Thursday, 31 March 2011

Could be worse

Lesley - thanks to your advice the tummy trouble is only affecting one end.

I am feeling better but about to drag myself off to sleep. However I had just been managing to scoot around ebay at clothes for little bear. I am seriously thinking I may be able to do without new tops for him, at least until June or July. He is fine for vests, socks and undies. He does not need pyjamas or a dressing gown. Even last summer's coat (very flash and a real bargain from ebay) still fits - it was huge on him last year but I think I may manage the whole of this summer and it still looks good after a wash.

I am considering the jeans, I think that they will be okay for a few months yet. I don't think I will be able to get them to last the summer but now that I am not so concerned about accidents I don't need to buy in bulk so I can buy one or two pairs now and again. He can definitely manage for another two or three months. I suspect he will need new shorts, but I am holding out on that one to see if we actually get a summer.

In fact, the only thing that I will be getting for him any time soon is shoes. He wants flashing dinosaur shoes. He may be disappointed.

So I have no excuse to shop for little bear. I do need to have a clear out (again) of his outgrown clothes, but I think he will be alright, and in nice, comfy clothes as well. The Frugal Zealot suggested that if you see a bargain in clothing a year or so ahead then you should snap it up and store it. I have certainly seen some marvellous bargains in end of season sales, so eg buying some great summery tshirts in September for the size above him. However WE HAVE NO ROOM and I will keep reminding myself of that.

Variations of Yuck and a dose of Self Pity

Tummy is not being nice. I feel like a tube. This may be too much information. On the bright side, not being able to move because of feeling poorly has its benefits - my back is a lot better.

Mummy duties last night started around midnight, with little bear stirring and then me covering him up again and singing songs. Then around 1am little bear woke again and came downstairs. He went happily to sleep and didn't stir when evil cat gave a full operatic performance of yowling at @ 2.30am. He did look up when I had to get up at 4am with massive cramp and again when the toilet called urgently at @ 4.30am but went back to sleep without comment.

I am not having an energetic day. So I am hiding on here, feeling sorry for myself, when a quiet voice said, 'Mummy, I've got a bead stuck up my nose.' I was just about to ring the drs when he snorted it out.

I didn't bother asking why but tried to emphasise that it was not a good idea. Sigh. I wonder what he will come up with next.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Yuck yuck yuck!

I am okay as long as I don't move about much. I hate stomach bugs, I hardly ever get them so I don't get the same familiarity as I do with colds. I am cross.

So I have changed the date of the meter change over to a fortnight's time, thank goodness, and I think that I will do the same for the boiler service.

Darling father is not feeling well now, and that does make me worried. Little bear is in nursery - bless them, he was in this morning anyway and they were happy he stayed a bit longer.

I am going off to have a nap.


I have what little bear had over the weekend. I am not impressed. In fact, I feel like nothing on earth.

Fortunately, thanks to Mr Pratchett, I only need to spell dire rear.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Another broken tooth

Or rather, the tooth I had all the problems with last summer has just gone. Sigh.

Clutterbusting continues

Actually, at this moment, I am hiding in here hoping little bear will nap as he carries on getting better - and hopefully well enough for nursery tomorrow!

But this morning I removed two random cupboard doors left by the previous occupants in 1994. They are meant to go on the cupboards in the kitchen, but should we need to replace them we are replacing the entire units (on a case by case basis as funds allow) from B&Q. They have been sort of part of the background for years, it was odd taking them out.

I am also keeping my fingers crossed that the zombie apocalypse doesn't happen soon as I am getting rid of some bottled water. I plan on using it up in the kettle etc if it is fit. Back when little bear was really tiny there was a disruption to the water and I wasn't able to make up bottles for him. He was only a few months old. Yorkshire water dropped off a dozen two litre bottles of water and then the water came on. Little bear is now a boisterous four year old and I am not sure how fit they will be. I mean, does bottled water go off? And how much plastic will it have absorbed? Once they are out the way I can clean our microwave and put it on that shelf, put darling father's much better microwave on the counter instead and then put the motorised golf trolley in the space in front of the shelf with our microwave on. That will be a start!

Morgan - I am holding on to the hope that I can have that uncluttered feeling with both hands.

Operation Clutterbust

Yesterday I did quite a lot. The walk in cupboard and the dining room are absolutely and completely jammed with 'stuff'. Unfortunately that is where they are fitting a new gas meter on Wednesday.

So I have updated my totals, which includes 15 litres of fabric conditioner. Just before little bear was born I stocked up with non bio powder and gentle fabric conditioner, on offer at Makro at an extremely low price - I didn't know about white vinegar for conditioner in those days. Previously I had always used Bold 2 in one, so had never bothered with a separate fabric conditioner.

Well, as soon as I realised I did switch to white vinegar, and little bear switched pretty seamlessly to biological powder early on. I forgot about the fabric conditioner hiding in the back of the cupboard. Yesterday I found it again. I thought about it, then tipped it down the drain. The stuff came out in lumps, with the sickliest artificial smell.

I found all sorts. Sigh. There is still so much to do. But the house is feeling a little lighter.

Hag ridden

Last night I dreamed that I was slowly being crushed by a six inch, cast iron pipe and that I couldn't catch my breath. I briefly surfaced from the dream and moved evil cat off my chest.

I also dreamed that I had knitted something wrong and I had to eat the sweater. Nothing appears to be missing.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Not expected.

Last night during little bear's bedtime routine he shouted that he saw an ant! It wasn't an ant, it was a bee which was crawling across the floor in a daze.

