Friday, 30 November 2012

Same old same old

Finally, despite some ridiculous health scares, I am in a fit and proper state to get all the scarves listed on ebay, plus two blankets.  I thought I would spend next week listing the dratted things, I would stop then, hopefully get any sold away for Christmas and make a dent in the stuff clogging up the junk room.  Any remaining that were listed but unsold could be forwarded to one of the charities, those who did not get listed could be listed in the New Year.  All seemed nice and straightforward and I even dug out my camera. 

Of course things are never that straightforward.  I am not sure what has happened, but the computer is not playing nicely.  I have a choice between the netbook which has a habit of clicking on stuff by itself.  You should have seen the Approved Food order when I did the initial look on it - random doesn't even describe it and that was before the Tia Maria.  I didn't even recognise some of the stuff.  It also has an extremely iffy keyboard and I am not sure it can cope with pictures.  It was a gift from darling uncle, and I am extremely grateful for it, but not really up to listing on ebay.  Or I could come on this PC, which I am using now.  Despite little bear's best efforts, the keyboard is fine, it will accept lots of pictures, but I can't seem to work the browser.  I can't find any of my shortcuts (of course I can actually find ebay!) I can't see the toolbar and I can only log on here if I start to post a comment, and after using that as a way to sign in to click on the big B icon that gets me onto my homepage.  The normal, 'click here to sign in' has disappeared. 

Tonight I shall throw myself on OH's mercy and see what he suggests.  I am a bit reluctant to do this as I know he is tired and has been busy, so I may put it off so that he can have a restful weekend.  I am confident I shall come up with something!

Learn from my mistake

Never go on the Approved Food site after a large Tia Maria and no cola.  It will not end well. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Having a bit of a hiccup

I have had to do all sorts of subterfuge to post on my blog, sigh.  There is a long and dull backstory involving OH, a new phone and more crashes than the crockery at a Greek Wedding.  There may be some hiccups and a few delays in normal posting.  Anyway...

This evening we had home made soup with dumplings.  It was supposed to be soup, I put a spoon in each bowl as a hint and it definitely looked damp.  I had got a bit carried away with the barley so it was more knife and fork territory.  However it wasn't so nice.  I had forgotten to get anything out of the freezer and so used up the smart price bacon I had been given by Asda as a substitute for the bacon offcuts I use, and it wasn't very nice bacon.  The actual bit of the bacon that was from the pig wasn't too bad.  However the smoked flavouring that they paint on inexpensive smoked bacon was far too strong.  Next time I will boil it severely before draining and then using it. 

I have definitely remembered to defrost something tonight, there is a nice bit of diced lamb in the bottom of the fridge to match up to the potherbs I have sitting on the cupboard top.  There may be barley in that as well, as we all like barley and so far no-one has told me it is bad for me. 

I am trying not to get grumpy with the school  There was a meeting at school for all parents wanting to know more about the internet thingy that our children had been subscribed to, full of ebooks and questions.  I am very happy with the site, by the way, though little bear thinks it a bit beneath him.  The meeting was perhaps not as well attended as it could have been.  I think about forty could have potentially attended, and six turned up.  One of those turned up because I had mentioned it in the playground this morning.  Someone suggested that we get emails with info in.  The headteacher is not convinced this is a good idea.  I am trying to be as charitable as I can, little bear is flourishing in the school, but while the headteacher is fantastic with children, I am not so sure about her connection with parents.  It is obviously more important that she is good with the children, and she really is.  However I think she has overestimated how complicated emails can be.  I am trying to think of how good she is for little bear. I am not doing very well.  So that is another hiccup.

I have also been looking back on the year.  It did not fill me with a rosy glow, but I GOT PUBLISHED (by myself, which is a bit more lower case, but still).  Also I have hardly bought any yarn at all this year, so that is good thing.  It would be a better thing if it was a zero intake of yarn, but we can't have everything. 

I think the final hiccup of the day, after being absolutely determined to get rid of some of my outstanding projects, is I am likely to start a new one. I saw the quilt being made on the Wartime Farm.  I thought tiny mini pillows sewn together would look great, especially if the fabric matched the wastepaper bins.  And instead of buying fabric I am using the fake suede curtains in deep chocolate brown that I got for door curtains and then was scared to hang up because I thought they were so heavy they would break the curtain poles.  I have some unused smartprice pillows that will provide inexpensive padding, and my friend ebay has delivered appropriate needles and the correct colour thread.  OH is out, darling father is upstairs watching football, little bear is very nearly almost going to sleep, nothing to stop me sitting down with a dvd, a cuppa and a new project - not a hiccup, but heaven.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Is this clear thinking?

I popped into our lovely chippy yesterday.  As I was waiting for darling father's fish (cooked to order - it is a brilliant chippy), they told me that someone had made a huge hole in their cellar wall, where it was exposed at the back.  They had made a massive space, taken loads of bricks away and left the poor owner with a headache.  Fortunately they didn't take anything with them. 

I thought about this for a bit.  Someone must have planned it carefully, as while it was at the back of the chippy, there are houses and flats overlooking it and a big main road nearby.  If it was too quiet any noise would be overheard, but unless all was absolutely still there was a good chance of getting seen.  Then someone must have organised tools and such, and gone to a lot of physical effort to get into a shop.  I don't know much about making a hole in a wall, but it can't be that easy or houses would always be falling down.

All I could think was, if they put that much effort into a regular, non-criminal job, I bet that they would be really successful.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Worried about a cat

The people who used to live behind us (who were lovely) had a lovely apricot and white lady cat, who suffered from the attentions of the ginger gentleman. This cat now seems to have returned.  I have noticed her around and about but not really thought anything except, 'I wonder if I can find the new address of the people who used to live behind?'  Then I would be distracted by something and would forget. 

Today as I came back with little bear from his martial arts lesson, I was mobbed.  Several children of several ages came running up to let me know that the cat had a kitten, and it was in That Landlord's garden. 

