Monday, 31 January 2011

Can't believe it

Little bear has volunteered for bed at 6.30 - unheard of!

I am just recording this for posterity.

(and yes, I've started a sweater)

Sitting on hands

I feel very tired and a bit low - normal for January after little bear has had two disturbed nights on the trot.

My reaction is that I want to shop and I want to start a new knitting project. But as we are paying the deposit for our holiday this month I could do with reining in the shopping. And if I start one more thing for knitting I may go insane. Finishing things off depresses me.

I could try writing, but I am not thinking v clearly, so I could try just a few jottings of ideas, but it doesn't have the same feel.

So I am sitting on my hands, trying not to spend and trying not to start new knitting. Not sure exactly when I'll crack, but I bet it's not long. I do need something to pick me up.

Also, considering using the monetise option. Not to make any money, because I don't expect I would, but just to see exactly what products turn up advertised given the nature of my witterings.

Little bear needs sleep

Actually I need sleep. Little bear should need sleep. He is, however, starting the day at a run.

He has a virus, nothing major, just stuff that mums fuss over, but it has meant he has been waking every hour all night. He actually ended up sleeping downstairs with me, which means that I didn't have to disturb myself too much to give him a cuddle and settle him but it does mean that I am shattered. But he did better last night than the night before.

Added to which I have just given him calpol. He is very warm to the touch and complaining of aches and pains, however his tummy is a bit off. So that rules out the baby nurofen that I normally use. Calpol turns little bear into a demon child from hell.

I am going to try and nap on the sofa while little bear watches cbeebies but I am not optimistic.

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Dishcloth dishcloth

My mind is obsessing about knitted dishcloths at the moment. To be honest, there are worse things that it could obsess about. I do not lust after designer handbags, the cost of my yarn stash would not pay for a designer handbag buckle, but the thought of knitted dishcloths intrigues me.

I can see the plus. If you knit from stuff that you already have or reuse something then you are not spending money or adding to carbon footprints. If you reuse something then you are not adding to the landfill, which is good. Most of the patterns (there are loads of them on Ravelry as well) specify cotton, which is absorbent, renewable, can be washed hot, bleached etc and if a nice knobbly pattern is used can give a nice firm scrub. Some cotton is not ethical but some is, reused is probably the safest bet for green efforts.

I don't really want to buy any more yarn to knit one though, and I don't have any cotton in my stash. I cannot see an eyelash yarn dishcloth being a total success. I certainly don't want to buy dishcloth cotton - how dull! Some of the multicolour dishcloths look quite fun, so that would need coloured cotton.

I am not entirely committed to the whole idea, but I think I shall keep my eye out for ideas. I shall also consider bamboo which may not be as robust as cotton but is probably more sustainable and naturally antibacterial. I am also considering string (which I have in abundance) or even strips of carrier bags for scrubbers.

It won't make the washing up fun, because nothing does, but it could be fun to think about. I have a large stash of washing up sponges to get through before I seriously need to consider it.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Knitted dishcloths

Does anyone wash up with knitted cloths? I can see the point, in that if you have something suitable in your stash (mine is mainly eyelash so not really suitable) and don't mind then you can save a few pennies.

But on the cds of patterns I have just received are dozens and dozens of patterns for washcloths, which I take to be to wash people and dishcloths - presumably for dishes.

I am really not sure about this. I am used to my sponges. But on the other hand, something that can be washed and bleached and reused is much greener...

They sell dishcloth yarn. Please don't let me buy any.

Stop the Shop!

I think my grocery spending is getting a little better. I am certainly not pinching too much, but while there are goodies in, there is less waste. Less stuff is being bought and items are being used from our cupboard. I am pleased about how it is going for the first twelfth of the year.

Knitting is not so good. Today I got a package of cds containing all the knitting patterns I shall ever need, or want! Over 5000 patterns, at a rough estimate. So no excuse to buy any more knitting magazines or books (although two knitting magazines are subscriptions for Christmas presents).

On the bright side the knitting patterns can help use up the huge stash of yarn that I have bid on. I really REALLY want the yarn, it looks beautiful. But I think I may be in the divorce courts if I am not outbid on a room full of yarn. I could plead temporary insanity - it's the only explanation that I can think of! But it is so sparkly and pretty! It's not the cost, which is certainly (at my top bid) below my threshold, but the space! And the time it will take up!

Please let me be outbid, please let me be outbid, please let me be outbid...

Playing shop

Little bear plays shop. Not the sort of shop that nice little girls play, but a shop where Ratatouille sells smoothies and gets attacked by the huge IKEA crocodile and insults the pandys for eating bamboo. It is a bit more energetic than I remember.

Yesterday he decided that he was going to make a place for Ratatouille's cousin(a small wooden mouse that bangs a drum) to sleep. One thing led to another.

The 'shop' is a valet stand that we were planning to get rid of. Now it has three 'bedrooms' attached which are cardboard boxes with cushions and cot blankets. There are also assorted toys. The whole of the study seemed to be overflowing with boxes and blankets and toys. If I remember there were three pandys, a bean bag pandy and a pandy rug (flat pandy). Then there was Ratatouille, the IKEA crocodile known as Blob, Big Tigger, Little Tigger, Superdog, Sally the Camel and Nessie - not forgetting the wooden mouse. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Favourite dishes from the 'shop' are a dinosaur and honey sandwich with falling down sauce and a cheese and tomato smoothie.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Not what I was looking for

Knit Today is a knitting magazine and I bought the latest copy today.

(I HAVE NO ROOM for magazines I HAVE NO TIME for new projects and I want the money for something else)

There were two free gifts, some bamboo double pointed needles and a scarf pattern. On one hand the pattern identified suitable yarn, correct size needles, gave a rough idea of quantities and finished size. On the other hand the instructions were to cast on so many stitches and knit in garter stitch (knit every row) until you ran out of yarn. I think it a little basic, but it takes all sorts.

Also today I got some yarn that I had bought from ebay. I have had lots of gems from ebay. This I am thinking of knitting roughly (!) up for a doormat. It is foul stuff, but I suppose it will make a suitable mat for evil cat.

And I've started knitting interlinked chains. I've finally found a use for some rather odd yarn bought at random, which makes the chains look a rather nice sort of pitted iron. There are patterns for knitted dungeon items out there, but I think I will stick to just knitting this.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Clutterbust fail

The electric mini oven arrived today and has produced some very acceptable oven chips. It is one more gadget in the kitchen, but I did get rid of a smoothie maker that had been sitting there unused for about six or seven years.

It came in a cardboard box. This is normal, as was the quite minimal polystyrene packaging. The cardboard box was inside another cardboard box. But the second cardboard box was too big for the first cardboard box so a third and empty cardboard box was put in to fill up the space.

My recycling bin has a cardboard theme at the moment.

I bought a 16 litre mini oven, and perhaps I could have done with getting a slightly larger one, but it is perfectly adequate for eg cake, roast, oven chips etc and where temperature is of importance, like a souffle, it is much more reliable than my main cooker. The irritation is that it only works while the timer is going, and the timer only goes for one hour, but I can always bob back and add more time. All I need now is the energy and time to use it properly.

