Friday, 22 November 2013

New Book Published

Flitting through to say to anyone still subscribed to here that I have a new book, 'Digging up the Past', now available at Smashwords here.

It's also available at Amazon here but it's cheaper on Smashwords and I get more of the money.

It should also turn up at Sony, Apple etc soon as it has passed the vetting system at Smashwords and will soon be distributed.

I quite like the cover, and Tom made a cover for Forgotten Village to match,

Can I also suggest that you join me over on my new blog Sybil Witters On as I'm still not sure about this blog.  I'm pretty sure it is safe to click on these links (or I wouldn't put them up) but I feel a bit uncomfortable here.  It is the same old witterings on Sybil Witters On but just on a different blog.  All are welcome.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

My New Blog - Sybil Witters On

The link to my new blog is - Sybil Witters On

But please be careful about clicking on anything else.  That should be fine, and I am pretty sure I have got rid of any inserted malware, but please be careful!

I hope I can make you all welcome there.

Sybil Witters On - the new blog

I am leaving this blog and starting a new one.  It is called Sybil Witters On and is carrying on where I leave off here.

I've thought about this a lot, but this blog is getting linked to from sites with very adult content.  While it hasn't been trolled and I have avoided a lot of spam, I feel that the whole thing with the malware has put a lid on things.

As far as I can tell the malware was due to a link I had put in to a site which had sort of housewifery stuff.  I removed the post and it all seemed to calm down.  However DON'T CLICK ON ANYTHING just in case.

I have been writing this blog for five years.  There have been 2513 posts (not including this) and over 130,000 page views.  I have been blessed with lovely people reading this and lovely supportive comments, especially when we lost evil cat and I found things so tough.  If those reading this blog carry on following on Sybil Witters On I will feel privileged.

While I have been thinking over the last few days, I thought about where I was when I started writing this, and how I have changed.  Back in 2008 I was a shell of the person I am now.  The support and comments from you lovely people made such a difference.  However perhaps now I am starting a new blog I can start a new page, finding out who I am now.  I don't suppose I will be writing about much different.  Darling father is currently working his way through some serious alcohol while watching Liverpool, darling uncle is causing havoc with neglecting his diabetes, and bear is basking in DH's company after getting a truly wonderful parent's evening report.  We let him choose a reward.  Two Doctor Who magazines and some maths workbooks - and he insisted on the maths!  I don't know where he is getting it from, I fall apart with anything more complicated that simple division and DH isn't much more number friendly.  So normal for here.

Over the weekend, all things permitting, I will get my new blog up and running, get the links in to my favourite blogs, figure out the layout, say some rude words I learned from evil cat and try and make it really welcoming.  I will promise to use tags, to take pictures and to carry on musing about money, housewifery and the family.

There is only one way I can end this blog.  To everyone who has paid me the compliment of reading what I write.


Friday, 18 October 2013

Investigations continue

I am continuing to check stuff out.  I'm getting an awful lot of referrals from sites that seem a bit odd, or even adult, and I'm not sure why.

Thanks for the hugs.  I'm trying to work out what is best to do.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Closing time

According to Google and Blogspot, malware has been inserted into my blog.

I'm going to try and sort out what is going on.  I will leave this post up until the end of 18 October 2013 GMT then close down until I am sure it is safe.

I am sure I will pop up here and there, and I am sure that the Lyssa Medana blog is safe so may post there occasionally, but if I can't come back then I want to say thank you for visiting, you are all lovely people!  I shall spend a lot of tomorrow making sure I have got the links to the blogs of the wonderful people saved so I can visit.

Hugs to all.

I'm not on Kobo any more!

There has been a bit of a do in the papers when WH Smith found a very racy novel in the ebooks section - self published.  Apparently it was very, very near the knuckle, a bit strong, not what you would expect a young person to read.

This caused something of a stir at WH Smith who closed down all of their ebooks.  Kobo just closed down all the self published ebooks.  To be honest, I can understand.  They have brands to protect and do you want your teenager to browse books containing rape and incest as erotica.  If they are not seen as family friendly then they could lose a lot of business.

The Forgotten Village is one of the casualties.  It has been withdrawn from Kobo, pending the review of all their self published ebooks.  It is really aimed at adults, I suppose, but it is a bit tame compared to a lot of the stuff out there.  I do hope I get back on Kobo soon.

I sort of can see their point.  Every now and then I used to do an ego thing, and went onto the sony ebook store.  I used to cut the list in modern fantasy down to see only books at 99 cents or less and ranked in popularity.  Apparently I was as high as number four out of about 400 at one point, though I haven't had any royalties yet (this is normal, there is often a lag, I have stopped stressing).  While I was doing this I saw a lot of very racy covers, lots of young men with no vests, and a lot of ladies with no vest and not much knicker, and some of the synopses made me blink.  Some of the stories seemed a bit specialised if you see what I mean.  They were not family friendly, but they were not pretending to be family friendly.  I wouldn't like bear to look through them and ask questions.  Apart from anything else, I'm not sure I'd know the answers.

We live in a world where sex sells, where more extreme is better, and where sexualised images are everywhere.  It is not surprising to find all sorts of kinks in unregulated, self published ebooks.  I wouldn't be surprised if the kinky stories added to the profit margin.  It reminds me a little of the Victorians who covered the legs of the tables, though areas like Whitechapel harbored horrific vice.  It's the feeling of 'being seen to be respectable'.

I wish I knew what the answer was, how the line between personal responsibility and protection of the vulnerable should be drawn.  I wish I knew how to draw the line between freedom of expression and expression that could encourage violent attacks.  As it is, Cats in the Bible has been cut as well.  I hope that makes it back as well.

I take comfort that The Forgotten Village is still available at Amazon and Smashwords.  If I ever get a chance to write again I am confident that I will be able to get Digging up the Past out there as well.  I don't think I will take to writing erotica.  It seems far too stressful.

Noisy Disagreement

Father's view of well done does not agree with the smoke alarm.  After standing around under two separate alarms, using all the bad words I learned from evil cat, I decided father would have to settle for lightly carbonised.

It's been a long day and it isn't even noon.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bear is poorly

He has a temperature, a cough and a runny tummy (which I suspect is part of the temperature).

I kept him off school as he kept bursting in to tears, which isn't like my little soldier.  However now the calpol is working, while he is subdued, he is managing to keep me occupied with fuss and cuddles, and questions about maths.

It's going to be a long day.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Being a Bad Mother

Bear went to school with a jam sandwich in his lunchbox.  I have agonised over his lunch, tried this and that, he has had pizza and ham sandwiches and pieces of cooked chicken.  I have consistently tried to add nutrition.  An awful lot of it comes back.

A few weeks ago I mentioned to bear about rationing during WWII and how unlikely things were made like carrot jam.  Bear was very taken with this and I was bracing myself for jam making and boiling sugar when I managed to pick up two jars of carrot jam from Approved Food for a comparatively small amount.  Bear likes it.  He really, really likes it.  This enthusiasm probably won't last longer than the jam, in fact I will be surprised if it reaches the bottom of the second jar, but he does actually like it.

So today his lunch box had his drink, his carrot jam sandwich, a jelly with fruit, a satsuma and a packet of wipes because carrot jam is the stickiest thing I have ever given him.

Tomorrow is definitely not a jam sandwich.

Monday, 14 October 2013


I have seventy two cans of soup in my walk in cupboard.  That is seventy two actual cans of actual soup.  Ooops.  That is not including the dozen or so tins in my kitchen cupboards.

We only really like Heinz or homemade (though we are getting a few home made soups recently).  It was a good offer from Tescos.  I wish I had realised how many of the tins I had bought over the weeks the offer was good for.  I can only see my stockpile clearly now that I have a place to put them and I haven't got them all heaped in a corner.  This is a good thing.  They don't expire until 2015 and I suspect that they will not last long into 2014.

Clearing out the walk in cupboard has been good.  I had thrown a lot of things in there and really I should have just thrown them out.  I now have clear shelves to fill with my stash and a clear pathway to get to them.  It does bring home to me how many loo rolls we have stashed, how many packs of kitchen roll and how many plastic tubs.  This is not a bad thing.  Some of the plastic tubs may be culled later, but only after I have finished clearing the kitchen cupboards.

One thing that I probably won't put off for too long is clearing out the tool boxes.  I have so many tool boxes and boxes of diy stuff - and we never diy!  We have decorated two rooms since 1994, and we are not rushing into the other seven.  Most of our needs can be met with some screwdrivers, a hammer, some pliers and a drill.  If we need anything more complex we can knock on Nice Mr Next Door's door as he fixes cars for a living.  He has everything.  He has generators and angle grinders and thingies and wotsits and welds things in the street.  I cannot imagine him not having a tool that we needed.  Or we live within five minutes easy walk of a tool hire place.  So why do we have six actual tool boxes?  Most of which had been given to us, one or two bits bought in optimistic faith that this year would be the year we got the shelves put up and the rest is father's.

