Tuesday, 31 January 2012

What to do with Olives

I like olives. I know that they are not to everyone's taste, but I do like them. That is why I got several jars from Approved Food. I just never get round to eating them as a snack. I also never seem to get around to putting them into a casserole of beef, tomatoes, onions, peppers and a generous slosh of red wine. Darling father does not leave generous sloshes of red wine around. Besides, it's usually a 'throw stuff in on autopilot' sort of thing when I do a casserole.

These olives are taking up room on my counter - room that is sorely needed! Beef casserole with tomatoes, onions, peppers and (possibly) red wine coming up. But I am wracking my brain for other ideas.

Also - memo to self - just because I like something doesn't mean I shall actually eat it, so don't buy stuff!!!!

The tomatoes, onions, peppers, olives and red wine could also work for lamb, and I have some diced lamb...

Not at her time of life

My brother brought over a Cat Christmas stocking for evil cat on Sunday. OH is not really a fan of giving cats Christmas presents. He says that he will consider it when they start acting like Christians. All cat owners will know the chances of that

Evil cat half opened an eye at the tinkly balls and the fluffy mouse. She couldn't be bothered. Today I put down some of the catnip treats for her, I thought it would cheer her up.

It wasn't the best of successes. First of all she didn't actually eat any, but she did sniff them. Then she went absolutely loop the loop, hurtling round and being a complete lunatic. She was bounding up and down stairs, she was doing a handbrake turn around corners and the fluffy mouse was getting a real beating. It lasted for about ten, action packed, nail biting minutes. She is now grumpily sleeping it off. I think I may donate the rest of the catnip treats to Oscar next door. Not only would it be very funny to see such a dignified gentleman cat lose his composure, but evil cat's bones are a bit too old for this.


I am not happy. It is not snowing here. It is likely that a lot of surrounding areas will get snow but we will escape it. However the sky is saying 'snow', the temperature is saying 'snow' and I always get extremely sleepy just before snow - and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Sausages tonight. To get over the problem of things defrosting and then looking suspicious, I am going to get out what I need for tomorrow this afternoon and then defrosting in the fridge. I am currently considering the pork chops but sliced and fried and cooked with a sauce.

I think today is a trundling sort of day, to see what I can trundle along with. I shall take anything at all as an achievement.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Knitting fail

I can't do basic lace knitting - I can't! I have just magically conjured up 50% more stitches than I should have in a single row, and I have no idea how I did it.

Grump, grumble, complain and moan. I am so fed up that evil cat stopped trying to sit on my throat.

Back to the drawing board for the baby clothes.


I've just found a load of Christmas cards which I forgot to send. I am sure you can imagine the scene, I put the last half of the Christmas cards down safe to keep them out of the reach of a giddy little bear, and completely forgot them.

I don't think I'll send them - I am just too mortified. I hope they will forgive me.

More and more knitting!

Mr Nice Next Door's daughter is having a little girl very soon, and has just asked me to knit some things for her as she can't find them in the shops.

So I have purchased a large quantity of pink yarn from Deramores, even more from a local yarn shop that I hadn't previously visited (but will again, it is the Wool Shop on Tong Road and it is lovely, bright, airy and inviting - the people are lovely there as well) and some top up patterns for the new style of baby clothes - before Nice Mr Next Door's daughter said she preferred the old style. So I've dug those out again.

I am looking forward to catching up some listening time with Classic FM and a large quantity of very pink. I am also knitting some scarves (pink) for her two older daughters, but I can rattle those off in one evening.

Of course, that puts off the jacket, but that put off finishing a sweater, and that put off finishing a slipover...


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Meal planning fail

I have looked at the week ahead and considered my options, and reached a complete blank.

Today we were supposed to have lamb stew as I couldn't do the lamb stew yesterday as I needed to get little bear out of the house to give OH a break which meant I didn't really get time to set the stew off before I went out and I was not keen on leaving it in case OH forgot and it was too late when I got in. We had remoska potatoes, tinned ham and baked beans instead.

Today the lamb stew was ruled out as the freezing and defrosting of the lamb meant that it smelt a bit funny and looked a bit green and I still haven't forgotten the food poisoning before Christmas so I bunged in some cooking bacon that needed using up.

Interestingly, we have no more tinned ham or corned beef in the cupboard. We do have some sauces, including some condensed vegetable soup which was bought to be a cooking sauce but has never really been used. There is less diced meat in the freezer than I thought as well. The stocks are running down. However it is important for me not to stock up until I have actually seen the back of the cupboard. I will be buying in one more tin of corned beef, but no more, not even the ham. I have some smaller tins of chicken that will do at a pinch and which should be used up first.

One of the big things that I have stocked up on is cuppa soups. I use them in making casseroles and as a base for a proper soup with bits of food in. They don't really go off, not like meat or vegetables, but I think I shall have a look at some of the sell by dates and perhaps get rid of any that are seriously antique. I think I shall start having them for lunch as well. It will be an ideal solution - it will cost less than even a home made sandwich and possibly I will eat less calories.

Tomorrow is, I think, a vegetable pasta day. More than that I can't think.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Always a proud mum

Little bear has got a certificate saying, 'Star of the Week'.

If that is the sort of thing that they spend their fund raising on, even if little bear gets nothing more, I am happy to support it. I think it is a great way to encourage kids, and something professional and not produced on an iffy home printer looks so much more encouraging.

And I am sooooooo proud of him!

Surprise Clutterbust

The kitchen is a health hazard, and we have just had people in servicing the boiler. After they went I looked round and my heart sank. And there is nowhere to put everything.

Once upon a time I used to be really good about clearing stuff out and watching sell by dates, but that is a while ago. So I started pulling stuff out of my 'flavours' cupboard. It has dried veg, herbs, spices, sauces, pickles, gravy granules etc. I have only done half a job so far, just a swipe over the shelf and a rummage, but I have already cleared out a load. Some things I am not getting rid of regardless of the sell by date, because for example chilli powder loses strength rather than becoming mouldy. Other stuff I threw just because I was sick of looking at it, and it was time to get rid. Jams keep regardless no matter what the date says, but if I haven't used it in two years, I am not going to use it now.

One thing I have done, which I quite like, is use a glass jar that looks like an old, squat sweet jar and put a lot of loose stock cubes in. I stocked up on the stock cubes ages ago when there was a sale on at Approved Food. All the red beef, orange and gold chicken and green vegetable cubes look almost sweet like. The jar is a substitute for a kilner style jar which I wanted from an Asda delivery for rice, but I am not confident of how air tight it is.

I am about to go back and tackle the herbs and spices jars, which I keep together on the shelves in old plastic biscuit tin boxes - which I seriously would recommend to anyone! I have spices in an orange box and herbs in a green box and when I am making a dish I can just pull out the box and rummage. However I think I need a really good rummage tonight.

As for tea tonight - darling father has requested meatballs, the ones he brought back from IKEA. So meatballs it is.

Meal planning

Last night was a disaster. I had defrosted some diced turkey, but it seemed a bit 'off' in the middle and the sauce seemed designed for three times the amount of meat. I got a takeaway. Sigh. I really enjoyed the takeaway as well. Poor darling father got a meal to himself and I think it nearly sunk him - it was huge and he just seemed to keep going and going.

Tonight is mince and potatoes. Tomorrow I am going to try out my new stockpot and do scouse. Actually, it is more likely to be lamb stew as I plan on putting all sorts of heretical things in like barley, and I am not sure I have the right sort of potatoes.

The UK is a comparatively tiny place compared to the USA, France or Germany, but there really are differences in cooking between the regions. Not in the 'this is a regional recipe from a regional cookbook' type stuff, but just the different standbys that get dished up when mum doesn't want to follow a recipe. The big difference between regions is shown in local markets. When I was young we got cheese and bacon from Chester market. Even now, with the introduction of chilli flavoured cheeses and weird combinations, you still get the slabs of cheese made in farmhouses nearby. You also get all sorts of bacon products, which I just don't see in supermarkets or in the market in Leeds. The thing I really miss from there and from Ellesmere Port is a product I knew as Ulster Fry, which is probably mainly bacon, stuffed with fat and salt and really, really tasty. Leeds has a lot more beef on sale and a lot less lamb, and the pies here are a lot nicer and there are a lot more of them.

So I can't go onto the local market and ask for scouse potatoes, which should be lovely and floury and disintegrating. But I can do a lamb stew that is more or less okay.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Evil cat has a nice fight

It was time for evil cat's check up. So the vet kindly came out to visit. I called Nice Mr Next Door in for reinforcements.