Little bear is very cross that it is not a toy and did try and persuade me that it would be better in his bedroom than in the kitchen.

Little bear double checks

OH had taken little bear out and went down a pathway. The entrance to the path had one of those traffic management things where there are two big metal squares leaning towards each other so you walk through a sort of triangle that is quite narrow at the top - I believe it is to slow down eg cyclists.

OH told little bear that the gate would let good little boys through but would snap shut on any bad boys. This is the same person who convinced little bear that a troll was under the bridge. At least when I convinced him about the dragon it was to keep little bear away from dangerous substances.

Little bear walked through warily and then looked back and saw the bolts. 'It's nailed, daddy.' He said. 'It can't move.'

I think tall stories are going to have to be double checked before we try them on little bear.

Monday, 24 January 2011


More yarn arrived for me today. It looks amazing, I can't wait to have a go at it - but apart from the room I HAVE NO TIME! I am currently swearing over a lace pattern which is simplicity itself, but I loathe lace. It just suits this particular yarn that I got as a bargain. And there are heaps of yarn looking at me when I sit, including some lovely soft rose coloured stuff ideal for a little baby dress. I know no-one having a little girl, so this may end up on ebay if it turns out okay, but it is such a beautiful little thing.

And I have seen the most amazing pattern for a scarf. You knit in the round so you have like a hoop of knitting. Then you knit another hoop, but before you join the round you pass the needle through the first hoop so that they interlock, then another and another - different sizes and patterns of hoops through each other! I really REALLY want to try it.

I'd never wear it, you understand, but it is amazing. And I am itching to have a go. Of course, I would twiddle with the pattern, perhaps trying to go for a metallic type yarn, and lots and lots of textures. And I would change the size of the hoops and perhaps the arrangement, but now I have seen this...


Can we negotiate on that?

Little bear didn't want to go to nursery. He mumbled and grumbled and decided that the sun was too bright to go outside. He reluctantly agreed to go if he was wearing his fireman's helmet, but not for long.
Do you want to stay for milk and biscuits? I asked. He reluctantly agreed. Then I asked whether he wanted to stay for tea. He mumbled a bit and decided he wanted to stay for tea. Then he thought for a moment and decided he wanted to stay 'a little, little bit longer than tea'.

When we got there he couldn't leave me fast enough to play with his friends. I was very much put in my place.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Is this anti clutterbust?

I was considering buying little bear a bag of craft buttons.

Today, during ironing, I decided to throw out a top - it was stained and faded beyond redemption. But I cut off the two buttons, as a start to a button collection before buying a bag of buttons on ebay (my friend).

I am not entirely sure about this, but I think I want to do it.

Making do is more fun

Thank you for the kind comments on the draft excluder. It isn't a thing of beauty, but it isn't awful, it is a sort of washed out pale blue which fades into the carpet's mucky grey. If you had a really nice remnant it would do a prettier job, but mine has kept the drafts out and I am happy.

There is a part of me that can never, ever go for the obvious option. We could do with a remote control tidy as we currently have three remotes, all in various places in the room. Currently the tidy they are not in is a small tin formerly containing sweets about four inches square and five inches high. But it doesn't look right. I am torn between little bear decorating it and finding a different container for me or little bear to decorate or finding a container that is just right. I'll do anything but buy one of those remote control holders.

Likewise, last night when I got out my needle and thread I could actually find them. They weren't in the lovely miniature chest of drawers from my great great aunt which has all sorts of craft tools in but I can't get to as it is behind mounds of STUFF. Instead I have a plastic lunch box type thing which I think originally held fairy cakes and which has a small cardboard box of pins held closed by an elastic band, some pearl headed pins which I use whenever I actually get round to making up knitted clothes, some pins stuck into a round of sponge and two or three sewing needles stuck into a similar round of sponge. Both bits of sponge came out of those bottles of vitamins that are actually quite big, and look like they contain vast quantities but actually only have a few tablets and a large bit of sponge to keep them in place. I found some white sewing cotton there and there are usually some safety pins and a cable needle or two. This small plastic box is usually around fairly close.

I have made some beautiful cross stitch pin cushions and needle cases. I don't know where the needle case is but as I used to buy lots of cross stitch kits, each of which came with a needle, they were gloriously inadequate and the bit of sponge is a much better pin cushion.

I now need to think again about rolling pins. I found one in a drawer, covered in mould. So I replaced it with a cheap wooden rolling pin (I am useless at anything that requires rolling out but need it for some things I want to do with little bear). I stored the new one on a counter. That is mouldy and discarded. Do I get a more expensive one? Or can I make do with something else? I shall be giving it some thought.

(embarrassingly, I will buy something from ebay that is not a rolling pin but performs the function - sometimes I don't actually save money on it. A whiskey bottle, however, is currently looking a good bet)

Can't believe I did it!

The draft excluder is finished! It took me an evening, and I had been dithering about doing it for ages.

When I came to unravel the sweater I found it hard to make the first cut, as I had knitted it myself and worn it for so long. Once I had done that, however, I found it immensely satisfying. I wasn't unravelling to re-use the wool, as the wool was frankly not worth saving, so I just cut the seams out and unravelled the short lengths. I was ashamed that I had continued to wear it, it was so tatty and the last time I wore it I managed to spill candle wax down it - quite a feat when all I do with candles is light them.

I cut a small, bobbled, blue fleece cot blanket in half and sewed it by hand lengthwise. I just used backstitch, as I have done this before with cushions and as long as the stitches are not too long it is fine. The remaining half I may fold width way and turn into a small cushion for little bear. He has two child sized chairs, and both could use a cushion.

The draft excluder is not a thing of beauty, and neither will be the cushion for little bear, but they will be a practical way of using things that really I cannot use other ways.

I really like making things that are useful for the home. I must try and do it more.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Make do and mend

Written while waiting for little bear to finish 'this' and get ready for bed.

I am going to bite on the bullet tonight and make a draft excluder. Last night really brought home to me how much draft comes in under the door. It is a bit of an odd set up. Our porch does not have double glazing, so is absolutely freezing there, you could keep meat there. The front door leads into the porch which is only two feet across to the inner door. Both are usually kept locked in this weather, to keep the warm in.

The inner door opens opposite the door to the stairs, next to the door to the study and directly into the living room. The armchair where I slept last night is only a few feet away from this door. I did REALLY notice this draft last night, and as darling father usually sits in this chair and feels the cold, I need to do something. It is just a tiny dip in the extremely worn carpet next to the door that lets the cold in from the frozen porch to the double glazed, centrally heated house.

I am quite aware of the need for air exchange, but we have an air brick on every floor except the living room floor and we open and close doors even in this weather, we can stand a draft excluder.

So I am going to fish out the least nice of the nine cot blankets I bought randomly, and just sew the long ends together and then sew the bottom (it may need trimming, I shall see what it looks like and adjust). Then I am going to stuff it with a sweater I plan to unravel. It is a hand knitted sweater that has fallen to so many pulls and bobbles that it has not been fit to wear for some time. I knitted from cheap acrylic years ago, and it doesn't owe a penny. If that fails to fill up the draft excluder then I shall search for other ratty woollens, because unravelled woollens really do make the best stuffing.