I suppose that is the difference between a useful stash and a not useful stash.  I am a bit stunned that I have seventy two tins of actual soup (plus the tins in the cupboards) but I know they will be used, just like the loo roll.  I don't even know what are in some of the tool boxes, and I haven't felt the need to crack them open in a long time.  In this house, the new rule is that things have to earn their shelf space.  The tools are going to be much reduced!

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Facing the Fact

Bear, despite being absolutely rigorously policed with dire warnings about chewing gum, managed to get some on his sleeve.  That is, the sleeve of his new shirt.  The expensive one.  The one I got from BHS without looking at the price tag.  The one he looks utterly gorgeous and awesome in.

It's this one, and he looks amazing in it (photo from BHS website).  He looks fantastic in blue but he usually wears red, because that is his favourite colour.  I refused to allow red trousers.

I know from bitter experience that while I can mutter, grumble, curse, use ice cubes and WD40, I will never get the basic stain out.  I'll get the sticky off, but not the chewing gum mark.  It isn't that noticeable, but it will always be there, probably interfering with my ironing.  And he has worn it three times.

Chewing gum is now definitely banned!  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Veg Box Delivery

This picture does not do justice to the fruit box from Leeds Market's Neils Fruit and Veg, via Market Delivered.  Plus lots of fresh butcher's meat, fresh fish, and some really nice teacakes.

I am already planning lots of meals around them.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Feeling pretty good

I woke up in an incredibly gloomy mood.  I don't know if is the weather, the release from stress or just me, but I was ready to sink in despair.

I am also recovering from spending so much on bear.  This weekend I sent him to my sister in law's with some new clothes.  Bear helped to choose them, they looked so smart, and I was a bit distracted.  However I was picking them up in BHS instead of Matalan and nearly fainted at the checkout.  It serves me right for not checking the price tag first.  Bear is not too bad with me setting spending limits, but he enjoyed the kit so much that I gritted my teeth and paid for a few bits that cost more than his entire summer wardrobe two years ago.  I know prices have gone up and I know he is a lot bigger, but I shall be sticking very close to Matalan and ebay in future.

Then there were shoes.  He has been telling me his shoes were comfy, they were fine, there was no problem.  I kept nagging at him as I know that he won't tell me anything until  the perfect awkward moment.  However I managed to get him to admit that his shoes were uncomfortable.  Of course they were.  When I got him measured yesterday his feet were a full size bigger than his shoes.  I winced at the price, but paid.  

However I have just got a meccano style, 5ft x 2ft x 1ft shelving unit down two flights of stairs, around some nasty corners, out of the front door and down the front steps.  It was touch and go for a while, and at one point I thought I would have to lean out of a window and shout for help having got the unit truly wedged, but I did it.  The glow of accomplishment will keep me going for a long while.  Besides, while I was doing that I wasn't doing the ironing.  

MSE Meaty Crumble

This is the recipe from Money Saving Expert that I used as inspiration.  It was posted by mamabear09 and I am very grateful.  

Beef crumble-
Base= 250g minced beef
generous handfull of lentils
2 diced carrots
3 diced onions
2 tbsp gravy granules
a good handfull of peas
hot water
Topping= box of stuffing
3 tbsps flour
1 tbsp butter
enough water to make crumbs
  1. Brown mince and onions until cooked through
  2. Add remaining vegetables, not the lentils, until starting to get tender
  3. Add gravy granules and still until well mixed off the heat
  4. Gradually add water until desired consistency. Add lentils and simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. While simmering rub all the crumble ingredients together, not including the water
  6. Add small amount of water mixing as you go until you get a nice mix of small and large crumbs.
  7. Pour the base into a ovenproof bowl and top with the crumble
  8. Bake at 190 degrees c for about 40 minutes or until crumble is golden and cooked

You can add other vegetables and vary the type of stuffing and mince.Thanks for letting me share

I did a big variation on this, thickening stock rather than using gravy granules.  In the past I have also used a white sauce, it's awkward avoiding salty stuff if you are using ham.  Here we require a thick layer of crumble to help pad out, so I used about treble the quantity of crumble.  It makes a nice change and I don't bother with potatoes or pasta or such.  The adding of the stuffing was inspired.  

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The ham shank

Lesley - It sounds really good - two meals for four, with one ham shank costing £2.89.  I suspect that nutritionally it wasn't so good.

The first day I stripped the rind and fat off the ham shank as much as I could, then put it in the slow cooker with as many veggies as would fit in and some water (no salt!) and left it for quite a few hours.  I then took the ham shank out, blended what was left and as it was a bit thin I thickened it by adding dumplings - they cook fine in the crock pot on high.  The second day I chopped the meat, softened a couple of chopped onions, and when they were cooked added a big tablespoon of flour.  After that cooked I added veggie stock from a stock cube slowly so I had a thickened gravy and then I added the meat.  I let that warm through as I made a crumble - I made a bit of a mess of it, actually and the proportions were off.  I added a packet of sage and onion stuffing inspired by the beef crumble on MSE with a few tablespoons of water and then topped the ham in the gravy with the crumble.  That was served with mushy peas.

I have no idea of the rest of the meal costings.  The veggies were part of a veg box I had from the market, the mushy peas were value and the sage and onion stuffing were part of a bargain batch from Approved food, as were the dumplings.  If you take away the fuel costs I imagine that the total for both meals would be less than £5, so I am happy.  It was a very nice ham shank, quite meaty.  It was also a good distraction from the ironing.  

The men liked it.  I suspect it may have been all a bit high in salt and a bit low in protein.  It was very high in carbs which were the padding - I was generous with the crumble and the dumplings.  We did have custard afterwards though, and we all had protein at other parts of the day.  I shall definitely do it again, especially in the colder weather.

Also, I am sure you can do a lot more than me, but thank you for the 'well done'.  It made a big difference to me today.

Guilty realisation

I have just finished making meaty muffins (I'll post the recipe if it works out).  I have put apples to stew for freezing.  Yesterday I made a savoury crumble with sage and onion stuffing in the topping (with the second half of the ham shank) and the day before that I was attempting to make bread in the microwave.

I have never made any sort of muffin before.  And I was looking at a recipe for Tamale pie which I have never even eaten before.  Then I realised.  I am doing lots of cooking to avoid doing the ironing.

Guilty as charged.  I know what shape my evening is going to be.

Ticking over

I don't really have anything to write.  Uncle is driving me mad by doing all he can to engineer situations where people need to come running.  Father is out and about and won't slow down.  He is a lot better now but gets very, very tired.  DH is stressed at work.  Bear is very bear.

So all very normal.

The highlight of the week so far was getting two meals for 4 from a ham shank that cost £2.89.  It is a highlight, but not that interesting.  Most of the people reading this can do far better.

Now the weather is closing in and bear refused to wear a jumper to school as he 'didn't like the way it felt on his arms'.  As he had no problems with the fancy red cardigan he was wearing at the weekend that is exactly the same knit I am not as sympathetic as I could be.  He has also chewed off the top of his brand new and actually quite expensive drinks bottle.  After a morning of negotiations bear went in without a jumper but with a warm coat and I explained to the teacher that it wasn't parental neglect, honest!

I am now bracing myself for the Battle of the Vest.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Making bread in the microwave

Tried it - epic fail!

However I have made a clean spot in the kitchen where I cleaned up all the chaos.  And I also have a new door stop.

Considering breadmaker again.

An interesting Saturday

DH's sister had been very, very very keen to have bear stay overnight.  So we booked a coach trip away to the Lakes.  DH has never been to the Lake District and there was a coach tour of Windermere plus one night dinner bed and breakfast for £59 each.  DH really needs a break, the stress at work is really bad and I suspect it is affecting his health.  However the coach trip was cancelled due to lack of interest.  We were upset and then booked a hotel in York, paying for it the day before father admitted he had a stroke.  So that was cancelled.

Father was really certain that we needed a day out, so we did go out for the day.  We had a marvellous time, I could fit half a dozen blog entries here about it. Best of all DH came home rested and relaxed and had a full night's sleep.  

One thing I am proud of - we found a shop closing down selling off yarn and books.  I didn't get any yarn as not only were the prices not that good but I have so many projects on the go already that I couldn't have bought anything with a straight face.  I did get a set of books for bear that have been stashed for Christmas.  I am quite proud of that.

We had a pub lunch in a pub where ladies of dubious reputation used to entertain the navvies that built the Leeds Liverpool canal, where the food was great and the juke box was the most eclectic I had ever heard.  