Evil cat initially regarded the stranger with suspicion, but was more concerned with the scraps of ham I had used to tempt her into the living room before shutting all the doors. And she suffered her eyes, ears and teeth being checked with no more than a token hiss. All is well and her teeth are really good for her elderly age.

When it came to trying to check heart, lungs, bladder and joints, however, it was a different story. Evil cat fought. She swore, spat, yowled, hissed, scratched and struggled. She turned herself inside out. She nearly got away again and again and again. She did not surrender! A small tabby, not much more than a kilo, or a bag of sugar, was taking on all comers with venom and determination.

Nice Mr Next Door was actually brilliant, he held her (I couldn't - she is so flexible!) and he was so good that the vet managed to insert a needle and get a urine sample. Evil cat redoubled her efforts to escape but it was no use - she got a vitamin shot and long lasting antibiotics as creaky, skinny old girls like her can be prone to infections.

The urine sample was very clear, which is not a good sign. Her kidneys are not getting better, but that is not expected. She may have a little hyperthyroidism, which would explain why she can trough three or four sachets of cat food, scraps of ham, scraps of chicken and steal shamelessly any time there is fish and still weigh less than a bottle of cola. But the hyperthyroidism helps balance her kidney problems, and she is still a feisty, assertive, determined bag of bones. I expect to be blogging about her for quite some time yet.

The old warrior is resting from battle on the sofa, looking grumpy. I gave the vet a box of Roses - it was the least I could do!

Budget? What Budget?

Little bear has a larger than average head. That is, his head is slightly larger than average, though modesty isn't that brilliant either. So t-shirts and jumpers have to be stretched to go over, OH is the same.

Last night, as once again he got his polo shirt all caught up in his ears, and he was undressing himself so he got himself tangled, I had a bit of a light bulb moment. So far he has been wearing lovely, light weight, easy to care for polo shirts. This morning I ordered some white proper shirts in his size.

I know it will mean extra ironing and it will be a little less informal looking (still my little baby), but little bear will have that extra bit of comfort.

Of course while I was on the site (George, through quidco) a few extras slipped into the basket, like some school sweatshirts (that are fine going over his head) in the next size up as his are looking faded and a bit short, and some socks as I swear there is a sock eating monster. I also got some socks for OH as well as his are looking dreadful.

So there is £40 gone. Fortunately I am doing okayish with the shopping. I have bad days. But the delivery is coming in at around £30 per week (without alcohol) at the moment, and I think I can get that down as well. All I need to do is focus.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Knitting nervously

As a present I got given a book and some knitting wool and I went for it to start knitting a swirl jacket. I love the way they look, I really, really, really want to wear it, and it looks lovely to knit and it's knitted in one piece and only one seam so no second sleeve syndrome. I started it this weekend.

Step one - cast on 569 stitches (yes, five hundred and sixty nine knitting stitches). I've done that, with some supervision from little bear.

Step two - purl row one, knit row two, purl row three. I've done that and quite enjoyed it.

Step three - join the round and knit it as a tube. Well, I think it's okay, but I suspect that I may have twisted it and that I may have added a stitch. Even with the extra long circular needle, it's hard to sort out whether it's twisted or not until after I have knitted several more rows. If it turns out twisted, however, and I have to unpick then I shall take it as a learning curve. I really, really want to wear the jacket. It may take me some time.
There is a job vacancy at a place I used to work. I could work the childcare (fingers crossed, pending poorly little bear etc).

But he would miss out on his martial arts and piano. I really don't want him to lose out on those. There must be ways around that. Perhaps a childminder instead of the out of school club on the day he does his martial arts plus re-jigging the piano.

I don't know that I could do it though - it has been a long time and they may not want me back at all. I am not sure I could cope. I am really not sure that I could cope - I loved the firm I worked for before, but it was very high pressure. The money would make a real difference, though.

Bottom line, I don't think I could cope. And that has just about broken my heart.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Let there be light

The long life bulb in the living room finally blew. The room is a funny one to light, and there always seem to be dim corners, though I am not exactly sure why. So I went for a high wattage bright long life bulb, 25 watts, the equivalent of 150 watts.

Dear heaven that bulb is bright! It is bright, brilliant and brutal. I feel that I could wear sunglasses. Of course every speck of dust and cobweb is mercilessly revealed, but to be honest, you are too dazed and dazzled to take much notice. OH asked when the autopsy began, and it is like the lights that seem to be shone on the departed on programmes like NCIS, or like the special effects when aliens are landing and there is a bright light.

It's great for knitting. It may mean that we use the uplighter more, however.

Keeping quiet at the school gate

Little bear has just gone up a level in his reading books. He has just read his latest three to me, and he struggled a bit to read 'beautiful' and 'collected' but otherwise was fine. I think the level is for five to six years old. It looks like I should perhaps have not got all the previous books in so eagerly. I thought he would have at least six months at that level. Library here we come!

I am sooooo proud. I am also not mentioning this in the queue to go in to school. I shall, however, continue to boast shamelessly on here.

I am really proud, not least because he keeps reading and keeps trying. That will get him through a lot.

Meal plans

I didn't go out to day because there was a reasonable chance of snow and I could be going for some distance. I had planned to go out tomorrow to take the coat back when the weather forecast is better but now I am getting my Approved Food order delivered. The vet is visiting Thursday and the central heating boiler is getting serviced Friday. I shall have to return the coat by post - it is at least an hour each way to return the coat and time is running out.

So, time to rethink the food. Tonight is mince, because I had hoped to be able to give that to everyone but have a bath while everyone was eating, as I was supposed to be going out tomorrow and then I could have mine later, when little bear was in bed and OH and darling father were out. This is no longer necessary.

So, tonight is mince. The next time I see a deadline looming for dinner is Friday, so I could bung in a warming casserole then. I am just feeling soooo tired. However tomorrow, when I am hopefully a little less tired, I am going to excavate my cupboards and just make something out of there. I am also worried about some of the tins going rusty as nothing I seem to do stops the damp there. I may feel tired, but I am also feeling quite confident. And the cupboard needs emptying!

Little bear is officially poorly

Little bear has swollen tonsils and a slightly reddened ear. The dr has given us calpol and said it is a virus. Little bear's cough is not on his chest, even though he does his best to complain soulfully about his cough.

The question is, if I tell the school, will they expect him to stay home as he is now actually getting better.

Not sure how to react

I love boasting about little bear, and I love his sense of humour and his giggles and how loving he is. I slept on the floor of his room last night and the first thing I heard this morning was, 'Mummy, I love you!' And I love boasting about how bright he is.

Except yesterday when I went through his book bag I didn't find a letter. I did note that he had done all his word boxes, it had been marked 'super all right' and that we had some more to go through. And today I bumped into two mums discussing the letter that they had received being quite 'harsh' (their description) about how the children need to practice more.

I need to practice not saying what he is up to.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Pretty Flowers

When we were at the Tropical House little bear spotted some flowers a little girl had picked. I explained to him that we didn't pick the flowers (such as they were in January) in the park as they were there for everyone to enjoy. Little bear then asked if we could buy some flowers. Then he giggled and giggled and giggled as I explained.

Evil cat eats flowers and then is sick. It goes something like this - nom nom nom clunk, because she knocks the vase over, nom nom nom, clunk, because she knocks the vase over again. Then she sings the 'About to be Sick' song, yowwwwwl, yowwwwwl, yowwwwwl, yowwwwwl. Then she makes the 'About to be Sick' noise, blarp, blarp, blarp. Then she is sick - bleurgh! And then I have to clean it up.

Little bear did suggest I just put the flowers where evil cat couldn't get them, but his heart wasn't in it. I think he was just looking forward to the 'About to be Sick' song. I didn't buy the flowers.

Meal planning

Yesterday was a bit of a hiccup when OH was a bit stressed about the pink in the chicken (saltpetre from the bacon stuffing) so we had a tin of corned beef with chips and veggies.

Today we have the chicken cooked beyond reason with (hopefully) roasted parsnips and peas (using up the sprouts for darling father and little bear).

Tomorrow, little bear permitting and he seems fine at the moment, I will be going out to Crossgates which is a huge expedition, to return the coat. However, about ten years ago, there was an exceedingly good butchers there, which I may take advantage of. There isn't huge amounts of room in the freezer yet, but I am sure I can manage to fit in a few sausages and some bacon chops (I love bacon chops). If the butchers is no more then I will call in at Leeds Market on the way home. As it is a huge trek, I think I need to have a casserole simmering in the slow cooker.

Wednesday I can see what I have managed to glean from the butchers/Leeds Market. Thursday I am thinking fish, and Friday mince.