Also, while typing this I am not sure whether 'draught' or 'draft' is correct in this context. I don't have the energy to be as bothered as I should.

I am also going to update the 'started/finished' box, to show 'other' as a category. This is not something that should take long, even hand sewing back stitch.

Bought the darned electric oven

OH wants oven chips.

I cannot do oven chips and anything else in my oven, not for four. From the look of this, however, I can stack up the oven chips and sausage type meal that OH likes (with oven cooked baked beans) in this, and hopefully it will be less expensive.

So I went and purchased the dratted thing - from amazon, for a change. The review said it was good for eg bread and roasts, so that is something. It was also reviewed as being economical.

I will let you know.

Life happens at you, not to you.

OH has the tummy bug now, which has severely limited the amount that is going to happen this weekend. I did wonder last night as he was as exhausted as I was. We may try synchronised napping tonight again, but perhaps not to Life on Earth.

Even evil cat has been sick, with a loud and bravura performance. But she does that for a hobby anyway.

It is three weeks into the new year. I have that awful feeling that time is trickling through my fingers. So I need to get moving.

Of course, I need to get moving because darling father is now on full speed ahead to move up here and I need to make room for his stuff. And I need to get moving for my own sanity. And I need to get moving so little bear can bring school friends home to an orderly house when he starts school in September.

The PDSA left a sack for me to fill for collection. This is less easy than formerly, as I have culled the more obvious stuff already. I intend to try and stuff it, however, as it is a charity I much approve of. I am just a bit wary - I will need to put the PDSA bag out on bin day, and the bins have been collected on time the last few weeks. I may trying phoning to see if they will knock.

I think little bear may be on his way to a nap in the adjoining room, and as he woke me at 6am, coincidentally when Cbeebies starts, asking for Cbeebies, I think a nap is in order. I don't want to start moving lots of stuff around.

I am feeling a little more human, however, so I plan to get back to 'Digging up the Past' (I've mentally written the next chapter anyway) but I want to get a proper concordance going, with things like surnames consistent. So that is where I can start.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Want To Sleep

OH took little bear out to the park while I had a short nap. Then he had an early night and then OH and I sat in the living room and both fell asleep!

Eventually he went to bed and I stretched out on the sofa for thirty minutes of the best sleep ever...

...then little bear was sick.

He is much better now, I shall be keeping a v close eye on him and he has come downstairs to sleep in the sofa, relegating me to the chair.

I have bobbed in here to NOT LOOK AT EBAY and I hope to let him drop off to sleep again.

Also, going to sleep when there is a life on earth dvd on is a recipe for some very strange dreams.

Darn and poot

I have been thoroughly sick, napped, woken, napped again...

Even the walk in the park with little bear is looking remote. Fortunately, if OH doesn't come down with it, perhaps he can take a much better little bear out by himself.

I am still a bit fed up about not getting a special afternoon together, the next window of opportunity looks like September, but it could be worse. We can still have very cosy evenings.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Stop the Shop!

I have got little bear's tummy. How much fun is that?

And when I am poorly, I lean on my friend ebay, and another 750g of yarn on its way to me. Fortunately it is just about scraping under my 'acceptable price' limit and I was desperately relieved to be out bid on half a dozen t shirts for little bear and a further 1000g of miscellaneous yarn.

It is all anti clutterbust and it has to STOP.

Don't shop when tired

Cold meat and how to disguise it arrived with an Amazon order today. It is by hunter davies and isn't what I thought it was, more anecdotal and historical, not recipes.

As did 'forme of cury' which again wasn't quite what I expected...

Memo to self - do not go on Amazon when exhausted.

Feel so tired I want to cry. However little bear is eating porridge happily, so all is well there.

Fortunately (I think) it is incredibly hard these days to get yarn for less than 1p per gramme inclusive on ebay, and unless it is for something actually definitely wanted then I am not buying. That has saved me from some serious purchases.

Also, why did I buy a book on mug hugs?

I tried having a nap earlier but little bear found his way on to YouTube, and I don't feel comfortable about that. I don't mind him browsing - but I need to be watching!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Little bear went out like a light tonight.

I think the upset tummy is as much to do with tiredness as tummy. Regardless, I have promised to make paper chains with him tomorrow. A space ship may end up created (heaven help me and the carpet!).

He was looking so much better as he went to sleep that I am feeling a lot more reassured. We may be able to get out as a family on Friday afternoon, which would be brilliant! I shall save stale bread so little bear can feed ducks.

Dragging myself off to bed now, to make sure I am up to paper chains (?) tomorrow.

Guilty feelings

For the first time since 2005 OH and I were planning on going for a meal together, just the two of us. OH had booked the afternoon off, I had been considering restaurants (The Wardrobe, in Leeds, looking a favourite).

Little bear has just been copiously, expansively sick. I can't take little bear to nursery until at least 48 hours after any incident. That means our illicit Friday afternoon alone together is not possible, because little bear will be with us.

I feel fed up. I feel guilty because I feel fed up because little bear is poorly. I feel rotten because little bear has been crying for his daddy. I feel just so low about the whole thing.

Little bear is now looking much more cheerful. I don't think it serious, and I will be upping the cuddles etc. He is drinking plenty. We can arrange a meal another time, it's not that big a deal. I just wish I didn't feel so sorry for myself.


One of the books that arrived was called Precycle - (I'm not good on the linkies on here)

I have only dipped into it, so I can't give a proper review. The book is about doing things so that we don't need to recycle eg growing our own food. The example I stumbled across was that he had made baked beans stored in jars instead of buying them. He cited the lack of air miles and growing the beans himself rather than encouraging monoculture and reusable jars rather than tins. The author isn't against recycling, but prefers to make it unnecessary.

That is all to the well and good. And he points out that the beans in his cupboard cost more in terms of time and even money when taking into account costs of cooking energy. However I couldn't grow much more than a few tomatoes and salad bits in my garden. I don't have the energy to make and bottle a dozen kilner jars of baked beans. I do have the space (not all do) and the time (certainly not all do). I feel a bit 'hmm' about it. I am all in favour of making your own passata, etc but baked beans are the thin of the edge when it comes to having less meat based protein, and that is also an important point. And all the jobs that come with growing, processing, transporting and selling that tin of baked beans. And so many people can't afford in any dimension the costs of making and storing their own baked beans.

The biggest 'hmm' so far comes from the recipe to make your own bacon. In theory I approve. Or try and find a decent butcher. However while he gives the recipe for the brine or cure to make the bacon, he doesn't give suggestions of the cut of pork to use. I have grown up with supermarket meat and haven't really shopped at a butcher's for twenty years. I have no idea where to start about which bit of dead pig to put in this brine etc to make it bacon.

It also has lots of ideas about eg soap nuts etc, and I will investigate those further.


I am soooooo tired.

