Sunday, 31 March 2013

We had the fennel

I had been a bit baffled by the fennel.  I had never cooked it before.  So of course I consulted the internet and so chopped it small and mixed it with carrot and parsnip and roasted it in the remoska and it was actually quite pleasant.  I was too late to get the mash done in time (adjusting to the time change) so we had chips from the chippy.

This was to go with a piece of pork.  I originally got a huge amount in for New Year's Day.  As the lamb wasn't delivered I decided to have this.  I am not confident in cooking pork, I am always so wary and careful.  As the gas pressure is so low I didn't dare risk the 2.4kg of pork in the gas oven and it just about fit into the electric mini oven.  However the mini oven runs on a timer, with a maximum of 60 minutes.  2.4kg of pork takes about 3 hours at Gas 5, 190C.  I spent this afternoon on pins irrationally worrying that I would miss the 'ping' of the mini oven and fail to set the thing off again.

I have quite a lot of pork today as I had a pork pie after visiting Kirkstall Abbey's deli market.  It was quite fun, but I didn't actually need much that I saw there.  I was quite pleased at resisting everything except the plastic gargoyle.  DF said it would be fine in the garden.

Now I just have to worry about what to do with the rest of the pork...

Happy Easter!

Bear is stuffing his face with as much chocolate as he can get away with.  I am keeping an eye on him, and rationing to his disgust.

DF has just left for church looking remarkably dapper with his trilby and nice suit.  He was carrying a bag with mini easter presents for half the ladies in the congregation.  I don't call there very often these days.  I never know what to say to who.

And while bear is on an enforced break from chocolate he is playing Plants v Zombies with lots of enthusiasm, a running commentary and a deep fascination for the different types of havoc.  I am hiding in the next room pretending to listen.

However listening to Classicfm (over the death and destruction with commentary from bear) and seeing the chinks of sunlight breaking through, I feel pretty good.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

More from the veg box

It is interesting how the veg box is steering the cooking choices.  We had a huge lettuce in the box, and it isn't really salad weather for us.  So I had already decided to cook it.  When I mentioned it to dh he suggested china chilo.  He loves that meal and and as I had the lamb mince in the freezer I agreed.

But I didn't have the spring onions in, and didn't bother with them.  I obviously didn't have fresh peas in, so dh brought in a bag of frozen peas.  Then we ended up cooking it on the gas hob as it really needs that length of simmering on the hob.  Fortunately the gas pressure is low so no risk of burning.

But dh loved it.  df loves it.  Bear really enjoyed picking out all the lamb, and managed a surprising amount.  And now evil cat is trying to steal it.

For those who haven't seen the recipe before (and I post it in all sorts of places) I can give you the 'some' version.

Brown some lamb mince (500g) in some butter (generous two tablespoons) and add some finely chopped spring onions/handful of fine chopped mushroom/cucumber, one pint of fresh peas (today it was about a pound of frozen peas) and then a very large or two normal finely shredded lettuce with no more water than sticks to the lettuce from washing.  Simmer gently for two hours.  Serve with rice.  It tastes amazing and is very little trouble.  I save it for a special dinner because it is expensive with the lamb mince and you have to get a lot of peas in the pod to get a generous pint of fresh peas.

It is also interesting that the lettuce was starting to rot.  I really need to be aware about using stuff up in the right order and in good time, if necessary freezing for later (there's risky for me!).  Tomorrow I need, need, need to use up the mushrooms.

Evil cat is not helpful

I was filling in some surveys.  I am not sure how helpful I am sometimes because I answer as honestly as I can but I don't seem to fit in any of the neat boxes.  One 'tester' came to the conclusion that I would never shop online for groceries.  I can't be doing it right.

Anyway, I plod on and do my best filling in the survey on holidays.  They want to know about the whole household.  DF would go on holiday all the time to destinations exotic, I love day trips to historical places and DH and bear would rather not leave the house, thank you so much.  It's a bit of a challenge.

Fortunately a lot of my answers were taken out of my hand as evil cat jumped on the keyboard and resisted all attempts to remove her and clung on until we had got past all the Disney pages.  I am not sure whether I will now get a brochure in the post or an injunction to keep away  I had to give her treats to get rid of her - and now she knows how to get treats out of me.

I have been trained by my cat!

Friday, 29 March 2013

New Potato recipe

I found a new potato recipe on the MSE old style board, originally posted by MRSMCAWBER.  I was looking for fennel recipes but I found this.  You put the peeled potatoes in a roasting tin and then add two cups of water, 1/4 cup of olive oil and the juice of one or two lemons.  I sliced about 3lb of potatoes really thin and put them in the remoska and then added the ingredients.  They took a long time to cook, I think in future I will stir more regularly or leave in bigger chunks and I will add half of the water though the same amount of oil and perhaps include the lemon zest and some parsley.  We quite often get lemons in the fruit box so that is a good way to use them.  I may also do them in the mini oven as well rather than the remoska.

We had these with battered frozen pollock and mushy peas.  I sort of lost the will after slicing all the potatoes.  Bear was poorly so much last night I am almost nodding off as I type.  However he has recovered enough to force down a value chocolate mousse.  To be fair they aren't that rich.  I am more worried by my complete inability to get him to take in any liquid.

I am craving alcohol.  I daren't in case I am up again in the night.  I may substitute chocolate.  Lots and lots and lots of chocolate.

Bear's perfect timing

Bear is feeling too poorly for chocolate - just in time for Easter.  Poor little lad

Bear is a brave soldier

Poor bear, he was up in the night a few times being sick.  He is so stoic.  He just throws up and then goes back to sleep.  I gave him as many cuddles as I could.

However he is exhausted and so am I.  Now I am posting between trying to coax liquid into him.

I hope he is well enough for Easter Eggs on Sunday.

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Veg delivery

I've put it away before remembering I should photograph it.  I don't have the will to regroup all that I have, but I promise I will take a picture next time.  But it is lovely.  There is a nice head of broccoli that will keep bear going, some washed spinach which will be eaten tonight with some IKEA meatballs and the broccoli.  As there are only a few broad beans in their pod I may add that to the steamer as well.  Or possibly just eat them 'as is'.  I love broad beans in the pod.