I shall see what happens. However I still have not made a list of everything that is in my cupboards and freezer and until I do that I won't get ahead. I noticed when I was scraping together my grocery order that a certain jar of sauce was finally on offer again. I didn't get any. The cupboards are still too full.

Warning, Grumpy Sybil

Little bear is poorly. He has a sore throat, ear ache and a cough. However he does not do the 'pallid and listless on the sofa' routine unless he is at death's door. He goes hyper.

This morning he bounced up at seven and announced how much he loved me. I was aching, fed up and really wanted five more minutes, but how can you resist a five year old who tells you how much he loves you.

This morning was extra hustle and bustle. He was too cold. He was too warm. He wanted cereal. He didn't want cereal. He did want cereal with lots of honey. He loved me lots and lots, more than the universe (I must have been looking tense at this point). He had not lost his glove, daddy must have put it somewhere. He really loved me, twenty million times (I was definitely looking tense at yet another missing glove). I hadn't shouted at this point, but I was definitely not feeling warm and fuzzy. Little bear was full of sunshine, but with over bright eyes and very pink cheeks.

Then the walk to school. I am not bright eyed and bushy tailed, he is full of energy and over excited. He runs ahead of me (strictly forbidden) and starts hurtling round with the other kids. Then the bell goes, which is a signal for him to hold my hand as we start filing in (queuing is so strictly enforced!). He didn't turn up. He was nowhere to be seen and my rule is that I will let him run around (let off steam before happening to the teachers) but he has to stay within line of sight. He was with a friend a little way back, but that was not the point.

I think everyone in the queue jumped as I shouted his name. Little bear ignored me for a moment and then looked round. 'Get here!' I said (locally this is very soft, I don't swear at little bear which is unheard of). 'Right, why didn't you come to me when the bell went?' Little bear did his usual, which is to shout 'sorry' very aggressively. I was not being put off. 'That is not a reason, why didn't you come here?' Little bear muttered about 'don't know' and I led him into the cloak room.

I mentioned to the assistant as I went in that little bear had a sore throat, ear ache and cough. I also said that he had had baby nurofen, and that they would need gin. In the time it took me to say this while hanging up his coat little bear had vanished. The school is very strict that parents are expected to take the child right to the carpet where register is taken and pick them up from there, I was unimpressed. I caught up with him a few yards in, gave him kisses and then left. I can't keep him at home when he is so active, especially as they are so strict about attendance. However I feel very worried, and a little guilty, especially about the shouting.

I will pick him up in two hours time and again he will be on fast forward. However as he currently has no attention span, he will be bored, he will not know what to do, he will be bored, can I teach him to knit (not at this moment!), he's bored...

I have a doctor's appointment for him tomorrow after school. It is quite likely that this is all viral and that I will just have to tough it out. Really, it is little bear that is suffering, although he seems quite jolly about the whole thing. I also have a lot of sympathy for the poor little man. All I can think, though, is please let it be over soon.
Hazel - thank you, I am too sleep deprived to think of that, but I have at least got a further email, so I have a clue of sorts. That nugget of information is filed away.

Morgan - With little bear I can do the, 'What did I just say? And what did it mean?' routine. I don't often use it on adults, but at some point I will break and use it on a shop assistant or cafe worker who hasn't listened. I don't want to do that, people who work in shops and cafes have a lot to put up with, and I don't want to add to it. However, when I say that I don't want cream, I actually don't want cream. When I say I prefer to use the checkout rather than self service, I actually mean I want to use the checkout. Honest. I'm not lying about my weight or bank balance, why do you think I would make it up? (and breathe...)

Why do I say anything

Speaking to darling uncle, I mentioned that I had lost all the numbers from my phone.

Me 'I don't have the energy to explain, I am exhausted, I am getting off now.'
DU 'I've got the numbers here'
Me 'Thanks, but I haven't got the energy to write them down, and I can't see a pen, I'll get them later, I really need to get off the phone and get some sleep.'
DU 'The first number is...'

At this point I snapped and asked him what I had just said. It does seem to be a recurring theme at the moment where I say 'no' to something, or that I don't want something, and it is as if I haven't said a word.

All I can say, after a night of getting up at least once an hour to put the blankets back on little bear's bed I am on my knees. And the email that lets you track a delivery from Approved Food so I know what time the delivery is due - I've managed to delete that as well. I wouldn't mind, I haven't got round to deleting all the rubbish in my inbox, just the useful stuff. Sigh.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Not looking good for sleep

Tonight I am sleeping on the fold out chair on little bear's bedroom floor. He has earache, a sore throat and a nasty cough. I expect a broken night, like last night, though he has had calpol and often if you can get to sleep then you can carry on sleeping even when the pain relief wears off.

As for school tomorrow - I have no idea. On the one hand, I don't want to send him in poorly. On the other hand he has had three days off since September and I don't want trouble from the school for not sending him in.

I shall have to see how he is tomorrow.

Darn and poot

I have managed to wipe every single phone number saved on my phone and I still can't get rid of the silly envelope that says I have a msg even though I haven't.

Darn, darn, darn. Some of the numbers I can't get again. On the bright side, though, it saves me from a job on the list of going through all the numbers on the phone and getting rid of the obsolete ones - I have about a dozen for darling father and only one of them work.

Darn, darn, darn.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Busy Day

OH gave little bear and I a lift to the martial arts academy where the extra lesson was being held. He had a good time and did some sparring - I am not sure he is entirely cut out for martial arts. He spent a lot of time looking in the mirror at the martial arts' room and he was practicing his charming smile on the instructor, so perhaps he is a lover not a fighter. As long as he is happy and it is safe (and it is so safe, the instructor is really vigilant about it!) I don't mind.

It was when the session finished that the challenge began. The academy is in the middle of nowhere, well, actually on an industrial estate between a series of dual carriageways. If you do not have a car, you have a challenge. Of course, not knowing the area, it took me a while to figure out which direction the buses were going in.

I think if it had been me, it may have been worth it walking into Leeds centre. However little bear's tummy was empty RIGHT TO THE BOTTOM. He explained this at length and detail to me. So we hunted for a bus stop. As we found a particularly interesting set of crossings where two four lane carriageways met with a dual carriageway and a minor road to a set of tower blocks, I spotted a really useful bus stop, where we could get a bus to Roundhay Park and the Tropical House. So on we hopped and trundled out to Roundhay Park with little bear explaining to me very clearly that he really wanted something to eat and we should visit the cafe first.

We visited the cafe first. Little bear was so hungry that he ate all of his ham sandwich, without complaint or comment, before attacking his chocolate muffin. The chocolate muffin did prove a bit much for him, but he gallantly helped me out by eating half the cream in my vanilla slice (he angled for more) along with the packet of hula hoops and a few stray bits of cucumber from my salad.

Then we looked at the queue for the Tropical House. It was yards and yards, and it meant that going round the Tropical House would be a sort of constricted shuffle. So we just went into Leeds and then home.

He is now sleeping soundly. I actually gave him calpol, because he has been looking very flushed all today and he has an interesting cough. It still doesn't sound like he needs a doctor, and he is hurtling round with plenty of vigour, but I think this is finally breaking and a dose of calpol could be exactly what he needs. I rather envy him sleeping through this storm, I think I may have a bit of trouble.

Easy food day

Tonight's meal is a takeaway, so I can sigh, relax and remember to take the meat out of the freezer for Sunday.

All I need to do is work out how to get little bear to a martial arts class to make up for one the class missed - in an unfamiliar part of town and I've never been there before. It isn't even a nice part of town, it's perilously close to the part of town where the muggers have AK47s. Memo to self, do not overshoot on bus.

And little bear, although currently filling up on grapes, is hovering around a box of chocolates given to me, insisting carefully, clearly and repeatedly on the value of sharing. But ask him to share a tube of smarties with you....

(actually, he probably would, bless him)

Friday, 20 January 2012

Safely home

We got home safely with all the kit and caboodle to and from the piano lesson. Little bear is having a marvellous time. He also flirted on the way there and the way back, he just love charming the ladies.

We watched the Box Office Film recorded on Sky+, and I enjoyed it. Captain America was enjoyable, and I loved Hugo Weaving's performance. Actually, him and Tommy Lee Jones made the film for me, I don't tend to go for the traditional hero type.

I have thought about it. Darling father, OH and I watched the film. It cost £3.99 on Sky Box Office and we could have watched it more than once in the week it has been on. If we had gone to the pictures it would have been a lot more to go in, plus travel, plus baby sitters, plus fitting in to their times and probably food on top. Even when OH and I used Orange Wednesdays before little bear arrived, it was still £15 for a night out for both of us after we had had a burger on the way from work to the film.