We went to a falconry centre and DH got thwacked by a vulture.  It was just in passing, so he is fine, but it is quite something to be thwacked by a vulture.  There was also a raven consistently and insolently stealing the food that the handler was throwing to the vulture to get her to perform.  Apparently at one point there was also a cat that used to hang out of a window to try and get at the birds.  I wouldn't have believed this if I hadn't known that all of our cats would have seen a vulture as a fair target.

We then had an meal at an Indian Restaurant on the way home, after which we couldn't move.  There was a dessert on there, if I find it I will share as it was gorgeous and about two teaspoons would fill you.

We will be doing the same again soon, except taking our own food.  The food out was the big expense.  The beneficial effect on DH was without price.  Also, father was fine, even though I spent a lot of time worrying.  I suspect the peace and quiet did him no harm at all!

Friday, 4 October 2013

Paying attention

If I had paid attention properly to the invite I would have noticed that the Very Important Birthday Party bear is going to tomorrow is Fancy Dress.  As tomorrow is interesting logistically, involving leaving bear with my sister in law, who will then take bear to the party, while father is at home while I worry, I shall be banging on Matalan's doors at 9am praying that they haven't run out of Halloween costumes.

Father is driving me nuts.  He went on the bus to a local shop today.  He was exhausted afterwards, but he will be out and about regardless.  He is convinced he will be fine on his own and as we were supposed to be having the weekend away he is very firm that DH and I should have a day out.  I shall worry.  He shall watch football, have a few whiskies and probably wander down to the Methodist Church to attend a 'do' on tomorrow evening.  I wish I was exaggerating about my father.  He has been really poorly, and now he is easily tired.  He is just not slowing down.  There is nothing I can do.

So I am going to distract myself by worrying about the costume.

Bear lives dangerously

We have to leave the house at 8.50, no later, to get to school on time.  At 8.50 I was trying to get bear to actually get his coat on when he remembered that they needed a kitchen roll tube for a teepee.  Today.

I was in no mood for this.  I went downstairs, unravelled a roll with a flourish and then we marched out of the house.  We got there before the gate was closed, we live so close, but I was unimpressed.

Now I need to go downstairs and try and fold up the swathes of kitchen roll that just got thrown around the room.  It's not going to get better, is it.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Things I learned today

Did you know that on there is a function that shows you how the price of a particular item has fluctuated over the last year.  If you are interested in a particular item then you click on the picture and you will get the price in all the stores and a little graph at the bottom that shows how the price has risen and fallen.

This is one of the best tools ever.  It will show you if the item is a real bargain or a fake bargain.  I was just looking at Heinz soup.  Father likes it, and to be honest no other soup will do for me either unless it is home made.  However I don't like the price.  Tesco were doing three for the price of two on four packs of certain soups, so I bought some.  It worked out at around 65p each instead of the normal 89p.  Today Asda are doing them at 50p each, so it wasn't a brilliant bargain, but it wasn't a bad one.  The price of these soups seems to have stayed quite level.  I checked out the condensed tomato soups, which I use a lot of and I am starting to come to the end of my stash.  Apparently they are at their lowest price for twelve months at 2 for £1.50.  I looked at Walker's Crisps 20 pack (DH prefers them) and interestingly they were not marked as on offer but the price was definitely lower than the yearly average.  The Walker's 6 pack was marked as on offer but was on a higher than average price compared with the rest of the year and was actually a lot cheaper a week or so ago.

I am always going to check the graph now!

The second thing I found is there is a site called camelcamelcamel which tracks prices on Amazon.  I am a bit unsure about it.  I will be playing with it over the next few days to try and work out how to track the price of a freezer which I am considering thinking about possibly in theory getting.  It looks like it is good if you have your heart set on a particular item and know you will get it from Amazon.  I am more likely to get the freezer from somewhere who I can talk to on the phone about my delivery requirements.  They also have a section for biggest price drops.  I haven't worked it all out yet.  Amazon is where I impulse buy normally.

I thought I would share.  I suspect most people reading will know this anyway, but just in case.

Alleged Duvet Day

Yesterday my new ironing board was delivered.  My ironing pile is still high enough to worry Health and Safety officials but it has shrunk.  Sometime ago I got to the bottom of a long standing pile, and I suspect that I will be able to sort out a lot of stuff again when I can find the will to finish the job.

When the ironing pile has diminished a lot more I will be able to get some units put together that have been delivered but are not yet assembled.  Then I will have places to put some of the stuff that is currently heaped. Not having places for eg sheets is a problem.  Then I can get in and sort out the walk in cupboard.  This will start acting like a proper pantry and allow me to move a lot of kit out of the kitchen where it is again heaped.  Once there are places for everything in the kitchen then I will be better able to keep good order there.

Mind you, a lot of the stuff will need to go into my room which still isn't sorted.  It will be, though.

It's a work in progress.  I am optimistic.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Duvet Day

After everything, secure in the knowledge that someone is visiting Uncle, I am having a duvet day today.  Father is home, in his room and has been told in no uncertain terms that if he tries to do anything more energetic than reading the paper I am hiding his trousers.  DH is on antibiotics and bear is suffering with a cold.  I had already booked the after school club, expecting to do a lot of visiting, so I am taking the time to catch up.

I think I also need to give myself a bit of a nudge when it comes to saving.  I took the BBC's test about how much you know about the cost of living here and failed miserably.  Unlike Mr Cameron, who was caught out when asked about the price of bread, I do buy all the stuff (apart from the pint of lager) but I buy value brands and cost cutting stuff.  I scored dismally.

However it did make me think about how on the ball I actually was.  I regularly decide I am going to be more frugal.  I regularly let it slip.  However each time I slip a little less.  I need to get back onto it.

That can wait until tomorrow.  Today is a much needed duvet day.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Having a complain

After a school holiday with a little too much stress in, I decided to start the new term with vigour and get going on the house.  It still looks like a condemned area but gradually, inch by inch it is getting better and I am cautiously optimistic.  The house didn't get this way in a day, it won't get cleaned in a day but I am hopeful.

The first full week bear was back at school I was really poorly.  Monday was effectively written off and I didn't get much else done for the rest of the week, at least not as much as I had hoped - maybe a bin bag a day.  The second full week bear was poorly, he had to have a day off school and he was definitely under the weather all week.  This is the third full week.  Yesterday was rather written off with getting father into hospital.  Yesterday evening I warned DH that it was seriously not his turn.  'Well, actually...' he said.  I suspect from his symptoms he has a kidney infection, along with a doctor's appointment tomorrow morning.  I rang in for him, among all the other phone calls.

I know I have to get cracking as there will be visits from Occupational Therapists and all sorts, and the hospital will be discharging him soon, also the ladies from the local church will visit and they are demon housekeepers.  I have spent most of the morning on the phone or sorting out bits on the computer, including replacing a dehumidifier which has finally died, but it is the nearest one to the washing.  I have suspected it needed replacing for some time, it is a lot older than bear, so it isn't really a surprise.  Just irritation at the timing.  So much for avoiding spending this month.  We have already lost the payment on the hotel where we were supposed to be staying this weekend.

Then darling uncle managed to get through between all the other calls, and told me to order another grocery delivery for him.  He has it set up on his own computer, but he won't do it himself.  He refuses.  He is also convinced he has a power of attorney set up.  He hasn't.  Another item for the to do list.  I am considering getting one set up for myself soon.  You never know what will happen.  It makes sense to ensure people who know you and have your interests at heart will be able to make important decisions on your behalf.

Father is likely to be discharged in the next day or two, and I know I will be busy for a bit then.  It also sounds like he is getting a bit confused about some stuff, which isn't like him.  He is sometimes a bit vague due to whisky, but not easily confused.  It may be because he is tired.

There is always a bright side though.  Bear was in a very cuddly mood this morning and we had lots of giggles as he got ready for school.  So I need to snap out of this pity party and get on with it.  Off to research stair lifts.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Darling Father

My father had what the doctors think was a stroke on Friday night.  He sold at a table top sale on Saturday morning, went to Church on Sunday morning and was drinking whisky and watching Liverpool win on Sunday afternoon.

His left side is very weak and he is very tired.  Nothing could persuade him to go to A&E.  I tried but he won't do something he doesn't want to.  So this morning I went and stood in the GPs surgery and as they didn't have any appointments the GP rang him and insisted that he went to A&E.  My father actually listened to him.

He is likely to be in for a few days, so I will juggle a few things to be able to visit, fuss etc.  He will miss out on his holiday to Benidorm and (selfishly) we will miss out on our first weekend away without bear since he was born.  To be honest, I am less upset at that than I am worried about father.  However he looks like he will be fine.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Beautiful Day

It is a beautiful day here, we went to another local farm shop which was brilliant, though not as inexpensive in general.  Bear has just made (with a significant contribution from DH) the creamy sweetcorn soup which was delicious.  He ate a whole bowl full as well - he will be doing more cooking in future.