I managed to convince the kids to not disturb a cat with a kitten.  I don't think that is ever going to be the safest thing you can do.  But then I started worrying.  A cat with a kitten, with a bit of sense, can find a lot of very comfortable places on our street.  There are plenty of nooks, crannies, bolt holes and hideaways and plenty of those are near air vents or heating pipes, or even the sewers taking away the warmer water from all the houses.  And as the street is over run with mice then the mother was unlikely to starve - indeed, she was looking very trim.  I could convince myself that if they could find a dry hideout then they would be fine tonight. 

However tomorrow night could be a different matter, with hard frost forecast.  I was seriously considering tempting the apricot cat and her kitten into our house for some warmth and food.  This was a serious matter, as evil cat is still sulking after coming second in the fight with the vet, but I couldn't let a cat and a kitten stay out in the freezing cold. 

I consulted Nice Mr Next Door, who knows about these sort of things, and also everything that is happening on the street.  I didn't want to act without speaking to him as two of the children were his grandchildren and a rescue mission may have already been mounted. 

I might have known - apricot cat is safe in a warm(ish) shed, being fed by at least two sets of people, and the kitten is old enough to run around and find a safe place by itself if necessary.  Cats can often land on their paws.  However I am still considering trying to coax her inside.  The weather looks set to be cold, and it can't be right to just abandon a cat or a kitten.  I know evil cat will go off like a weapon of mouse destruction, but I am not sure what to do for the best. I can joke about evil cat's reaction but she will find it very traumatic.

I shall speak to Nice Mr Next Door again tomorrow. 

A brighter afternoon

Darling father has put the under coat on the windows in the study - and I am now sitting right next to them!  From dark brown to white is a big jump and they look amazing!  What with the curtains being tied up and the white paint and no longer having the huge buddliea there, I feel quite exposed. 

Regardless, I am going to try and get my head down and crack on with some writing.  I am currently trying to write about characters basking in a heatwave in June.  This is taxing my imagination like you would not believe!

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Vet has Visited

And evil cat is good for a while yet.  No odd lumps and bumps, nothing to be too worried about, and her heartbeat is extremely slow and steady.  Unlike mine as she yowled, growled and threatened hellfire during the whole procedure.  However it was the Young Vet (yes, near retirement age) who had no problems with her whatsoever. He just calmly carried on, despite the dreadful death threats from evil cat. 

Of course, evil cat is still playing the old, 'let's make the human panic' game.  Yesterday she found a few bits of dried up cat food, pushed her lovely fresh catfood out of the way and crunched.  So I went out and go a box of dry catfood and she chomped through that with a great deal of gusto.  She shouldn't have dry food, she has iffy kidneys.  However both the vet and I share the view that at the moment she is enjoying life, she is relatively spry, lots of attitude, and the more we can keep her fed then the longer we will 'enjoy' the company of the skinny old girl.  Honestly, I picked her up when she escaped into the kitchen and it was like fur covered mechano with a growl.  I call her a fleabag, but I don't think there is anywhere a flea could actually bite into. 

So the medicine continues, evil cat continues, and I should really actually get started on Operation Christmas Clean.  And I will - any minute now!

Friday, 23 November 2012

OH is a technical genius

I always stay well away from technical problems if a male is around.  I may be right or I may be wrong but I would certainly be inaudible. 

Darling Father's television stopped working.  This was definitely a problem as Liverpool were playing and some things need to be prioritised.   OH and darling father (and darling father is no slouch!) checked and re-checked everything.  They checked cables.  They turned things on and off.  There was no result.  Darling father ended up watching the match downstairs and muttering about looking for the manual. 

At that point OH went upstairs, unplugged the tv, counted to ten, plugged it back in - and it worked!

And a large sigh of relief was heaved by all. 

Evil cat will be getting a visitor

Evil cat's medicine is running out.  She needs to be checked over as it is more than three months since the vet saw her and the medicine should only be administered if the vet is keeping tabs on the tabby.  So I booked the vet to visit, just after the school run on Monday morning.

The vet coming out is a gentleman, and the name is new to me.  I asked if the receptionist if she knew about evil cat.  'It's all in the notes.' she said airily.  I said, 'Last time she didn't draw blood and we thought that was a good thing.  She is a bit feisty.'  There was a pause and the receptionist said, 'oh,' faintly.

To be honest, evil cat is a bit creaky to really fight off the vet.  She can't be bothered with it these days, and her teeth and claws aren't what they used to be.  OH thought that the vet was going to be used to cats and it really wasn't a big deal.  I pointed out that last time evil cat went to the actual surgery at the vets it took three of them and they still failed to get a urine sample.  Our other two cats would cave in eventually under the awesome, clinical might of the vet.  Evil cat never, ever surrenders. 

OH thought that it may actually be the Young Vet visiting.  When OH was not much older than little bear he took his puppy to this practice, and at the time there was the Young Vet.  This is some time ago, in fact, the Young Vet is probably at retirement age if he hasn't actually retired.  This does not stop us calling him the Young Vet.  He has seen Smoke before, many years ago, and it was wonderful.  Evil cat was competently pinned down, immobilised, examined and thoroughly cuddled with no fuss at all.  I do hope it is him.  And besides, there's less fight in the old girl these days.  It's not that she lacks the attitude, she just can't be bothered.

I also remember the Old Vet, who I think set up the practice.  When we first had malevolent cat we took her there to be innoculated.  Malevolent cat took one look at the table and launched herself onto OH's shoulder.  There she stayed, literally putting holes in OH's leather jacket as I tried to coax her off, tickle her off and drag her off by main force.  The Old Vet was laughing like a drain and leaning against a wall throughout this before majestically intervening and pinning malevolent cat to the table.  OH held her there as the Old Vet brandished the needle and then innoculated OH's shirt sleeve against cat flu - malevolent cat was not as bad as evil cat at the vet's but she did have her moments.  Afterwards you could see all the tiny pin pricks over the shoulders of the jacket - and thank goodness OH was wearing a leather jacket or his shoulder would have been shredded! 