I am quite baffled. I haven't had windows open. I keep forgetting to find the key to little bear's windows and I can't get to darling father's. All the things that have been hung out have been ironed before being brought up. It didn't look like an over wintering queen.

It does make me wonder if the bees will nest somewhere else this year, and where that would be.

Also, as I type, OH is pointing out to little bear all the continuity errors in a Little Einsteins cartoon. I think it is going to be a long day.

Need to get with it!

I really need to get with it more.

This morning, as I was surfacing slowly, clutching tea, little bear looked at what looked like a big, upturned tin of Celebrations. He did know, as he remembered seeing it, that there was a cake on there, sitting on the lid with the tin protectively over it.

If he hadn't picked it up, shook it and announced that he was just going to look at it before I could grab it off him then I am sure the fancy cake darling father brought back from the Methodists would be in better condition.

Little bear is feeling better!

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Happy Day!

Darling father is now here for good. I am so happy, we all are. We are currently stepping over bags and boxes everywhere we move, but we are happy.

This morning he went to the Spring Fair at the Methodist Church - and spent several hours washing up! He is very settled there, and all the ladies are charming to him. I've just said that he has a curfew on a school night.

I might add that poor darling father is exhausted and tired, but I know he wouldn't be able to resist helping out or being the life and soul of the kitchen.

I am sure that life will speed up now.

Poor little bear

Little bear has been behaving worse and worse during last week. Yesterday I had to listen to a long catalogue of complaints from the nursery staff (who were also giggling as little bear has a way with him) and he told me he had hidden the baby monitor where I couldn't find it.

Sigh This usually means that he is coming down with something dreadful. All the nursery staff were happy that it was uncharacteristic behaviour, but quite similar to the time just before he went down with a disgusting cough. Sure enough last night little bear was generously and vigorously sick all over the bed around midnight. Poor little mite is now asleep on the sofa.

Fingers crossed that this passes soon.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Grocery delivery

Smiffy - I am thinking more about Occado. Some of the bits were a little cheaper.

Some things are worth getting right. I would rather spend money on meat or look for a vegetarian option. However some things I am not going to spend money on, though I did buy granulated sugar that was British. Normally if there is no choice for the very basics then I go for the cheapest every time.

If I can get more into a rhythm then the home cooked meals with help from Approved Foods, Leeds Market and generally canny shopping are the way to go. But I think I need to be really aware of what I am spending my money on.

The only thing about the Occado was that there wasn't quite the range. But I can work round that!


Of course little bear didn't take all his toys up by himself. I 'helped' as in did most of it before OH had a meltdown. Poor man had been frantic at work and now he got home and couldn't walk across a room! But little bear was actually quite good and made several trips. And I was definitely carrying vastly huge pandy.

Lesley - my thighs are killing me. My stairs are steeper than average. My thighs had better start improving soon lol!

Also I suspect little bear is coming down with something. Yesterday I spent a lot of time cuddling him and picking him up and hugging him (mostly at his request) and so my biceps and triceps are also aching. I shall be toned before I know it.

This afternoon I shall be moving furniture as much as I can while little bear is at nursery. Darling father will be moving in for good tonight, and I need all things sorted. Or at least have a place for him to sleep!

Tomorrow is a knitting day.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


Do you remember the HUGE toy panda darling uncle won for little bear, the one that fit exactly in his cot with no room to spare at either end, the one that needed its own car seat to come home, the absolutely huge one that is still taller than little bear?

I had to choose between watching little bear like a hawk so that he didn't try and bring it downstairs by himself but forbidding him to fill the living room and study up any more or potentially saving him from falling downstairs with an overstuffed toy by bringing it down myself.

I brought the panda down myself as I thought it was safest. Little bear is now bringing down every other toy he has ever owned. I am not looking forward to the trips back upstairs with them. That is - he brought them down, he has to take them up but aren't I going to have fun enforcing it!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

More money spent!

Finally we have had some sunny days, so the washing line has been put to good use. I have a rotary dryer and I have filled it. I just kept washing more and more and more as finally I can dry it! I didn't realise just how much stuff there was that needed washing, especially all the stuff that can't be tumble dried.

Due to little bear being very little bear I only managed to get out to hang washing out at 10.30pm last night, and it was lovely and dry by midday today, and I have once again completely filled the line. I now have a lot of ironing, but it will smell lovely and fresh and aired.

However the rotary line has developed a very alarming tilt. It is slowly bending south. Today I noticed a split in the plastic thingy that holds the pole in place. I am crossing everything that the pole will not snap during the night as if it does then all that lovely clean washing will drop into a flower bed that next door's cat uses as a toilet.

The new one arrives on Friday, as that way poor OH doesn't put himself under pressure to go and find a new one. Knowing the way the world works, it will probably be a month before I get to hang washing on the line again.

I really begrudge spending this money.

Accidental clutterbust

Last night was 'get all the bins out before the binmen come tomorrow' night. OH did the downstairs bins and I was doing other things. This morning I noticed a very large bin sack missing. Originally it was split, which was great because I could see that the bedding was in there. But OH put it in another bin sack and tied it up tight. He put it next to the kitchen bin because then it was out of the way. And last night, with awful inevitability, he threw it out, convinced it was rubbish that I had inexplicably failed to take to the bin.

It was very full of good quality bedding. I don't need bedding, quite the opposite, but Nice Mr Next Door could do with all the rags I can spare. However it is not to be.