The meat balls can be cooked in the mini oven, the spinach or other dark leaved product can be steamed in the microwave and some of the excessive amount of sweet potato already in will be roasted in the remoska, so at least I get past the gas issue.

We also have loads of onions, courgettes, a green pepper, garlic, tomatoes, lettuce, lovely mucky carrots and huge parsnips.  I am also faced with fennel. I think I will keep my options open on that.

I also have some really good looking plump chestnut mushrooms.  There aren't many potatoes, but that's okay as I have a mound from last week.

The fruit has some oranges, a lemon, some plums, four bananas, some conference pears and some really fresh looking apples.  I added some nice stilton for DF and a dozen free range eggs.  It all came to £26.25.  It is all organic and as much as possible is locally sourced.  I am very happy with the quality and the quantity is very generous for us four.  It can only be good for us to put away that amount of veggies.  

As I have a backlog of fruit and veg after the dismal few weeks just passed I am determined to get creative and waste as little as possible.  We have a long weekend and a school holiday.  I shall see what I can manage to come up with.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013


Hand on my heart, I have no idea at all what we are having for dinner tomorrow.  Not a clue. One thing I do know is that it won't be cooked by gas.

I am not exactly a bundle of energy, especially after all this weather, so tonight was beeferoni.  I boiled the pan for the pasta (btw it's more fuel efficient to boil the water in the kettle and add the water to the pan, but moving on...) and it took it's time.  I didn't really pay much attention to this.  My gas cooker is erratic at its best.  Finally the pan boiled as I pottered around the kitchen and I stuck the pasta in and started to brown the mince.

I am not the sort of person who precisely measures the time it takes to cook pasta.  Al dente is mythical in this house, it depends on how much attention I am paying.  However I know how long it takes to brown some frozen mince.  Tonight it took a lot longer than normal.  I was muttering, grumbling, stirring and prodding.  I am certain that there was less heat in the gas ring.

I have already had my suspicions about the gas fire not being so efficient as it should be, and it is only six months old!  So I have decided.  We will be using the study as a living room with the convector heater and cooking using the microwave, mini electric oven, remoska or slow cooker until the weather improves and the gas pressure goes back up.

And I really, really want a stove.


We are not as badly hit as so many are at the moment.  Most of the snow that fell heavily at the weekend has gone and now there are only a few piles here and there.  I don't enjoy the trip to school first thing but really it's muddy not icy.  I am counting my blessings.

Except the timing has been too cute.  We are still getting snow, sometimes horizontal, and very fine and powdery.  It blows in the wind, lands on the floor and melts.  We have had lots and lots of small amounts in the wind and two really big flurries.  The first big flurry was this morning, just as I was taking bear to school.  There was still no snow on the ground and it was still fairly unexceptional except that I came home this morning so blasted by the snow that I looked like a snowman. I had to shake my jacket to get all the snow off before I could hang it up.  Then we have had fits and starts all day, until just now when the biggest flakes started to fall.  And they started just as I had to go out to pick up bear from school.  Bear didn't seem to notice.  He was too busy hurtling around trying to stand in what was left of the snow as I called, 'Bear, I'm getting snowed on here.'

After tomorrow we have a fortnight's holiday from school.  Bear is very clear that he does not wish to leave the house during that time at all.  I am trying to thing where we could go if the weather continues and if it will be worth it.  And the school have just sent home the summer curriculum.  It doesn't feel right, somehow.

Normal for here

Having dropped the beautifully poached chicken on the kitchen floor where it sort of splatted and spread last night was a bit hit and miss in the dinner department.  Poor DH is still poorly so he had tinned soup.  Darling father had two rounds of sandwiches with the pork that he brought home yesterday (and which only he really likes) and tomato and bear was being difficult so ended up having a fish finger sandwich.  Nobody was really hungry.  Tonight I think it will be chilli with remoska sweet potatoes.

The snow is coming down quite hard at the moment. We have been really lucky here and not been too badly affected.  However my plan to have a day out just to wander around before I go stir crazy has been shelved.

Poor old evil cat is also really feeling the weather.  Last night she couldn't be bothered to steal the quarter of fish finger sandwich that bear left on his plate.  As I type she is on her cushion in front of the fire looking very wise.  Obviously appearances are deceiving in this case but I think her joints are complaining.  I am quite sure, however, that she will be causing trouble soon.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Lunch box challenge

Bear is complaining again.  I can't think who he is taking after!

Last week I was quite poorly and oozy so bear got the lunchables and Attack Snack packets in his lunch.  I am not hugely impressed with them, they seem very processed and always seem to include cheese which bear utterly rejects, except when it is in one of these packet things

Bear really, really, really likes these, and is now devastated that I am sending him into school with only a ham sandwich with cucumber and butter (because he doesn't like mayo), two satsumas, a pack of fruit buttons and a drink.  I have tried pointing out that £1.74 for the pack is more than his pack lunch normally costs in total but that is straw in the wind.

Bear has also started inspecting the packed lunch each morning.  DH was in charge of packed lunch duty last week and inadvertently broke the rules.  He put in a bag of sweets.  Bear hates being in a position where he can be told off, so was utterly outraged that his poor father, doing his best for him, had actually dared to put in some sweets.  I am just grateful that the school is pretty reasonable about lunches.  They draw the line at bags of sweets but take the view as long as there is some fuel to keep them going for the afternoon learning then that's okay.  Bear's sweets were in addition to the pack of lunch type stuff plus fruit.

I may try doing some of those wraps.  I would be more convinced about those if I didn't think that the best bit for bear was the sachet of tomato sauce.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Bear and Homework

Bear and his homework do not have a happy working relationship.  It is, however, very predictable.  Yesterday it was the time of the spellings.

Stage One - Bear utterly rejects any notion that he needs to do his homework.

Stage Two - Bear denounces the horror and complications of doing homework and how it is far too difficult

Stage Three - Bear announces he is far, far too exhausted to do homework.  In fact he is far too exhausted to do anything except play on the computer

Stage Four - Bear bewails his fate and is incapable of finding a pencil, rubber or the Famous Grouse tin that they live in, the one that is actually eighteen inches from his face

Stage Five - Bear is in far too much pain from aching leg/arm/head to do the homework or anything except play computer games

Stages One to Five usually take about half an hour.

