel inclined to subject him to long waits with drs etc. He seems to be a lot better now anyway. Even I have not been able to get too hysterical about it. We have been extremely lucky with little bear.

Evil cat is doing well

Hmm, not sure about this title. Evil cat is evil cat, and therefore an utter nuisance. However her eye is looking a great deal better and she seems so much better 'in herself'. I am certainly not hoicking out as much gunk, but time will tell.

Of course, one sign of that was her theft of little bear's (finished with and very second hand) ham sandwich. She ate the meat. Previous cats that have possessed us would have variously eaten the bread, the tomato or the cucumber. It is worrying that evil cat is the most normal cat that we have ever suffered under.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

I worry

When I picked up little bear from nursery on Monday, he was playing on his own in one of the little trundle around cars. I was a bit worried and asked the nursery worker (not sure of title, she is very competent) does little bear play with other children.

He has not had much exposure to other little ones, and I worry if my silliness has hurt him.

The nursery worker said that sometimes little bear watches other children, and sometimes he plays by himself and sometimes he plays with others. Is this normal for two and one half?

He has already had much more chance to play with other little ones than I did before school, and I know dear heart always preferred to amuse himself but I worry. I do know that the nursery will do all that they can to make sure that he develops and grows. They are very good.

Little bear goes to the dentist

Little bear has had his first dental check up. It is a dentist not far from us, and I took little bear in the pushchair, doing the walk easily. Then I realised that like most dentists, this dentist was above a shop. Up this extremely steep flight of steps. Really steep.

Little bear was very good and went up the stairs ahead of me, while I dragged the pushchair (lovely and light, thank goodness) up after. He was quite well behaved while we waited, and he was happy to listen to the Gruffalo's Child as we sat.

The dentist was lovely. He checked little bear's teddy's teeth first, it was so sweet. Little bear co-operated. I think he would have had stickers if there had not been a family of four waiting to go in and it was all getting a bit complicated. Well, all is fine with little bear, and he is going back in six months.

We got lost going home. Now, this is quite an achievement because we only live ten minutes away from the dentist (with pushchair) and we went the most straight forward way there and there was no trouble at all. Regrettably, I thought I would try a different way back. Do you know I had no idea that there were so many side streets and cul de sacs in that area.

Little bear didn't seem to mind anyway.

Monday, 27 July 2009


I would just like to say that I would really really like to recommend

I can say that I have had fantastic service from them, lovely people and I love their stuff. I may get a little carried away, and I can see that I could give so many as gifts.

They specialise in shatterproof mirrors which is wonderful for me and I got a lovely round one for the bathroom, on account of little bear being little bear. They also have mirrors shaped like ghosts, dinosaurs and, well, almost everything you can imagine as well as the traditional and classical mirrors. They really are lovely.

Also, look what I got for little bear - which is a collection of tiny mirrors in the shape of frogs, to go with his umbrella, and they have all the fixings with them. I intend, when I actually feel able to get away from the computer, to put them all over little bear's chest of drawers. I think they are so much fun.

I am also so tempted by the cat mirror - I have no idea where I would put it, but I think it is so elegant. I may see if I can use this as a reward for a target reached.

There, I have said something nice about someone. Please do not get me started on Tesco, Her Three Doors Down or That Landlord. I would let myself down if I started on them.

Failing to stop the shopping

I have just bought some more wellie boots for little bear from ebay. I am hoping that I can persuade him to wear one pair asleep and one pair awake - to cut down the pong factor! I got exactly the same brand, but a different pattern. I will let you know how I get on.

Another from the Housewife's Jewel

I thought I would add one more recipe, which intrigues me. I am not sure how I would cook it, but I think it sounds extremely rich. I believe the recipe is designed more like a reminder to the cook - don't forget to add... ! If I ever work out how to cook it, and actually try it, I shall certainly post the recipe.

To boil steaks between two dishes - You must put parsley and currants, butter and verjuice [sour apple juice - I would unhesitatingly use cider vinegar, but I am not sure how 'purist' that is], two or three yolks of eggs and pepper, cloves, mace, and so let them boil together. Serve them upon sops [toast].

I would happily casserole some stewing steak with the currants (lots), parsley (lots), butter (quite a bit), cider vinegar (a good slosh) and spices (a bit less generous, and probably using mixed spice). I think you would get quite a Mediterranean feel to it. Medieval castles used slices of day old bread (or older) instead of plates, hence the tradition of so many things served on toast (I am sure that I am not telling anything new, but I like to be complete, so I hope you can humour my wittering!). I am just not sure about the egg yolks, unless it is to thicken the sauce at the end of the cooking.