Also there is another bedding question hovering over the clutterbust. Nearly thirty years ago my late great aunt bought me a snuggle blanket. It was unheard of then, it was one of the first bits of fleece I had ever seen and it sort of buttoned up here and popped up there and you cuddled up in it - much more efficient than the current snuggle rugs because it covered your back, and then it goes out flat to become a blanket. The cats used to fight over it as it was so warm. It now shows a great deal of wear. It is pulled and fluffed and tired looking. It is still warm, and I am sure it would make a great lining for a throw, but we have lots of throws. We have warmer blankets of a more suitable size. There is lots of use in it, but I don't know when we would use it. And it is far too battered to sell at a charity shop. But really it is too good to throw out.

I think the way I feel about this blanket is a good way of understanding why I NEED to clutterbust


I've just had my first Occado grocery delivery.

It was an interesting experience. I got a little text the day before and a little text about an hour before to remind me and let me know what the driver's name was and that everything was there. It felt a bit master and serf to me, and I am usually at the serf end, but it is nice especially if you are nervous of strangers. I saw the van parked at the end of the street about twenty minutes before he was due, so I let him know that I was almost at home.

The carrier bags are lovely and sturdy, I can see them being reused lots apart from any snob value. I use Aldi bags with equal comfort. And they colour code them, red for chilled, purple for cupboard and green for frozen.

I don't know, it seemed a little excessive. I like to think I am pleasant to people making deliveries and mostly harmless. But I am usually aware of when a delivery is due, and I feel that the different coloured bags are a bit of a gimmick and probably an irritation to the packing staff. Even daft old biddies like me usually don't miss that they have to put stuff in the fridge or freezer. Or perhaps not. Sometimes the little things do help.

I am very impressed by the quality and service, but not so much by the range of goods. There is bound to be differences in price but there is often a trade off between price and quality and I suppose that it is worth searching for the bargains. I got lots of 'treat' stuff, like a small pack of diced venison, pickled walnuts and pear and walnut chutney that I shall stash for special occasions. I think Occado will end up the Christmas shop.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Little bear is not good

I seem to have taken my eye off the ball a lot today. I am trying to get a lot done without wrecking my back which is currently extremely painful. Little bear is making his own entertainment.

The leak from the bathroom through the living room ceiling is minor, only a few spots. Memo to self. Just because he is taking some water to put down the sink in the bathroom does not mean that he will empty the water into the sink, nor does it mean that he will stop emptying then.


Need to go up and sort out what on earth has happened when my back muscles will allow me to crouch.

Little bear and new clothes

Far too many of little bear's clothes are getting small on him. It is good that he is growing so well. But I had hoped I could get away without buying much this summer, as I would be dipping in to loads of impulse buys anyway.

So far I have seen nothing I fancy for him, and I can't put my finger on it. It all seems a bit dear and a bit dreary. I think he will need at least half a dozen tshirts, two or three pairs of shorts and I think I may need to get some more jeans. I love little bear in jeans. He is fine for underwear until, I think, autumn when school uniform will hit. Last summer I spent around £50 from Asda and got a shed load. However I really liked the last lot. This year it is a feeling of 'that will do'. And there is a limit to how much input I will allow little bear.

I suppose it is a great excuse to wander onto my friend ebay, and I may try holding out until he absolutely desperately unavoidably needs stuff. This may be sooner than I would like. So many of his tshirts are now barely touching the top of his jeans.

I would also like to add my extreme irritation as there are some lovely long sleeved tshirts that are barely worn, including some from Next (from a gift voucher), but he wouldn't touch them because they had long sleeves and they are now becoming too small. Sigh.

Sparkling house

No, my house is not clean, far from it. However while I was on the phone to darling father, little bear decided it was craft time and got ultra fine glitter over the armchair and the cosy pad (currently in wash with fingers completely crossed).

Regrettably the vacuum cleaner didn't manage to get all the glitter so the house is looking more and more like a Christmas card as the glitter spreads everywhere. It really is fine stuff, impossible to just sweep up.

As I type he is building a castle on the sofa with a fold out foam bed.

Buzzing around

I left the door open while hanging washing out and the first blue bottle of the year got into the kitchen. We have an electric fly zapper, and I picked it up by the wire and got a shock.

I then went on ebay (my friend) to get some anti fly products, without much hope. But some stuff is on its way. As summer comes and more and more doors are left open, I expect the problem to get worse. Also there are lots of bees in the gardens, in varying states of fitness. Looks like honey in the chimney again.

Every year it is the same ongoing problem of having south facing white doors. This year I am going to try wiping them with citronella.

Also, evil cat went into the garden and I coaxed her down back into the house when I spotted Oscar hiding in the plant pots. It shook me up how much bigger he was than her. She is just a tiny cat, it's her attitude that is so huge. I am not sure she saw him, as I think her eyes aren't doing well. If I could get stuff other than tuna into her I think it would be better for her.

Monday, 21 March 2011

The cost of gossip


Apparently, while I wasn't paying attention and when I was probably stuck in front of Dora the Explorer, a police helicopter, several police cars - some with dogs, and what sounds like a full set of extras, rammed into a white van just outside the newsagents.

Well, I couldn't let this pass, could I? So I toddled along for a cup of gossip and I was mightily disappointed. I think that the man in the newsagents suspected something, but all I found out was that one man, and only one man, was dragged out by this cavalcade of police. I asked whether they were chasing Arnie, but apparently there was more meat on a butcher's pencil than there was on this man dragged out.

All the descriptions, cars rammed into the offside door so that the person could not get out, lots of blue flashing lights, whirling helicopter, and not one bit of decent gossip.