Stage Six - Bear copies out the half dozen words he is supposed to, and this typically takes less than five minutes.  In the school test he gets 100%

Today was the 'Write Five Sentences Using Capital Letters and Full Stops' Day.  As predicted there was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.  We went through Stages One to Five quite quickly for once.  Then we had to decide the wondrous Five Sentences that Bear's teacher was going to be blessed with.  I started the ball rolling and suggested that he write a sentence about the weather.  We settled on, 'The weather is very cold.'  It starts with a capital letter.  It ends with a full stop.  It is absolutely obvious.  And, really importantly, it is only five words long.  Then bear took over the inspiration.  So his lovely teacher will read that the weather is cold, weeping angels in Doctor Who send people back in time and that to do anything in Minecraft you need to start by getting some wood - all using a lot more words than I would have suggested.

Still, he is doing his homework and that's what counts.  I just hope that I spelled 'indestructible' correctly when he asked.  Memo to self, we need a spelling dictionary.

Dinner is undecided

I put a chicken in the slow cooker with a lot of water, two stock cubes and a bouquet garni teabag and left it for a long time.  I suppose you could say it was poached.  I let it cool in the liquid and when I came to take it out the chicken just fell into fragments.

I can't see me dishing that up with mash and veg.

I am going to see if I can find a tin of condensed mushroom soup in the cupboard.  If so I will heat some of the chicken meat through with the condensed soup, possibly with some onion, and serve with plain rice.  That should get through most of the family food filters.  Bear, of course, is a bit of a wild card.  If not I will do the same with condensed tomato soup.

Tomorrow there is a jar of hoi sin sauce that will be perfect for the last of the chicken, perhaps with plain rice.

I am wondering if I can stretch the meat out to a third day.  If I am careful and bulk out with onions etc then I may manage a savoury crumble, with a layer of stuffing.

I am not sure what will happen with the veggie box delivery or the Asda delivery that is supposed to be coming tomorrow.  However if nothing arrives then I still have plenty in to keep us going.  And in the very local micro climate, things are not too bad.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Still winter

Most of the snow has fallen from the laurels now, so it no longer looks like we are about to have broken trees on top of everything else.

Once again I feel very lucky.  We have a warm house, just the gas fire at the moment but it is keeping the living room and study bearable.  I shall be digging out blankets later if it feels colder.  Darling father has a convector heater in his room.  They are one of the cheaper electric fires to run and warm his room very quickly.  We have not been affected by power cuts or disruptions.

I popped across to the NISA and actually it wasn't so bad.  The wind was bitter, of course, but the snow was melting and you could see water running down the gutters and pouring into our beck.  The snow was melting fast.  It will probably freeze horribly overnight, but at the moment it is not too bad.  The school run will probably be okay if not pleasant.

So I am sitting here counting my blessings, including bear who is currently working his way through an apple but earlier had a whole mango to himself, as I had bought mangoes for the crisp maker.  I think bear will dispose of those without much problem.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The snow has fallen

The snow is literally heavy, and bowing down the laurels across from us.  I have tried to work with the new camera, so took a few shots and here is the result.

These laurels are usually sprightly and quite upright, but the branches are being pulled right down.  I wouldn't be at all surprised if they broke.  I also wouldn't be surprised to hear another rumble.  When the snow slid off the roof earlier it sounded so dramatic!

I suspect that next week will be cold but it won't affect us too much (fingers crossed).  I really can't wait for summer.

Bargain deferred

Asda have cancelled deliveries in this area due to there being a lot of weather around at the moment.  I perfectly understand this and do not think that my delivery is worth risking someone's life driving in actually quite tricky conditions.

What is making me twitchy is that there is an offer on at Asda, Famous Grouse at £14 per litre bottle instead of @ £25.  That is a big saving, and if I bought the maximum amount I would save a fortune.  As it wouldn't go off (wouldn't have a chance! even with poor DH on antibiotics) and wouldn't go down any quicker it is a deal worth investing in.  But will it still be on offer when they resume deliveries?  It is nail biting.  I could save potentially around £50, even factoring in delivery costs.

Mind you, Asda have very kindly included some vouchers so fingers crossed that will make up for any failure of the bargain.  And I have managed to withstand the Approved Food temptation.  I just need to keep focused and start again next month with the budgets.  I suppose I could say that it is the start of the new financial year.

I am also mindful of the threat of power cuts.  We are extremely unlikely to be affected (although some only a mile away have had power cuts) and I have the washer on and the heating on.  More and more I am determined I will get a stove.  I need to find the money for that - and I will!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Lurgy continues

I feel I am battening down the hatches ready for a long winter.  The snow is falling outside and the wind is bitter.  DH had to come home from work as he has been so poorly.  He managed to get to the doctor so that is another lot of antibiotics.  I am hoping it passes quickly for him.  It really is a horrid virus.

Bear also has the end of the cough.  And of course it is a 'special' cough.  It shows up occasionally during daylight, but bear usually only coughs between 1am and 2am.  He has been coughing at these times all week.  And being a worried mother I have gone up and watched him cough consistently for an hour and sleep through it.  I wish I could.

Evil cat is also under the weather.  I have an interesting challenge with her.  I think the weather is a bit tough on her, she is showing signs of being a bit achy and stiff. The medicine that helps her move and takes away a lot of the aches and pains is squirted onto her food morning and evening.  Unfortunately she isn't eating the wet food.  She will beg shamelessly for scraps from darling father and also for crunchies but she is ignoring the wet food in gravy in her dish - which means she isn't getting the medicine.  She is also very cross as when she tries to sleep across my throat she keeps getting dislodged when I cough.

But we have a warm house, full cupboards and all is calm.  Having neighbours at the back has already made the connecting wall feel less damp and clammy.  We have just had the boiler serviced and he has adjusted the top radiators so that they actually heat up.  I have also learned how to re-pressurise the boiler.  We are well provided with blankets and sweaters and throws.  I just wish it felt less like November and more like March.

I have a lovely neighbour

My lovely neighbour has, of his own free will and in the snow, brought my bin in, cleared the path around the house and our steps and has also put grit down for us.  I only found out when I nipped out to retrieve the bin.