So, three of us, in comfort, with alcohol (for darling father and OH) and no worries about little bear, at a time that we could set, for £3.99. We have Sky+ anyway, as part of a deal to get an upgrade. I could have made home made popcorn. It would be infinitely less expensive to just not watch the film, but sometimes it is nice to see them. I can see this becoming a regular thing. If there is anything worth watching, that is.

Not a good day

Still in a crash, but I have tea prepped, and I am more or less human.

I slip so easily - I bought some fish, river cobbler, that were two packs of two fillets for £4 and little bear likes them, so I got two packs of smoked and two of unsmoked. I put the two packs of unsmoked into the freezer and they barely fit. I may be doing good work but there is a way to go yet.

Off now to make little bear's sandwiches. He likes to eat them on the bus on the way to the piano lesson, as we set off straight from school. Today has been a teddy bear's picnic at school, so I will be dragging on the four bus journeys a plush rat, a pe kit in a back pack, a book bag, a rather posh looking sort of letter case with little bear's music in and my bag. I am thinking of taking a large carrier bag to keep them all in instead of panicking in case I drop and lose one - especially the music.

Sigh. Twinkle twinkle here I come.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Evil cat is thief!

And thank goodness evil cat is stealing. OH and I watched her sneak up to a piece of sausage left by little bear, slowly slide her paw towards her target, flick it off the plate, knock it on to the floor and kill it. She enjoyed herself, but it was a bit creaky, a bit slow and lacking in her usual malice.

I have noticed for the last day or two she is looking like she is feeling her age, and she is looking very small and slim. She seems to be able to curl into smaller and smaller circles on the sofa. Now she has started to widdle next to the litter tray instead of in it. That isn't a good sign, because evil cat just doesn't do accidents. It is one of her good habits.

I don't think it is a time to call the vet in, and if I have the slightest hint that evil cat is suffering I will call the vet for more pain relief/different ideas/anything. But today I have been really reminded of how frail she is. And last night, as she was sitting on my face, there was no weight at all. Poor old girl. I hope she will feel better soon.

Little bear still grumpy

He doesn't mind being weighed and measured apparently.

He is, however, extremely unhappy as he is being asked to guess the name of a teddy (cost £1 per guess) and I think it's because he doesn't know how to get it right. He has been forceful, indignant and very vocal. I am sure his teachers can cope tomorrow.

Little bear is grumpy

I was very confused today. I picked little bear up from school and he was very clearly saying that he did NOT like being tested, he did not like it and he did not want to do it tomorrow.

I am still trying to disentangle all the strands but apparently little bear was weighed and measured and his eyes tested. Well, I am not relying on the eye test as my school eye test didn't pick up that I was blind in one eye. The height/weight thing says that he is a healthy weight, right in the middle of the healthy BMI range. This surprises me as I have been watching little bear's weight and today had carrot sticks waiting for him when he got home.

I am now going to try and pursue exactly what he is cross about. I don't expect much sense, however, as he never does say what happens at school. I think the big problem with this test is that it wasn't reading or writing so he couldn't impress and show off. And if he can't show off, what's the point?

More cheerful

I remembered to take the sausages out of the freezer! Yay!!!! All I need to do now is remember to peel the potatoes before little bear comes home from school. Then it is sausage and mash for tea.

And I reviewed the next delivery, took off the joint of meat that was earmarked for Sunday, as we have stuff in the freezer, reviewed how much we needed of various bits and took off the booze that was mainly for me. Before darling father moved in I had the equivalent of two small sherries a year. Now I often have a drink when OH and darling father do, but it won't hurt for me to not always have a drink.

I have done a little ironing (I have about ten hours' ironing to do) and the next thing is to make a list for tomorrow.

I am still really, really exhausted. It won't be an early night either. We saved Captain America from Sky Box Office, as I knew that unless I really fought and made it difficult to ignore I would never see this film and I really wanted to. The time to watch it expires tomorrow, so we have to watch it tonight or lose £3.99. I wanted to see it at the pictures, but this is less expensive, and tbh, I may do it again. It is just impossible for me to get to the pictures. There are a lot of films I have really, really, really wanted to see, and never managed it. We don't have Sky movies and even if it is on the other channels it is usually Disney or football here.

I am going to try and cut out caffeine after lunch time. I am sleeping badly (especially when evil cat tries to sit on my face), so that has to help. And little bear helped with a healthy breakfast. Instead of nice easy cereal he wanted porridge, so while I made his ready brek, I made some for me as well. I am looking at a microwave omlette with perhaps some cheese for lunch, then sausage and mash for tea.

It is all looking so positive. I am now worrying where it could go wrong.

This is a good idea

Witch Hazel - Hi Syb, well done on the pasta sauce. On the meal planning front, reading your posts suggests that its forgetting to get things out of the freezer that is the most common cause of derailment. You need to get into the habit/routine of getting stuff out of the freezer, so pick a time when it will be on your mind. It could be, "before you wash up today's dinner things, you get the food out of the freezer for tomorrow", or "before you turn the kitchen light off at night"... or whatever. Or stick a note on the fridge so that you see it in the morning. It doesn't matter when/what routine you pick, just pick something. If you defrost overnight in the fridge, and f you've defrosted something and plans change, all you have to do is have the defrosted thing on the next day instead. Good luck.

This is a good idea! What I need is the toothbrush principle. That is a book about organisation, which says that you never lose your toothbrush. You have a place for it, it is in a logical place and you put it back there after every use. I use the same principle with keys. I have a limited number of places I put keys. With the odd 'normal for Sybil' exception, we don't lose keys, they are always in the right place. I am currently on a campaign for little bear to apply the same principle to shoes. Playing 'Hunt The Other Shoe' five minutes after we should have left for school is not fun.

I am going to have a big think, or even a Big Think about this. Hazel, you may have started me on the path to cracking this.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Meal Planning Plan C

... or possibly plan D, I lose count.

We didn't have casserole because I forgot to get the meat out of the freezer, and we didn't go to football as little bear looked as exhausted as I feel, so I suppose that we will have to abandon that. Three things after school is a bit much, as many tried to tell me.

But I did make a home made pasta sauce, well, relatively home made. I softened some onions, some frozen mushrooms I had got inexpensive, peeled and frozen, with some frozen sliced peppers which I have too much of in my freezer and some sliced tinned hotdogs (sliced with scissors). Then I added a tin of undiluted condensed tomato soup with herbs and worcestershire sauce and heated through. The only thing bought in was the onions as even the hotdogs had been lingering in the cupboard since the summer as little bear decided he really liked eating them. Both the hotdogs and the tomato soup were less than 5% fat (not sure I believe the writing on the tin of hotdogs) though I am not sure about the salt.

So, that was my triumph for the day - I cooked! And I do feel good about it as it would have been easy to get fish and chips yet again. Tomorrow is looking like sausages or similar - I shall see what is in the freezer or do something with the tinned meat still in the cupboard although that is going down. Friday is home cooked fish and Saturday is a takeaway! Just two evening meals to go to the weekend.

Grumpy again

I am having a crash. I feel absolutely exhausted, I am so tired I could cry, and I barely have the energy to get little bear up and dressed and to school. This morning I surfaced when I heard little bear start stirring at around 8am. This is reassuring, as I had slept through the alarm on the mobile and I have never done that before!

Last night we had fish n chips, although on Monday we did have the turkey curry (and it was very nice, I shall get that jar again - cupboard space permitting). I forgot to get the meat out for a casserole last night, so I will have to make something when I get in with little bear after football.

I will think about it later. I am so tired that thinking hurts.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


The bon marche order came - yay!!! And one of the things that was included in the order was coat. I got so cold and wet last week with only a short fleece jacket, that I decided that I needed something else. And the coat was in the bag and I fell in love with the colour and I tried it on.


It wasn't just that it was a bit snug. Part of the problem was, as little bear put it, I'm too fat and part was I was wearing a very chunky sweater. The big problem was that the zip got stuck. I struggled and wriggled and jiggled and wished darling father hadn't gone out. Little bear was not supportive. He watched dispassionately as I was as contortionist as my shoulders would allow and commented that I needed to do more exercise.

I kept my temper.

So I am sitting here, in the coat (which is lovely and snug) waiting for darling father to come home so that I can be cut out of the dratted garment, which I hope I will then be able to send back. The lady I rang seemed lovely, and is actually local. I have no problems with Bon Marche. But if I am not cut out of the dratted thing I think I will have to be buried in it.