I will update on Monday, after the Visit. 

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Chilli Vodka

Welsh Poppy -  you are probably a lot better than I at anything like this.  However I will risk giving you my very rough and ready methods and I am sure you will be able to improve on them.

Chilli vodka - I get an extremely inexpensive bottle of vodka.  Normally I use the original bottle but I have also used nice bottles from IKEA which I give a really good clean - I can now put them through the dishwasher to sterilise.  If I use the original bottle I decant some.  I then get three or four fresh chillis and wash them really well, trim the tops and make a few slits in the sides of the chillis so that the fiery stuff that makes it chilli can get out.  I slip the whole chillis into the bottle and top up with some brown sugar and any spare vodka left.  I do this because my neighbour has a sweet tooth and the sweetness helps smooth out the flavour slightly. If you use red chillis they can keep their colour quite well.  I don't like having seeds loose, I think it is a choke hazard. 

I give the bottle a really good shake and keep it for a few weeks.  My neighbour really likes this and now insists on it for Christmas. 

I have also crushed werther's originals and put them in vodka, giving a good shake regularly, and have produced toffee vodka (dilute with milk).

I would love to hear your recipe for lemoncello if you are okay sharing?  And I hope you find this useful.  My neighbour says that it is quite strong and really fiery, but I think with tomato juice it could be quite the thing - my neighbour drinks it with cola, but he drinks everything with cola. 

I have never tasted it, as I am not that keen on strong drink these days and I don't like anything spicy.   I don't usually admit this.

I don't care what they think

Someone in the Asda warehouse packed a delivery that was delivered to me yesterday.  It was three bottles of whiskey and five bags of frozen mince, and nothing more.  I think of all the odd looking orders that I have put together, this is one of the better ones.  I wonder what they think when they are packing the orders.  In this case, while I don't actually mind, I think I would prefer not to know.

It is not as bad as it looks, honest.

I love my neighbours

My neighbours are brilliant.  The are kind, generous, and a wonderful source of support and practical help that has been invaluable time after time.  They are some of the very few people I trust little bear to.

But they have a Christmas wreath on their door already.  It is only November.  It isn't even the very end of November.  Every year is the same, the fireworks have barely cooled down after bonfire night before the tinsel comes out. 

My natural inclination is to get round to Christmas decorations some time on Christmas Eve.  Fortunately my neighbours are tolerant of my Scrooge like tendancies. 

That reminds me, I need to get the chilli vodka started for Nice Mr Next Door.  He enjoys it every Christmas. 

Trying again

Operation Christmas Clean is back on.  It is officially starting Monday, as I currently have a HUGE amount of self pity and a cold.  I felt less self pity when I was suffering with chest pains.  The chest is fine now, apart from the very minor cough. 

Last year was fairly disastrous, but I am quietly optimistic that this year will be slightly better as what I manage to do seems to have more to do with my mental state than my physical condition.  So this week will be strategy and tactics.

The strategy of 'just do stuff' doesn't seem to work.  I could, I suppose, try doing a blog setting out how to do 'Operation Christmas Clean' but I don't actually know myself, so that would be a little bit hypocritical.  Also, realistically, my physical resources aren't as good as they could be.  I am working on that.

I think I will add on things like all the Christmas to do stuff on my list.  I need to sort out all the presents (most are on subscription or 40% proof), work out food and treats, dig out decorations and try and plan who I see when. 

Of course, there is also the minor problem that whenever I decide to do anything I always seem to find myself doing something else as a matter of urgency. 

I think week one, that is, the week starting 26 November, is going to be kitchen, dining room and walk in cupboard.  They are the biggest jobs.  That is a deep clean of the kitchen, a clearout of all the ironing (which is currently a vast mount again), and a big and necessary clearout of the walk in cupboard, which I have been using in the past as a pantry, but currently is too blocked with 'stuff'.  It is a massive job.  Everything else can more or less get by with a bit of help in the weekends.  As I am the one who uses these spaces I am not only responsible for them, but I really don't want to be trying to find stuff that has been re-arranged by someone who is kind enough to help. 

The preparation is that this week I shall be attacking the ironing, which will make more room.  Day one is making an inventory of all the food and cleaning stuff stashed away.  I will sort Christmas cards in the breaks.  Then I will assess.  I shall also record - so I can do the same or better next year. 

So, that's the theory.  I shall see how I shall do. 

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Another change

I have started wearing makeup.  This is actually a big deal for me, as I haven't worn it for years.  I usually managed a smudge when I was working, but that was because it was part of 'looking smart'.  Really I haven't pushed the makeup since, well, probably twenty five years. 

However something seems to have clicked in my recently.  I am not exactly sure what, but wearing makeup again seems part of it.  Once upon a time I loved my make up and wore a lot of it - I wore New Romantic makeup with stripes and stars and all sorts.  My poor darling father always had a bit of a problem with it - and he never saw the more outrageous stuff!  However, that was then. Now I had to go out and buy some makeup. 

My first reaction was, 'How much?!?!'  Then I had the bitter realisation that I was of an age when perhaps my old favourite Rimmel was not entirely age appropriate.  However I have always loved Rimmel, and I know that they have been anti animal testing for many, many years, so despite it being ridiculously young for me I bought the most subtle mascara, eyeliner and lipstick that I could see. 

The mascara is fine, a bit stronger than the mascaras I remember, but that was some time ago.  The lipstick is my old favourite Heather Shimmer which I would probably wear until they bury me.  The eyeliner is a bit of a problem.  I just want a bit of a smudge.  The one I picked up is a lovely soft smudgey kohl type thing that I would have adored when I was 18 but couldn't get hold of in those days.  However that was nearly thirty years ago.  My first attempt looked very much like two flies had crashed in a bowl of flour. 

I am now back to just a smudge, just to get my hand in.  I may save up a little and get a course or something on how to use makeup, and look on YouTube.  Things have changed a lot since the New Romantics, not least all the different things that they have now.  I will see how things go.  I lost half a stone last month as well.  It may well take me three years at that rate to hit my realistic target weight, but actually, that's okay. 