Darling father is poorly.  I have tried to persuade him that an out of hours doctor or A&E is the way to go.  He is adamant that he will go to the GPs tomorrow.  I cannot force another adult to do something they do not want to do.   Father is expert at nodding, smiling and doing what he decides to do.  I am really worried.

So I am trying to just enjoy the day, popping in regularly to see father and pottering around.  We have expensive lamb pinwheels for dinner, from the new farm shop, and I picked up some fresh ginger to go in apple crumbles.

Off to look into the practicalities of getting a second freezer, sending a gift to a relative and things to do in Cardiff - lots of fluff to try and ignore the worry.  I wish I was as expert at getting people to do what I want as I am at worrying.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Spending Again

We had a visit to Headingley.  We got rid of a lot of surplus books to a charity shop and had a nice breakfast.  Bear had eggs with soldiers.  It was looking promising for breakfast battles, until he decided it made his head ache.  I suspect the cold has well and truly got into his ears and sinuses which is giving him headaches, so I shall hold it in reserve.

Bear did get a joke book, two Doctor Who books and a Cyberman from the charity shop.  I am trying to have less in the house but bear definitely deserved a treat.  Apart from being generally lovely he also had been mentioned in the Special Book in Assembly at school and actually told us about it!

We called into Makro on the way back.  I could do with one of those supermarket apps on my phone.  I don't intend to use my phone for shopping, but it would help if I was going around Makro if I could compare their prices with the supermarket, as well as adding the VAT on.  Makro is a wholesalers, so should in theory be less expensive.  However I have noticed that quite often the big supermarkets have better deals.  You really do need to be so careful when shopping.  Even buying in bulk isn't always cost effective!

Today I spent over £50.  This is a lot of money.  I made two impulse buys.   I bought 36 rolls of kitchen roll at a very reasonable price, as I was running out anyway.  Even allowing for smallish rolls and fragile paper it was a good deal at £4.99 + VAT.  I also bought two doormats of middling quality for £1 each.  I think the lady on the desk was instructed to suggest them.  They are great for inside and outside the bottom door.  I deliberately bought 400 bin liners.  I have had them before, they are really strong and tough and work out at @ 6p each (allowing for VAT - I used a calculator).  I also got my white vinegar £2.99 for 5 l which is the best price I have found at the moment.  Tesco must be noticing the demand for white vinegar - they have their distilled vinegar at 49p for just over half a litre, or @ £4.80 for 5 l.  I skipped the dishwasher tablets as I still had some left and I couldn't get the price I wanted, but a sonic screwdriver sort of accidentally slipped in the trolley as we went around.  Add in a tub of sweets for a friend and it was a quick in and out.

This afternoon is bear time.  I am looking forward to it.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Bear Notices Everything

I made a steamed pudding today.  The recipe is from Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook 200 More Slow Cooker Recipes.  There is a lot of fine detail but the nuts and bolts are you take half a tin of cherry pie filling and put it in the base of a pudding basin.  Then you add a made up packet of Madeira cake mix and steam for three and one half hours in the slow cooker.  Serve with the rest of the pie filling heated and custard.

First of all I couldn't find a tin of cherry pie filling.  I ended up using a cherry compote (how much!?) from Tesco.  I didn't have a 1.5 l pudding basin and the 2 l basin wouldn't fit in the slow cooker so I used a 1.2 l basin.  Then there was the Madeira cake mix.  I normally never buy these, as I don't make many cakes, but I had seen this recipe and the mixes were on Approved Food, so I invested a very small amount of money.  It is just as well.  I had to add two eggs, a third of a pint of milk and three ounces of butter - I felt as if I had basically bought a very small bag of flour.  Once the three mixes are used up I shall try with basic sponge mixtures.

The steaming went okay, I have invested in pudding basins with lids, as I want to try them out in the microwave as well.  The mixture was really a bit too much for the basin and nearly pushed the lid off.

It was late by the time we sat down to eat.  After lovely cod in milk, broccoli and home made halogen chips (veg box came today) I looked warily at bear who was still eating his cod.  I texted DH, 'Steamed pudding, should we give bear any?'
Bear looked up.  'I'd like custard on mine,' he said firmly, pushing his plate away.

The steamed pudding was quite nice, actually.  I'll try it next time with a little less in the basin and see how it goes.  I just wonder how bear can read my texts with his back to me and DH.

Recipe for Fun

Last night I made colcannon for the first time.  It would have been a lot nicer if the cabbage had been a little less crunchy, but I'll know next time.  Bear helped me by reading out the recipe.  I have accidentally started something.

Bear looked carefully at the beginning of beginning of the book.  He has a thorough, logical mind.  Then he found a recipe for creamy sweetcorn soup.  He thought it sounded wonderful.  DH very, very kindly agreed to 'help' bear make it.  So in today's delivery I shall be getting ingredients for the creamy sweetcorn soup.

There are some downsides.  The soup will have to be for lunch as the dinners for the next few days is already sketched in, including stuff that is on the delivery from the Market that I can't alter. I will have to excavate the kitchen so that all is ready for bear to cook.  I had today marked for other things.  I will have to find the hand blender.  I am also a bit nervous as I couldn't get the fresh chives that is required for the garnish, nor could I get the right sort of ham to chop for garnish.  I am not sure how bear's literal view on life will cope with substitutions.  I couldn't find an exact amount for the sweetcorn either.

On the bright side, bear will be learning to cook - thankfully from a less expensive cookbook.  Thinking about it, I don't have many more expensive cookbooks, they all tend to be about cheap food.  This one is potato recipes and has a lot of healthy food in.  So far bear has read three recipes and thinks that they all sound delicious.  He wants to make them all.  I can't remember much of my own cookery lessons, but never brought home anything edible.  I hope that bear will be learning about 'real' cookery.  I can try budgeting and shopping in there as well.  And it's a great incentive for me to keep the kitchen clear.  That is, if this phase lasts any length of time.  I hope it does, I think it will be great fun!

Thursday, 26 September 2013

The Pain of Christmas Cards

School have sent home a sort of leaflet thingy and bear has to draw a Christmas picture and then the firm turns it into a Christmas card and the doting parents buy the Christmas cards.  

Bear doesn't want to do this.  But he doesn't want to be the only child in the class not doing it.  I would rather give the money directly to school.  However I am about to dig out coloured paper and Christmas stickers and cobble together something that will eventually be sent off to doting relatives.  

It isn't even Halloween yet.  

I don't know who is more reluctant - bear or me.  Still, I suppose it is a life lesson.  Sometimes you just have to get on with it.  

Funeral Home Coffee Morning

The Funeral Home at the end of the street had a coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer this morning.  It's a day early but it had to fit in with various annual leave and commitments to the business.

It was really lovely, we had a nice chat, some gorgeous cakes and a very pleasant cup of tea.  They are now firmly on my 'places to call in for a cup of gossip' list.  Sadly there weren't many attending.  In fact I think we were the first.  It was such a shame as the cakes were amazing!  I bought some raffle tickets as well.

The house is slowly getting emptier. I got rid of a couple of bin bags yesterday.  I am having a bit of a pause because I want to see if DF wants the tools/wallpapering kit that I have found, but his room is stuffed with 'stuff' for the table top sale.  Today I plan to attack ironing, but this evening I plan to sort through the books.
Sorting through the books is going to be interesting.  I am trying to organise a 'Sunday afternoon is reading time' slot, because we have a lot of books, we really want to read them, but we never seem to get around to it.  So I am trying to lever in reading time.  It will be good for bear as well.  Negotiations are ongoing about him reading at home.  Last year his teacher let him off reading at home as he reads at bedtime.  This year I think he needs to step up.

He also needs to research American Indian animals.  It's the start of 'computer based homework' isn't it?  I could take him into town, look at books and make some notes.  However it is so much easier to look at Wikipedia.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

A good start to the morning.

Bear woke me up at 6.45am as he had a headache.  He sat up, yelled for me and complained.  I considered my options.  He was likely to be full of aches and pains as martial arts yesterday was rigorous.  There is a new instructor who is very good with the little ones, but he is very, very keen on fitness.  Bear will be complaining about aching muscles for days.  Bear is also full of cold and hypochondria.  I suspect some of the sniffs are heading into his sinuses.  They are certainly not heading into tissues, despite my best efforts.  I gave him calpol.

Bear then decides that he wants cereal, but not any of the cereal we have in the house.  Negotiations continue and the issue of him insisting that he loves coco pops so I bought some and then bear refusing to consider them this morning was raised.  We settled on cornflakes which I dug out from the back of a cupboard.