I think my neighbours are lovely!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Daily Domestic Disaster

I have purchased a gizmo from Lakeland that allows you to make crisps in your microwave from not only potatoes but carrots, apples and sweet potatoes.  All you have to do is thinly slice the carrot using the mandolin provided and place it on the thingy and put it in the microwave.  I took a big gamble as it was £25 and got one - I thought it had to be worth a go for bear and his snacks.  The linky is here.

When it says 'thinly sliced' it means thinly sliced.  I started off using a carrot and the slices were coming off paper thin, 1/32 of an inch apparently.  But I carefully arranged, placed tenderly in the microwave and pressed start.  However the thingy fell off the turntable and I just managed to press stop before the carrots burst into flame.

Part of me can't bear to waste the £25.  A much bigger part of me is thinking that I should just bin the lot and  see what other options are out there.  It was such hard work to just about avoid setting off the smoke alarm.

I shall share any good results of research.

Bearly mentioned

I fell for it again.  Bear looked at me mournfully.  'I'm very thirsty.' he said and did puppy eyes.
'Okay, go and help yourself to one of the drinks on the table.' I said, coughing.

Two points.  I normally never get in the ready made drinks.  Bear gets squash and is getting tall enough that soon he will be able to make it himself but at the moment with all the germs bear got some Sainsbury equivalent of fruit shoots.  The most important point is that bear never asked.  He never does.  He hints and skirts around things and relies on me doing my usual translation.  It will drive any future wife insane.  Another favourite of his, 'I'm really hungry - not a big bit hungry, just a little bit, but really, really hungry.'  This is usually said as he looks pitifully at something full of sugar.

I am trying to crack down.  Normally when bear comes out with the 'I'm really thirsty.' line I look politely interested and say something like 'oh dear.'  Or after he has repeated it several times I will say 'So what do you want to ask for?'  I am being driven scatty trying to get bear to resort to a direct question.

Food is a terrible struggle.  What mother can ignore a child asking for food?  Except he doesn't.  Bear just hints.  Any attempt to get him to do the thinking when it comes to food is met with stern resistance.  'I'm too hungry to think of anything - you think of something.'  It drives DH and me absolutely scatty.  It is also starting to drive bear a bit scatty as I keep refusing to suggest treats and only suggest healthy stuff.  Bear does a good talk when it comes to demanding only healthy food, but really, deep down, he is six and wants deep fried sugar.

And bear is not kept short of food or drink.  I am a bit twitchy about dehydration.  DH can go far too long before realising that actually the last time liquid passed his lips was when he brushed his teeth in the morning and it is now tea time.  My mother was just as bad.  Bear always has a glass of squash/water/milk/milkshake available, and the only time he really needs to prompt is if I haven't realised he has actually drank it.  Or if he is trying to scrounge lemonade.  I keep a close eye on that.  As for food, bear always has food available, and I am always scrabbling around for healthy snack ideas.  All I want is a direct question.  Today bear won the skirmish.  I am determined however to get him to ask a direct question for a straightforward request.  It may be a long battle.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Not the best journey

I took bear to his piano lesson, much against his will.  He behaved very much below the standard I expect and absolutely slaughtered the top line of Ode to Joy.  If Beethoven was alive today he would turn in his grave.

I've reluctantly decided that it is actually less expensive for us to go to and from the lesson by taxi.  So I call up the taxi firm who send out their driver and off we go.

'Where to, love?' he asked.  I gave the address.  He looked blank.  I did what I could to give him landmarks.  He still looked blank.  I didn't know the postcode and I couldn't remember all the street names between us and our destination.  I started to give him directions.  'If you keep straight on here...'

Then I realised - the taxi driver was trying to put the road name into the satnav.  I am okay with that.  But not while you are driving along a very busy road six feet away from the back end of a bus.  I sort of froze.  Bear was quite indifferent and complaining about the seat belt, but I was trying not to count the near misses.  I think we got to within a foot of the back end of the bus at one point, but finally he managed to get the name right and the speed increased from about 15mph to around 30mph.  I have never been so glad to get out of a taxi in my life.

The driver back, with the same firm, was absolutely lovely.

So now all I need to do is try and enforce practice.  Hmmm.  Let's get the bribery racked up!

Under the influence

The doctor has prescribed double strength pholcodine, which is making me a bit floaty while I type.  This may be affecting my judgement.

You see, my brother told me of a wonderful offer of £14 for one litre of Famous Grouse Whisky at Asda from 22 March.  DH and darling father both really like Famous Grouse, and while DH can make a dent in a litre bottle of whisky over a week, darling father could easily drink it.  And one litre bottles of Famous Grouse are normally around £25, so it is a big saving.  There is no upper limit on how many bottles I could get.  I am currently considering getting five, which is a huge amount of money.  However if I get five delivered then it would cost @ £75 including delivery.  At the normal price one litre bottles would cost @ £125, although I could usually get them around £20 per bottle from somewhere.  I also do not think that the whisky would be drunk any quicker.  Unfortunately it would not be drunk any slower, it is a constant here, like the law of gravity.  So getting a month's supply at a reduced price but in one hit would be good.  However that's the only thing that I would probably be getting in that delivery, so the man would be turning up with five bottles of Famous Grouse and a cynical expression.

At the same time I am considering getting a largish order from Mr Sainsbury.  I have a voucher for £6 off if I spend £60.  I haven't done a fruit/veg order this week so I could do with some bits, and stuff for this and that, and some store cupboard top ups, and possibly a new ironing board.  I also could do with cat food.  Cat food is slightly cheaper at Mr S or Mr A than Makro.  There are some feminine bits that I am a bit uncomfortable about getting from the local chemist as they are not kind gossips.  I don't mind buying things in a shop as I am actually quite robust about stuff.  It's having stuff loudly commented on while I do it that I feel awkward about.

As for the ironing board, the current ironing board looks like this

Though this is obviously far too neat to be my house.  It has been good, and I can see it's bonus points, but it is just too big.  I have seen smaller breakfast bars.  I keep putting off buying a new one because there is nothing actually wrong with the one I've got, but I am now factoring in my sanity.

Or I could just be shopping under the influence.  I shall hold off pressing 'send' for now.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Strawberry Tart Strikes Again

I've written before about the pale ginger and white lady cat that was mooching food, and I nicknamed her Strawberry as she was a strawberry blonde.  And that there had been a necessary parting of the ways after she tried to attack and destroy evil cat (who I am not actually sure noticed) as the resident competition.