The Good Housewife's Jewel

I have managed to get hold of a copy of The Good Housewife's Jewel, by Thomas Dawson, appropriately edited. It was originally published in two parts in 1596 and 1597 - this is not a typo, it was published when Shakespeare was flourishing and had not yet written Macbeth.

First recipe that I am posting, my notes in square brackets, the editor's footnotes in rounded brackets - To make Manus Christi

Take five spoonfuls of rose water, and grains of ambergrease [ambergris, used in perfume] and four grains of pearl, beaten very fine. Put these things together in a saucer and cover it close. Let it stand covered one hour. Then take four ounces of very fine sugar, and beat it small, and seach (seive) it through a fine search. Then take a little earthen pot, glazed, and put into it a spoonful of sugar, and a quarter of a spoonful of rose water [I suspect this is the proportion of seived sugar and rose water with ambergris and pearl], and let the sugar and rose water boil [often means simmer gently] together softly till it do rise and fall again three times. Then take fine rye flour and sift on a smooth board. And with a spoon take of the sugar and rose water, and first make it all into a round cake and then into little cakes [I am not sure if this is knead and then roll into balls or roll out and stamp in rounds - I am obviously not an expert]. When they be half cold, wet them over with some rose water, and then lay on your gold [leaf]. And so shall you make very good Manus Christi [Hand of Christ].

I am none the wiser after finishing typing this recipe but the glory of the rose water and the pearls, all put together fascinates me. There is also a medical recipe for dressing wounds that includes arsenic.

These boots...

Little bear loves his welly boots. In fact, he adores them, he will not be parted from them.

Yesterday dear heart persuaded him to try sandals instead. It was unfortunate that he picked the old sandals that were a bit tight, but little bear was persuaded to come downstairs without his boots.

It didn't last - he was getting more and more distressed and eventually I said, 'Why don't you try your other sandals?' These are lovely and soft, but alas, a little big - he won't grow into them for at least a fortnight! And they were not his boots! Also little bear used to call them boops, and apart from always calling them boots to him I didn't make a big thing of the matter, but I think someone at nursery did try because now they are 'boo-tssssss' and it is so sweet.

Well, after the sandals I tried slippers, cute tiger ones that he had previously loved. Little bear was getting more and more distressed.

He is back in his boots. He even sleeps in them. He walked four miles in them, on top of his usual travels, on Thursday. Dear heart and I keep filling them with talc in the hope to bring a little freshness. I am looking forward to this phase ending. Until then he will continue to stump around at breakfast in the pyjamas and wellies looking very pleased with himself!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Little bear has been almost behaving

I have not posted for a little while about little bear. You see, I have never made anything up about little bear because I have never needed to, and he has been remarkably calm.

Of course I have had the usual chases, grabs, cuddles, kisses, bumps and spills, but nothing that is really blogworthy.

He is going to nursery twice a week, and being very good. He is on cuddle terms with most of the local shops. He is starting to say so many more words. The finality he uses when he emphatically dumps half a ham sandwich into the bin and says 'Done!' has to be heard to be believed.

I like the nursery a lot, but one thing does bother me. They take the little ones on very long walks. Little bear is only two and one half, and though he is active and big for his age, he is only a toddler. Yesterday the little ones all walked down to a library two miles away (checked on a map), looked at some books and walked back. They even got a little bit of rain.

It just seems such a long way for a little one. I know that I walked similar distances at his age, and he seemed happy enough. I will say that at 7.10pm last night little bear was standing at the foot of the stairs with his teddy calling for his Dad to start the bedtime routine, and if he hadn't had a very loud nappy I think he would have slept a lot longer than twelve hours!

Lack of Rumblings and Thumps

I posted on the 16 July that they had knocked a humungous hole in the cellar of the house at the back of Nice Neighbours. Effectively they knocked out all of the wall at the front at that side.

Today is the 24 July and nothing more has happened. I think that he has owned the property for at least two years, and so far has taken lots of things out, with extremely long gaps between spells of demolition. I would consider, however, taking out a wall is not something you can just do and leave. Especially not an external wall held up by scaffolding. On a main road. Opposite a pub. And two doors down from another pub. I mean, really, what people think is a good idea after a few jars is mythic. Added to which it is less than twenty yards from an off licence. Although it must be at least five hundred yards from a shop that sells alcohol to minors.