Then we hit the problem of his packed lunch.  I had forgotten to cook his pizza the night before and I only realised at 8am.  I would never have it cooked and cooled enough to pack up by the time it came to leave the house.  I had two slices of bread left in the house and so I broke open my small emergency can of turkey meat.  As I was running a bit late the can wouldn't open.  The tin opener went round and round and round but I got nowhere.  I had to open it at the bottom as well and push.  I was unimpressed.  

Bear also announced that he only wanted healthy things in his lunchbox.  This is good.  However he won't eat the healthy things I put in his lunch box.  He won't eat cheese unless it is on a pizza.  He won't eat fruit unless the moon is in the right quarter.  He won't eat celery sticks any more, or raisins.  I gave up on yogurt a long time ago.  He also utterly rejected the small apple pie that he had insisted on last night.  I loathe the lunchbox anyway.  Bear isn't helping.

However bear was giggly, cuddly, charming, playful and happy.  I've just got back from dropping him off and I can't keep the smile from my face.  Definitely a good start to the day.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Trusting my Instinct

I have decided against getting the Tesco Delivery Saver.  I worked out it could save some pennies if I was careful and used my judgement.  However to get it you have to allow a Continuous Payment Authority.  You give all your card details and the deal will automatically be renewed unless you cancel it.

I don't feel comfortable about CPAs.  I know that there are all sorts of things you can do but they are not like Direct Debits.  They are hard to cancel if the other party isn't playing nice.  They are hard to cancel from the payer's end.  They have had a lot of bad publicity.

I really don't like being locked into things.  Bad things can happen, you never know what is around the corner.  If the unexpected hit I do not want to be locked into a contract that meant I had to pay no matter what my circumstances.  Sometimes it is worth it, but I always sign up with a heavy heart.  So I decided to just go to paying as I go.  Financially an argument could be made for it, but I would rather trust my instinct and feel comfortable about my orders.

Besides, I am hoping to struggle to get to £40.  This week's order is in, and at the moment it stands at £67.36 and that includes £50 on Famous Grouse (it really is a good deal!).  It will probably creep up as tomorrow goes on, but I shall keep a close eye on matters.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Approved Food Nostalgia

I have finally run out of the mammoth shipment of Maggi Sauce I got from Approved Food some time ago.  I couldn't tell you when the order was, it must have been a year ago, and it was a great deal.  I think I got about twenty bottles as it is an acquired taste and I can't always get it.  I am very sad and now trying to remember where I bought it before I got the shipping order.

The next big thing to go will be the sandwich bags.  I'm using more than ever since bear started taking packed lunches.  It will be a bit yet, I bought around a dozen rolls of 300 bags at 50p per roll, if I remember rightly - it was years ago, long before bear started school.  They will see the year out, I think, but then I will actually have to buy some - and at more than 50p for 300.

Sometimes there are deals on Approved Food that are just too good to miss.  Other times not so good.  So I remember the waterproof washing tablets and the strange dishwasher tablets that I can't use until I find the manual to tell me where to put the salt.  I need a bit of balance.  I am just so sad that I have finally finished my stock of maggi sauce and wondering if I will get as good a deal again.  This is risky thinking.  I really don't need to buy more stuff.

My next challenge is to get some more dishwasher tablets.  I aim for 10p per tablet.  I'll have a quick look in Makro and if I can get them at that price I will buy a shedload - again.  However I am getting bulk deliveries of less and less.  There is room to breath on the shelf which once held maggi sauce.  Soon I will be able to shut the drawer with the bags without fuss. Some things are worth it, especially in these days of rising food prices.  Some things are definitely not worth it and some things are in clearance shops for a reason.

There is real skill in shopping.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Bear is poorly

Bear had a busy day yesterday, he had a visit to Chester Zoo while I called in on Uncle, and there was lots of travelling and he isn't used to travelling.

He was sick at 10.30pm (I was already asleep) and 4.30am and lots of times in between.  I slept on the floor of his room and I was glad to do so, he would wake suddenly, be really ill, then need a quick cuddle before sleeping again.  He was so brave and stoic and I am so proud of him.

DH was heroic as well, he took over at 8am and let me get some sleep and I was very glad of it.

I have cleaned the landing carpet (bear didn't make it to the bathroom at first).  However I am still not happy and I think I shall have another good go later.  

Bear is having quiet time on the computer, looking a bit run down and tired but a lot better.  I think I shall concentrate on cuddles for him for now.

Doing Sums

Just blogging to get my thoughts straight, but I think it's a useful exercise.  Most of you reading will have a better grasp than me, but I think it's worthwhile sharing.

I am shopping a lot with Tesco at the moment.  They do a feature with a Delivery Saver so that you pay so much then afterwards get free delivery for a set time.  I'm trying to work out whether it is worth it for me.

I've looked at the days I normally get deliveries.  There is no pattern.  I would love to be the sort of person who had rhythm and order in their groceries but I have to face facts.  Also I quite like the idea of having the occasional Sunday delivery as I will be gearing up for bear's packed lunches.  If I was disciplined enough to stick to Tuesday to Thursday then I could try the midweek saver.  You pay £27 for three months or £45 for six months either up front or monthly and you then get any delivery slot free on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  The delivery costs range from £3 to £4.50 and you could have a delivery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday if you like.  If you have one delivery per week at £3 per delivery then you would spend £12 per month on delivery fees instead of £9 which you would spend on the three month plan.  I find it difficult to arrange the £3 delivery slots as they are usually when I am busiest with bear and overlap school run time.  If you had one £4.50 delivery per week and went for the six months in advance plan you would save £10.50.

I am more likely to go for the Anytime Plan, which is up to one delivery per day at any time as long as a slot is free and if I pay for six months up front I pay £60, or £10 per month.  If I want a Sunday delivery it can be as much as £6 per delivery so I would save up to £14 in a four week month, if I went for the more expensive slots.  Even if I managed to work things to have the cheaper slots, it would still save a few pennies.  All pennies are welcome.  I quite often get more than one delivery per week as well, depending on what is happening.  It makes sense to save money on what I am doing already.

There are, of course, downsides.  I am waiting for Morrisons to start deliveries, but I have no idea when that will be.  I would hate not to be a customer for the first week.  Paying for the deliveries like this would tie me into Tesco, which is currently okay.  The big problem is that the minimum order size is £40.  I am getting my veggies delivered from the market and I have meat from the farm shop and available from the market.  I regularly use Approved Foods.  I am concerned that I will struggle to make the minimum order, especially if Famous Grouse is not on offer.

If I take the Anytime six month plan, which is £10 per month, and the average cost of deliveries which is as far as I can tell around the £4.50 mark, then I would need to do three orders to save money.  At the cheapest I would need to do four orders and at the most expensive I would need to do two.   The £40 minimum is going to be a struggle unless I am getting things wrong.  Mind you, there is a weakness for strong drink in the house which will help boost the totals.

Summary If you get one Tesco delivery per week of over £40 and do not go anywhere but Tesco and that is not likely to change in three or six months then the Delivery Saver is a good idea.  I'm still thinking.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Bear Faced Fibs

The morning routine chugs along until Bear has to go and use the toilet, brush his teeth, wash his face etc and then scramble into uniform just before he leaves the house.  This is designed to allow the maximum chance of him getting out of the door looking presentable. I normally trust him to just get on with it.

This morning was no exception but I needed to use the facilities myself while bear got dressed.  I noticed that the junior loo seat was still in place.  Normally bear stands on the loo to brush his teeth so I asked bear, 'Have you brushed your teeth?'
'Of course,' bear said airily.
'Did you stand on the loo?'
'I'm tall enough to manage without that.' Bear said confidently.

I went back into the bathroom and checked his toothbrush.
'Bear, your toothbrush is dry!'
'I did brush my teeth.  I just dried the toothbrush afterwards!'

I'm going to have to do closer supervision again.

So that was the week

This week is not going to go down as one of the most productive weeks in my life.  However I have just had my delivery from Market Delivered and I am feeling quite confident and calm about things.

I have plans for all of it.  Tonight it is cauliflower and broccoli with fish and home made chips, tomorrow brisket goes in the slow cooker with stock so it is soup, with the leek and carrots, Sunday looks like brisket cold with roast parsnip, greens and the rest of the carrots.  Monday is normally cold brisket with chips and beans but it may end up as bubble and squeak with some fried onions.  I'm planning another delivery on Tuesday, as most of the veg will have been eaten up by then.  The fruit will be just eaten but there is a fair chance of apple crumble and custard.

This morning I have also made a very small dent in the chaos that is my room, and I'm feeling good about it.  All I need to do now is keep on going.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hardup Hester

For anyone who knows Hardup Hester and enjoys her blog, she has been in touch and is okay.  She has been getting a lot of grief from trolls, spam etc and now has technical problems as well.  I am sure she would welcome good vibes being sent her way.