Little bear is looking for a particular toy. He has not looked for this toy for a considerable length of time. In fact, it must be months since he thought about it.

Which is why it ended up at a charity shop...

Actually, he is being very quiet up there - I wish I had the nerve to go and look and see what he is up to.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Darn it to heck

My previous post mentions me buying nighties. The ones I like that I like little bear to see me in (bearing in mind he wakes me up and sees me get out of 'bed') are hard to find, oddly. Just boring long t-shirt type ones, in my size, that aren't pink, at a reasonable price. I also drew the line at brushed nylon or wincyette, I wanted the cotton or polycotton t-shirt fabric and I also wanted them a decent length so that when I got up all was decently covered. For a while, as my current ones slowly disintegrated, I either couldn't find what I wanted or put off paying the price as I was trying to watch the pennies.

So I found this site for the first time, drooled over some of the stuff, giggled over some of the other stuff, and there were two long t-shirt type nighties for £16, and while I dithered over three days, I did get them, as I wasn't sure that the offer wouldn't end. I bought them yesterday. From Bon Marche, which today was in the headlines that it may be going into administration.


That parcel had better arrive is all I can say!

Blown Budget

We are nowhere near the breadline, however we could really, really, really do with watching the pennies as little bear will need a proper keyboard as ours is just that bit short and so I could do with scraping that money together as well as the holiday money.

But when OH said that he was popping into Matalan to buy a pair of jeans, I said, 'Buy two pairs! And have a look at work trousers! And look at the shirts! And don't forget to look at the underwear!' Before OH went he had one pair of jeans and one pair of work trousers. Just getting him to consider the possibility of thinking about perhaps buying some clothes is a miracle. Stuff the budget, get some necessities!

And yes, I would buy them for him but I do feel that he is an adult, I am not his mother, so really it is up to him to buy clothes. Also, he hides his size from me, so he has to try things on.

I have also spent on clothes. This I regret. However having only two nighties that I want little bear to wake me up in (as he does most mornings) and one of them is torn and the other is splashed with paint (long story), when I found a site with a special offer, I clicked 'Buy'. The gloves I am less guilty about.

Boasting about little bear

Shameless boasting about little bear. It is a small thing really, but little bear is one of two narrators in the school assembly, 'because he is good at reading'.

It is not something that mums and dads get to see, it is not a huge deal, but I am so proud of him. I have had a quick scan over his 'lines' and there is a bit, with some longer words, but I know he will be fine.

So, my son the narrator.

And we had tears today, because he won't be in school tomorrow. It's a training day. To be honest, the bits I have seen about how much preparation and marking children have mean that I can't be too grumpy about training days. I do really feel for the havoc that it causes for parents who need childcare, however.

I am going to be on intensive cuddle duty tomorrow. I think he will be wanting to do school like stuff. I will just do my best, as ever.

Menu planning

Last week I hit a wall and I am not sure what to do tonight. It is looking remarkably like the turkey curry will finally happen. And the frozen piece of beef in the freezer is very likely to be grated while still frozen and turn into shepherd's pie tomorrow, to have with the remnant of the sprouts and some peas. That is two warming meals for two chilly evenings.

Wednesday needs to be a casserole, as it is football. I have meat in the freezer and I also have some dried veg to use. Thursday is likely to be scampi and chips as I found half a bag of scampi (a donation from darling father with the last trip to Makro) when I reorganised the freezer. There are also more oven chips than I like to keep in reserve, so I want to use some of those up. I want to get rid of some of the half used bags in the freezer to make more space and so that I know where I am. There is nothing more depressing than the quarter bags huddling at the back and looking wilted.

Friday is likely to be mince of some sort, as it is piano, and a chilli con charlie or a beeferoni is good. Then we hit the weekend.

That's the plan, let's see how it turns out.

Considering the budget

Yesterday I was making lunch, and I was shocked as I tallied up the electricity. As it is a basement kitchen I needed the light on. Then the washing machine and tumble drier were both on - if I am going to tumble dry then the warm air coming out of the separate drier is very welcome. The toaster and the microwave were both on as I was making 'poached' eggs on toast for the lunch. Then I thought about the dehumidifiers (very inexpensive to run, but not free), computers, televisions, radio alarms, etc and shivered. I could almost hear my purse emptying.

Clothes have to be clean, so I will do a regular trick and wash dirtier clothes for longer, rather than at higher temperature. I believe that a lot of the energy in a washing machine goes to heating the water. And sometimes I will need to use a drier, especially at this time of year, but if I were more organised I could dry more on airers. I will get in the habit of feeding the washing machine often. The exercise of hunting all over the house for OH and little bear's clothes will be good for me.

Then the matter of taking nibbles to the concert. It cost me £5.50. If I was a little more organised I could have either bought better/less expensive or made them. In fact, it will be better all round if I baked more and bought less. I think in some circumstances, home made is definitely socially better. It is usually less expensive even with the fuel costs added on, often healthier and I have a load of recipes.

The freezer is looking a little lighter, as I finally cooked the pork joint that has been sitting there, looking at me since New Year's Eve. I had bought it as a 'special treat' for then, so it was a huge tin tray with a rather small piece of pork in which had been all trussed and stuffed for the alleged 'added value' and for £5 fed us only once. Though it was really, really nice, it is still only a 'special'. There is still a long way to go, however, as I would still think twice before putting anything more in it just now, and I do want things to be finished up. The cupboard, thank goodness, is merely jammed full and not currently overflowing. I need to keep going.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Chardonnay wine vinegar

Little bear had his 'concert' last night, charmed all present, according to OH, and was cosying up to the little girl not much older than him. Not all the children had parents present, which seemed a bit sad to me, but it is hard sometimes when you are working as and when you can. Little bear started them all off in an action song and broke the ice. He also schmoozed up to mums, chatted happily about Dr Who to an older girl and took a keen interest in all the proceedings.

I had promised to send some 'nibbles' to the do, so I nipped quickly to a small co-op local to where the party little bear went to while OH was watching him. I'm not very familiar with the co-op and I blinked at their own brand special crisps with sea salt and chardonnay wine vinegar. They were huge 'sharing' bags and £1.59 each. I toyed with the idea of getting them, there weren't that many choices. However I thought - pretentious crisps or down to earth Pringles? I got two tubes of Pringles. After I had paid I realised that the crisps, pretentious or not, were a lot cheaper than the Pringles. It will teach me to do the sums!

And to cap it all, one of the other performers helped themselves to a very large handful and little bear announced in ringing tones, 'My mum bought those for us to share!'

Super time

Lesley - OH is taking little bear to the concert, as it is really the only chance for him to meet the piano teacher and it is one 'other' per person. He has gone stocked up with Kleenex and camera phone - of course he is just as besotted. Little bear has had a superman logo painted on his face, from the party earlier, but I did part him from his costume. He is growing up soooo quickly!

The party today was a wonderful time. The mum had gone to all sorts of trouble to make it special for her son, and as I will be using the same venue I was shamelessly asking her about it.

It was so lovely seeing lots of great kids hurtling around and having a marvellous time in a safe place with their friends, and I had a lovely gossip with the mums. One of them suggested getting care allowance for darling father - as he painted the bannister while we were out, I don't think that I have the brass neck to claim it. I think, actually, that darling father could claim carer's allowance for me with a lot more justification.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Little bear is very tired

Last night I couldn't sleep, and randomly went upstairs to see little bear around midnight.

It must have been the mother's instinct calling. He was on top of the bedclothes, though it was freezing, with his feet at the pillow end and his head at the foot of the bed. So I sort of picked him up - just about, I won't be able to do that for much longer. Then I turned him round and tucked him under the covers. I wasn't particularly feather light with it, he is a fair size to turn 180 degrees and snuggle down, but he didn't stir, didn't flicker an eye. He just cuddled down under the duvet and slept even heavier.

This week he hasn't been to martial arts, he hasn't been to football, and while I did take him to piano tonight, he nearly fell asleep on the bus to there. I suspect that he is finally getting the sleep he needs, and the cold that is just below the surface may break tomorrow.

I think the odds of the cold breaking tomorrow are pretty high as he has a birthday party to go to and then the concert with the piano teacher. The 'concert' is not very intense. It is the pupils of the teacher meeting at the teacher's house, playing a piece and then having nibbles. Obviously little bear isn't going to play a piece, he has only had a few lessons and tonight started to learn to play a tune. I didn't know Twinkle Twinkle Little Star could be slaughtered. However five minutes a day practice and it will be sorted out. Tomorrow little bear will start the proceedings with performing an action song. As little bear hasn't worked out what it is to be nervous, nor has he grasped the concept of stage fright, he is a good choice to start.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dratted random post

Someone was posting about choirs on a forum, and for the heck of it, and remembering my past, I looked up Vaughan Williams Donna Nobis Pacem. Yes it is on You Tube and once again my will power is not enough to tear me away for an early night.