I managed at least six hours sleep last night before little bear woke up. Poor little man was then sick all over the floor. So the three hours I was hoping to nap while he was at nursery have evaporated. I feel really guilty because I feel a bit fed up from lack of sleep. Also all my joints are aching and I suspect that I have what little bear had last week - and OH and I are supposed to be going out for dinner for the first time since @ 2005 on Friday.

I feel grumpy. I feel guilty that I feel grumpy. And I feel frustrated that the clutterbusting I was planning has stalled a bit. I feel guilty that I feel frustrated. Poor little bear, he hates being sick. He is 'having a rest' on the sofa at the moment, but I can see a day ahead full of tv and him on the computer (he loves going on the internet).

And due to sleep deprivation (that's my excuse and I am sticking to it) a number of books are heading my way. In a supreme irony, at least one of them is on money saving.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Ginormous Throw

Darling uncle bought little bear a huge, double bed sized, double layered, tiger printed throw. It is lovely, evil cat is sitting on it as we type.

Darling uncle thought that it may encourage little bear to nap. Today it encouraged him to build an enormous tent in the study. I was trying to sort things out in the study, and I have added a bin bag to the total, but it was in the face of a huge 'den' stretching between a vast Approved Food box not yet turned into a space ship and the back of a chair. A cushion for little bear and a box for his toys, together with a torch which seems to have gone missing, provided all the entertainment little bear needed.

This was perhaps as well. I keep having to go back and edit appalling spelling and grammar. Little bear had nightmares last night and ended up sleeping on the sofa, which relegated me to the chair. I didn't sleep well at all and I am exhausted. Little bear was also exhausted, but he just speeds up.

Operation Clutterbust 13

I have already got rid of a lot of kitchen gadgets that do a task that is just as easy with a knife, if cleaning the dratted gadget is taken into account.

Today I peeled some carrots and parsnips (roasted in the Remoska). I have a little three cornered grey sink tidy that I have had for at least ten years and probably longer. I have watched my mother and grandmother solemnly peel potatoes into similar sink tidies, plastic with holes in the bottom. For my grandmother it made sense. Most of her veggies had soil on, and she peeled and rinsed in the sink, tipping the water + peelings through the sink tidy so that the water could go down the drain and the peelings could go on the compost heap.

However I buy most of my veggies from the supermarket and even the ones from the corner shop and the market are usually washed. I sit down at a table to peel potatoes, I don't stand at a sink. So why do I have an item to just put peelings in?

The sink tidy is now in the bin. When I sit down to peel potatoes I can just as easily put the peelings in a basin that also works for beating eggs, soaking lentils, etc.

I think I shall start a collection of Clutterbust mottoes. Including - don't own any item that only does one job which can be done just as easily with a different, multipurpose item. It's not very snappy, but I shall try and keep remembering it.

Must stop starting

I could do with a bookmark for myself. I have stashed a book in the bathroom, reading a page or so at a time. A bookmark would be useful, and I plan to try and use the time to catch up on my reading.

The obvious way is to get a bit of old envelope. That would be completely effective. However, being me, my solution was to go on ebay, buy a cross stitch bookmark kit and start it. At the same time buying another bookmark kit to make for a friend and a minature of a dog for one of my brothers.

So I have altered my 'started/finished' box.

[while typing this little bear came in and reduced the volume on the computer as I am listening to Classic FM - he wanted to hear the tv]

I have so many cross stitch kits, some still in the packet, others started. Now little bear is getting a bit older I can go back to that, and I really do enjoy it. I just need to finish some stuff.

Don't really believe this

But it did happen, I have a witness (OH) even if I didn't believe my own eyes and ears.

Little bear had his usual meal time meltdown - because there was no cabbage on his plate!

I've heard everything now.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Mega anti clutterbust

Today we visited darling father and brought back some things.

It must be really hard for him, getting rid of so much stuff. Things that he has valued and wanted enough to keep are going to be left behind. Also I think he wants to have some value coming here - and he would be having anyway. This last week with no darling father meant no one to watch poorly little bear when I went out for medicine etc.

I have said a blanket 'yes' to cutlery, plates, cups etc. We have a just turned four year old, I am confident that we will find lots of uses for plates, if only just to hold paint. I have said a blanket 'yes' to all bedding - we can see how we use stuff here and sort as we go. Also cushions, pillows, cloths etc. Most of it, obviously, will come on the final move.

We brought back today some clothes, some bedding, some towels and the most amazing pictures. One is a really nice landscape, which I love. The other is an extremely large and vividly red framed picture displaying Liverpool FC's triumph in 2005 in Istanbul. Guess which one is likely to end up over the mantel piece?

There is not much furniture coming back. There is a chest of drawers to replace a very iffy one in darling father's room. There is a tumble dryer, which has to be useful, as it doesn't need plumbing in. And there is bed.

Little bear thinks this bed is wonderful. It is an electric bed where the head and foot move up and down. I think that little bear is assuming that this is going to be his favourite toy. I shall need to buy darling father a padlock for his door. If you could have seen the look of wonder and excitement as the pillows started slowly moving, it was like a slow realisation of great fun and games. Little bear said that the bed was a 'super cracking bed'.

I need to really push now to get things sorted, as little bear's exclamation of, 'we're going to move all this into our house!?' put a lot into perspective. We have no room before this stuff comes, and some of it is lovely and a lot of it is important to darling father. He is not being shut into a room, the whole house is his home, just the same as it is for everyone else. It may need some thought and planning, but it is definitely worth it.

Memo to self - research local people who can mend these dratted beds.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

One decision taken

I was looking on Amazon of all places at a Veg box, from Banana King.


It said a selection of fresh veg - great, I could have my imagination and palate stimulated at the same time with interesting selections of veg. It is not organic, but it is £12.50 - that has to worth a try? Not at another £7.50 postage, because there is no indication of what is in the box, how much it weighs etc I can't even tell if it is worth it.

Now that the better weather is starting (comparatively) I am going to get me and little bear down to Leeds Market and see what's there. I can start to plan meals from there.


I've finished the scarf for little bear, he will look a darling.

Actually, he always looks a darling to me, and he will enjoy wearing the scarf because he asked for it and he got it.

Immediately cast on another scarf, with some 'new' yarn that has just come this morning - memo to self, never, ever, ever buy boucle again no matter how inexpensive!

I have updated to show I have started another item but not finished little bear's scarf, as I haven't finished off the tail thread. I usually knit the casting on thread into the knitting, as my sort of knitting doesn't usually show it, but I still have to finish off the cast off thread. I am being really strict with myself about this as I have many, many things that just need a thread or two snipped, and I am not letting myself get away with it.

Little bear is much better and was shamelessly indulged when my brother and his friend came to visit - bearing gifts, many of which from darling uncle.

The gifts include a huge, double layer, double size fleece with a tiger on it. I don't know exactly when this will fit into little bear's sleeping arrangements, but I am sure it will be appreciated as it is lovely and cosy. However he currently sleeps under a duvet, a cosy pad and a hand knitted blanket that is surprisingly warm - until he kicks them off, obviously. I am considering my options.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Little bear is fashionista

Little bear has graciously permitted me to knit him a scarf. Actually, he asked for it, and I have the yarn he wants to hand (funnily enough).