I wonder what else will start changing before I realise it. 

Little bear is asleep

Little bear has been looking more and more tired.  It is now 7.20am and I am desperate for him to carry on sleeping - and this is a late sleep in for little bear.  He really, really needs this sleep, yesterday he burst into tears when I pinned up a ticket - and I didn't even put the pin through the ticket itself, just the paper it was attached to!  He is definitely feeling fragile.   So he really needs the lie in.

My dilemma is that I really, really need to visit the bathroom.  Until I do I can't get on with making little bear's lunch or ironing his uniform.  I really can't move unless it is in the direction of the bathroom.  But if I go to the bathroom little bear will wake up, he will come bouncing out of bed, no matter how quietly I tread.  I am typing in the dark as little bear will sleep through the keyboard, but has always woken if the light is switched on.

And he really, really, really needs his sleep.

I am hanging on.  OH comes downstairs at 8am, which he has to do, and little bear will be woken by that.  I will have 50 minutes to get all things ready, we are so close to the school.  I am grimly ignoring my tummy's rumbles. 

The things that you do for your little ones.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Little bear goes to church

Ever since little bear asked whether there were toilets in heaven I have been keen to take him to church, so I have someone to refer things.  Today was finally the day, and OH gave us a lift to the church where little bear was Christened.

Little bear looked so solemn and serious.  Anyone who didn't know little bear would have thought him a serious child, perhaps a little worried about what he may find or whether people would be kind.  My experience of little bear said that it was likely he was carefully weighing up the situation for the best way to beat the system. 

It is a lovely, friendly, working church.  It is a place where asylum seekers can go, it is having a Special Needs Service next weekend, it is a working church that includes all - I think this is wonderful for little bear to be around.  I want him to be able to reach out.  And it usually means a better time for all.  Little bear was quite happy.  We sang a few hymns, the children in the congregation got noise makers from the front and little bear gave a very enthusiastic accompaniment with a tambourine.  Then he went off, all on his own, to a Sunday School group.  I sat in for the first five minutes (over protective mum here), and I heard them mention the 90th Psalm.  Little bear was sitting there looking solemn and serious (that is, weighing up who was what and how to charm them, in my experience) and I nervously left them to it. 

Little bear came tumbling out afterwards, he had enjoyed it, he would go again, it was fine.  I managed to shush him during the blessing and then we went to wait for OH.  OH asked little bear what was the best bit.  Little bear didn't need to think too hard.  In his opinion the best bit was the two sweets he got at the end of the Sunday School group. 

It's a start.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Little bear is imaginative

Little bear and OH were telling their collaborative bedtime stories.  OH was telling little bear the story of Icarus.

Little bear thought about it, then told OH that he was going to get into the Tardis, go back in time and hold out a safety net so that Icarus would be saved. 

I love my little bear. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Stew and dumplings

For tea tonight we had stew and dumplings - diced lamb and pot herbs from the farm shop, dumplings from a mix from Approved Foods (I am a bit ashamed, it won't take me two minutes to make them when the packets run out), and a generous helping of soup mix with barley and dried beans in.

The men of the house are very happy.  Just with stew and dumplings. 

I won't worry about doing a souffle for tea for a bit. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Little bear thinks about things

Just to say about the books - little bear asked for lots and lots of books.  Ten of those books are age appropriate joke books.  I expect to suffer, but it will do his playground cred no harm.  As for the number of books, they are the ones that I have either bought myself or on behalf of darling uncle.  All bets are off for anyone else.  We could be looking at three figures.   And I honestly believe that unless the books are really off the scale, little bear will love and read them all.  He really will.  He has five hundred books and has read them all, most of them many times - although they are mostly the flimsy ones that are only a few pages long.  I have included an age appropriate book on how to write stories.  I would love him to be a famous author.

This evening Little bear and I were waiting in Morrisons cafe until OH could pick us up after the weekly shopping battle.  Little bear asked, 'Who was the first human?' 
'I don't know.' I said.  'It was a very long time ago.'
'Did they live in year one?' he asked.
'No, that was the year that Jesus was born.' I said, ignoring all the theological discussion around the date.  'There were lots of humans around before that.  But we don't know their names because they didn't have writing to write them down.  We have had writing for about five thousand years, but there were humans around for a lot longer than that, thousands and thousands more years.'
Little bear thought about it for a few moments.  'So there were humans that didn't have writing?' he asked.  'Then how did they write shopping lists?'
I tried to explain about hunter gatherers, but I don't think I really got through to him.  I suspect he thinks I am telling tall tales.

I should have stuck to Adam and Eve. 

Feeling like Scrooge

Lesley - I can't help but feel you are right.  However split between his Christmas and birthday are at least seventy books, a desk, a LARGE collection of stationery (planning on picking up a few more bits on top), a scaletrix-style cycle racing thingy (darling father), a dozen cars, transformers in quantity (sister in law), four dinosaur models to make, ben10 lamp and lampshade (on order), ben 10 blendy pens (? - but on order), the usual sweeties and some puzzle books not included in the above book total.  That is before we get into what my brothers get him, our neighbours get him and the extra stuff that darling father hasn't yet disclosed (two carrier bags yesterday).  There is also any loot he brings back from his birthday party, which is actually on his birthday this year.  His pal had a birthday last weekend and came home with four different remote control cars, one of which was bought by us but at least we put in the batteries for it.

 I should also add that I don't insist anyone gets him stuff.  I have always said to friends and family that any presents to little bear are strictly optional.  Two years ago his godfather got him an amazing lightsabre that he still plays with.  

I know that little bear will have a mound of stuff by New Year's Eve.  But I can't help thinking that perhaps I just should pick up one or two extra bits... But he has so many cars, a garage, a cd player, more toys than is good for him, no room really for a railway or fort and I am not sure he would use them, he has a bike, a scooter - so much stuff!  He seems either too young or too old for so much.