It's worth it.

Donna Nobis Pacem by Vaughan Williams

(Thank you Morgan, for teaching me the linkys)

Evil cat has a narrow escape

Evil cat has always done this, and it always terrifies me when I get tripped up by it - she hides under things. She crawls under throws, duvets, sheets and blankets. She finds fabric and she tunnels under it.

And then you sit down on the edge of a bed and a baffled and irritated tabby head comes out from under the duvet, or the sheet, or the bedspread, blinking and swearing in 'cat'. She is such a tiny thing, she barely makes a bump.

Today there was a rumpled duvet on the sofa. I sat on the sofa, it isn't an unusual thing to do - unless you have a rumpled duvet on that sofa and a tabby with a death wish. Fortunately I sat down on one side and the cat was underneath the other side. Darling father pointed out that the cat was under there. My heart sank and I started lifting throws and duvet and slankets, and out crawls a very grumpy evil cat.

Still, she stole, chased and killed the left over fish from darling father's fish n chips so she can't have been feeling that bad.

What budget

I feel like the diary should be headed up, 'January - fail'. Sigh. I knew this expense was coming, so never mind.

I have finally booked little bear's belated birthday party. It is a party at soft play, and as I went for the expensive option it will be around £160 for twenty kids. This is infinitely better than trying to do it at home.

For this we get an exclusive use of the facility for one hour and thirty minutes, a birthday buffet, jelly and ice cream (which makes it the expensive option as it is 50p per child extra!) and party bags are provided. It would be much less expensive if we had a party at home, but none of little bear's friends have done that, so we will go with the soft play, and it could be a lot worse. It also includes a year's pass for reduced admission for little bear, which will be very useful in the summer. I notice that the discount for next year's party has been carefully crossed out in dark marker. Times must be tough in the soft play business. Now all I need to do is source a cake.

I will not be sending out the invitations for a while, however. If I send them out now then I have to invite the two young lads further down the street. However they are not really nice to little bear, and they may be being evicted. On the other hand, if they are stressed from the eviction/pending eviction then it might be cruel to deprive them of a chance to go to party, but they are still not very nice to little bear. I am waiting and seeing. And while I will be inviting little bear's girlfriend, the guest list is mainly boys as little bear plays with mainly boys, but I will be inviting one or two girls because either I natter to their mums or I really think that little bear's girlfriend should have some company - not that it really matters at age five. Anyway, everything may change by the time the date of the party in March comes round, so there is not much point in sending them now.

However, on the budget front, my last delivery was just around £30, and while I am mentally composing my next one, I am not planning on spending a lot. I have also felt absolutely no desire to browse on ebay etc. However, I am almost tempted to buy little bear some braces. He wants them so he can dress up like Dr Who. I am currently resisting. So it could be worse.

Super dreams

Little bear went to sleep in his superman outfit last night.

I don't mind this so much. It is an extra layer for when he kicks all his bedclothes off. He does like his dressing up clothes, however, so I shall have to see what else I can find for him that is inexpensive. Though not this month!

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Start again tomorrow

For those who read this and are not from the UK, I promise that not all British housewives are like me. They run homes well, they cook good food, their families are always confident that there is a clean shirt. I think I am in the bottom 2%

And also welcome. I am incredibly flattered that people read this.

So, takeaway for all except me, as I had hoped to have a lower calorie meal but ended up finishing off little bear's portion. At least there was not a lot.

Mince tomorrow, probably in a shepherd's pie. As for what we will have Friday, probably frozen fish and chips. Darling father really wanted a takeaway, I think, so he could sneak off to his room and watch Liverpool play. At least they won, so he may possibly be hung over tomorrow, but he will be happy.

Now I need to try and get some sleep, despite the wind howling outside, to have at least some energy to do all I could do with doing tomorrow.

Meal plans - ha!

I forgot to take the meat out of the freezer to do a casserole for today in the slow cooker. But that's okay - little bear is just too tired to do almost anything (except eat sweets and even that is a bit hit and miss) so we are missing football and I have taken mince out early enough to do something like beeferoni or chilli con charlie.

I am keeping going at the freezer. I really want to make some space. You see, I like using the country soup mix with pasta in casseroles and soups. It is a mixture of a variety of dried peas, barley and pasta and is edible after an hour's cooking. I bought some of the soup mix that doesn't have pasta and needs soaking overnight from Approved Food in error. I never remember to soak it. So I thought I would soak a very large quantity overnight, give it a good simmer the next day and then freeze in usable amounts. To do that, however, requires space in the freezer. I think it will be worth it, however, as some of that mixture simmered up with some onion and finely chopped bacon would be extremely tasty, warm, satisfying and appeal a lot to darling father and OH. Little bear would have his customary cold tinned tomato soup.

Today has not been a good day, start again tomorrow. Tomorrow is Thursday and nothing is planned. I think tomorrow is going to be frozen, breaded haddock and remoska potatoes, with the last of the microwave veggies in bags (bought for Christmas and taking up far too much room in the freezer) and Friday can be curry made with the turkey still lurking in the freezer as we will be out until latish. Saturday is looking like sausage...

darling father has just popped in and would like a takeaway, no worries, he's paying. Will rethink again

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I enjoy the adverts

I have just spotted an advert on my blog that was for Fish and Chip Shop insurance. I am a bit baffled by that - surely it is a bit specialist to put on a waffling blog? Or perhaps it is to insure you against the Fish and Chip Shop should you find that instead of a pleasant bit of haddock you have a substandard piece of river cobbler.

I didn't approve of the site advertising that Married Women were available for no stings attached hanky panky. Apart from anything else, I would probably question exactly how married and to whom.

Upward and onward. I need to sort out the delivery

Delvery looming

I could do with getting a quick delivery from Asda. I could do with sorting it out today. I am likely to fall asleep half way through checking it out.

Any bets on what sort of things will fall into my basket while I sleep shop?


Little bear went to sleep very quickly last night and was tired this morning. He only woke up when OH got up and after his cereal he was lying on the sofa looking ready to sleep. He was too tired to eat a chocolate biscuit. I suspect a cold. I am keeping him back from martial arts tonight and we can have a good cuddle.

For me, I was doing really well until evil cat decided that I was the cushion of choice, but I couldn't lie this way, I had to lie that way, nudge, lick, spike. At least I got to get up and get the blankets back on little bear twice last night.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Plan B

Burnt right hand, hard to type, can't knit, takeaway tonight.

Off to deal with little bear and OH's night time routine. Little bear is getting very involved in a story that involves the HUGE cardboard cut out of the dalek (Mrs Dalek) having lost her knitting after having too much sherry.

Normal for here


Today was a failure, I have slept most of it since I dropped little bear off with his sock to make a dinosaur sock puppet. I have had short nights and no chance to catch up for a while and today it hit me. I have been trying to avoid doing this as tonight I will struggle to sleep again, but then, even when exhausted I am struggling to sleep at night. I may as well have some brain function left.

Little bear is another problem altogether. He is shattered, absolutely exhausted. He was like this over Christmas as he got so over excited about his birthday and Christmas that he wore himself out. Now I worry that the three activities per week are too much - this Saturday he is attending a birthday party of his second best friend and a concert at the piano teacher's house as well. I find myself skipping his bath just to get him into bed that bit earlier, but he is a devil to get to sleep (just like his mum!) and he won't stay asleep, the record for him sleeping in is 8am and he could do with spending a bit more asleep time on the weekend.

In fact, he was so tired yesterday that he was considering an afternoon nap. It never happened but it was a close thing. And I am reluctant to reduce his activities because they either involve physical exercise or a lot of travel (or both) which should theoretically tire him out and help him sleep.

It's normal for a five year old, I suppose. I am not looking at how much sleep he is getting, more how tired he seems. I think as the days become lighter, little bear will pick up. I am also going to be trying to boost iron and Vitamin C intake.

Does it ever get easier? Do you ever stop worrying about your children? I swear if I don't watch myself I shall be reminding him to wear a vest when he is thirty!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Meal plans are not us

I just wrote a very long post about what had happened to meal planning here, decided it was boring, deleted it, and I have now written a long summary (you should have seen the original!)