Also, while I was in there I accidentally bought a knitting magazine. And even that was not up to much, I was only mildly amused at the 'knit this sweater for only £90' tag - only £90? Hmm. Coat cost £10, and I paid more for it than I should have done, shoes were expensive at £20, top was secondhand and probably inexpensive, jeans were £10, underwear is certainly not expensive, though I think the bag was expensive for me at £10 - yes, my whole outfit for less than the yarn for the top. The yarn was pure silk, but I would have been terrified of snagging it. It was a nice pattern, but would need quite a bit of fiddling to make it not only affordable but wearable by my shape.

So gossip for me today was definitely unprofitable

Sunday, 20 March 2011


We went to the Blue Planet today.

I loved it, we went all round, we went in the tunnel under the water and watched sharks and rays swimming over us. We even had a meal there.

I found it a bit frustrating as there was no map of the place, so it was hard to know if you had seen everything. Also the gift shop was bigger than some of the exhibits. However the beautiful fish, sea creatures and amphibians were so wonderful.

I asked little bear what was the best bit. He said, 'all of it'. However the playground with the super cracking corkscrew slide and climbing frame may have been his highlight.


Lbf is a little lad a few months younger than little bear. He is far more streetwise than little bear, far more adventurous. I know his mum does her best, but for the last two years he has been playing unsupervised in the street and it has terrified me. But his mum has been unable to keep him either in the house or the garden, they tried all sorts. He has a brother a few years older, not much, who is often around. They knock on the door often to play with little bear, although really they want to play with little bear's toys. So when the weather is half way decent I shall be sitting on the step. I think I shall organise stuff to knit while I am out keeping an eye on them, as lbf's mum doesn't. She does have younger twins, I couldn't manage.

Lbf isn't a bad lad really, there are a lot worse, but he is a tearaway. Everyone on the street recognises him as a tearaway. I don't want to give him a bad name, as he isn't quite four, and there are a lot worse out there. His older brother is an absolute sweetie.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Mummy means it!

Little bear played out in the garden today. As it is a small garden and all the other kids were playing in the street, I let little bear play out of the garden for the first time. He had a great time, tearing around. However he insisted on going up the steep hill and I couldn't see where he was. I told him not to, then I told him not to or he would go in. The third time he was brought in, screaming and shouting. However I had warned him and he needs to know that I mean it.

However I can look forward to a spring, summer and school time of little bear being best friends with one of the biggest tearaways I have ever seen at four. Little bear's friend (lbf) used to live next door but one, as the child of the couple with the domestic violence and the police taking all the drugs away. They moved into the house three doors down when Her Three Doors Down moved. Lbf doesn't swear, always starts out clean and tidy and is wonderfully energetic. He is three months younger than little bear, will almost certainly be in the same class at school and is a few inches smaller. However if ever a child put dynamite and chainsaws on a Christmas wish list, that child is lbf. When little bear told me that lbf was his best friend a chill ran down my spine.

Clutterbust creeping on

OH went twice to the tip today.

I have just spotted across the room a stack of cardboard, the backs of A4 writing pads. I thought the cardboard would come in useful. That can go when I've got off the computer. It is the continuous tug in me - saving things 'just in case' against trying to empty my home of clutter.

I will get there, I will!

Friday, 18 March 2011

Learning language

OH and little bear have been watching Dora the Explorer together - in Dutch.

I just let them get on with it these days.

Wardrobe dilemma

Darling father needs a wardrobe. As does OH and little bear. Little bear does not currently have hanging space for clothes, but will in September when school uniform starts. The current wardrobe in OH's room is too big, blocks the radiator even if pulled out a bit (unwelcome in the cold weather this winter) and needs to be replaced so I have somewhere to put my clothes.

I would love to be able to go to a second hand furniture shop or a charity furniture shop and get furniture with a bit of stability and character. However the tight turn at the top of the first flight of stairs is just too much. It has to be flat pack.

I won't bother with Argos as I have had bad experiences. I am considering IKEA as I have had good experiences, but the selection isn't quite right. I am not sure where else to look as none of the stuff in Asda, Sainsburys etc seem suitable or are too flimsy or just too dratted expensive.

What is even more depressing is that wardrobes have at least doubled in price since the last time I looked - and while I don't want to plead poverty, I also don't want to spend what looks like over £500 that needs to be spent relatively soon. Only the wardrobe in the top room can be put off for any length of time. Little bear's can perhaps wait a few months, but by next Christmas it will be driving me daffy having nowhere to hang school shirts. And it will really affect darling father's standard of living if he doesn't have a wardrobe.



There is a disadvantage to hanging out washing. Next door's huge black tom cat, Oscar, aka Scarface Claw, sneaked into the kitchen while I was hanging out washing and stole evil cat's tuna.

He just flowed out of the kitchen as I came back, all sleek and smug and licking his chops. I shall have to keep an eye on him. Especially as he likes to dig up darling father's plants.

Let Housewifery appear

I don't know where to start.

OH will be bringing home work to do over the weekend. He needs a relatively clear study to work in, and it is heaped in piles. This includes randomly distributed furniture and piles of books with no room on the shelves until I clear another space to put the folders but I have currently no idea where.

There is less ironing than usual, but that is about to change as the weather forecast says it will be fit to hang washing out. The washer is already on.

The bathroom is disgusting and I don't want little bear trying to clean it.

I need to start sorting darling father's room out before he appears at the end of next week. That may seem like a lot of time before it is necessary, but there is a lot to do.

The kitchen is a wreck and the approved food order that arrived yesterday has nowhere to go unless I reorganise the cupboards and empty some rubbish and reorganise the walk in cupboard which I will struggle to get to if I don't clear the dining room. The dining room has a stash of old papers that need sorting and rehoming.

OH will also find it easier to relax in an uncluttered and clean living room - which is not its current state. He really deserves to relax as he has been working v hard and will be running around with a huge 'to do' list this weekend.