Last night I smelled smoke. I was extremely nervous and walked around to see which of the empty houses at the back of us might have been torched by bored youngsters who are no longer in school. Fortunately it was just my attempt at baking that I could smell, and that was a relief.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Evil cat, evil eye

I was extremely worried about evil cat over the weekend. Poor old lady (not that I am going to say that very often) had lots of gunk in her eye. I keep hoicking the stuff out, but apparently it will continue.

Except on Saturday evening the gunk was a dark shade of pink.

I was really worried because I thought that it meant that there was blood in her eye, and that there was now something seriously wrong. We couldn't get her into the vet on Sunday, and the logistics being what they are, dear heart significantly extended his working day by dropping her off in the morning, leaving her all day and having the consultation when he picked her up in the evening.

He said the poor old cat was trembling when they took her in to the vet.

Well, it seems that the pink/red stuff is just pigment. I need to worry if it is green, not before. We have some new eye drops which evil cat loathes, a vet bill and the knowledge that she now has a scratch on her cornea.

However her kidney and heart function is absolutely excellent. The vet was really pleased with that. I trust all the good work the diet food has done is not now going to be undone by the theft by evil cat of a significant quantity of turkey ham this lunchtime. She is currently sleeping it off.

Wonderful world

I was browsing ebay trying to not buy things, when I noticed one item. 'Black polycotton - 30 colours'.


Another post about cookbooks

I suspect I should have split the previous post into at least two - it is so long. Sorry!

And I forgot to mention a wonderful, amazing cookbook - Nanny Ogg's Cookbook. It is a really nice cookbook with recipes for slumpie, wow wow sauce, dwarf bread and all sorts. I love it, there is plenty of lovely bits by Mr Pratchett, and I have tried the recipes and they do work.


Morgan kindly commented on my post, and mentioned that she liked cookbooks. I felt to fully explore my relationship with cookbooks needed a whole post!

You see, I am a complete fool for cookbooks. I adore them, but I have strong preferences. I love the chatty ones, the ones that have stories attached to the recipes or even better, history. I am severely addicted to history and I adore the old cookbooks. Most are too far out of my league to buy originals but fortunately there are a lot of facsimiles around.

It started when out of interest I bought a copy of Mrs Beeton's cookbook. I love the prosaic tone of her recipes, and the curious instructions (enough soda to fit on a sixpence) and the insight into a world where she could show how to pack a picnic for sixty.

Mrs Beeton looted a lot of recipes from Eliza Acton. I use a recipe from her for china chilo which is mince lamb slowly cooked with fresh peas and lettuce in butter, absolutely out of this world. I have a facsimile of her book dated 1846, which included a recipe for curry powder.

She looted from Hannah Glasse (the original 'first catch your hare') and Mrs Raffald (both eighteenth century). I think it is Mrs Raffald that gives instruction about how to make fine spun sugar baskets, which sound amazing and far, far above anything I would try, though I have tried things like 'quaking pudding' which is cream and eggs and breadcrumbs, very pleasant.

The best ever historical cookbook is Food in England by Dorothy Hartley. She is, or was (my copy was published in the fifties) a professional historian, but understood housewifery in the old sense. She talked of Saxon cooks peering round the door into Norman halls to see how a dish 'ate'. It is a marvellous read, how to preserve chickens for long sea voyages, planked steak (steak cooked on a piece of wood that would be slowly charring during the process!), the simple idea of different breeds of pig reared in different areas needing different treatment - I just could wallow in it. The recipes are in 'modern' as well, so it is possible to use them.

Then there are the contemporary cookbooks. I love the ones that you feel you are chatting to the author, with little anecdotes about where the recipe comes from, how it cooks, just a human touch. Though perhaps my most precious cookbook is precisely one of those cookbooks which list ingredients and a no frills list of stern instructions, which is a Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, which is about the size of an annual and dear heart bought me in 1988, before we were officially engaged. I have never had a failure from it, either.

I have Soyer's cookbook for the working classes, which draws on his experiences with food kitchens in Ireland during the Famine, and a lovely 1896 cookery book which not only gives complete menus (with recipes) for each day of the year, which items needed to be bought and the sternly titled 'Things that should not be forgotten' which include such things as 'do not forget to clarify the dripping from the beef and store in cool larder'. I may post some recipes from that on here, as there are some intriguing ones.