Yesterday was a takeaway for tea, but never mind, move on. Lunch today was not eggs which is a bit of a nuisance but OH brought in a Mac Donald's which was perhaps just as well as if I get much more sleep deprived I will have a psychotic episode.

Tonight should have been the pork. However I grossly underestimated the time it would take to cook so we had Remoska potatoes, Sainsbury's version of Spam and baked beans. Tomorrow will be the pork and the sausages that had already been got out to defrost for tea tomorrow will be lunch for me and darling father in a sandwich tomorrow instead. Tuesday will be either the remains of the pork or the turkey in the freezer stirred into a jar of cooking sauce together with onions and peppers. I need to pop out on Tuesday to buy veggies and take meat out of the freezer for a casserole. Tuesday needs to be quite flexible because I am out at lunchtime, little bear is out just after school, darling father is out early tea time and OH is out after tea. However I hope to use up some of the frozen peppers in the freezer as I have a few too many.

Wednesday is either a casserole or a takeaway as I take little bear to football lessons and we get in a few minutes after OH. Thursday, well, I will worry about that later!

I am not giving up!


Next time someone hands a complicated lego kit for an obscure car to my just turned five year old and says, 'you can't have too much lego' I will not be responsible for my actions.

There are partial windscreens everywhere!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Budget fail

I caved and ordered at Lakeland. As I had wrecked the base of the Remoska I needed a new one, as the remoska is an incredible tool.

I am not entirely convinced by the foaming soap hand pump that sort of fell into the order. The stuff that comes out seems very foamy, but not that soapy. Perhaps I made it too dilute. It was £6.50 (on sale), so it could have been worse, but that is just over half the cost of one of little bear's piano lessons. If it works out it will pay for itself, if it doesn't then I can chalk it up to experience. And grumble.

I treated myself to a cake yesterday which neither my figure nor my purse appreciated. However I did have a very grumpy visit to town, and it almost sweetened my mood. I hate being told off by shop assistants, because, you know, customers are sooooo difficult when they actually want to buy anything. Do not get me started. It would not be pleasant. I have been a shop assistant, I know that it can be tough, I try and be nice, but I have limits.

And yesterday I received an invitation for little bear to go to the birthday party of one of his best friends. To put it another way, I had eight days notice to find a superhero costume for little bear and he would be devastated if he couldn't go. I feel an expense coming on, although he does have a (incredibly well used) superman cloak. If I had more notice I would have gone on ebay, but I daren't risk it in the time span. I have a sinking feeling it means the Disney Store, or BHS - at least it is sale time.

On the other hand, no takeaways and the school haven't asked for money yet and the term is four days old!

Meal plan madness

Thirteen hours after I posted up two days meal plans darling father sunk the first plan for lunch by bringing in fish n chips. To be fair, he also provided a kiddies fish n chips for little bear with curry sauce, OH had eaten on his unexpected trip to town 'to have a wander round' and I finished off little bear's chips.

I also feel like nothing on earth, my ladybits are not being nice, and any more information would be far too much.

Lesley - I think the flexible meal planning is the way to go.

Okay, the turkey is not going to be curried tonight. I can't face dishing up fish twice in one day therefore I will not resort to the frozen breaded haddock fillets, so it is looking remarkably like corned beef, baked beans and oven chips. Or a takeaway. As all seem under the weather (darling father was late taking his tablets again and I have no idea why), I will canvas opinions nearer the time.

The big key is getting all the stuff we have in the house logged, so I can make informed decisions, and to have ingredients for quick and easy meals available. Or rather, develop quick and easy meals for the ingredients that are filling up my cupboards.

Things you find out

Apparently, when I type sofa instead of settee I am being posh. Actually, sofa is just shorter to type.

I think I could have a lot of fun being a Hyacinth though, there must be opportunities to take the conversation off to the Twilight Zone. I once worked with someone who would walk an extra ten minutes because the people at the bus stop nearest were too common (and shopped in Morrisons!).

And I don't know whether it should be napkin or serviette, I have never cared, and I'm not really likely to be in a position to call a small square of fabric for dining purposes anything. I am not devastated. I am, however, fascinated by the human need to make up complicated rules to live by.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Meal Plans - a work in progress

I have been thinking about the meal plans, and why they didn't work in the past.

1. I planned a week ahead, and by the end of the week I was not as energetic, was more energetic or there had been some normal family change of plans that had thrown it out of kilter.

2. I planned without reference to the things that I already had in.

3. When darling father brought in, eg a large leg of lamb I didn't dare freeze then once again I would be thrown out of kilter, or stuff would be wasted because of an unscheduled stop to MacDonalds or someone not eating and it not worth doing a big meal for two rather than three.

4. In a crisis I went to the takeaway. Often encouraged by darling father.

5. I forget to take stuff out of the freezer or get distracted by little bear so eg potatoes don't get peeled, things do not go on the stove in time. Then I will panic and we will end up with another takeaway.

Current thinking is:

1. I only plan a day or two ahead.

2. I make a list of all that is in the cupboards, fridge and freezer and keep it updated

3. If there is a danger of too much stuff getting wasted then I work out how to store it, freeze it or donate it to next door's dogs. It is less likely to happen if I don't plan too far ahead, so I can be aware of what is going on. If an unexpected food parcel appears then I IMMEDIATELY google recipes etc and work out how to use it.

4. I keep an emergency meal or two in the freezer for days when walking is a challenge - stuff that can be cooked from frozen. Also I keep in the cupboard some stuff that won't take long to throw together and be tasty. This also works for dealing with number five above. If I have forgotten to take the sausages out of the freezer then I can do corned beef with mash, or corned beef hash, if I have a tin of corned beef in.

I also need to be a bit more flexible with recipes, and I need to develop some lunch recipes.

Tomorrow is bacon butties for lunch, the turkey from the freezer in a jar of curry sauce with rice for dinner, Sunday is the pork roast which cooks from frozen for dinner, lunch is eggs. I will worry about Monday tomorrow - after checking the cupboards!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Yes, but...

That is the story of my life. Yes, I'd like to do meal planning, but it always goes wrong. Yes, I would like to get to church, but my joints hurt so much. There is always a 'yes, but...'

I am beginning to really hate it. So higher priority than trying to watch the groceries, higher priority than getting the house working, I am going to work on the 'Yes, but...' stuff.

Starting with meal planning. I am going to go away and really think about how it all went wrong in the past and how I can work around it.

Thank you all for comments - as you can see, they are really helpful!

Meal planning

Morgan - waffle as much as you like, you are always welcome here!

I know meal plans are the solution. It's just that every attempt has lasted less than three days. Now I just sort of keep an eye on the upcoming days to see what I need to take account of - so on Wednesdays I will normally need a casserole in the slow cooker as I will be out until just before tea.

I suppose I am looking at meal planning one day ahead, at the moment, rummage in the freezer or cupboards the night before so that I am not left like a rabbit in the headlights at tea time.

Another big thing I need to do - do not put in a supermarket order until AFTER checking freezer/cupboards!

I will give this some more thought - there must be a way of making this work.

Meal Planning lol

Lesley - meal planning is a great idea, but like Operation Christmas Clean, the fates start sniggering whenever I try.

Christmas - Large joint of beef for Christmas day, cold with the rest of the frozen roast potatoes/parsnips, out on 28th, 29th - OH does an unscheduled stop with little bear for MacDonalds so that the cottage pie is not done and instead the beef goes in the freezer and darling father and I have cheese sandwiches.

New Year's Day - It should have been the pork roast that is taking up space in the freezer, but darling father was really poorly New Year's Eve and he just wanted something small for the dinner and OH wanted bacon sandwiches. At least the bacon got used up.

And last night, when I was just too cold and wet and tired to eat, and OH was also in a bad way, the soup just didn't happen. The casserole is supposed to prevent me from getting a takeaway, theoretically being just as quick to bung the frozen casserole in the freezer. I shall see if it ever happens.

However I have just thrown out three large boxes containing four small lollies and done some re-arranging, so I now have about a pound of chopped mushrooms in the freezer, and around four litres of home made (with a little help from a packet) soup. The turkey has been shredded and is also in there.

I should add, darling father also brought home two bags of IKEA meatballs last night. They are in the freezer, and I will never be allowed to forget them!

There is now definitively, absolutely, without question, no more room in the freezer. The casserole that I was planning on going in there has been simmering in the slow cooker for over 24 hours and is now nearer soup anyway, and that is what we are having for dinner. Or else!
I have just been looking at the lovely stores that Morgan has, and I am so impressed, especially by the pickles etc.

I have some cherries I put in brandy eighteen months ago. In the past I have pickled cabbage, and it was tasted, enjoyed, then never touched. Sigh.