So I am racing to get it done so it can be worn at least once before he changes his mind.

Little bear is feeling better

I had a phone consultation with the dr, who thought a virus (no rash, no vomiting, high temperature, no cough - bit of a vague one). However I believe he has man flu. Yesterday afternoon he was lying on the sofa, bright pink cheeks, nearly dozing off, all achy and needing mummy NOW. Last night he was playing with dad and demanding honey and dinosaur sandwiches with falling down sauce.

Little bear's favourite toy yesterday was a valet stand. It is a sort of thing on wheels with a place to hand a jacket and trousers and put change. Little bear was using it as a thing of great imagination and wonder. And to think of all the goodies he had for Christmas!

I have a cardboard box stashed and I am thinking of ideas about making it into a spaceship. It is the huge one that came from Approved Food and I want to cut a door in it (little bear can't step in, it's too big) and stick big circles made of silver holographic wrapping paper for portholes. I will save the water bottles from OH and paint them silver for rockets and probably try something imaginative with paper plates for a steering wheel.

Then again, it may never happen, but I will let you know if it ever sees light.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Poor little bear

He is really poorly. I am considering flu. He is hot, not happy and achy. Today he has been complaining about being too cold, and has not really been hungry.

I finally have got him to doze on the sofa while I sit here, bobbing in and out to make sure he is okay. I have mentioned to the drs and I may try and get a home visit tomorrow if he isn't better.

He is uninterested in chocolate - and that means even his favourite forms of chocolate!

As an aside, this morning he was feeling brighter and asked for what turned out to be cooking chocolate (he didn't get it) because, 'it's my favourite and I have never tried it.'

Meal planning

Ian has bought me a book of recipes based on Medieval manuscripts. I have only glanced at it as little bear is now quite poorly but while OH is having fish n chips tonight I can see a more exotic flavour on the horizon.

I have also acquired from my friend (ebay) a book of 1000 microwave recipes to try and reduce my dependence on the iffy gas oven. It has a few recipes for cakes (which I may try) and some steamed puddings. I quite fancy a savoury bread and butter pudding with plenty of parsley though I shall probably put in a few fragmented pieces of grilled bacon in instead of cheese.

But what I really want to know is - why can't I just follow a recipe 'as is'? Or a knitting pattern for that matter? I read through recipes and I am subconsciously substituting from the start. Fair enough when it is something like pancetta and I am probably going to use streaky bacon. The bacon instead of cheese is because OH is intolerant to cheese. I am still reeling from the knitting magazine that described a cardigan as 'only' £67 to knit - I don't want to spend that much in a year! So yarn substitutions happen, and I lengthen things and fiddle with sleeve length. And what I do to innocent scarf patterns is not fit to print.

I think it comes down partly to never, ever in my life seeing my mother ever follow a recipe or pattern 'as is'. Or, when I think about it, any of my female relatives. I had one great aunt who could fit together three or four complex Aran patterns without much in the way of notes. It has left a mark. I watched my grandmother week in week out making scones. She never, ever measured and they always, without exception, turned out beautiful. Mind you, you could have tiled floors with her pastry.

However I think it sometimes puts me off trying some more complicated things - because I don't know how to fiddle with them!

Bee careful

I got a delivery from Approved Foods today. I know, but it was quite a lot of small stuff, small oaty snack things, creamola that little bear is currently demanding, sensitive fairy liquid at 99p (and finding sensitive fairy liquid has been a revelation to me, and much, much easier on my hands).

When the delivery man was handing over the box he felt something drop onto his neck and then onto the floor. It was a bee! I explained that some people have bats in the belfry but I have bees in the chimney, and it may have been sleeping by the lights.

After he had left the bee was groggily wandering about the doormat. I didn't want to keep the bee in (evil cat and little bear), I can't bring myself to kill a bee unless it is really serious, and I felt bad about turfing it out into the unseasonably mild January weather. However that is what I did. I coaxed it onto a piece of paper and then gently placed it on the top step before shutting the door. I hope it finds a good shelter, there are a few cracks in the brickwork so it may be okay.

I'd bet half a dollar that we have bees in the chimney again.

Bird food

I have a suspicion why the bird food isn't being attacked by a large local population of small birds like finches and blue tits and sparrows.

One problem is that we are on a corner so there are often people walking past disturbing the birds. I have nowhere to hang them that isn't exposed, so they feel vulnerable, I suppose. I mentioned one magpie enjoying the coconut, that may put them off as well as there is a robust population of magpies and crows around (or possibly rooks - I can't tell). Finally there are two cats next door, both capable hunters so I am always trying to think of ways to feed the birds without feeding the cats. The two dogs constantly playing in next door's yard(nice, well behaved dogs, just playing quietly but being just out of puppyhood dogs) probably don't help either. I shall see if I can hang them somewhere else on the street, so that the dratted things get the benefit.

There are also rats, at least, there are always rat traps at the back of Matalan. Still, at least the traps must be working a little bit as no rats have so far attacked the coconuts.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The going got a bit tough

Little bear is feeling much better now that the baby nurofen has kicked in.

Trouble is, I've been stressed - so I've shopped. £14.73 (inc of postage) to be exact. Fortunately I didn't see any yarns I wanted or I may have had to use the bath panel suggestion from Hester, but I can expect 9 t shirts, two cross stitch bookmark kits and a cross stitch miniature kit (one bookmark and the miniature is meant for presents - honest! Yes, I haven't finished darling father's sweater from last Father's Day yet).

I need to find a better way to deal with stress. One without calories is preferred.


For the birds

I am sitting here, too brain dead to write, away from the knitting, desperately hoping that little bear will sleep, not able to put the only computer game on that I use as the mute button doesn't work and I'm scared to disturb little bear.

So I look out of the window. There are two half coconuts, bought when they were not on sale and stuffed with bird goodies. I know that locally there are huge amounts of finches, sparrows and at least one robin. Why is then that the only bird I have seen attacking the dratted coconuts, even in the snow, is a magpie?

I tried feeding the birds a few years ago using a feeder, to complete failure. What am I doing wrong?

Poorly little bear

Little bear was in trouble for answering back yesterday. Today he has started with a big temperature. I have just dosed him with baby nurofen and I am waiting to see how it works. If all goes well then I won't need a dr, but I am hovering over calling straight away.

So I am lurking on the computer, hoping he will go to sleep on the sofa, as he has been threatening to do since he woke up.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Knitting language

I am familiar with the k1 meaning knit one sort of language. I even know the use of 'frog' to mean undo knitting (rip it, rip it, rip it), and stash to mean the yarn etc that a person has (often hidden from a spouse). But I came across a new one today. SABLE - which means stash acquired beyond life expectancy.


Not more knitting

I seem to be on overdrive. PMT, grim weather, sore shoulder and lack of sleep mean that it is all I feel like! I will finish this post and update my score by another project finished and started.