Also, my back is playing up as a few years ago I tore a muscle in my back and now it complains on a regular basis (it's only doing it for attention).

I shall probably be on here far too much avoiding the chaos or resting my back. Still, at least that should get the next chapter of Digging up the Past done.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

I need to be a better housewife

Little bear has just insisted on cleaning the toilet.

Okay, it was one of the Duck disposable toilet brushes, which I loaded and then closely supervised. He sort of swished it around. But I really need to raise my game.

The clutterbust dilemma

I am always pulled two ways at the moment. On one hand I NEED to make more room. On the other hand I don't want to lose stuff that could be really useful.

Towels - most people would say that you cannot have too many towels. Well, I have! I have far too many towels. So I am passing the shabby ones on to Nice Mr Next Door (who really helped getting the furniture in last night) as he works on cars. But what about the not so shabby, non microfibre ones that I can't see me using but probably won't sell in a charity shop. Because there may be 'things' in used towels.

(it was well known during Medieval and Early Modern times that the Black Death could be spread via clothes and the actual bug itself can survive on cloth for @ forty days. There was often a ban on selling second hand clothes during times of plague)

It really does seem a shame to get rid of the nicer towels, because apart from anything else I am confident that one day I will have a flood or a spill or something and the towels will be a life line.

I want to keep a few empty pots of a particular yogurt clean and to one side. They are low and shallow and quite sturdy and so ideal for painting and such like. That's clutter, but useful.

I think I have over fifty pillow cases! Fifty! That is me being insane on getting bargains on ebay (lovely quality too) and the ones that come with duvet sets and then all of darling father's. But not only are they useful for putting on pillows but also for putting things in, especially if you want them free of dust. Or using them to wash things in, like the pegs that I have that are dirty because I never took them in over winter and now they are leaving black marks.

And I found the perfect container for some tiny safety pins I use as stitch markers when I am knitting - I had had a paste sandwich for lunch and the cleaned jar was ideal. Should I keep a spare jar cleaned just in case for things like that? I don't eat a lot of paste, and I am the only one in the household that does apart from evil cat. It was effectively free, reusing rather than sending to recycling or landfill, and it was ideal. But if I hoard things like that I could end up like darling uncle who at one point had hundreds of flimsy margarine containers and fruit punnets 'just in case'.

Anyway, I have got rid of a very rickety chest of drawers and bookcase and updated the clutterbust. Also a laundry basket frame. The house still feels constipated.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Nettle cloth

According to the internet nettles were the first fibres made into cloth, back in the Neolithic. Also nettles were used to make cloth for German uniforms in WW1. Also it was known as Scotch cloth and used for sheets in Scotland until 19th century and is (apparently) stronger than flax but softer than hemp. But flax is easier and cheaper to grow and process.

I find this sort of stuff fascinating, and I am imagining what the sheets would be like made from nettles - apparently something smooth and half way between linen and cotton.

Darling Father's furniture arrived.

All is chaos. Darling father's room is heaped to the rafters, large lumps of furniture are sitting in the middle of the study and we couldn't get the wardrobe up the stairs.

It is utterly worth it.

Please send sanity

I bought (at random) a book called 101 uses for stinging nettles. I opened it at a random page and it referred to, erm, stimulating during passion.

I'm not showing it to OH.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Digging up the Past Chpt 12 is up.

I posted it while trying to stop my back hurting because I need to do more in darling father's room before furniture arrives.

Too many bits of me hurt - in a minor and inconvenient way, but enough to grumble about.

Chpt 13 should be more entertaining.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Rock and Roll

Still extremely depressed.

However cheered up by little bear who has decided that he is going to collect rocks. In real life this means that he picks up random stones, pebbles and bits of gravel in the short distance between nursery and home, putting them carefully into his coat pocket.

Memo to self, don't wash anything without checking or stonewash may have a literal meaning in our household.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Too many ideas

Having a bad time

But thought of a story for the forgotten village, or at least the start of a story. Apparently there were sin eaters in the area around the Shropshire/Wales border, not a million miles from where I envisage the forgotten village. The sin eater would attend the house where someone had died and have something symbolic to eat and drink, take some money and declare that they had 'eaten' the sins of the deceased. There has to be a story there.

That has cheered me up. Though no idea where the story would go and what I would do with it. Nor when I would have the time to write it. But I think it is a viable start to thinking about a story.

Thursday, 10 March 2011


By accident, clicking on a link and then a link, I found a publishing site that seems to accept manuscripts direct (most publishers don't).

This is a huge push for me to get writing more consistently. I need to finish Digging up the Past and then get working on reworking a novel I wrote a few years back. My writing has improved significantly over the years. No publisher would be interested in the stuff on Fiction Net as it is already in the public domain and why should someone pay for a book (produced at expense) when they can read it for free?

I hope I can make a little money writing. It would be a massive help.

Keeping safe

OH has reviewed the Parental Controls on the computer in the study, and I have gone through and got rid of lots of saved passwords.

Little bear is getting adventurous. Yesterday he started to type in 'nick jr' to the address space and then scrolled down the list of addresses that came up until he found the right one and clicked on that. I have also set the browser settings to continuously delete my browsing history. It is a nuisance because I can't do my usual nip round as quick and - shock! - have to keep typing in addresses or finding the shortcut.

Both OH and myself browse fairly harmlessly, we are a little bit dull really, but at least I have cut down the chances of little bear ordering from ebay, Sainsburys and Asda. I am usually quite good about logging out of things when I have finished, and I will need to stay vigilant for that. My own shopping is bad enough.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


An approved Food order came today. I added a few things in that we could do with. It wasn't a particularly large one.