I have now decided that pickles etc are now bought, and bought infrequently. They are hardly ever touched.


The freezer is stuffed! I mean, absolutely, jam packed, need vaseline to get another thing in stuffed. Which is a shame as I have home made soup and a casserole to be stashed in there.

There are a number of reasons. The first reason is that I keep forgetting what we have in. Then I keep trying to stash stuff in there if circumstances mean we don't finish something off. We have just had Christmas and an epic fail in eating all that stuff up. And it is all incredibly badly organised.

The freezer also needs a defrost but that is not happening in the next month or so.

I have come to crisis point. I bought meat in, in order to make up casseroles to have when I really can't face cooking. However, half the veggies didn't arrive, then I had too many mushrooms and carrots so should freeze them, except there is no room in the freezer. Of course, there is no room for the casseroles either. Yesterday I put a turkey drumstick (really inexpensive and worth trying) into a large pan with a sachet of chicken and leek soup mix, some barley, carrots, celery, mushroom and dried onion. The soup was for last night, but no-one could face food except little bear who wanted something hot, like a ham sandwich, and darling father who had eaten out. I had put a casserole in to the slow cooker with the turkey, dried onion, cuppa soup mix, celery and mushrooms, but there is no room in the freezer for it. There is also the matter of a huge turkey drumstick whose meat was destined to be stirred into a jar of curry sauce and served with rice.

Current plan - the casserole we have tonight with leftovers squeezed into the freezer. The turkey is stripped from the bone and is put in the freezer as it will thus take up less room than a casserole and if it is finely chopped it should be possible to go from frozen to pan with jar of sauce and heat through without defrosting as long as I make sure that the temperature is brought up to hot and kept there for long enough. As for the soup (liquid that the leg was cooked in), well that depends on whether I can find the energy and resources (and gloves!) to sort out the freezer, throw out any ice cream and lollies and find space for it. Because I had forgotten about mini pork pies that darling father and I really need to use up for lunch before they go out of date and I don't want to freeze them, so I don't want the soup for lunch.

It's a great opportunity to sort out the freezer and make a list. I just wish I felt more enthusiastic.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Little bear is martial

Little bear will be sparring in a competition in February. There are all the safety gear and it is set up to be as careful as possible. It is strictly for his age group (4-5, other ages will be sparring in the competition but not with younger/older people) and all those supervising are lovely and steady.

I think it will be really good for little bear. He may finally find out how it feels not to be first! And it will be a good experience as it develops so that if he is attacked at any stage then he has some resources, developed in careful situations.

Yes, I am absolutely terrified!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Budgetting the deliveries

I decide I need to save money, then go and spend it. Casserole meat (diced turkey leg is very nice, and inexpensive) and some veggies. I am hoping that it will save a lot more in our health as well as our pockets to get a frozen casserole out instead of a takeaway.

Though we can all eat well from a very pleasant local chinese takeaway for @ £10, but I am fairly confident my casseroles are lower fat. They are also likely to be lower in salt (though less than you would think as I use stock cubes or packet cuppa soups as stock).

Then the presents - alcohol is welcome for those presents, and the supermarket is as cheap a place as any, usually. My poor brother in law has been receiving Jack Daniels for Christmas and Birthdays for at least four years. He hasn't complained. The niece, in her twenties, will like something a bit unusual in the booze line, although creme de cassis isn't really that rare.

What I need to do is balance the stuff I like to get delivered with the need for the frequency of deliveries and the minimum charge of £25 with the vast quantity of food in my cupboards and the need to use it up. Next week I will have to balance the delivery fee of £3 to get fruit, veg etc with bus fare of £4 but take into account that I will need to have a minimum of £25 on the delivery to qualify and I don't want to be buying meat. Or alcohol. Or tinned goods. Or possibly even catfood, evil cat is cutting back a bit. So it may be worth me getting the bus after all.

You need to be a black belt shopper to work out what is for the best.

Tactics and planning

A delivery is coming tomorrow. Sigh. It is going to cost a fortune. There is our present for OH's brother in law (bottle of Jack Daniels) and a gift for his neice (creme de cassis) that is for their respective birthdays, so that adds on. I am going to try and get a couple of casseroles in the freezer tomorrow to have instead of takeaways, so I have bits for that. There is catfood etc that I am not going to walk to Makro for, not this week. The forecast is vile and I am still pretty much floored by this stupid cough.

All the above are useful, and potentially money saving. However a lot of treats are on their way, as darling father is poorly and I want to fuss him. There are a few mini pork pies that I think he will like, some egg custards (did you know, on the Asda site, the pack of two egg custards at 58p each are listed about two pages earlier than the pack of four at £1.00 - normal practice would be to get two packs of two if you wanted four, and Asda are 16p better off!) and some chocolate eclairs which I know darling father likes. As little bear will be at school when the delivery takes place, darling father will have a chance of it.

As for the eclairs. We had a delivery between Christmas and New Year which included birthday cake and a pack of four eclairs. Little bear said to me, thoughtfully, 'I really like eclairs.' I insisted on him finishing his cereal, then he had his eclair. As it was his birthday, after some serious hinting, I let him have the one that was supposed to be mine. Then little bear started on how he wanted his daddy to come down and put the Tardis play set together (I wasn't touching it!). He was so unhappy (he said), he was really sad (he said) that the Tardis was not put together. He sighed heavily. OH had come down to watch little bear open presents, but being on antibiotics and having had a bad night, he went back to bed and I wouldn't let little bear disturb OH.

Eventually I weakened. 'I'll make a deal. If daddy hasn't come down by 11.30 you can have his eclair.' I said, fairly confident that OH would be fine with the other goodies. Little bear's face lit up. Of course he was demanding time check after time check and then finally, he got his sticky fingers on the eclair. He was sparkling with mischief, really full of fun, and put the eclair in his mouth - just as he heard OH's footsteps on the stairs. Bless him, little bear solemnly handed the eclair to OH, sucked end and all. OH let little bear finish it off.
Lesley - you are absolutely right! I don't mind you saying this at all! I suppose it was flattering that little bear was with OH when he had his meltdown, as how dare his mother not be around, even though his father was sharing a Dr Who with him!

I think it is just one of those things - no matter how I play it I will feel guilty. So I keep giving him cuddles and staying firm if I am doing something. All any of us can do is our best.

And I really admire anyone who has four littlies and enough sanity to still type!

Good resolutions but failing willpower

Little bear was watching some Dr Who with OH so I decided to start on some much needed ironing. Little bear had a meltdown - I had to be paying attention to HIM. To be fair, now little bear is less likely to tug on the iron cord, so I can get on with it, but he does do all he can to interrupt. Today I just wanted him at a safe distance while I worked out what was what.

I am a rubbish housewife, and it is hard working out what I should be doing and where I can put things with an assertive young man demanding that he does stuff and that I pay attention to HIM.

I managed to get some stuff done, but I will wait until he goes up to bed for round two.

What I need to do is work out what is going on in the house, then get going with him, so that he learns how to housekeep and I can do things without him throwing a hissy fit.

This post has been almost impossible as I stole a few minutes to post and little bear has been insistent that I pay attention to HIM. I don't want him to feel neglected, but he does need to understand that sometimes I can't drop everything, so I have continued. Okay, continued after breaks for hugs. I feel very battered.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Unwanted gift

If you put that into the ebay search engine you get a lot of hits - I got 2,493 a few minutes ago. And it isn't even back to work time!

Some will be excess stock labelled in a hope to get interest. I suppose it's like the 'sales' where the price cuts are more illusory than Derren Brown. Some will be people desperate to be able to meet the bills in January. Some are just glad to see the back of another hideous present bought by awful inlaws.

At least the money is going round and the economy keeps going.

Step One

Sorting where the money goes.

Today I start a spending diary. I start to consider meal planning. And I stop buying little bits for little bear - he wants for nothing!!!

When little bear is at school I can go through the statements and bills and see what I can do. My target by the end of the week is to have that done and all the food written down on a spread sheet.

Added to the need to budget - the stairs on the way down to the kitchen is carpeted, and there is now a hole, with the grippers poking through. It has been that way for a while, but I have been scared to cover it with gaffer tape as it is a vertical bit of the the steps and heels could get caught. The steps to the kitchen are extremely steep. Little bear caught his bare heel on one of the grippers yesterday, and he was very upset (and still is when he remembers it, sigh).

Priorities - holiday (I'm committed to this, so I have to find the money, no leeway), then stair carpet, then probably another holiday because OH will need it, then dishwasher.