She struck again today.  OH had come in after a long day and was chatting to me as I was coughing in the kitchen.  The next thing we knew was a ginger and white shape hurtling down the steps and racing towards evil cat's dinner dish!  She was absolutely determined, she knew where the kitekat was and she was letting nothing stand in her way.

I was reluctant to pick her up directly for a number of reasons.  I am not used to actually picking up cats.  Back in the days when I had three robust and turbulent cats I was expert at the pick and drop.  These days, however, evil cat is far too frail to pick up without a lot of caution and care so I am out of practice.  I was also not so keen on picking up a strange cat who has a violent track record (she has nailed OH in the past) half way through the theft of food.  Finally I am still feeling v weak and frail, my cough is very bad and I am having a tough time and Strawberry is a big cat.  In local terms she would be considered a big lass with something to grab hold of.  She is like Nurse Gladys Emmanuel in Open All Hours.  She is generously proportioned, big boned and broad in the beam.

I resorted to a long handled broom.  This was completely ineffective, I think because no matter how long the lever and how stable the place to stand, there was no way I was moving that fat lump away from illicit food.  So I tipped a jug of water over her.  This broke her concentration long enough for me to chivy her out.

As I locked the door firmly behind Strawberry evil cat wandered down the steps and paused half way, looking a little uncertain.  For anyone who knew evil cat in her prime it was hard as just a few years ago she would have been belting downstairs with murderous intent.  Strawberry would have had a shock as she was relentlessly attacked by something half her size and with twice her aggression.  Now she looks so diffident and confused.  However as she has been confused all her life I suspect that the main problem she was having was lack of momentum.  And I replaced the food.

Veg box

I didn't order a veg box to be delivered this week, as I still haven't unpacked the last one.  What a waste of lovely fresh stuff!  However the lurgy continues and I am still a bit stuffed with self pity.

However that is the beauty of the local veg box - I only order when I want it.  It is delivered on a Thursday, because that is when they do the deliveries, and as long as I let them know by Tuesday morning all is good.  I can order other goodies from there as well, like yogurt and eggs.  And I don't have to commit to the same size all the time.  The driver, btw, has been lovely, and very understanding about stuff going down steps instead of to the obvious front door.  I feel like I am dealing with real people.

Of course, this will not stop me grumbling in the future, because I am really good at grumbling and I like to keep in practice, but so far it has been really good.

The next time I get a veg box delivery I will photograph all that arrives and then document what happens to it, including all the waste.  That is, if I have got photos working.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

I can feel shopping coming on

I am feeling extremely poorly.  I daren't hug bear (who came back from his auntie laden with goodies) as I am oozing too much.  While I suspect it is just a cold on Red Bull, it has knocked me back a lot.  I also suspect various types of stress I am getting that really aren't fit for here are not helping.  This means back on antidepressants and very likely no writing.  I am feeling devastated.

However, this is no reason for me to comfort shop.  I am trying sooooo hard to resist the temptation whispering in my ear.  Because what is being whispered is more yarn.

I do not need more yarn!  I need a lot less yarn, I have a zillion projects queued up, I have lots of things I can be doing, I do not need new yarn in any shape or form.  I should be a yarn-purchase free zone.

Except I have just found a pattern for a Dalek wash cloth, where the shape of the dalek is created by using knit, purl and bobbles.  It would be really easy to adapt to the form of a blanket and I know bear would love it, especially if I did it in his favourite red, it would be really easy, I can feel my hands itching...

I found it on the entropy house website here

No!  So far, so resisted.  Wish me luck!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Bear has a night out

Bear has just been taken to a doting auntie where he will be staying the night.  I always feel faintly uncomfortable asking anyone to look after bear, like I am being a little bit too demanding.  I have been told that I am not demanding enough.  Also bear saves his worst behaviour for the safest person around him - me.  He isn't actually horrible.  He is just a lot better behaved with others.  His track record when staying with his auntie has been impeccable.  Auntie has been looking forward to it.

Apparently before OH left him there, bear had only had a chance to look at the 'Build your own Cyberman' kit and the 'Weeping Angel' mask but he has further toys, dvds, tshirts, etc just in case.  Bear has just been given a Dr Who figure for having such a good report at parents' evening, but I think that may be a bit overshadowed.    He will be coming back in a truck.

I wasn't able to attend parents' evening, but according to OH bear is doing well, getting good marks, well behaved, has friends, is polite etc.  The one thing I worry about is that bear really doesn't like failing.

It is hard to describe, but if there is a chance that he won't win, it is incredibly hard for me to get bear to take part.  I don't exactly understand why.  I have never gone particularly overboard about him winning.  I am happy to praise him but he gets lots of praise anyway and the time he got a bronze in the sparring he got such a lot of fuss.  I've always tried to push the, 'as long as you did your best then I am proud of you'.  He has never, ever, at any time, been told off for not winning, though he doesn't get much reward for not trying.  It is cutting bear off from a lot of chances of fun, and it is putting strain on him that I would wish anywhere but on him.

I shall try and work on this more.  I am sure I will be able to come up with something.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Under the influence

I am suffering with a really bad convulsive cough.  It is one of those where you have a cough because you have a cough, the throat has become irritated.  So I bit the bullet and got some pholcodine.

OH very, very, very kindly took bear into school, looking impressive in his face paint (NOT make up) and waistcoat.  I staggered out later and got some of the pholcodine and then staggered home.

I do treat pholcodine as if it was a Class A drug, as it has that effect on me.  It can be a dose of loopy juice. It doesn't really add to any sanity I have left.  I take it at the last resort but just now I am so desperate after barely being able to move.  However with bear safely at school I took the risk plus two teaspoons and went back to sleep.

All I can say is that I have had some very odd dreams indeed.  Thank goodness.  I think I will be able to use about half of them in my writing.  Not, I think, the talking laundry basket.  But who knows?  I am currently weighing up the risk of taking my next due dose while bear is at home.  Perhaps not.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Face Painting is happening

Bear has gone back into the bathroom again 'to practice'.  The bathroom is now blotched with black and green.  For some reason red and blue have also appeared.  I don't have the energy to discuss it with him.  However bear is having such a wonderful time I don't want to stop him.