I have two bookcases full of cookbooks. I have read all of them, often while eating a takeaway or sausages and oven chips. I have even used a few recipes over the years. I am not so interested in Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver, though I am sure that the recipes are exquisite. I am interested in the 'housewifey' recipes that take into account thinner purses and the demands of children. But most of the recipes go untested. In fact the most recent recipes I have tried have been from the internet.

The most recent cookbooks I have bought are little square cookbooks called 'Home Food', 'Bowl Food', 'Fast Food' etc, that I bought at a low point and actually have some lovely and quite original recipes, but they are for those who have a bigger food budget than I. I will read through the ingredients list and mentally substitute the pancetta with bacon, the fancy hard cheese with cheddar, the fresh sweetcorn with tinned, and realise at the end that I have a completely different recipe to the one given! However there are some lovely recipes in there, some of which I have actually tried, including parsnip and bacon cake with honey mustard sauce and chicken with tarragon and mustard.

So, I know a lot of recipes and a lot of theory about cookery, and the details of a lot of ingredients. Tonight we are having baked potatoes, baked beans and frozen Birds Eye Chilli Bean Burgers.

Morgan - I hope you don't mind my reaction to your love of cookbooks, as it is a wonderful thing. I am sure you have most of the above, but if you haven't read Food in England, I cannot recommend it enough!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Some shopping has stopped

A little while ago I thought I would like to collect things. It would make it easy to buy presents for me, and I could get things that I loved. I thought I would collect Spode. I could save up for some of the bigger pieces and the little spice jars (usually around £8) would be ideal for little bear to save up his pocket money for. I especially loved the Penny Lane, which they almost immediately stopped doing.

Then Spode went bust.

Earlier I was looking for something else in the cupboards and found a rather nice cup that I had bought from Whittards - perhaps I could collect that china, not too expensive to save up for and a lovely mid china blue. They don't do it any more.

I shall have to consider my options.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Stopping the Shopping!

I really need to address some issues. You see, I was having a tootle around and found that the special diet food that evil cat needs can be bought from a place through quidco, with a discount code from quidco. And what is even more significant is that if I buy more than one item then I get a discount. Of course there is also the option for ipoints as well.

Of course my immediate instinct was to buy a shipping order. And my immediate instinct was completely wrong - we have plenty in!

I have just thought, there isn't quite enough to see us through to next postie day, and we are not really going anywhere with so much weather so I could put in an order now...

You see where this is going? I am going to end up on BBC Three!

And I looked on ebay and Dri Pak have a shop on there. That is such a temptation, there is this amazing pack of all sorts of cleaning products, although most of the packs are in packs of six. I cannot imagine how long it would take me to get through a six pack of cleaner at my standards of housewifery, but the siren call of bulk buying is pulling me in.

For those who like the 'Old Style' Cleaning Dri Pak do soda crystals, soda crystals with orange oil, borax substitute, white vinegar solution in a spray bottle, citric acid for cleaning, and all sorts of goodies. I am determined to use up the bulk I have got already.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A knock at the door

Most of the posties and delivery persons locally are used to me. I have bought so much on line over the past few years that I am almost on Christmas card terms with them. On the whole, they are used to this daft biddy and take it all in their stride.

Well, today the postie knocked at the door. I did the usual tickle of little bear and shouted, 'There's somebody at the door! There's somebody at the door!' and I continued to chat to little bear as I unlocked the inner door and navigated around little bear. Most of the posties have heard me before, singing and giggling to little bear because there is someone at the door.

I think that this postie was new. I didn't recognise him and the darkly suspicious look and the speed that he shot off at after handing me the parcel made me think that he wasn't used to this sort of behaviour, and that he didn't approve.


Rumblings and bangings

A refresher on where I live. There is a block of houses, four facing one way and four facing another with a shared back wall, so that if you knocked a hole in the kitchen of the house behind you would come out in my bedroom (and I have sometimes thought it was going to happen!).

Well, there was some odd rumblings and bangings this morning, starting before little bear, so I was curious. I am quite confident that it was not the landlord of the property behind us (That Landlord) as he doesn't do repairs, so when little bear and I went out for a walk we somehow found ourselves walking past the houses at the back of us. I just cannot imagine how that happened.

Of the block of eight, five are owned by That Landlord, and I really need to be careful due to libel laws, because I do not like him at all. He does not own our home, Her Three Doors Down or the house behind nice next door neighbours. That was being converted into flats, except that someone contacted the council about planning permission. Allegations and accusations have been flying. Feuds, I suspect, may be continuing. Now, apparently, permission has been granted and work seems to have been restarted.