And I am a bit ashamed, but I feel a tiny niggle that I know that others will be getting him so much that if I get loads then it really will be too much but I want to get him goodies and I feel that that has sort of been taken over.

And then I think, but if it was just Christmas or just his birthday that would be fine, but this is for both...  I think I may get one or two bits. But then I will worry he is too indulged...

I'll let you know how it goes

 And yes, at least seventy books.  Thats 70, the number between 69 and 71.  

Edited to add - it's no good.  I will have to get him some more stuff, just little bits, but it is birthday stuff as well as Christmas.  I know he would get a lot more if his birthday was in June.  

Not a good morning

Little bear stomped downstairs at 6.30 am and asked to go on the computer.  I groaned, set the timer (he is being rationed at the moment) and rolled over to try and get a few more minutes - darling father was out last night and I don't seem to get deep sleep until he is home.  I really wanted a few more minutes.

At 6.50 the computer re-started for some reason.  I found this was happening with little bear's howls of fury.  He then stomped upstairs, slamming doors along the way and used the bathroom.  I was trying to surface and think of a way to stop little bear waking OH and demanding that he immediately come downstairs and fix the computer without waking the entire household anyway.  Fortunately little bear just made enough racket in the bathroom to wake the dead, but not OH, and then stomped downstairs singing a song from Game of Thrones. 

OH has a cd of songs from Game of Thrones which he plays in the car.  There is no way on this planet I would allow little bear to watch Game of Thrones and I am not entirely sure about the music.  Hearing little bear stomp downstairs singing a song about an entire family being massacred at 7am does not entirely reassure me. He then grumbled about his breakfast. 

Little bear is now happening at school, despite his best efforts to persuade me that he had a tummy ache.  I suspect that the desire to not only play computer games but also avoid the music lesson has a large part in this.  However he is definitely going to the piano lesson.  It just may be a bit interesting getting him there.

And please let him not sing songs about massacres at school.  I don't feel up to the teacher's pertinent questions.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Presents are stacking up

Little bear wants lots of books for Christmas and his birthday.  He will have a lot of books.  Darling father is buying constantly for him, I know he is getting stuff from my sister in law, who took him on a scouting trip to a toy shop.  There is an awful lot lined up for him.

Part of the problem is that his birthday is so close to Christmas.  So we buy for the two occasions, and then we look at what we have and think, 'Is that enough?  Does this make a little boy joyful?' 

I now feel very mean but I don't feel like stacking up many more presents.  He will have books, goodies from many sources, he is having a birthday party so will have several presents from the children who come, and he doesn't actually need that much.  Darling father has bought some toy cars for him.  Little bear has two crates of toy cars.  He has sticker books and puzzle books and, well, everything he wants. 

So I am going to rein things in.  One thing I have done over the last few months is get rid of a lot of crayons, pencils and felt tips that were looking extremely shabby.  I know he is enjoying writing at his new desk, which is an early gift from darling uncle, so today I went to our local newsagents and bought a pad of lined paper, a pad of blank paper, a notebook, envelopes, post it notes and a hole punch (I may regret the hole punch), together with a reasonable selection of pens, pencils and crayons. I  am considering buying him a stapler but a bit worried that he may be a little too young for it.  I shall be picking up rubbers, glue sticks and pencil sharpeners as well when I go in next.  I like getting as much as I can from local shops.  It all came to very little, and I think over the two days will bring him a great deal of joy. 

However I am likely to not get much more.  It won't really impact him - little bear has so much of everything.  It will make housewifery easier if I don't have to try and find places for everything.  It will be easier on our bank balance.  Also, how can little bear appreciate things if there is just too much to play with?  I am making him earn treats, by saving up crosses on a chart to get a huggle buddy hideaway (not my idea, the advertising agency must have really earned their money).  How can I encourage him to learn to work towards things and save up for things and earn things if he has an avalanche of stuff at the end of every December? 

But then, of course, I start feeling like Scrooge again. 

Feeling better

I am feeling so much better.  I am walking at a decent speed, I am going up and down stairs without too much trouble - I am even hefting baskets of washing around.  I do feel a bit tired still.

Now I need to keep moving, and I need to catch up, and I need, need, need to get ahead.  I didn't get anywhere with Operation Christmas Clean last year.  This year I want to get a bit further, and I am starting from a slightly better place.  However I think with all the problems and hiccups and the way that life keeps popping up and happening, I think I need to think tactically over this. 

Monday, 12 November 2012

Scratched to pieces

Evil cat has been trying to take up her favourite seat - across my throat.  However I am trying to sort out some stuff for little bear for Christmas, and I need to be able to see the computer.  I also want to finish off some knitting. 

Obviously this is completely unacceptable to evil cat.  She has climbed up my leg with the full grappling hooks out.  She has climbed over my shoulder.  She has clung on to my chest.  She has clung on to my arms.  She has sat across my back and the nape of my neck and refused to move, digging in her claws to prove a point.  I am now sore all over from her! 

Part of the problem is that evil cat is evil.  However another part is that evil cat's claws are too long.  She does her best with her front claws and is meticulously keeping them in trim by sharpening them on furniture, but cats normally keep their back claws trimmed by biting them.  Poor old evil cat, I don't think her teeth are up to it and her back claws are now extremely long.

I want to make it extremely clear.  There is no way on this planet that I am going to try and trim her claws.  If she always draws blood from vets who are used to keeping themselves safe from vicious animals then I will be shredded.  And I am not sure about asking a vet to trim her claws, it does seem a bit cruel to ask them to try.  I think they would usually try and do that under sedation, but evil cat is just too frail (hah!) to try that. 

And as I type she is lining up for another attempt on my north face.  I look like I fell into a bramble patch!  I am considering my options.

Off to a slow start

I had a lot of plans for today.  I am feeling so much better that I thought today I could start to catch up.