I can see many weekends stretching ahead where bear is happily multicoloured.  I can think of worse things. All I need to do is get the energy to insist that he cleans up the fall out after himself.

Face paint!

I ended up having to get face paint delivered and pay the extortionate rate for next day delivery.  Sigh.  However tomorrow bear goes into school and has to either wear a wig, have coloured hair or have face paint.  Bear was very clear - face paint or nothing.

So we get a tray of face paint from Snazaroo (half price from early learning centre and hopefully cashback from Topcashback which softens the amount spent on next day delivery) and this morning I had to face the bitter truth.  I now have conjunctivitis.  It would be so irresponsible for me to be prodding around bear's face.  There is a very good chance that he will catch it from me anyway, but I can't make it easier for the germs.  I could cry, but it would hurt more.

So this morning bear has been practicing putting on his own face paint.  I feel like the worst mother in the world but bear seems to be okay about it.  In fact he seems pretty happy about the whole thing.  He has decided he wants to paint his face like a creeper from minecraft.  As far as I can tell, he hasn't done a bad job.

The pictures are creepers from Minecraft.  Finding a camera and uploading a picture of bear with green face paint with black botches is a bit too much of a challenge at the moment.  The grin, however, of a six year old boy with unfettered access to facepaints can be easily imagined!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Domestic Doldrums

Actually, domestically it could be worse.  I am limping along below any acceptable level but last night we had home made soup.  Like all of my home made soups it could be eaten with a knife and fork and the men seemed to like it.

Darling father had brought home a smallish half leg of lamb with the bone in.  I looked at it a little warily as I didn't see how I could slice it to make a meat and veg meal.  So yesterday I bunged it into the slow cooker with a package of dried vegetables, some dried onions, a bouquet garni teabag and two lamb stock cubes topped up with water.  I then added a very large quantity of barley.  It had good reviews and you can cut the lamb with a spoon.  The actual lamb will be shredded into a jar of hoi sin sauce together with some onion and served with microwave rice tonight.  I am mainly concerned with not sharing too much of the germ load with darling father who is so far well.  He and evil cat seem comparatively unaffected, although it is always hard to tell with evil cat.

I love these, you bung them in the slow cooker with whatever inexpensive bit of meat and they do the rest.  Obviously as part of your five a day they are not the most ideal but they are better than no veg at all and when you have flu they really are a fall back.  They are also not always easy to get hold of, funnily enough, nor is there a huge range of these sort of things.  I suppose frozen/canned is more common.

On 27th February 2013 I placed an order with Approved Food.  They had mayonnaise at a significantly reduced price that didn't expire until next year.  Bear had recently decided that he was refusing butter or margarine and would only tolerate mayo.  I bought the maximum permitted of the mayo - ten bottles.  Would anyone like to run a sweepstake on how long it will take for him to refuse to have mayo?  Actually it was yesterday.

I was pondering this as I made his chicken roll sandwich (with spreadable light butter) when bear appeared on the kitchen steps and asked in a very scathing tone, 'Just how long does it take you to make a sandwich.'

It's a good thing I am a softie sometimes and he got that explained to him in all the depth my depleted energy allowed.  He also got his sandwich, but it was a close call.

Song of Fairies Robbing an Orchard

Any information on my current health is far too much, especially for anyone eating while reading this.  Definitely flu, definitely not glamorous.  So I thought I would share a poem that for me sums up the cat's attitude to food, like the time psychotic cat found some koftas that were too spicy for us to eat but insisted on eating them, regardless of how they bit back, because not only were they mainly meat, but they were stolen meat....


We, the Fairies, blithe and antic,
Of dimensions not gigantic,
Though the moonshine mostly keep us,
Oft in orchards frisk and peep us.

Stolen sweets are always sweeter,
Stolen kisses much completer,
Stolen looks are nice in chapels,
Stolen, stolen, be your apples.

When to bed the world are bobbing,
Then's the time for orchard-robbing;
Yet the fruit were scarce worth peeling,
Were it not for stealing, stealing.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Recipe for a salad

Not exactly seasonal but I am feeling a bit fragile, so I thought I would share this, found it again while doing research (honest!)

Recipe for a salad, by Sydney Smith

To make this condiment, your poet begs
The pounded yellow of two hard-boiled eggs;
Two boiled potatoes, passed through kitchen-sieve,
Smoothness and softness to the salad give;
Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,
And, half-suspected, animate the whole.
Of mordant mustard add a single spoon,
Distrust the condiment that bites so soon;
But deem it not, thou man of herbs, a fault,
To add a double quantity of salt.
And, lastly, o'er the flavored compound toss
A magic soup-spoon of anchovy sauce.
Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbaceous treat!
'T would tempt the dying anchorite to eat;
Back to the world he'd turn his fleeting soul,
And plunge his fingers in the salad bowl!
Serenely full, the epicure would say,
Fate can not harm me, I have dined to-day!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Historical Accuracy

I am a bit of a pedant when it comes to historical accuracy.  I have browsed a lot of history books and watched a lot of documentaries, so I have a superficial knowledge of all sorts of bits and bobs.  I also dip into quite hardcore historical books, like 'Farming in the First Millenium AD' etc.  I have to watch that I don't get too pretentious.

As the flu continues, I have been playing a hidden object computer game.  I quite enjoy them, they are not too demanding and this one was quite interesting - not the best one I have ever done but pretty good and enjoyable.  It was set in Ancient Rome.

There are lot of things that the Ancient Romans had that sound surprisingly modern, like central heating.   That is common knowledge.  Every few seasons a documentary wanders along on TV and reminds us of how advanced our ancestors were.  I don't have a problem with that and usually enjoy those programmes.  I also find it fascinating to find out what they didn't have - like soap!  They rubbed themselves with olive oil and then scraped it off.  The stuff from the gladiators fetched quite high prices.