Well, I hope it is official work because all the cellar has been dug out and the front wall at the bottom is being held up by scaffolding! All I could see was a huge pile of bricks, rubble and dirt and these scaffold poles holding up the house!

I need to check my buildings insurance.

The yarn may be unlucky

Little bear was watching with interest as I knitted a few more stitches of the blanket with the allegedly aran more like DK yarn on a cone. (It seemed a shame not to carry on once I got it out...) He was particularly fascinated by the cone. 'Juice.' he said insistently, 'Juice!'.
'No, sweetheart, it's not for juice.' I said, and managed to grab his juice just in time before he poured it down the cone.

Sometimes, things are just not lucky.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

The yarn fibbed

So-called aran knits up more like DK.

Serves me right for giving in to temptation.

Now the yarn is calling me

I bought 4.5kg of wool, as a reward for not spending on ebay for a month. It sounds like a lot, but it could be worse. Probably. You see, it is three lots of 1.5kg of aran weight yarn on cones, with there being a probability of there being some wool in it. It is a sort of dark grey/light grey twist. I plan to make a sweater for darling uncle from it and another blanket (I have been really enjoying knitting the blankets).

Obviously I have to do the sweater first to see how much is left over for the blanket (goodness only knows what I will do with the blankets I am knitting - I shall be snug but squashed under a heap of them). And the pattern came today. It is a really easy pattern, I could just get started right away...

But I have over a kilo of super mega chunky stuff (never again, it's like knitting with the mooring rope of a ship) to finish off before I start the sweater. It will take next to no time, even less if I can tear myself away from the computer, but I want to start now.

I really wish I could get that warm glow from finishing a project that everyone talks about - as it is, all I think of is, 'right, thank goodness, next!'

The postman doesn't ring twice

In my experience the postman doesn't ring twice here, but knocks loudly, usually as little bear is falling asleep. He is lovely though and humours me, knowing that it takes me such a time to find the key, field little bear and open the door. Of course, with my ebay habit all the delivery people round here know me (and the appalling road).

Well, I have sent off for a number of items, and many have now come. However it is so much easier knowing that to the best of my knowledge there is only one delivery now that needs to have the door opened, everything else can be posted through the letter box and I don't need to worry about being in.

It has been odd because for the last month I didn't need to worry about being in for the postie. Now I have to watch that I am in, at least in the mornings. This has been quite inconvenient. At least it is all over in one fell swoop, as it were, and next week we can take advantage of any microsecond of good weather.

I think in future I shall take advantage of this and do a 'postie week' so that I order anything that I need delivering all in one huge and giddy bonanza - then have a week grumbling that I cannot get out - then the rest of the time I can whizz off in all directions. Well, theoretically anyway.

Postie week includes ebay, approved foods, lakeland, clothes shopping etc.

This also means that I cannot as easily buy on impulse if I have to wait until the next postie week. I can spend as long as I like considering whether I really want the cute tin of safety pins (yes, I was strongly tempted by a cute tin of safety pins, I need to really reconsider my attitude) and I am likely to 'get a grip'.

I think that is a good plan.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Stopping the Shopping with Lakeland

I was a little puzzled when I received a letter from Lakeland. It has been weeks since I ordered from them, and it obviously wasn't a catalogue.

It was a voucher. They are giving a safety recall notice for an item, I don't need to return it just dispose of it safely and here is £3 to make up for it. It was a heat resistant spoon, if anyone is curious, and I haven't used it for ages.

£3 is not a lot of money. And the voucher does not appear to have an expiry date. But £3 is enough to tempt me to look on their website and spend money! I don't want to spend money at Lakeland. I want to save money. But the voucher is there, and it is tempting me so much. Also, they understand me and similar shoppers extremely well. £3 off means that a spend after the voucher is taken off of over £60 to get the free delivery and free gift. Unless I have superhuman control. Which I don't.


But once I have all the curtains sorted out (not likely this month) then I am ordering more air purifiers (target/reward strategy) and the purifiers are coming from Lakeland and therefore I can use the voucher then, perhaps for a treat.

So that is that!

Saturday, 11 July 2009


Today I had gone 31 days without spending any money on ebay...

Okay, 4.5kg of wool, four birthday presents, a collection of Hairy McLary books recommended, a cute rain cape for little bear (he will look adorable, but I got the wrong size, fortunately he can 'grow into it' so he will be totally sick of it by the time it fits), sandals for little bear and two replacement feeding bottles for little bear's night time feed later, and I feel all light headed.