I didn't get an early night as darling father went out and I wasn't sure when he would get back.  However by 11.30 I crawled into my pit and snuggled down.  That is when battle started.  Evil cat was determined - she wanted to sleep in the exact same place as my head was.  And she was not going to give up.  Being woken up by inhaling a tabby tail is not fun, and while her fur is still lovely and soft, it can be as lovely as it likes but I still don't want her to sit on my head.  I need to breathe during sleep, although I think evil cat was using that as leverage to get me to move. 

Then at 5am little bear fell out of bed.  I responded with the normal cuddles, and he snuggled back down.  Unfortunately neither he nor I could get back to sleep, so he came downstairs at 6.30am and started playing on the computer after telling me his head was still infected by the fall.  I was too tired to get into that.

By 7am I had the washing machine and the dryer on, had emptied the dishwasher and lining up little bear's sandwiches.

I really struggle to sleep during the day, however, today I may make an effort.  

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Little bear said the wrong thing

As little bear was bouncing around the garden centre today I was losing a bit of patience.  I also wanted to show OH something.  As little bear threatened to ricochet off a Christmas tree I said, 'Go and find your father.'
Little bear said, with great clarity and carrying quality, 'Which one?'  Obviously he was deciding whether it was his father or mine he was searching for, but no-one who heard him, that is, everyone within about ten miles, would know that.

Then OH gave me a Look.

I am very grumpy with both of them. 

Shopping fail

I am trying to empty the dratted freezer.  I am getting extremely fed up of the freezer.  It needs to be a lot emptier to defrost sensibly.  However darling father wanted to go to the nearby garden centre and I could do with picking up a few bits of meat, so I agreed to go to the farm shop.

Haigh's farm is comparatively near.  It is a reasonable drive, I could get the bus but getting frozen stuff back would be a bit of a challenge.  Besides, I get twitchy about meat, I like to get it into the fridge/freezer as soon as I can.  So off we trundled with OH kindly driving us.

Haigh's farm has lots of meat which is locally killed, and various frozen sort-of-home-made ready meals and some frozen pies.  I was really looking forward to one of the frozen pies, as I have heard great things about them.  They had sold out.

Sigh.  I had little bear being an absolute horror and bouncing around and darling father was being very keen - and I didn't stand a chance.  I completely failed at shopping restraint.  I came home with a lot of meat.  I got three large brisket joints for £19.50, two meals worth of diced lamb, a meat pie for tonight (alas, not one of the famous frozen ones), sausages, a big pack of the pot herb vegetable type things and ham for little bear's dinners.  Darling father and OH loaded up on the frozen ready meals.  I won't be defrosting the freezer I think for another three weeks.  On the other hand, I won't need much in the way of meat for another three weeks. 

I shall wait and see how the meat 'eats'.  I have had very good experiences, so fingers crossed.  And on the bright side I can focus on using up all the frozen veg.  Then all I need to do then is defrost the dratted thing and try and get the stuck drawer to work again.  If that fails I shall seriously start thinking about a new freezer. 

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Noises you should not hear at night

In the early hours I heard a faint but definite 'rustle, rustle, rustle, thwap, thwap, thwap, rustle.'  In that sort of half asleep daze I thought to myself, 'That sounds like evil cat has got a mouse trapped under a carrier bag.'  Rustle, thwap.  'I hope she hasn't got a mouse trapped under a carrier bag.'  Thwap, thud. 'If she has got a mouse trapped, I sort of hope it gets away to next door's feline killers who leave no evidence.'  Thud, thwap. 'If there is a mouse I don't want it hanging around and widdling on my wiring.' Rustle, rustle, rustle.  'If evil cat does catch a mouse, her teeth aren't up to disposing of it." Thwap, thud, rustle.  'I wonder where she would leave the evidence.' Rustle, rustle, rustle.  'Oh, to heck with it.' And I rolled over and went back to sleep.

All the houses in our row get mice unless they have cats.  In this weather we sometimes get mice anyway.  It is something to do with all the grass and bramble banks, the empty houses and a mysterious and bricked up building that no-one has claimed.  I don't actually wish a mouse any harm, I don't wish any animal any harm.  However unless it is invited then I have a definite objection to animals taking up residence, climbing in my cupboards and multiplying around my stores.  Cats are a great deterrent.  I just hope that evil cat's elderly deterrent will do the trick.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

'Peer' Pressure

I am currently avoiding alcohol on the grounds that really, I could do without adding what is effectively a poison go the mix of my symptoms. Darling father is not sure that this is a good thing.  He approves of strong drink and will normally say that it is a good thing for all sorts of ailments.

Not only that but darling father has bought me a small bottle of Tia Maria.  As I struggle on, darling father is getting quite upset that I haven't drank it yet.  He is actually quite concerned that I haven't drank it yet.  Everyday he checks to see if the level has gone down, and when he realises he hasn't, he gets a little bit more upset.  I am considering pouring some down the sink. 

This is the most pressure I have ever felt in my life to drink alcohol.  I have never had any problem saying 'no'.  And I admit that at certain times in my life I had no problem saying 'yes' to alcohol either.  I just don't think it is a good idea at the moment for me.  Not until I stop getting chest pains. 

I should add that darling father is also quite concerned that I lose weight.  I have been trying over the last few weeks, and despite frequent gifts of chocolate I have lost a few pounds.  Darling father was very happy for me - and emphasised that a few treats now and again would be a good idea. 

Poor darling father, how is he going to show he loves me if he can't buy me chocolate and alcohol? 

Back to normal

I am shopping again - online of course.  Today I sent off the annual shipping order to the Book People.  I can't remember off the top of my head how many books are coming, probably around thirty, but it includes a pack of ten joke books.  I shall split them between little bear's Christmas and Birthday (three clear days between them) and suffer terribly, I am sure.  I think he will love them.  And it will help add to his playground cred.

And yes, I had a code for 10% off plus free delivery and via Quidco, and I got a free gift of some gift bags, so after shopping at a very inexpensive outlet, I still saved money. 

(Things are definitely back to normal.  I just checked the book people order and 65 five books are headed this way.  Three of them are for darling father, though.)