I won't be able to get much done tomorrow. Little bear appears to be on overdrive, so I shall be racing to keep him busy. And off Cbeebies. I know it is age appropriate, but I am not up to it at the mo, also darling father has left for ten days and I know I shall feel the gap. Not least rushing round in the morning sorting out his pot of tea.

But for now, it's knitting! I am having the usual, 'the yarn costs HOW much?! I could buy all of Marks & Spencer for that!' moments, and the 'good in theory' moments. I have two small balls of yarn, 30g each, from a magazine and allegedly meant for a stripy hat. Of course I didn't do the obvious and easy thing. I want to do a stripy skinny scarf thing with sort of hearts in. But what if I don't have enough of the yarn? Of course it is a good idea to try it out first on 'free-ish' yarn, but then what would I do with something two foot by two inches? Doll's scarf?

Also, in a knitting magazine they had a nice, easy looking matinee coat. I am not good with lace, in fact I am dreadful, but this looked plausible. I will not be using the recommended yarn. Who in their right minds designs a matinee coat for a baby up to six months old using yarn that would cost a total of £22? Yes, twenty two pounds sterling - just think how many baby grows and vests you could buy for that age in somewhere like Tesco, or even M&S!

I shall be using baby friendly acrylic double knitting if I try it, the sort that washes and tumble dries should it be required. Deary deary me!

I am an unfit mother

I left little bear playing on the Cbeebies website. I thought it was okay. He navigates confidently around the site, plays games and has even been known to print out pictures to colour.

But when I got back to him after putting tea on he was looking at an animation about how babies grow in their mummy's tummy.

I just walked away. Any questions I shall confidently refer to OH.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Not again

When I was reading little bear one of his stories tonight he gave me a third degree cuddle and knocked my arm. Unfortunately he caught it funny and it seemed to really bang against where the ligaments etc in my shoulder are healing. I am now in agony.


And I can't even feel sorry for myself properly because in the grand scheme of things it isn't too bad, and I can still lift, move etc. And it will be better in time But I just want it better now!

Twinkle twinkle

Our kitchen is sparkling. It's not clean - far from it, just sparkling. I tried to bamboozle little bear with a concoction of tap water, red food colouring and edible glitter. The bamboozling had a certain result, but not 100% success.

However I didn't realise that edible glitter was so fine! I got some from a reputable stall that specialises in cake decoration, and it started to leak tiny, tiny flakes of glitter almost straight away as the lid was knocked. When I wanted some in little bear's jollop I just took the lid off the pot and gently tapped just the lid over the glass and there was suddenly very fine glitter absolutely everywhere. And I can't get away from the dratted sparkle now, it seems to have crept in everywhere. And just when you think you've seen the last twinkle, a gleam will appear in the last place you would expect. It is so fine it seems to have got into every nook and cranny!

It had better work properly for little bear, that's all I can say!

Meal planning

On from the veggie box idea, I need to try approaching meal planning again. Darling father is particularly addicted to takeaways, and neither myself nor OH can really afford the additions to our waistlines. Besides, when little bear hears a knock on the door and gleefully announces, 'Dinner's here!' then we could do with a rethink.

However every time I have tried meal planning I have managed to get two days in, then life happens. But I need to do something. There are a lot of ingredients in the kitchen. And our freezer is stuffed with quite an assortment of goodies. Our fridge is currently brimming.

I am considering a pattern - Sun - roast, Mon - cold meat & veg, Tues - casserole, Weds - casserole reinvented/storecupboard surprise, Thurs - veggie/storecupboard surprise, Fri - Fish n chips from the excellent local chippy, Sat - burger/sausage. Now that I am feeding adult food to little bear and also feeding darling father then it is worth doing a lunch that will use up eg scraps of bacon, meat, etc. Also I do casserole + reinvented casserole quite well, though I say so myself.

I'm not starting this week.

Shopping is not the same as making a decision

I have been looking at the Abel and Cole website. I have been considering carefully whether I want to order a weekly veg box. The price isn't as good as the non organic market stuff, but if it is fresh and seasonal that means a lot. Also I am available on their delivery days.

I could look at nutrition, organic produce, green issues, air miles, etc. But shamefully I am aware of what is driving me. An intense and burning desire to have something other than the usual round of carrot, potato and onion. A spurt of inspiration beyond the frozen mixed veg that usually gets dished up, delivered weekly. I don't have anything about trying new veggies, I just don't know what to try! But I need to get away from the frozen peas.

So I may just look on their website, see what I can get off that list in the market and take it from there. If I am not in an experimental mood, we have the frozen mixed veg. I need to work within my limits, and on bad days all that would happen is that a large quantity of food would rot.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

More knitting

Okay, I put aside the chunky broken rib scarf to make a twirly neck warmer type thingy - very pretty. It's in some of the wool that I bought over Christmas.

Normally I try and keep purchases below 1p per gramme (getting harder these days) and this was the most amazing electric blue boucle stuff, suggested needles are 9mm and it was made in Pudsey, where I used to live! That yarn factory has long since gone and Argyll Zoom probably did it no favours, it is an evil yarn to use. This may do a lot to explain the price.

So I finished the twirly neck warmer (will try and get a pic next week) and then tried another bit, I have 200g of the Zoom left. I am thinking along the lines of stole.

Another blast from the past was a knitting pattern book I purchased (comfort shopping doesn't really help) which arrived a few days ago. There is the most amazing looking sweater which I love, knitted in Hayfield Saxon. Well, I have never seen the yarn, ebay hasn't got any and a brief google drew a blank. I know it was a pure wool yarn, as it was in a pure wool knitting brochure, produced by British Wool (or something similar, like the Milk Marketing Board for wool, I think) and it was around in 1978, when the book was produced.

Normally when I see a yarn I don't recognise, or more usually see a yarn I can't afford, I look at the tension and needle size to get an idea of what to substitute with. However this was the days of Odd Pin knitting and the creation, which looks brilliant, is knitted on one 5mm and one 10mm knitting needle, the welts with 6mm needles. I am guessing around about an aran, or perhaps a chunky. Regardless, it can wait. I have a lot more I want to finish before that.

(unless of course I come across a mysterious stash of Hayfield Saxon in just the right quantity...)

Friday, 7 January 2011


I am putting up a new box in the sidebar, for my own encouragement. I am going to mark when I start and when I finish a project. Finishing means sewing in all the ends (which I loathe) and there are many scarves that require that, so if you see a big jump I have not suddenly speed knitted a dozen sweaters.

Last night I finished a scarf FOR ME and then started another, which is the 100g I picked up after physio. It is chunky, knitted on 8mm needles, and is a skinny thing of 15 stitches in broken rib. The colour means that it may appeal to the masculine as it is brown, cream and charcoal.

Next in my sights is the little sleeveless hoodies I started for little bear in November, one of which I have almost finished and I know that the other will take only a little while to do.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Minor clutterbust

I managed to drop off a box worth of bric a brac to a charity shop on the way in to the church.

And I sorted out a drawer full of knitting junk. Some was definitely only fit for the rubbish, some was included with the bric a brac, but I have a better idea of what is there. Also a carrier of eyelash yarn.