Also the total is scary. It is not unreasonable for what I bought. The wool (if remotely like the advertising) is a complete bargain for a sweater and a blanket. Sandals I will get from ebay though I am obsessively strict about shoes. The presents are not particularly expensive and are for dear heart from me, dear heart from little bear, darling father from little bear and darling brother from little bear.

What it has made me realise is that I need to watch impulse spending. Seeing the total all in one go was a shock but I suspect I could have easily spent twice as much on impulse spending alone.

So now all I need to do is find another target that I want enough to stop me spending on ebay for another month. Hmm.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Beautiful Irony

Nice Mr Next Door had a car or two towed by the DVLA a few days ago. This has not really cramped his operations, and more cars are multiplying outside and the place looks more like a garage than ever.

I am not terribly upset by this. Dear heart sometimes has a problem parking, but what generally happens is that they move the car for him, if not at the exact time that he arrives then soon after. It also means that there is usually someone out and about and discourage the more random burglaries and vandalism. Several very little ones play in the street as well, so there are always plenty of pairs of eyes.

Well, last night dear heart couldn't park outside the house and Mr Next Door knocked around 8.30pm to say that he could move his car to the front of the house. Dear heart came in chuckling. You see, the cars had been towed after a sustained campaign from Her Three Doors Down (apparently) but two of the cars now overflowing in the street were from the people who towed the car - they needed some work done and were happy that they had just found someone who could sort it out. I believe recommendations may follow.

I've been quite cheered up.

Little bear is getting hi tech

I have created a free email account for little bear, just for him. Then I subscribed him to the Numberjacks website to get a daily up date, which I think dear heart should show him. I shall be looking out for similar so that he can have a lot of fun. I shall certainly post my experiences of what he gets sent!

It is going to be a bit nerve wracking letting him see the computer, but these days it is so important to be familiar with the beasts that I think I can brace myself for that.

Not a big adventure

Little bear was very good at nursery yesterday. He got a sticker for being good and helping to tidy up - I was very proud. I wanted to take him into town to get him a toy because he had been a good boy.

I can't. I really can't do it today. It should be really easy taking him on the bus with reins, and he is quite a well behaved little bear. I just can't.

Perhaps it is just as well, little bear is an extremely tired little bear and has been very grumpy this morning.

I've been referred to the Local Mental Health Team. I am worried about how it will affect little bear. The Health Visitor on Wednesday said that she had no concerns about him at all. I can't help worrying though.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Little bear is brave

We went out yesterday to get a loaf of bread.

Little bear has two teddy bears, which he dangles in approved fashion. He only used to carry one then my sister in law generously donated a duplicate and now he insists on taking two everywhere. When we got to the shop a lovely lady was talking to little bear and asked him for a teddy.

Little bear is very good, but it is a hard thing to be asked for your comfort toy - but he handed it over! I was so proud. Also I smiled at the relief on his little face when she gave it him back, and the glee when he got given the buttons she bought for him. It was so lovely of her.

He got a gingerbread bear from me as well for being good. He was so good and so brave to trust that he would get his toy back. I just melted.

Artistic little bear

When I dropped little bear off at nursery today I was shown his picture of evil cat. We had taken in a picture of the d*mn creature in and little bear had done a picture using the original as inspiration.

Little bear is two and one half years old.

Now, evil cat is an elderly, malevolent tabby with the sort of attitude that would make Genghis Khan back away and take up low impact embroidery. Little bear has made a big white splodge and stuck some fluffy black and white feathers on it. It's a concept.

The lady then said that he seemed to be very creative and really enjoyed it and spent a lot of time over it. I was so proud of my creative son. And bewildered. I believe this is normal.

Stopping the Shopping

Another moment of temptation.

Little bear, well, it was an accident. I had cornered him in the spare room - once he reaches the top of the stairs the Benny Hill theme tune starts playing and he is off - and the heavens opened. It was raining really heavily with hail and the street was running like a river. So I opened the window for little bear to see it. He thought it was marvellous! Then he stumbled, grabbed the curtain and pulled the hooks from the rings on the curtain poles, pieces of plastic showering around me.

At the minimum the rings on the curtain pole need to be replaced, or at least thinned. I am sorely tempted to get some more swish track to replace the whole dratted thing. The curtains are embarrassingly elderly anyway. I have more curtains for that room but (embarrassment again) I haven't put them up.