If I get any further updates and she is okay with it I will share.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

I have Apple Blossom on my Apple Tree

Strictly speaking it is darling father's apple tree, planted perilously close to the house.  It is supposed to be a dwarf specimen, but I know darling father and his track record.  Now we have an apple tree blooming six months too late, just before Autumn.  This from a man, in his eighties, who was working out how much he could drink last night to still be fit for the blood tests this morning.  To be fair, last night was Jazz Club night.  He goes every week, has a wonderful time and gets merry.  It is a big social lift for him and helped him settle much easier after a move.  It would be wrong for him to miss it, but I wonder if he did stick to 'just a few'.

I have said 'just before Autumn' but by some measures of Autumn it is already here, and the equinox is around Saturday.  Then the nights will officially be longer than the days.  This morning the central heating clicked on.  My central heating is technically on all year.  We have a thermostat which comes on when the temperature on the landing falls below 19 degrees in the morning or evening, 16 degrees during the day and 7 degrees during the night.  The theory is that the house is warmed through twice a day if needed and we heat the rooms we are in.  It probably won't click on tonight, we will have

We don't do too badly.  We are in a sheltered, south facing, double glazed, back to back terrace and I am grateful for it.  We also have stocks of sand and salt, we have warm clothes, a heap of snuggly and very warm blankets bought on sale from Lakeland and I will be shortening the curtains very soon, as they are a little longer than the radiators so  I want to make sure the heat isn't blocked.  I have draught excluders and I have made cherry stone bags.  I am looking forward to cosy nights in.  Fingers crossed that the weather outside is a mild winter.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Today is Better

Today has been a lot better, I've been limping around.  I have eaten chocolate so all is well in my world.

I have a backlog of housewifery.  The Blog with the Rude Words suggests this week a challenge of clearing one surface per day.  I may go for that, starting tomorrow.

I am also quite pleased because I was considering doing an order with Tescos and I can't really get enough together for a decent delivery.  I am fully stocked with good value, good quality veg, fruit and meat.  However my next challenge is bear's desperate desire for a proper dessert.  After tonight's training at martial arts I think apple crumble is looking very likely indeed.  He has run, jumped, sat up, pressed up, punched, kicked and shouted.  Apple crumble would be his just desserts.

Monday, 16 September 2013

I found the Apple Pie

I found the apple pie.  DH and I had a nice slice.  I was ill again.  DH was fine.

I'm getting a bit fed up of this.  Today is officially a duvet day.

On the downside, Uncle, after refusing any hint or attempt to get a cleaner/carer/odd job person calling in on a regular basis, is stuck without a tv.  His tv has frozen.  It probably just needs unplugging and then plugging back in.  He currently finds it tricky to get to the plug, but for years has refused to learn anything about modern technical gear and instead asked my brother.  My brother lives near me, far away from uncle.  It is just not doable for him to pop over.

So uncle is stuck in a chair, not able to go out, no tv and not really able to enjoy his computer games as he says it is not so comfortable at the moment.  There is nothing I can do.

My uncle's solutions are to tough it out until my brother gets there and/or buy a new tv.  I am still worrying.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

This is not good

It seemed that most of the delivery drivers in the North East called at our house on Friday.  All sorts of stuff arrived, often overlapping each other and piling up.  I was interrupted by poor bear who had been stung by a wasp and sent home from school - he's fine now - and also by being very ill.

DH very kindly cleared a huge heap of stuff and things are much more rational, which I thought was heroic of him as I hid in my bed from 8pm Friday to 11am Saturday.  I am still not entirely comfortable about the whole issue of food in any form.  I think I may have accidentally lost weight which no doubt will soon go back on when I can eat again.  This is not the biggest problem.

Somewhere in this house is an unaccounted for Apple Pie.

I have no idea.  It came with the fruit and veg but I took it out quite quickly as I was taking the fruit and veg to the kitchen in stages.  That is, I think I remember taking it out.  I have no further recollection.

I'm a bit worried, actually, but at least bear did his homework with minimal outrage.  Long may that continue.

Bear is onto me

Despite feeling an incredible amount of self pity I was getting the brisket in the slow cooker for dinner tonight.  Bear was not happy.  'I'm lonely,' he said, 'I want some company.'
'I need to get this ready for dinner,' I sounded a lot more convinced than I felt.  'I'll be up soon.'  The perils of having a kitchen on a different floor to the living room.
'It's okay, I'll sit on the steps and wait.'
My heart sank.  I was going to be heckled and badgered while peeling potatoes.  'Okay, that's nice.' I said breezily.  'We can talk about your homework.  You have eight words to learn and you need to fit them into four sentences.'
'I think I'll go up and watch Tom and Jerry.' Bear said quickly.

Today is a homework day.  I am considering delegating the battle to DH.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Stealth Cheese Attack

I have a food intolerance.  It isn't an allergy, but I get violent stabbing stomach pains and throw up.  I would rather have an intolerance than an allergy.

Last summer I found that every time I ate cheese I threw up.  It wasn't fun until I worked it out.  Now I avoid cheese.   I have been looking at bear's pizza for his packed lunches with some longing.  I haven't risked it.  However there is some ingredient that I refer to as 'stealth cheese' that gives me exactly the same symptoms, but I don't know what it is.  It is in Haigh's farm pies.  I suspect traces in Asda Diet Cola.  And there seems to be a shedload in Tesco Value Pot Noodles.  I had one for the first time yesterday.

It wasn't the best of timing.  I had deliveries coming out of my ears, there was packing materials and random cauliflowers everywhere, and bear got sent home from school with a wasp sting.  Poor lamb got stung on the forehead and was very unhappy, but very brave.  At one point he was there with an ice pop clasped to his forehead while he sucked on a second one.  It's disappeared by now, of course, but he found it very hard at the time, when he remembered it.  I did my best on the cuddle front, but some of his friends got a bit scared when I caught them pointing a bow and arrow at other kids and got very cross.

So as I was desperately hanging on until DH got home, bear was alternately wailing for sympathy and playing out on the street.  I kept going until five minutes before DH got home and then it hit.  Eventually I managed to sit with bear for the bedtime routine and then crawled into bed and slept from 8pm to 11am.

DH has done loads of clearing up for me, and I am hugely grateful.  bear has been very good.  I am going to take it extremely steady now.  Also get rid of all the Tesco Value Pot Noodles which unfortunately came in a bucket load yesterday via Approved Foods.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Hello Friday

The Blog with the Rude Words recommends working in spells of 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off.  Flylady does something similar without the rude words.

I can't go out for a bracing walk as this morning I am getting a veg box delivery, a Tesco delivery and an Approved Food delivery (with lots of toilet rolls - I thought I had learned my lesson on that).  And as I am still in an unexplained foul mood (which is downright self indulgent, there is no reason at all) I'm going to take my frustrations out on the housework.  This may be a good thing, as housework is in desperate need.

Nobody let me near anything fragile.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

If you can't say anything nice...

I am in the sort of mood where I could start a fight in an empty room.  So I am saying nothing.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed later.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Bear is honest

I asked bear if he would eat any cakes that I made for him.

He thought for a moment.  'Nah, I'd just eat the icing off them.'  As he has done that to every other cake I have to believe him.

He also managed to wangle a curry pot noodle for dinner (I was seriously outflanked, but it won't work next time) and explained that the fresh drops of curry sauce on the tv remote were there before - honestly!

He isn't even a teenager!

I had one small victory.  Bear was bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored and he was sharing.  The explosion that happened when I suggested doing his homework kept me entertained for a while, but he consented to walk to the shop - mainly to get this dratted pot noodle.  He asked plaintively for a puzzle book.  I looked at him and looked at the book.  'This book is £1.95...' I began sternly.  'Nah, it's okay, I've changed my mind.' Bear had read the signs of '... and if you don't get the value out of that you will think the ceiling had fallen on you.'  He settled for a Doctor Who magazine.  I let him - DH will enjoy it later.

I really need to toughen up!

Facing up to a Dreadful Fact

I am going to have to start baking again.

I am not enthusiastic.  It takes ages and makes a mess, well, it does when I do it.  Two facts are pressing down hard though.  One is just a vanity.  DH is having a bit of a time at work, and all the office is feeling a bit of stress.  This means I should really send in some banana bread.  It is a real pick me up for them.  This isn't particular vanity as apparently I am the only partner who bakes.  One of the new starters has a dad who bakes, and bakes very well.  I should rise to the Hyancinth Bucket challenge and send in some creations - except mine aren't that good.  I've had good reviews, though, and it really cheers his boss up, which helps.

The second fact is the awful truth that bear is trying to eat his own weight in sugar.  He is prising sweeties out of me, a teaspoon at a time, but it isn't good.  It would be so much better if he could eat something healthier.  However he is currently utterly rejecting fruit.  I expect that to change in the next month or two, just about when fruit gets more expensive, but there you go.  I want to be able to give him something a bit healthier, or even something that has sugar but also contains nutrition, like weetabix cake, or banana bread, or apple cake.