However it did include Christmas Cards.

I think I am beyond help.

Handsome Devil

Oscar, aka Scarface Claw, formerly the cat with depression, has blossomed next door and now is a huge, all black, sleekly furred tom with attitude. As I came home from dropping little bear off at nursery (with soldier's helmet and eye patch) he tried to come into the house.

He is such a handsome cat, a real smoothie, all lean, mean, mousing machine. But I didn't let him in, no matter how tempted. Darling father may not be here physically, but he would not appreciate the destroyer of his flower beds getting an invite. Also evil cat would probably happen and at her time of life it really isn't safe.

But I was so tempted. I am a sucker for a smooth operator.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The census has arrived, but not news from the Educational powers that be.

Also, I feel a little low as my life is too chaotic to give something up for Lent. Giving up something up for health reasons didn't count as a fast in Medieval times, or to save money, or for any selfish reasons. In fact, if someone was known to be fasting in a lord's household, the same food would be cooked anyway as the left over food would be given to the beggars and poor and so the fast would also benefit those in need as well as the soul of those that fasted.

Also, in Lent I like to try and do something positive for faith. Again all is too chaotic. I feel a bit low about it. I shall just do the best I can.

Honey Cakes

Little bear has driven me completely scatty while making the buns - Teisen Mel or Welsh honey cakes. I got the final recipe from the web (the one with three teaspoons of instant coffee to a small cake and a huge amount of olive oil as well as the honey etc probably tastes great but I couldn't face it).

Regrettably, although the list of ingredients is full, all of them are not included in the instructions, so the 'adding flour' bit doesn't include the cinnamon (which I remembered at the last minute) and the bicarbonate of soda (which I didn't).

I expect the cakes to be robust, but little bear is happy, though probably queasy, as he has just scraped out and licked the bowl - very thoroughly!

All I need to do is clear up the trails of honey (I do it!) and the vast sprays of spilled flour (I tap this and shake it up!) and all the different bowls and spoons (I lick this!)

Housewifery is appearing

There is a quote in Henry V, 'let housewifery appear.' We watched the Kenneth Brannagh version a few nights ago and once again the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end at the great speeches.

Housewifery isn't a great speech.

6.30 this morning little bear decided he was getting up. 'Muuuuuum'
I groaned and staggered to the foot of the stairs. 'It's night time.' I weighed up the chances of OH being woken up. 'Okay, come down.'
'I want my castle and pompoms downstairs.' little bear yelled loudly.
'Not until after daddy goes to work.' I say, determined to try and not wake OH by moving all the stuff around. He is due another hour's sleep and needs it. He is really suffering with a cold.
Little bear then managed a high volume 'not fair, want now!' fit but eventually came down, OH well and truly woken.

I am unimpressed after a bad night, so make him some cereal and then crawl back under the duvet. I was there for at least two minutes before little bear tipped over a full bowl of cereal and then demanded to make a honey cake.

I can't find a sensible recipe for a honey cake, not that I have been looking as hard as I could.

After the mop up I am wide awake, so put out the clothes I washed yesterday in desperate faith in the weather forecast. It is supposed to be dry all day, so I have filled the washing line from an early start and hope, fingers crossed, that by 4pm when the damp starts to come down that there will be dry washing waiting for me.

I have put in another load of washing, emptied the kitchen bin (why won't OH recycle glass?), pottered with this and that, and I am about to abandon little bear to a screen to get some ironing done. So reluctantly housewifery is appearing.

If I sit still and shut my eyes I swear I will fall asleep.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Postman hasn't been

We never seem to get post on a Monday, and I can't fathom why. Nothing, nada, no junk mail, second class, first class - nothing. Though the yarn I was mad enough to get did appear, that was parcel force.

I'm waiting to see if little bear has got into his first choice school. It should be extremely likely. But what if he hasn't? I will really struggle. The letters apparently went out on 1 March, second class. Today was the 7 March, so it isn't necessarily unreasonable that it isn't here. It just isn't nice.

Also I am curious about the census, especially as it is extremely likely that I will be the one filling it in. That is something else that others have got but we are still waiting.

Also, I was politely starting to chase someone up re a ball of yarn (which I had wished I had been outbid on, but that is another thing) when it finally arrived. It arrived on 5 March though it had been posted 21 February. It is probably in the small print that it is okay, and was likely due to the road at the top being closed from 21 - 25 February so the parcel force van couldn't make it.

I do hope little bear has got into a good school.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Digging up the Past Chapter Eleven

Chapter 11 is up. It is shorter than I would have liked, but it is a natural break and I know I am going to have a bit of a struggle with the next chapter.

Also, I have registered on Facebook as Sybil Smith, should anyone else go on there. As soon as I have worked out how to use the dratted thing I shall try and update that.

Our dragon is not lazy

Little bear is exhausted. He is not catching up with his sleep and I forecast a complete meltdown before he actually gives in and sleeps.

Today we went to the Tropical House in Roundhay. Little bear was almost asleep in the car, we had to wake him up to get out of the car. Then we had to walk a few yards to the actual Tropical House. Little bear was in whinge mode, 'This is taking for ages!' We stuck to our guns. We were hoping to let darling father watch Liverpool and Man Utd in peace.

Little bear is interesting when he is this asleep. He is either charging ahead at a great rate of knots or he is stopped, solid and immovable. So we went round pointing out the butterflies (there were loads in a lovely swirling column, it was brilliant) and the meerkats (who according to little bear eat fish) and the birds and the fish. The highlight for me is when we reached the iguanas, no longer roaming sadly, but safely in a large pen. I said that they were baby dragons. Little bear pointed out that they didn't breathe fire like our dragon, because they were too lazy. But at least our dragon ate nicely. I said thank goodness the dragon didn't eat like evil cat because she ate very messily.