I shall speak to dear heart about what he thinks.

I have a huge internal debate going on - we are likely to be staying in this house for several more years because of an extremely good school (I could cry) So ensuring that something nice goes up seems like a minimum. On the other hand I could probably get away with spending nothing now because when we finally do escape this house then it will be going to a developer (if nothing else due to neighbours' landlord's lack of maintenance) and we may as well save our money until we find somewhere else...

All this debate over a few curtain rings!

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Don't ask me that type of question!

I am not a good target for a salesperson. My instinct is feline - if backed into a corner I want to lash out and flee. If I sense that I am being backed into a corner I become very 'difficult'.

Last night there was a phone call from Save the Children. Now I am a hug admirer of Save the Children, I think that they do great work, my late mother's cousin worked at a branch of UNESCO in Africa and said that Save the Children was one of the best charities to give to, I have bought from their catalogue (where I suspect I ticked - no canvassing). However...

The phone call started off with the very nice lady saying that she was not asking for money. Hmm. Does anyone else feel deeply suspicious when that is the first thing some says? Well, she said - which is the best way to contact you - phone, email or post?

I felt uncomfortable - I was being asked to confirm that I was happy being contacted, just giving a preferred method. Without thinking I just said 'None'. It was an instinctive flight reaction. The very nice lady sort of stumbled, said goodbye and hung up politely. I don't think she had had that response.

I feel a bit guilty now.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Little bear's taste in pictures

I finally managed to find a linky to the picture that little bear somehow removed from the wall and then dismantled the (rather nice pine) frame.

All I can say is thank goodness I went for the cheaper plexiglass.

I also have the tree house and the space ship by the same artist. Little bear has also had inflicted on him a picture with lots and lots of cats and a teddy bear type print that would fit in the frame (long story). I am considering getting posters with letters and numbers on, because he seems to like that, but I don't want to be too pushy.

Ebay calls even stronger

One thing led to another and I put 'cinnamon' into the search engine of ebay.

There is a storage box made out of cinnamon bark - it calls to me, especially if it does actually infuse the sugar kept in, for eg apple pies and banananana cake.

It may not be there when I can buy again after 11 July - but I am not losing my chance of the wool. I can take that risk.

But if it is there...

However I need to think of some way to earn it. I am doing very little and not getting very far doing that - but I am not getting anything from ebay that is not a 'need' or a reward.

Two things have been brought to my attention with this item. One is that I really need to keep the 30 day interval between shopping on ebay up - otherwise I will be impulse buying ridiculously. The other is that I really do want the strangest things.

Also this may be a good incentive for me to actually do things when I can.

Feet of Fury revisited

I just want to say that tonight little bear was offered the choice between a sleep suit and pyjamas - and chose the pyjamas.

Now all I need to do is convince him not to sleep in his wellington boots. Or boops.

Ebay is calling

I have four more days before I have earned the wool by not spending money on ebay. Not that I am counting...

So I am going to make a list of all the things I actually want to get from ebay. I shall buy them in a flurry of giddiness. Then I shall set myself another target to keep off ebay for a month.

Ebay is just too useful, you can get so much on there. I wouldn't know where to start to look for things if it didn't exist. Silicon loaf tins are the prime example, I wouldn't know where to look if I couldn't start at ebay. Clothes for little bear are another blessing. He has had so much from there and we have been inordinately lucky with our bundles.

All I need to do is stop the impulse buying. Easier said than done.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Stopping the shopping - lost count of the number

Well, I thought I would perhaps stock up a bit for swine flu - get in some lemsip and tinned custard. Nothing major.

But I was running low on this and could do with getting in that...

I don't expect us to be poorly but I do expect swine flu to be used as an excuse countrywide. For anything!

And once the total for the on line shop got above £70 it starts to get tempting. You see, if I order over £100 then I get free delivery... And you can always find things to put in your internet basket that 'will come in useful and won't go off, it makes sense really'.

So I am bracing myself to go back and pare down my order to the bone! The cupboards are bulging, the freezer is bulging, we do not need more 'stuff'.

It is interesting, however, as it has really highlighted to me my desire to stock up and keep buying 'just in case'. I am not sure if it is comfort buying or shopping addiction. I shall have to watch that!

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Evil cat, evil eye

Evil cat has been to the vets again with concerns about her eye.

According to the vet her eye is being irritated because her eye is sunken due to depletion of the pads of fat behind her eye and dehydration and this is making her lower lid turn in and irritate her eye. No damage has been done to the surface of the eye and we have more eye drops for poor dear heart to administer.