I've also got self raising and plain flour decanted into identical jars and I can't remember which is which.  I'm going to mope off and see what I can find for the microwave.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Bear Lives Dangerously

Bear went to martial arts this evening and had a good time.  He has a new instructor as the one he has been with since he was four, that is, two and a half years, is overdue with her first baby.

I watched during the lesson and bear enjoyed it a lot.  He punched and shouted and ran and generally had a lot of six year old boy fun.  Afterwards I asked him if he liked his new instructor and whether the lesson was as good.

'It was good, actually it was better because men are always better.'

I did do a lot of explaining, which I suspect was water off a duck's back, but I shall continue the message.  Perhaps it's just as well he is practicing martial arts as if he starts saying things like that to the local girls he will have to be really good at self defence.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Morrisons PayDay Bonus

I love Morrisons.  I really enjoy their stuff, I love their fruit and veg and I can't wait until they do deliveries.  Of course I am eyeing up their latest offer.

First of all you have to spend £35 on three consecutive weeks, starting this week, and collect a coupon each week.  Then in the week commencing 30 September you have to spend another £35 and you will get £10 off.

If you are going to Morrisons anyway this is a good deal.  Effectively you will spend £105 to get £10 off. This is not bad.  It is particularly good about not having to stick to a particular range, you can get a lot of Morrisons Value stuff for £35.  Even so, in the current climate it is very easy to spend £35.

However I am not sure it would work for me.  First of all I would have to spend £3.90 four times to get to Morrisons.  If I had a ticket anyway that isn't so bad, but if I was making a trip I would not otherwise make then it would wipe out the savings.  As bear no longer goes to piano lessons, we no longer call at Morrisons.
The other problem I have about calling in on Morrisons is that if I actually go to the actual supermarket I spend a lot more than I spend on internet shopping.  If I can guarantee to go when bear isn't around, and can stick rigidly to what I need I can easily spend £35 on groceries.

However I just got a month's worth of meat from the farm shop.  I've filled up on frozen veg at the start of the month.  The delivery from the Market will keep me going easily until Friday when I have booked a new one.  Any short fall in potatoes can be made up at the local shops.  I am trying to run down my tins and packets.  This morning I had a delivery that was not much more than five bottles of Famous Grouse (it was a good deal) and three Tesco value pot noodles for when bear is in that humour.  I am so glad the driver didn't judge.

It's probably not worth me getting the coupons this time.  However I will be keeping a close eye on the whole thing.

Adult content

My blog is usually written with a family audience in mind. I think that not everyone wants to hear bad language or see adult content and I'm very happy with that.  I usually think that bad language is not only lazy but damaging to clear thinking.  Your thoughts are structured by the words you use.  Bad language doesn't help clear or constructive thinking.  So I stay family friendly where actually I am quite comfortable thank you.  I do look at other sites though.

I found a housewifery site.  I think it may be useful for me, especially now I am getting so much better physically.  It isn't family friendly when it comes to language.  On the other hand, this site is quite refreshing, I like the note that laundry and washing up have three steps,

1. Wash.  2. Dry.  3. PUT IT AWAY GODAMMIT

I am not so keen on blasphemy, so I may tamper with the text if I get this framed.  However it is a really good rule.  I plan to work on sticking to it more and more.  I have a feeling it will work better for me than Flylady, even though I can actually tell my father about the name of the Flylady site but not this one.  It's not as detailed or structured which didn't help me.  It has to be worth a go.

As for the name of the site, it wouldn't get through most swear filters and is certainly Not Suitable For Work.  The actual name of the actual site contains a word only found in 18 certificate films.   However if your curiosity is piqued, the site is here and the tumblr blog is here.  With bad language.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Spending money again

I have a large glass jar that I keep 'treats' in.  I keep small bags of haribo, fruit bottles and Guzzle Puzzles there.  It is reserved for the lower fat, lower sugar, sometimes has good stuff in it treats.  Bear doesn't get free rein, but he usually gets stuff from there if he asks.  This morning the lid cracked completely across.

I wasn't surprised.  When I bought the jar the first time it fell off the shop counter and smashed into very tiny fragments.  I had to get another one off the shelf and decided to keep it out of the kitchen after that.  Now the lid is gone I don't think I will take the risk with the very large jar.  However I will not be looking for a direct replacement.  Instead I shall look for a replacement that fits in with the waste bins as the treat jar is kept in the living room.  I shall enjoy doing that shopping.  I shall also scratch together a Tesco order as they are doing an extremely good offer on Famous Grouse.

I have paid out for a cut and blow for going out tomorrow, so that haircut will keep me going until Christmas.   Finally I have been to the school to make a payment.

Yesterday I asked bear, 'Do you need milk money this term?' as I knew it would cut off at a certain age.
'Yes,' bear replied, not really paying attention.
'Why didn't you tell me?'
'I forgot.'
'How much is it?'
'Erm, four or five pounds.  Can I go on the computer?'

In a few years time bear will be airily saying as he goes to bed, 'by the way, mum, I need to be dressed as a lettuce tomorrow.' or similar.  This is normal for boys, but I am not impressed.  I went to the school and paid for the year (£5 per term, actually, which was nearly what bear said).  There is no more milk money to pay after this year, so I won't have to worry about that.

Finally I need to brace and get the train tickets.  That is going to be a steep one.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

swings and roundabouts

The £16 delivered wardrobe that I had been so pleased with collapsed today.

On the bright side, it meant I could get the step ladder to air vent that is currently full of black mould and probably not helping me breathe.  I sprayed it with some chemical stuff and now I am going out to pick up DH's dry cleaning safe in the knowledge that it will be bleach fumes making me cough tonight.


Becoming more cheerful

I've been having a bit of a pity party with not being able to breathe, when I got a box of fruit and veg.  It wasn't a complete surprise because I had ordered it but I had £20 worth of fruit and veg from Market Delivered - a huge box of random, lovely, fresh box of fruit and veg from a market stall in Leeds Market.

I am happy.  Once again I get ideas for new things to cook, once again I get fresh and the box was so heavy I couldn't lift it.  Next time I will definitely take a photo, but I've lost my phone (again).  I know it is somewhere in the house so I am not worrying.

I now have bananas, peppers, plums, oranges, huge potatoes, lots of apples, cauliflower, carrots, spring veg, spring onions, lettuce, cucumber, grapes and some really lovely tomatoes.  I got some smoked cod added as well.

I am happy.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013


For bear's first day back at school I couldn't find the iron on labels for his uniform.

For bear's second day back at school I found the labels but the iron melted them.

I don't do well with irons.  It may be my habit of dropping them, but they just don't do well.  Normally they fade away, occasionally they are dropped so hard I don't trust them again, but this time the iron is going for the burn.  The iron setting was correct and I've used these labels many times.  I've noticed it's been a bit keen even though the setting is comparatively low.  When I was little I remember my favourite petticoat being shrivelled by a too-hot iron, so I am usually carefully about having the correct temperature.

So today, when I wanted to capitalise on the dent I made yesterday I ended up staggering in to town, dropping off DH's coat to pick up tomorrow.  The dry cleaning lady was keen to allow more time in case of stains.  The coat in question is over fifteen years old, extremely 'well loved' and looking a bit threadbare.  We are aiming for 'cleaner' as the outcome.  It is also DH's only coat and it is forecast to hammer down on Friday.  I shall have to take bear with me to pick it up after school.  Then I picked up a new iron and three bottles of Famous Grouse (£13 a bottle in Tescos) and dragged myself home.

I love DH's coat and so does he.  It is a wool overcoat and it hangs well below the knee even on DH who is not small. I have not managed to find anything like it anywhere.  Poor DH is going to have to go shopping, which for him is a fate worse than death.

As the coat cost in the region of £50 around fifteen years ago or more, it doesn't owe a penny.  I just wish we could find another one just as good.  Still at least I got cheap whiskey today.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

On pins

I have literally just been on pins.

I found a third sewing machine that I don't remember ever getting.  I am fairly confident that this was given to me as a guilt free way of getting rid of a sewing machine even though everyone knows that I am scared of sewing machines and I was fourteen the last time I successfully used one.  It was massively heavy.  I started staggering downstairs with it and I was really worried I wouldn't make it.  It was the sort of heavy that gives you a headache lifting it.

I was thinking about freecycle as suggested by Witch Hazel.  I couldn't in all conscience advertise it as more than an extremely heavy probably rusty relic, then one of the thingies at the bottom that kept the case closed gave way.  Looking back I wasn't surprised.  However it crashed down the stairs and exploded.  Not only was the extremely heavy machine in the case but also a box of pins that scattered all over the landing carpet right outside the bathroom.  It took a while picking them up.