No idea where this all came from, by the way, but I think little bear may have been dreaming on his feet.

The impetus for clutterbusting had another push today. In total we spent over an hour looking for first the remote control and secondly little bear's other slipper. Sigh. How he managed to get them so hidden I don't know, but he did and was happily oblivious to OH and I tearing our hair out.

I'll be having another go tomorrow.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


I wanted to do this gorgeous little lace matinee coat I had seen in a magazine. It looked like the lace pattern was plausible so I purchased the yarn (drat) and tonight I felt I needed to have a bash at it.

I couldn't get it to work. I was only working on the first sleeve (supposed to be knitted first) for an up to six month old, so only on forty five stitches. Three times I started the dratted thing. Three times I ended up one stitch short at the end of the first row of the lace pattern. I said some rude words I learned from evil cat.

So, either I am not reading the pattern right (and I did check again and again) or the pattern is wrong. I am not very experienced with lace and I am certainly not an expert at knitting baby clothes (never finished anything) but it is not a regular knitting magazine so I am suspending judgement but willing to blame the pattern. Not that I am being an egotist or anything...


There is a pattern in a magazine that is for the more experienced knitter. I am more extremely experienced in basic knitting, but I buy it out of stupidity and then rant at the patterns ('Bargain! Knit this jacket from only £65!' - £65 would normally cover every stitch I am wearing including shoes, coat and underwear). However there is a pattern there for a sweater in two colours. It is knitted in black and white, but I would probably do it in two shades of blue quite close to each other. It is a slipped stitch pattern, which I have never done but I think I understand. And it is absolutely gorgeous, really striking and me. Except for most ridiculous cowl neck that comes down to the elbows. I only exaggerate slightly, it comes right over the shoulders and if you are a lady with a bosom then it would sort of perch on top.

I could theoretically do a ribbed neck to match the wrists and the bottom of the sweater. But I have never worked out how many stitches to pick up before, and this would be such a job to knit I couldn't bear to wreck it with a mess of a neckband. I wouldn't know where to start reducing the cowl - it is knitted separately and then sewn on (I hate sewing up) and you knit it from the outside edge in, so it would be hard to tell where you would reduce it. I think I will check on the number of stitches you cast off for the cowl and pick that number up evenly to rib. If I ever buy the yarn, get started and actually get to finishing the thing.

But it does look so amazingly gorgeous and me.

Tired little bear

Last night little bear, while waiting for OH to finish on the computer and take him to start bedtime, told me he was just going to have a little rest, stretched out on the sofa and went to sleep. We carried and cuddled him upstairs and into pyjamas and he went out like a light.

Until 2am.

The volume that child can manage in the early hours is indecent in a four year old. I end up rushing him downstairs so he doesn't wake everyone up. I wasn't quite quick enough last night, darling father took two hours to get back to sleep. Little bear zonked out on the sofa, and I slept on the new fold out chair. It was okay - very warm. I suppose it was the insulation of the foam that helped. It was also very firm and while my back really appreciated it, my bad shoulder didn't. Little bear was up again at seven, though I managed to doze on and off for an hour or so more. It is remarkably hard to doze through a chatty little bear, and I feel guilty for even trying.

Once again tonight he was exhausted, and we have chased him into bed. Fingers crossed he sleeps or he will be ill with exhaustion. I look forward to this phase ending.


When I bought the unnecessary magazines from WHSmiths I got a £15 off an Ocado delivery, minimum spend £65.

I can feel my fingertips tingling as I want to check out the site! I mean, would it really be worth effectively spending £65 to save £15? I have seen on that Ocado always seems so much more expensive, but I also know that if you switch from one to the other it is amazing how just fiddling the offers can suddenly bring the other total down.

The other thing is - could I really get the benefit from Ocado. It seems to sell top of the market stuff. I am rather on the bottom of the market. For example, I have no idea how brie should be before being eaten, and I have been known to put brie in a sandwich with ketchup before now. Ocado seems to be the place for those who knew about balsamic vinegar before it became famous. So my SmartPrice/basics/value instincts probably wouldn't be useful.

On the other hand, I don't have a good butcher's within easy walking distance, though I am determined to do more to find one, and some things I think are definitely worth getting the best you can afford. I would rather spend my money on the best eg sausages I can afford. Sometimes we have the top value sausages with only one or two per plate, even for OH, but that is enough because of the quality. I think you get a better standard of meat than spending the same amount on steak. I also only ever buy the best mince that I can afford. I'll cheat with the steak though, because sometimes you can do amazing things with marinades.

Also, while I know dozens of tasty things to do with mince, I don't know how to cook chops.

I think I will risk a browse on and see what leaps out at me. My freezer is filling up a little (including two lots of four extra special tomato burgers from Asda, £4 total, one burger is easily enough per person and they taste lovely). However I think I shall see what is what and also perhaps stock up on some goodies that will be there for when it is OH and darling father's birthdays, or holidays, or even Christmas. But I shall compare everything with Asda or Sainsburys to just check that it is a good idea.

I am so tempted to monetise again - not because I think I would make any money, but just to see the adverts.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Stopping shopping epic fail

After dropping little bear at nursery I went into town for a coffee and cake. I haven't done this for months, and I thought I could really use it.

So, cost of hot chocolate and cake was not exactly bargain basement but in the circumstances I thought it acceptable. Cost of two magazines to read while eating said cake - well, one was a 'want to look at this magazine for ages and have never seen it on the shelf' and one was a magazine next to it so could have been less expensive but I can salve my conscience.