She is so much better since she started the special diet - you can hardly tell it is the same old lady. According to the vet this morning her heart and kidneys are doing a good job. I can tell she is in fine fettle as she was sick over the duvet in revenge.

So I can put my worry for her on the back burner for a bit and just keep hoicking out the gunk.

Variation on a theme

This week I do not have a cold. I have a stomach upset which has knocked me almost off my feet. I am (apart from the usual problems associated with a tummy bug) exhausted. And more seriously, my chocolate consumption has been affected.

I am due to see the doctor on Monday, but I don't feel confident that he will take me seriously. After all, little bear will be bringing lots of things home from nursery.

And if little bear's nappies get any squelchier I don't think that I could take him to nursery as they have an extremely strict policy when it comes to sickness and dire rear. He hasn't got a runny tummy, but I don't think his tummy is that happy either. He has probably caught anything from me rather than the other way round.


Friday, 3 July 2009

Signs of the times

Plants seem to be all of a tangle this year. Normally the pivet 'tree' on a neglected part of the street blossoms in the week before Wimbledon - I always associate their scent with tennis. It is only just starting to show green flower buds. However the buddliea outside the window is starting to blossom as well, and this particularly bush normally flowers in time for dear heart's birthday and that is nearly two months away.

I wonder if this is a 'bode' for the type of winter, or if it is just odd weather. I have always wondered how plants know to provide extra berries for hard winters, but I have enjoyed believing it. The flowers on the brambles are promising a very good crop.

Of course, regardless of the weather I am sure I will have forgotten this in December.

Evil cat has her moments

The main reason I am not posting on the MSE old style board can be summed up concisely by one example - I have just finished eating cold chips from last night's take away. Housewifery is not happening here. Little bear will have something nutritious, of course, boiled egg with cucumber, tomato and toast.

However one token effort is hanging out washing on the line. Last night I finally scraped together enough energy to get it in before any rain happened. Evil cat decided she would like to take the air. So she was sniffing round the garden while I dragged in a full line full and gossiped with the nice man from Next Door.

He pointed out that she was so much more lively and alert than she had been, now that she was on the new diet, and agreed that her eye was looking noticeably sunken. Poor old lady, fifteen and creaky...

Then she made off to explore the wide world starting with the bushes at the other side of the road and when diverted hid under a van. The nice man from Next Door got a good example of evil cat's disposition - she was on her hind legs, sniffing at something and when he tried to coax her out he got a look that said, 'What!?'

Life in the old cat yet.

My little boy

I wish I could capture the way little bear looked on his way back from nursery yesterday.

First of all he had a little legionnaire's sun hat, covering his neck and ears. He had a little shirt on and cute shorts. He was dangling his teddy by the arm in approved Christopher Robin fashion. And he was wearing his wellie boots (or boops as he calls them).

I was melting. I also noticed quite a few grins from the people we walked past.

Bless him, he was stumping along, resolutely all my attempts to get any sort of reply, exhausted from a hard afternoon's play. He even ate only half of his mini milk ice cream. (The rest of course nearly decorating the carpet - my reflexes are improving!)

And last night he slept with determination.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Little bear and decorating

When decorating little bear's room (back when it was the nursery) I spent out quite a bit on some prints. Well, I can't remember exactly how much this particular print cost but it was twenty or thirty pounds plus the frame.

Well the frame is now in its component parts and the print needs ironing. I have no idea how he even got there - it has hung above his bed, quite high. He must have bounced!

The print is lovely and quite unusual - it is a print of a pirate ship but a cut away with child friendly pictures of galleys and treasures and bunks. I have the matching one for a tree house and a space ship powered by dragons.

I have just looked to see if I can do a linky - but it doesn't appear to be easily available. I went through quidco, but they no longer have easy art on their books. And easy art don't seem to do this either.

I'll check ebay, just in case.

Sad dream

Last night I dreamt I was back in my old job of legal secretary, and I was collating a complex document with lots of extra work and doing a really good job.

I was so sad when I woke up. There are times when I really miss my job, I was quite good at it, I loved the challenge of taking something complex and getting it right. I loved using my mind and checking that all was as it should be. I wish so hard sometimes that I was back in my old job, I really do.

I also dreamt that all the armpits in my clothes turned day glo yellow. I am not sure how Freud would have worked out that, but I used extra deodorant this morning, just in case.