So far so good.  I settle down, bear is asleep, OH is in bed, I am snuffling pathetically and start looking for the first item.  Hmmm.  Had the yin-yang symbol reached Ancient Rome?  Obviously silk reached across the great plains of Asia and they had lots of African input as well via Egypt.  Hmm.  That looked suspiciously like a Tibetan prayer wheel.  Not so convinced.  Then I spluttered into my cold cure - maize.  They want me to look for maize!  And the next one along is a chilli.  I grumble a bit at this.  Now and again there are studies that show that yes, things like cocaine could theoretically, in theory, with the right conditions, etc etc etc, theoretically have made it to Europe before Columbus stumbled into the Americas.  I don't want to underestimate our ancestors, after all, brain size is statistically shrinking they could well have been smarter than me just without satnav.  On the other hand it is talking about Imperial Rome and the old Roman empire in the West fell in the fifth century and that was about a thousand years before Columbus, give or take.

Then all respect for any historical accuracy fled.  They wanted me to look for a boomerang.  From Australia.  That wasn't even a myth at the time.

After than I just concentrated on playing the game.

Beautiful morning

It is very bright here, and very sunny.  I just opened the door to the postman and there were snowflakes dancing in the sunlight.  It looks amazingly beautiful.

It is bitterly cold, but lovely and sunny.  The snowflakes and sunlight combination are new to me, but I have seen rain when it has been sunny before.  I wonder if there will be a rainbow.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Could be worse

Nobody could face another takeaway.  So it was tinned meat (£1.69 for 340g Sainsburys pork luncheon meat, we used the whole tin but could have got away with less), savoury rice (two packets, @ 60p total, I think, from Approved food) and 25p worth of frozen veg.

I even did the rice in the microwave, so it was less expensive on fuel.

So it could be worse.

Lurgy continues

I have been relying unreasonably on takeaways as I really am not fit to cook - any description is far too much information on a Sunday.

When the fog lifts I am going to get some ready meals stashed in the freezer for this situation.  Or make my own.  Or something.

Reluctantly I can see another delivery tomorrow to supplement the one yesterday that was mainly catfood and alcohol.  I think it will be ready meals and ice cream, hard to get here.  I also really, really need to stock up with tissues - handkerchiefs don't keep up.

On Friday I need to have a nearly empty kitchen for a central heating service.  I shall start today in five minute bursts.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

What meal plan....

Due to unexpected flu the veg box has not even been unpacked, but I have promised myself that I will photograph the next one and post it on here.

Darling father has just spent £11.86 on meat for me.  I was looking forward to the chicken (rubbed with honey, lemon and mixed herbs and with the husks of the lemon after squeezing and de-zesting stuffed into the cavity).  However I am not sure of the very small piece of lamb with the bone in.  That looks like cooked in the slow cooker with lots of veggies and the soup eaten one day and the meat another (probably a bit eked out with veggies in a stir fry or curry.

Tonight, however, is a takeaway.  I can barely crawl as far as the kitchen.  I think it is actually real flu.  Darn it to heck!

Lurgy strikes again

Bear is still poorly.  However being the generous soul he is, he shared his symptoms with us all.  I am calling it flu, because it really is that bad.  Posts may be more frequent or more sparse, but I will try and be sensible.

Writing about being away with the fairies is one thing.  Writing while being away with the fairies is another.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Bear is poorly

I had the call - please could I pick bear up from school as he is poorly.  Of course I got there in record time.

Bear very calmly pointed out that this is what he had been talking about yesterday and today.  I apologised and said I had got it wrong.  His voice quivered a little as he said it was okay, he would always love me...

He is now on the computer.  I think this will take a lot of living down.

Poorly bear

Bear came home from school yesterday feeling very sorry for himself with a cough, a very runny nose and a sore throat.  He groaned, he grumbled, he had ice cream for tea along with some calpol and age appropriate sudafed.  I really miss medised. It used to dry up a cold and take away the fever.  Bear definitely did not approve of the sudafed.  However he didn't have the energy to do much about it, he was feeling too poorly for computer games.

By the time he was in bed I was getting really worried.  I was up and down to him half the night.  At 6.30am bear decided he had had enough and got up.  I dosed him with calpol, made sure he had plenty to drink and then crawled away to try and catch forty winks.

I couldn't catch forty winks.  Bear was far too busy explaining exactly why he wasn't well enough for school.  He felt poorly, he had a head ache, he had a tummy ache, he had a sore throat, he didn't feel well, he felt too poorly for school.  At 8am I re-assessed the situation.  He was well enough to play a computer game and explain it in intricate detail to me, therefore he was well enough for school.

So in he went, a little pale and a little tired looking but otherwise fine.  I will keep an ear out for the phone from school and we can have a quiet weekend.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Another Note from School

I have six working days to get a wig/coloured hairspray/facepaint sorted out for bear for Comic Relief Day.

Bear has indicated that he would prefer face paint.  That is fine with me on one level.  On another level - I don't know how to paint his face!  I am the person who can't draw stick figures.  I cannot, absolutely cannot draw.  I have the artistic ability of evil cat.  Actually, I have less.

So he will be going in non uniform clothes which will at least spare his good uniform white shirts from getting covered in face paint.  And I will have to work something out about face paint.  Not only will I have to work out what to do with his face and practice how to do it, but I shall also have to paint his face first thing in the morning when I am not actually conscious before 10am.  Sandwiches are done on autopilot.

And I can pay £1 for the privilege as a 'voluntary' donation.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Note from School

On 22 March school are asking that the children go into school in 1960s and 1970s fancy dress.  Bless them, they did stress it wasn't compulsory, the children could just go in their own clothes.  However what sort of parent won't try and get their little one in the appropriate costume so that they aren't the only ones not dressed up.

Except... I have absolutely no idea of what to dress poor bear up as.  I mean, I was around in the 1970s and I can vaguely remember the 1960s, but I am struggling to think of stuff.  I don't want to send him in wearing a kaftan as bear has a strong sense of style and on Sunday that was very clearly shirt, waistcoat etc.

I suppose I can think of the early Dave Clark 5 and their suits.  Bear would love something like that. He already has a short back and sides as he is only getting a fancy hair cut when he can pay for it himself.  Or perhaps he could go as Simon Templar.  Given the number of parties girls invite him to that may be an option - or James Bond.  I saw a suit in bear's size at the weekend and I couldn't think of a reason to get it for him.  I can now...

Equipment Failure

I am trying to make the most of the veg boxes and I have been using a microwave steamer as well as the usual ones.  Last night we had the cauliflower steamed with the corned beef hash.  The cauliflower was lovely, just enough crunch to have a bit of texture but not too soggy.  I am now fully committed to microwave steaming as it is easy on the fuel, quick and a healthy and tasty way to eat.  However I now have a problem with the steamer.