Then I planned to walk up to the Art Gallery to go and be puzzled at the modern art. But I passed a Cath Kidston shop. I have never been one for girly flowers, I have resolutely refused pink, but something in Cath Kidston calls to me. Regrettably it is less than inexpensive. Sigh. I spent less than I could, and I think I can cope with it in smallish doses - the house is not likely to go floral. But I still spent.

Also there is now a Waitrose in the middle of town, which I hadn't realised. I popped in to see what the fuss was about, and came out with two dozen sausages that had better be worth the money and a treat for OH (who is poorly).

I think I have used up this month's allowance of treats already.


I need to really watch the pennies for a few months. We are having two holidays this year. They are at the same cottage, self catering, less than two hundred miles away, one of them off peak (before little bear starts school). I pay the final payment this month, then next month is car stuff. I am a bit guilty about having those two holidays, but they are a near necessity for OH, he is not getting the breaks he needs.

The papers are full of worries about food and fuel rises, so I need to get on top of all that. By the time the takeaways are added in we are spending a fortune. We are also effectively making over the house, with darling father moving in. Re-thinking all the ways we use the house is meaning that we are getting rid of lots and lots of stuff, but we will need to buy other stuff, including a new sort of wardrobe type unit for OH's room.


(and I can hide the two patterns and big lump of yarn coming in the post)

Also I need to look at earning money when little bear starts school in September.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Random shopping

Why have I just bought geraniums? I have brown fingers. I am useless with plants. There is nowhere in the house that is appropriate to have pot plants as all the window sills are above radiators.

This is very worrying, but at least it isn't yarn.

Grumpy lttle bear

Little bear is so tired, in denial and running a mild temperature. Normal for four.

He woke up at 5.30, and because I misread the time I allowed him to put the tv on. Darn.

I have told him that 1pm we are all having a nap, mum, grandad and little bear. Fingers crossed. Darling father and I won't have any trouble dropping off.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Clutterbust nudges

Today I was looking for a bulb for my knitting lamp. With the house so junk filled it is hard to tell if there is one in the house but the obvious place was the cupboard in the kitchen that is also the medicine cabinet, nice and high on the wall. It houses the electric meter, so bulbs migrate there for some reason.

I couldn't find a bulb there. However I got a few bruises from all the stuff cascading out. The drugs squad would probably find it a bit disappointing. There are about a dozen half finished packs of painkillers (standard over the counter ones). There are lots of half finished bottles of baby nurofen (I keep forgetting to look, little bear doesn't get dosed that often) and pack after pack after pack of vitamins.

I take Berocca, which helps. A little while ago it was on offer. Yep, I bought a sackful and there are still a load in there, as well as a pile of little bear's vitamins (on the same offer). There is also a ten years supply of tea tree oil and some citronella. A Boots First Aid Kit hit me on the head.

There is no chance of finding anything at all in an emergency, so tomorrow, at some point, reluctantly, I am going to try and sort it out. Really it is a question of organising what is there, perhaps putting it in small boxes as a divide and conquer measure, and very little to throw away.

However I think one of the keys to clutterbust is to find a home for everything. Once I know that bulbs should all be kept in one particular place that is where I put them, that is where I look and I don't keep buying eg bulbs when I don't need to. Then things don't overflow so much into heaps and get shoved just anywhere and add to the piles of STUFF and stops the place that it is in being a home for something else.

So I had better grit my teeth and get on with it.

Moderately grumpy

Lesley - your comment brought a lump to my throat. I am doing a hated 'yes, but..' I sleep on the sofa at the moment as I can wedge my sore shoulder in. I haven't really been able to sleep in a bed for a bit, though it is better. I just have trouble getting deep sleep when I am on duty, for little bear, and really I've been like that since November, with one or two nights off. It's not that OH isn't willing, it's just that I've been watching out for my dratted shoulder. I should be able to go back to normal now and while we have (this week, from my friend ebay) now acquired a foam flop out chair/bed, the sofa is actually remarkably comfy. Last week, when little bear was poorly, was v draining as I got v little sleep. I am actually going to go away and doze on the sofa as this morning I was so tired that I went to sleep after little bear got up and was so fast asleep that I didn't hear OH until he was leaving the house! This worries me, as normally I would hear everything of little bear while I dozed, so I am concerned I could miss something.

So, still tired, but you would not believe how much I managed to do yesterday despite a grumpy little bear. Washing hung out, home cooking, clearing, tidying and generally moving around with a purpose. Have completely failed to do that today. But little bear is in a better mood so that is nice.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Grumpier Sybil

I have been v run down recently (sorry to be so self indulgent, but background) and this morning when little bear decided he was going to play downstairs I said fine, but mummy needs to sleep, you must let mummy sleep.

I crawled back under the duvet on the sofa. Snooze for ten minutes...

'muuuuum, where's my pink motorbike?'
'Mummy is having a sleep, I'll look for it later.' Ten minutes pass.
'Muuuuum, where is the remote?'
'Mummy is having a sleep. You had the remote last, is it on the chair?' It was. Another ten minutes passed.

So I am grumpy from tiredness, grumpy because of little bear's determination to be bouncy, grumpy because the five minutes I wanted to browse the forums (and it was five minutes only) were similarly punctuated, and completely ready to sulk. This is not a grown up position, and I am doing my best to be a big girl, but my best is not currently v good. Being called smelly pants by little bear didn't improve my mood (he had a disciplinary tickle).

And evil cat is sulking about the current lack of fresh chicken.