Just need to try not to buy anything more. This is the hard bit.

Ice and a slice

Evil cat is cross with me.

I fished the spider out of her water bowl and it scuttled off. I think she was saving it.

Little bear's trip out

Darling father goes to the Methodist Church at the end of the road, and he enjoys it. Little bear has suddenly decided that he wants to go to church. I think the aura of mystery of going up the steps instead of into the undercroft where the coffee stop is has made it something of a mystical land. I have no objection to this, so I said I would take him on Sunday.

This was not good enough for little bear.

So, after a few false starts and faffs we found ourselves going up the steps and into Leeds Parish Church, St Peters, which was the only church I could think of that would be open and I also knew that there would be a cafe there. With perfect timing the cafe had just shut when we got there.

Little bear was a little put out, but was happy to look around St Peters. St Peters in Leeds was designed by Pugin, who also designed the House of Commons. So I showed him a side chapel, which I called the lady chapel (don't know if I was right) and the altar, and the pews and the stained glass windows. I was a bit bewildered about what to explain to a none church going just about four year old.

A big problem I have, faced with all this Victorian Gothic splendour, is that first of all I love the old fashioned ritual of the Church of England in full regalia, with anthems at evensong and the 1666 prayer book service first thing on a Sunday. So I love the idea of learning and teaching little bear all about the obscure bits of the church. This is not only a bit useless to him but also has very little to do with God.

The other problem I have is theology. I explained that the altar was where the vicar talked to God. This may be as good an explanation as any that you can give to a four year old. However I am not sure exactly how theologically correct it is. I actually know quite a bit about theology in the medieval period, and I can follow quite a few arguments of the Reformation and Counter Reformation. I just don't know what is 'proper' now, and I don't want to get little bear into trouble.

So we had a little tour, then little bear dragged me all over the gardens nearby, which is where he fell over and got the mud smeared all over his face and jeans. Of course I had forgotten the wipes. Then we went to the cafe in the bus station where little bear ate the sugar topping off a fairy cake and made up to two ladies sitting on the next table.

Then he managed to lose both boots on the bus on the way home.

Another thing through the post

Today I have received (apart from the coat hangers) 500g of yarn that I couldn't resist, some antimacassars and a knitting pattern. The knitting pattern I really REALLY want to do, it looks amazing, but complicated in ways I am not used to. It is a huge, batwinged, long length sweater starting with one colour on one sleeve and finishing on another colour at the other sleeve, and it has around 11 colours. It is hopelessly unfashionable, I haven't done much colour work and I am not sure the largest size will fit but it calls to me.

I am going to pin it up next to the chair to use as an incentive to finish off projects before starting that. Also, I always feel depressed when I finish a project - no idea why, but I need to beat that.

The most treacherous thing that arrived today was - the Lakeland catalogue with a £5 voucher off! It is sitting in the corner, ticking.

And repeat - I HAVE NO ROOM!

Pleading insanity

I have just had thirty wooden coat hangers delivered.

The thing is, I could really do with them, I need the hangers, I hate the fragile, frail plastic ones, the sturdy plastic ones are starting to look really second hand and I am fed up with hunting for them.

But thirty?

Mind you, OH has around thirty shirts if not more, so I can see them getting used. And they were a bargain from ebay, my friend.


Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Magic Water

Little bear was upset at nursery before Christmas, he wanted to go home and said he felt poorly (he wasn't) so they gave him some magic water - the stuff that comes out of the tap.

After two solid hours of fury from little bear that I am still taking him to nursery and going to physio, despite his best efforts to use logic and emotional blackmail to stop this, I have bought some edible glitter, some food colouring and I shall be making up my own magic water. I'll let you know. And of course, once he was there he was fine.

Also after physio succumbed to 100g of a rather nice chunky which will convert painlessly to a scarf at some point. I needed the boost.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

12 Step Programme

I want to start a new project. Last time I mentioned projects on here I said that there were six outstanding just behind my chair and not counting others upstairs. That was incorrect, there were actually seven. But I want to start a new one and it is making my fingers itch.

I have subscribed to The Art of Crochet. It comes out at intervals, costs a fortune and includes one 25g ball of yarn per magazine. I opened the first one, and hallelujah! For the first time ever, in issue one, I could understand how to make a crochet stitch. I was doing really well. Then things got in the way and I never opened another. I did, however, keep getting them from the newsagent. Today I have started actually getting my act together enough to put the damn thing in the folder - I hadn't even opened No 2, let alone used the yarn. I am now up to issue 51. Of course I can't find the issue 1 that was so brilliant.

However (and there is always a 'however' with me) that means I have 51 balls of sort of vintage coloured yarn. I don't want to make the throw that they suggest. It would not get used but could be happened to by evil cat. On the other hand, I think a throw knitted, just one ball to a row, would be lovely. Sigh. I really want to do it. I really really want to start it. I need cheering up. It's that or chocolate. And a new project isn't as fattening.

So I need a 12 step programme to stop me starting new projects. Also I will let you know when I start this new one - it is currently 15.33 on 3 Jan 2011 local time. I don't know how much longer I can hold out. I also will log when I finish it. If I remember.

Operation Clutterbust 12

We have removed the bed guard from little bear's bed. He didn't really need it, and it was only serving to keep in the huge pile of books little bear needs to sleep. It is so stained and battered that it is not worth passing on, as little bear has been spilling juice, milk and water on it with liberal abandon.

OH has also removed the fireguard. It is a strange feeling. We have had the fireguard there for a long time - we had to keep little bear safe! Now he is four! Is it okay? Will he be safe?

I need to find a new home for the fireguard, there is nothing wrong with it. I am just not sure where can take it.

Continuing considering ovens

Kungfudonut - thank you!

Morgan, I shall think about that. I find Freecycle a bit scary, I have tried to sign up but found it a bit overwhelming. I have fried/grilled eg sausages but I think they taste a bit better in the oven - even better in a Remoska!. Hmm. I am not in a rush to get one (well yes, I would love one now but I don't need to rush in).

The two things that for me are hard in the oven currently are cakes (baked v occasionally though more when I am able) and roast meat. Roast meat is more a factor as I now have both darling father and OH who like large lumps of meat on a regular basis.

Tonight I will be using the oven. I will be using a commercial jar of mushroom potato bake sauce but adding in sliced hot dog sausages as well as potatoes (and possibly some parsley, or oregano). This will be served with carrots done on the hob as little bear will currently eat carrots. This is okay in the current oven, though I wonder if it would be cheaper to cook it in a smaller electric oven.

I can feel myself talking myself into getting this electric oven, and I am not sure how useful that is.

Last night little bear ate all of his carrots and ignored the potatoes and sausage. OH was not feeling hungry so little bear ate all of his carrots and took a bite out of a remaining sausage. I was just so grateful that he was eating something that wasn't sugared!

Monday, 3 January 2011

Tempting oven

That electric oven is very tempting, there is no getting away from it.