Little bear asked for books for Christmas - a direct quote is, 'books, books, books, books, books.'  Obviously other stuff will be sneaking in, but I am sure he will be fine.  There are no big toys I think he would either enjoy or need.  He has asked for books, he will get books.  There may be a few other bits and pieces creeping in under the radar as well, but I know how many toys darling father has already got him, and I know that last time my sister in law had him, the visit included a scouting trip to a toy shop.   I suspect little bear will be fine for toys. 

Currently he is very flushed with chapped lips and mouth ulcers.  However he is better in himself that he was at the start of the week when he didn't have the flushed cheeks and sore mouth but was definitely poorly, so he is in school.  I keep waiting for the call to get him, though. 

And to prove how much things are back to normal I am about to get a quick Asda delivery sorted so that we don't run out of cat food.  And I noticed that Approved Food have some coffee that OH really likes - although that is much less of a given, due to postage etc.  When all else fails, shop.  Sigh. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Just checking in

Feeling quite a bit better.  Still determined to take it easy, still very tired. I can see knitting in quantity this evening.  I am quite pleased, last night I finished a scarf. And little bear is being lovely and I am getting lots of hugs. 

Thank you for all the good wishes

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Morrisons strategy

I thought it would be worth while keeping up to the Morrisons strategy.  I really enjoy Morrisons, I like their fruit and veg particularly.  It does look, however, that the attempt to get the voucher for spending £40 eight weeks running it isn't going to work.

Yesterday OH didn't manage to pick up the stuff from Morrisons and he came racing home as the GP wouldn't let me go to the hospital by myself.  He has also firmly and very clearly refused to allow me to go out today.  I may end up going at the weekend (yeurk!) or something, but I can see me missing a week. 

This isn't the end of the world.  If I just manage 6 weeks then I get a £25 voucher, and really, while it is nice, it is not necessarily a major strategy.  However breaking the bottle of brandy last week and then looking like I'll miss this week means that it feels a bit unlucky.

I shall have a bit of a think about the whole thing.  The point is to save money, challenge me to be creative and inventive and eat good food.   There is more than one way to do that. 

I am poorly again

Yesterday I explained to my GP about the huge crushing pain I had had in my sleep.  He pointedly asked why I had not called 999 at the time and I looked a bit shifty.  I couldn't have disturbed the house in the early hours, though I have been feeling a bit rubbish over the weekend.  Snails overtook me when I went out to get some mouth ulcer stuff for little bear I was walking so slowly, and embarrassingly, it was my top speed. 

So I spent a large portion of yesterday in a cardiac ward, without internet access.  I felt bereft.  Fortunately I had the netbook darling uncle gave me so playing patience helped to keep me sane.  It was also quite cold.  I always remembered hospitals as places that were overheated, but I was frozen!

The net result - I am poorly.  They are a bit worried.  There is no doubt there is something wrong, potentially something quite badly wrong.  They have no idea what it is.  My heart is fine - I apparently had some really good heart attack symptoms, but the tests that they can do show that nothing happened.  Actually heart seems to be doing well.  Kidneys are fine.  Liver is fine.  Everything is fine.  The doctor was muttering about lung function but made no secret that he was rather clutching at straws.  He also suggested I lose weight and suggested slimming world or weight watchers.  This is usually the last resort of a medic faced with a patient that should be fine. 

I am home now, after spending a lot of time fretting about little bear.  We are 'waiting to see what happens'.  I will try and catch up with loads of knitting and make the use of the enforced rest.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Continuing with Morrisons

Little bear is not well, and I think it is a few days before he hits the peak of it.  Sigh.  I am not feeling very well - lots of chest pains and very tired. 

However OH works near a Morrisons and often pops in there for lunch.  He also gets his petrol from there, so the vouchers come in very useful for that.  I have instructed him to buy two bottles of Jack Daniels at £18 per bottle, which is an okayish price.  I always get that for OH's brother in law for Christmas and his early January birthday.  I don't know if it lasts a few weeks or all year, or even if he has a shelf of them, but he likes it, it doesn't need dusting, and to be honest I have no idea what to get him otherwise.  I also asked OH to pick up a bottle of Three Barrels brandy at £11 for a bottle and as that is restricted per customer, I think I am safe in thinking that is a decent price.  It is cheaper than the own brand stuff I smashed last week. 

So that hits the £40 target for this week.  If I get there next week, great.  If not, never mind.  None of the stuff bought was really for the sake of it. 

I wished Morrisons delivered.  I really do like their stuff.  However, all things being equal, I think I will get an Asda order in and see what happens. 

Little bear is poorly

I made the call today that little bear was too poorly to go to school.  It is not a decision I made lightly, but he is there, pale as a ghost, sore throat, generally not fit for purpose.  The school asked me what was wrong. I had to guess - all I know is that he is just about in pieces. 

Today's plans are now on hold.  However I think there will be cuddles. 

Sunday, 4 November 2012

My Martial Little Bear

I am just so proud of little bear.  Her he is ready to be graded for his martial arts.  He tries so hard, and is so determined, and I just think he is wonderful.  I would recommend BMMA to anyone, little bear's instructor is amazing!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Evil cat is sleeping

Poor old evil cat.  There are fireworks going off all over, and as we are at the bottom of a river (well, stream) valley, then we have a good wide stretch then an opposite hill to watch fireworks coming from.  There are bangs, whistles, flashes and stars, and evil cat is sleeping through.  She used to love watching the fireworks.  Now the poor old girl can't be bothered and is sticking to the cushion in front of the fire. 

When you have a cat that insists on jumping on to the windowsill just to see the pretty lights and bangs, you learn to go with the flow.  Malevolent cat used to tolerate bonfire night, and psycho cat used to be a complete wreck, but evil cat loved it.  She also enjoys thunderstorms and always rushes up to the top bedroom to watch the lightning - or she used to. 

Darling father has bought fireworks for little bear again this year. I am not entirely happy about fireworks in the garden, although darling father is fine with fireworks, he was a regular in the Royal Engineers and did a lot of blowing things up.  I feel a bit more comfortable with organised displays.  In the past, apart from last year, evil cat watched eagerly from the study window.  Last year she couldn't be bothered, and I suspect she will not be bothered again this year. 