So I think I will spend a bit of time recovering now and the machine bits can go to the tip - in the right box of course.

School has started

Bear was happy to go to school today, although he is currently exhausted after a hectic summer.  It was a very heavy eyed boy in brand new uniform that filed in to see his new teacher.  He still had the same book bag, lunch box and water bottle, though.  I'll wait until those wear out.

This also means a few hours a day when I don't have to worry about kids from a few doors away poking at my central heating vent.  I will be able to leave my kitchen door open for more than a few seconds.  I will be able to hang washing out without worrying too much.

I shall also hopefully have time to focus on things that I need to get done.  I would have got much more of a recharge and much more completed when bear was at holiday club if poor uncle hadn't been poorly but I don't begrudge that.  However I now have several hours of bear free time a day and uncle is stable so I want to get on.

I am now continuing with the clearout.  I am looking at a case and a kit bag.  They have not been used since before bear was born.  They are not likely to be used in the near future.  I would much rather take a few small bags than one large and the case is enormous.  I keep having to move it to somewhere else as I do stuff as it is so big it is always in the way and it doesn't have a proper home yet.  It is getting to the stage where if I trip over them one more time they will be hurled out of the window.

I am trying to work out what to do with stuff that is really too good for landfill, uneconomic and/or unrealistic to ebay and the charity shops are such a lot of bus fare and time away.   I can see the local church getting a lot of donations.

Monday, 2 September 2013

Day 42

I am so glad bear is going back to school tomorrow.  I will be able to do things.  It isn't just me trying to work out what I am doing with bear showing a vocal interest, or Doctor Who being played with the volume set to stun, or the trail of havoc in a house that is already overfull of havoc.  It's bear playing out with the local kids who I don't like to blog about as they are only kids and things stay on the internet.  You will have to take it that I stay on pins all the time he is out without me giving examples.  A few hours per day without me worrying whether bear is going to get involved if the police are called will do me no harm at all.   The kids are all about the same age as well.  Unfortunately the worry about the police is well founded.  So is the worry about seeing ambulances pulling up.

I have also seen the latest comments about Jamie Oliver.  I do feel a complete failure at the money saving.  I have just spent @ £200 over the last few days.  I spent @ £80 at the farm shop, although I expect it to last for a month, then I spent another £110 for a Tesco delivery today.  A lot of that was to re-stock the freezer we have been running down.  I expect the veg to last most of the month as well.  However I don't think Jamie Oliver is at the basics level.  He is writing for people who need to cut down their food budget.  I don't think it is for those who are really on the breadline.  On Day 42 of the summer holiday I don't have the energy to care.

I am muttering about veggies at the moment.  I am disappointed that they stopped doing veg boxes here, but I am optimistic about a scheme that may be starting getting a box of seasonal veg from the market.  Until then, regardless of what Jamie Oliver thinks, it makes financial sense for me to get my veggies delivered from the supermarket (£3 delivery against £3.90 bus fare without considering the carrying) and in a frozen state.  Frozen veggies are fresher than the fresh stuff in the supermarket and are trimmed/shelled/sliced so that there is less waste.  They do not go off and the last handful will limp on in the freezer until they can be added to a casserole.  One kilo of frozen, prepared casserole veg look like a good deal when I can't get that sort of value fresh.

When bear is safely tucked up in bed I will be able to put an iron over his freshly washed uniform, iron on the name tapes and pack all his bags ready for school tomorrow.  Until then I am hovering around the internet not really concentrating and listening out to the kids on the street.  Currently praying for rain.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Terms and Conditions Apply

I blogged about bear demanding mayonnaise so I bought a cartload from Approved Food, then bear deciding he didn't like it after all.  It's okay, the mayo is steadily going down as we all like it.  Besides, bear has just complained that we don't give him enough mayonnaise and it isn't fair.

Today bear has requested a sandwich with the crusts on.  I nearly fell over after years of cutting off crusts.  It worked out that he ate more if he didn't have the crusts as I trimmed closer to the crust than his teeth did.

This hasn't helped with the looming shadow of School Lunch Box.  If he hadn't come back half starved last time then I would be tempted to put him back on school dinners.  His most recent request is pasta salad, like his friend.  I have no idea the form the pasta salad takes, so I shall be in touch with the mum and try it out.  Bear does currently like pasta.  As he has complained bitterly about every form of sandwich in his lunchbox it is at least a way of getting some necessary carbs into him.  Until he invokes Terms and Conditions and changes his mind about that.

School are quite liberal about lunches, taking the view that it is better for the child to have something before they return to learning.  One of bear's friend has, according to the mum, chocolate spread sandwiches, a chocolate bar and chocolate milk.  He looks a bit pale.  However according to his mum he now likes to have dry crackers as well.

Bear is pretty good.  He often eats cucumber, cherry tomatoes, celery sticks, apples, soft peel citrus and sometimes I even stretch to berries.  I always include something fresh.  The big problem I am now facing is protein.  Bear is currently rejecting ham.  He is also rejecting cheese except on pizza or at my brother's.  I tried Fridge Raiders which are over processed and designed to appeal to children bits of chicken.  He liked those until the Terms and Conditions kicked in.  He will sometimes take a small lump of cooked chicken, but we rarely have cooked chicken hanging around.  Besides, it is not something I can rely on.  Tuna has been utterly rejected.

I think he will start the new term with just salad bits, his drink and a slice of cold pizza.  He will at least eat the salad.

When will I learn?

It was never my idea to start with.  The freezer needed defrosting.  It has needed defrosting for many months.  I have been putting it off and 'running down the freezer', especially after the last time the freezer door was left open.  I have not been in a hurry about it.  It is a job I loathe and detest.  Then the freezer is currently surrounded by clutter which is quite far down the 'to do' list as I need to do x y and z first.  Then I am looking at the grim corners of the freezer at the things I ought to do stuff with and thinking I'll get to those before I start.  I can think of lots of reasons not to defrost the freezer now.

Action has been forced upon me.  Tomorrow we are going to my brother's for a barbecue.  They have everything set up for barbecues and we have gone several times over the summer.  This time we insist that it is our turn to take the meat.

The best place to get the meat for the barbecue for us is a farm shop which has a splendid meat counter.  What is on the counter is what was in the field.  There are also sacks of local veg as well and some lovely home made cakes and buns.  If we go to the farm shop for meat for the barbecue then we may as well get the meat to stock us up for Autumn.  And if we stock up for Autumn I need to defrost the freezer first.

So I froze some water in bags, DF brought some cheap £1.41 for 20 nappies back from town and I unplugged the freezer.  I put the few bits that I was willing to keep in a cool bag with the ice, stuffed the freezer with nappies and threw out the bits of food in the freezer that I had been avoiding for so long - in some case I think it may be years.  If I was going to actually use them, I would have used them by now.  I regretted the money wasted and took it as a lesson learned.  They were certainly not fit to pass on for next door's pets.

Then I forgot all about it.  I tootled around, helped DH with bear's routine, browsed the net and then, just as I was ready for bed at 10pm I remembered.  Thanks to the nappies there wasn't a flood, but the ice was still firmly attached.

So I have spent the last two hours wrestling with swollen nappies (they are wonderfully absorbent) and towels and lumps of ice.  I finally got a drawer back in that hasn't fitted since before last Christmas and I think I have done something interesting to my shoulder.  I didn't do a perfect job, but it was good enough.  Tomorrow I have room to stock up!

Tomorrow I will also finish clearing up a stack of cloths, nappies, rags and damp patches.  For now I am winding down after the battle with a hot chocolate and a grumble on the internet.  Next time I will be better organised.  I shall also start saving for a frost free freezer.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Angela - thank you for the comment.  I shall grin and bear it and use the money saved to pay for the salt and rinse aid.  I'm still getting the hang of the dratted machine.  Though it has been a blessing!


I gambled on getting some dishwasher tablets from Approved Food which were Finish Classic, £9.99 for 90 so within a sneeze of my aim of 10p per tablet and they came with £5.25 off delivery.  I wanted some bits anyway as I seem to be feeding the entire street a constant stream of sweets so it seemed like a good idea.

First of all the instructions are in foreign.  I think the instructions are in a Scandinavian language and are at least in an alphabet I can recognise but apart from that I have no idea.  I may try typing some instructions into Babelfish and working my way around the Baltic languages.

I also have had a dishwasher for less than a year and I have never added things like salt or rinse aid.  We were advised to always get the 'absolutely everything in one tablet' type stuff and we have for the last ten months.  Apparently I need to add things like salt etc, though it is hard to tell.  I am going by the pictures. I am not even sure where to put things like salt as I can't find the dishwasher instruction manual.

I feel like I've been suckered.  However I will just bung the tablets in and see how they go.