Tonight was a nice tea. I cut up some potatoes small, stirred them round in a tablespoon of oil flavoured with dried parsley and cooked them in the remoska for around an hour. This is one of my favourite ways of cooking potatoes. As there was no room in the remoska I cooked the sausages in the oven (tomato and basil sausages, on offer, absolutely delicious!) and then carrots on the hob. I have tried cooking sausages etc above the potatoes but it hasn't really been successful.

I had the sausages on the top shelf of the oven with the indicator about one notch above where I actually wanted it. The temperature control is iffy. For sausages it is not a problem but for a large and expensive roast joint or a cake the guess work involved in getting the temp right is awkward.

Also, it would be impossible to try and cook both the potatoes and the sausages in the oven at the same time, they just wouldn't cook as there is only space for one of them on each shelf and only the top shelf cooks.

I can't help think that those little electric ovens would probably be cheaper to run than an odd big gas oven anyway. And I could use the oven to store all the cake tins.

I shall have a think about this. I so rarely use the oven these days as I often bung sausages, burgers etc in the Remoska and do them with pasta (on the hob) or mash etc. We eat a lot of burgers/sausages as I get the really good quality ones as they taste nice, are easy to cook and are mainly meat.

From tonight I shall keep a note of how many times I actually use the oven. If I only use it occasionally then it is not worth me getting an electric oven. I shall see what the position is at the end of February. I shall also keep a log of what I actually cook using the oven and think if there are ways to work round this.

Do I really need this?

My gas oven is rubbish. You know those careful cookbooks that explain that you should always fill your oven when you bake, and even get extra shelves just in case? It doesn't work. My oven will cook in the top third only.

This oven formerly belonged to my late Mother In Law, and worked fine for her. Apparently there is some oddity in the pipework which means that the oven is getting a lesser gas supply than it needs.

I don't really use my oven that much. I use my electric slow cooker, my electric remoska, my microwave etc. However every now and then I want to do something in the oven. And I am so frustrated that it is so hard to judge the temperature of the oven, that the times can't be relied on and that cake making is so hit and miss. I have been considering buying a new cooker.

Then I start humming and hawing. Do I really need a new cooker? My strategies are working, it could be worse, I can manage... I love a gas hob, and I don't really trust little bear around electric hobs. And if I got a new cooker then I could perhaps get new gas pipework or something. Besides, our cooker has an eye level grill which is like hens' teeth and I don't like a built in grill like we use at Pickering.

Dithering is the most constant exercise I get.

However I did see something in the Argos catalogue - a mini electric oven. What is more, it is an acceptable price (well, less expensive than a new cooker!). I checked on ebay (my friend) and I saw this. Item no 190458850546 An oven described as being able to grill, roast and bake up to 220C for £25.

I don't really need it. Not at all. Must not look for other ideas...

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Huge Victory

Approved Foods were sending a free case of marshmallows with their orders. Little bear loves marshmallows, he really loves marshmallows, he loves four.

So I had a look and I thought, yes I could use this, yes I could use that. Then I stopped and thought. The house is full of sugary things. I have stacks and oodles and masses of rice, noodles, soups etc. I HAVE NO ROOM!

So I logged off and didn't buy anything.

I cannot tell how pleased and proud I am to have resisted this. Not buying stuff in the first place is hugely clutterbusting, when it is something I don't need.

It almost makes up for the randomly purchased yarn over the holidays, around 500g. It could be worse. The case of marshmallows was over 2kg!

New Year Resolutions

I don't usually 'do' New Year's Resolutions. I think the big thing is that I have complete lack of faith in my ability to stick to a resolution. Another big thing is that I think if you are going to make a resolution then you should make it there and then - you can make an October the 4th resolution that is just as valid.

I think part of the thing is realistic target setting. I am rubbish at that. If you can set a realistic target in a realistic frame then you can really benefit from a New Year's resolution. However so many resolutions can be 'kinder to cat' or 'better cook' or 'more punctual' which are great aims. However they are hard to quantify, hard to know when you have achieved success and hard to know if you are even sticking to it.

Looking at my 'life wish list' I think that I want to push writing, clutterbusting and knitting. But I also want to learn to crochet, read some books, learn the piano, do more crafts with little bear, be more tolerant of evil cat (tough one!), lose weight, take more exercise, eat better... I don't have enough time.

When all returns to normal after the Christmas break I am once again going to try for the two thousand words per day - doable if hard. To do that I need to limit my browsing of the internet but that is not in itself a bad thing. I need to make the call - when I go to sleep, what do I wish I had done? Browse the web or write two thousand words? I also need to be less precious. It is easier to write in chunks, but possible to do it sentence by sentence between housewifery and being mum.

Clutterbusting is hard to quantify. To be honest, I see it as a rolling programme, never finished. I buy stuff. Kind relatives buy me stuff. Little bear is besieged by stuff. I need to organise what I want to keep and lose what I do not need. How do you know when you are finished? I think it is connected to my lack of housewifery, so I will be trying out different versions of FlyLady and clutterbusting and see where it takes me. Hmm, tangible targets are hard sometimes. I will set the minimum of one extra black bin sack or equivalent per week of 'stuff' that is not the usual rubbish of emptied cans and wrappers but is donated/sold/disposed of because it is clutter. That is my minimum. Also every week I want to identify a 'home' for some item that currently is being tripped over, so that I end up with 'a place for everything and everything in its place'.

Knitting is almost a sin for me. I love knitting, it relaxes me (mostly, don't ask about picking up for the neck). I want to have consistently a project next to my chair which can easily be picked up and then put down for a few rows while watching football. My big problem is starting projects and not finishing them. I would log all the unfinished projects I have outstanding, but I don't think I could find them all! I have six at the back of my chair. Despite my good intentions I started a new scarf yesterday with some weird yarn, teddy coral. It ends up with a texture like a long piled bath mat, in a nice way. I finished it today. Knitting helps my sanity, so I am not going to try and regulate it too much. And I have reluctantly realised that getting things finished off is hard for me and no technique so far has worked as I start new projects to cheer myself up. So I am going to keep a tally of things finished off. You will see it grow in interesting ways. One of the things that I need to finish off is a sweater that has been half sewn up for nearly two years. I shall also aim to start smaller items that finish off quicker.

As for the other things, I shall wait and see. I think the first I shall attack is crochet. But that is to be fitted around the writing, the clutterbusting and the knitting. And the writing, the clutterbusting and the knitting are to be fitted around little bear, OH, darling father, visits to family, visits from family, and all the hiccups and ups and downs of life. I shall just aim to do my best, and if I fail on one week I shall just keep going again from scratch the next week.


Happy New Year to all!

I have spent the evening, after finally settling little bear, watching Patrick Stewart in Macbeth and drinking wine with OH and darling father. I hardly ever drink, but tonight is an exception.

I feel that I am blessed. Even though a large part of the afternoon was spent explaining to little bear that yes, we did have to take the decorations down on Twelfth Night (I lub the decorations, they're my favourite!) and then dealing with a distraught newly four year old upset that Christmas decorations are not up all year.

I hope all reading have a wonderful New Year, prosperous, healthy and happy.