Mind you, I don't know how little bear will be.  He had a martial arts grading today, and apparently he did really well.  He is supposed to be going to a party tomorrow.  However tonight he had very pink cheeks, very bright eyes and he went straight to sleep after story and songs without any reading at all.  This is worrying!  I am sure he will be green nosed by the end of the week.  Until that happens, I shall just go with the flow. 

Friday, 2 November 2012

Not sure it was worth it

Today I went shopping in Morrisons with little bear and darling father.  It was a bit busier than my normal stop off on Wednesday evenings, so a lot more challenging.  Little bear was not on his best behaviour either.  He wasn't exactly bad but he was never still, hard to keep track of and prone to wandering off.  And if I had to turn left or right, little bear was guaranteed to be in the way.  I did lots of, 'Darling, can you just move a step or two forward...'

The reason for this madness was that if I spend £40 or more in Morrisons every week between now and the end of December then I will get a £30 voucher.  I quite like Morrisons, and I get vouchers via Myfamilyclub which lets me get a £10 while paying £9.50.  I had a £2 off voucher from darling father as well.  And in store  I found that if I spent £60 in store then I would get a coupon to get 15p per litre off petrol.  And with little bear and darling father, it is hard not to spend more than £60.

The first challenge was the fruit and veg.  Little bear insisted that we get some black kale (which he will eat with relish).  Darling father got a coconut, which I insisted was his responsibility - I was having nothing to do with it.  For me, coconuts come wrapped in chocolate and labeled 'Bounty'.  Then it was the fish stall.

Little bear loves fish, he really loves fish.  And cod loin was on offer.  So after some smooth talking from the fishmonger we walked away with two meals of fish, one for tonight, one for the freezer.  Oh, and two pots of prawns - one for little bear and one for darling father.  The cod was definitely a good deal.  The prawns, well, it could be worse.

I determinedly avoided the sweets, crisps and chocolate aisles.  There were no decent offers on the whisky but darling father picked up a bottle of brandy - he does enjoy an occasional brandy, so that was not a make weight.  We picked up kitchen roll, ham for next week's sandwiches, lunch makings for darling father like some very tasty looking pots of old fashioned brawn and some cheese.  They also had Heinz soup at four for £2, which is not a bad deal.  They only had chicken or tomato, but darling father likes chicken and little bear will only really eat tomato, so that was okay.

So far so good.  I picked up a pair of jeans for little bear, who has just hit a growth spurt and all hts jeans seem to be heading north.  Only last month I was weighing up how much weight he seemed to be carrying, now he is like a skinned rabbit and impossible to fill up.  Thank goodness, it shows he is growing.  Darling father picked out a beef joint at £5 per kilo, which again is a good deal. 

Little bear persuaded me that I needed to get him some biscuits, which he promptly forgot about before we got home.  I picked up some kitchen roll, a bag of plain flour and a bag of self raising flour and that was about it.  The checkout was relatively painless.

Then we ended up getting a taxi home.  I felt a bit grumpy about it, as I felt that it ate hugely into my hard fought savings.  However we had also bought some clothes before we got into Morrisons (for darling father) so waiting for the bus was possible, but a taxi was almost plausible. 

However the sting was that as I got home one of the bags swung against the wall as I opened the gate.  I have never before managed to break a bottle of spirits, despite some really dreadful clankings, but today I managed it.  A light tap and there was this awful crash and then brandy started gushing everywhere.  I managed to save most of it, but not only did I lose the brandy but also both bags of flour.  And the ginger tom is probably going to have a hangover tomorrow. 

Better luck next week.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

It started with a pumpkin

It seemed like a good idea at the time.  I found this recipe in a rather unreliable cookbook which said you should cut the top off a pumpkin, scoop out the seeds and then fill with sugar.  Keep topping up with sugar.  When the pumpkin has dissolved (?) you strain the liquid and add one quarter of a pint of rum for every pint of liquid and bottle, store for six months before drinking.  I was at a particularly low point when I saw a pumpkin in a supermarket, so I bought it.  It was a mistake.  I am only human. 

However the pumpkin came with a gift - a squashy point I hadn't noticed on the top of the pumpkin which spread as I waited for the green bits to ripen, and which was full of fruit flies.  Before I knew it the kitchen was alive with fruit flies.  As soon as I realised, out went the pumpkin.  The flies didn't follow. 

Despite a lack of care, there isn't that much in my kitchen to latch on to, so the flies have been spreading out and getting everywhere.  They are in the bathroom, they are in the living room - they are driving me nuts!  I keep going over places, but I don't think there is anywhere getting a bit wriggly.  At the moment the fruit flies seem to be congregating at my sink, and that is pretty spartan fare for a fly since I started using the dishwasher and gave the sink a good bleach.  However now when I move the washing up bowl to wash my hands a huge cloud of fruit flies rise up. 

I have recently deep cleaned the litter tray area in the dark place under the stairs.  I have been slowly removing more and more 'stuff' from more and more places.  I thought things were getting more hygienic.  Still there are these clouds of unseasonal flies.

Two problems may be adding to the gift of the pumpkin.  One is that the kitchen door is a south facing white door where I suspect a lot of flies are hibernating, or hanging around in the warm microclimate caused by the regular warm water from the dishwasher/washing machine and the boiler vent just above the drain.  Every time I open the door I am taking a risk of invasion.  The other problem is that the house at the back is empty again.  The last people were lovely but wanted somewhere nicer.  If anything has been neglected, especially since the landlord has been fiddling with the house since they left, flies could be getting in via the gaps between the floor boards, homing in on the relative warmth.

Whatever the reason, I have never, ever had a house so full of flies.  I have been ordering fly repellant, fly killer and the kitchen is now set around with oil of citronella.  I am beyond baffled.  Little bear is back at school next week, depending of course on his green nose.  I am going to have to find the energy for a deep clean.