The steamer is supposed to be dishwasher safe.  What that presumably means is that it doesn't harm the dishwasher because it came out a very funny shape.  It is no longer steam tight.  In fact it is no longer really fit for purpose.  I could have cried.  I have ordered something from my friend ebay which is silicone and as such a bit more robust.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Also with the veg boxes I have been doing a lot more chopping.  On the one hand I am not particularly skilled, on the other hand I am easily bored with chopping.  So I thought I would invest in a chopper.  I went on my friend ebay and bought a stripped down, pale imitation of a nicer dicer.  The large chopper broke on a slice of parsnip.  I wouldn't mind, it wasn't even tough parsnip.

I tried the smaller chopper last night.  It failed in the face of a slice of onion - not half an onion or a whole onion, just a rather thin slice.  I bitterly mourned the £4 that I had spent on it.  However the times it was used with mushrooms it had been very useful and so I thought I would see if I could get a more robust model.  I looked on the JML website for the original nicer dicer.  It was a good thing I was sitting down when I saw the price, I nearly fell off my chair, and that was with £10 off!

I have decided that for now I will stick to a knife.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Evil cat has a letter

Actually the letter was for me, but about her.  The local vet sent out letters to owners of older cats to say that there was a possibility of a different treatment for arthritis.  We could book in with a nurse any time, all we needed was a urine sample.

Evil cat does not give urine samples.

I remember some of the attempts to get samples in the past.  They included a twenty four hour stay at the vets when she kept her paws firmly crossed, a fight with a vet when she was described as 'a little bit hissy and a little bit scratchy', sedation and the final attempt when three members of staff tried to pin down a tiny tabby to get a sample via a needle and failed.  On the last home visit the vet declined to even trim her claws.

We'll probably be sticking to the same treatment she is on now.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Waste paper bins

I am feeling a bit challenged by waste paper bins.  It started off with us getting some fancy wastepaper bins that OH loved and we were going to decorate the room to match.  They looked like this.

But then we found that the rim was awkward and it wasn't very easy to use.  It seemed to fill up far too quickly.  So we decided to really push the boat out and get these.

Which look lovely.  It's a shame they never turned up.

So we are going now with these, one in each room.

Third time lucky, I hope!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Veg box is good

Lesley - fingers crossed for the squash!  The scheme is really local and delivery is free.  Obviously some of the fruit and veg is imported but organic, but the carrots and parsnips were dug recently and locally and I love that.  According to google maps, by the most straightforward route, there is 20.2 miles or 32.6km between my home and the farm, so not far at all!

So far I have been getting the £15 box, and have been awash with veg, but they do a series of smaller boxes, including soup sacks for lovely soups.  This week it is all the ingredients for Spiced Parsnip soup.  The fruit has been disappearing okay, but I need to try and get some more of that used up!  However for fruit there is always crumble!

I think this week I will get the smaller box but go back to the bigger box the week after.  I am just really enjoying the challenge of working out what to do with new veggies!

Well, that was awkward

Bear had a birthday party to attend.  He had chosen his outfit himself.  He was wearing a maroon shirt with a dark grey waistcoat and jeans and looked very charming - and he knew it.  At the last minute we decided to take his coat.  OH was dropping us off and picking us up, but if we had an unavoidable delay at the end then a coat would be useful.

We got dropped off at the soft play as planned, OH drove off and bear and I strolled in and I realised I didn't recognise any of the parents.  I looked again and checked the invite.  I had got the wrong date.  The party is next week.


So we were there in a not very nice area in the cold, and bear was not happy.  Thank goodness we had his coat!  I thought it wouldn't be a problem, I could call OH and he would pick us up, he wouldn't mind.  Except that my phone was out of battery.  I had a bit of a think.  We could perhaps look for a phone box.  They are as rare as hen's teeth these days, but they do exist and there was one right at the corner of the road.  Regrettably someone had got there first and ripped the insides out.  It wasn't a very nice area.

By this time bear was having a meltdown because he was cold.  And once he had seen a corner shop he was hungry as well.  I went in to see if they had a pay phone.  They didn't but they did point out that a taxi firm was just across the road and it was probably okay to call in.  So we got a taxi home with a very nice driver who took us the shortest way possible home.  I am suitably ashamed.

Bear is extremely unimpressed and insists he will be wearing the same outfit again next week.  I think he will also be double checking any further invitations himself as well.

A flash of reality

Morgan - you have a lot of good suggestions.  I am considering the leek and potato soup.  It is more likely to happen with leeks in further deliveries.

The freezing thing is a bit more problematic.  I have frozen stuff before.  It has gone into the freezer and only emerges to be thrown out because I have left the freezer door open and I am throwing it all out, or because I am sick of seeing it and know it either gets thrown or sits there forever more.

I have no idea why this is.  It has been a real problem.  However I will be revisiting this later when I am feeling a bit more robust.

To be honest, I am really enjoying the challenge of the veg box.  I will see how it goes and share any good discoveries.  And as far as I can tell, if used to its full, it is actually very cost effective.

Veg box dilemma

I am getting challenged by the veg box and it is great.

We have wasted some stuff as I had it cooking when OH came in on Friday.  I took one look at his face and we ordered a curry.  Yesterday was a bit thin on meals as no-one felt like much.  Today I used up mushrooms in a nice homemade sauce and carrots, along with half of the potatoes.

So I have to decide what I am going to use next.  I have lots of peppers and onions, normally a signal for a ratatouille.  I have a cauliflower which I would like to use up soon.  There is also a lovely parcel of young leeks.  I also have a butternut squash lurking which has been there for a week or so now.  Then there are the huge carrots and parsnips covered in earth that have only been pulled this week.  It seems a shame not to use their freshness.

So tomorrow is sausages with fried leeks (well, thinly sliced leeks gently softened in olive oil, it tastes great) and carrots and parsnips roasted in the Remoska as a starch.  Tuesday looks like corned beef hash with steamed cauliflower and carrots.  Wednesday is my very poor version of ratatouille while poor darling father who loathes pepper and pasta has one of the ready meals we got from the farm shop.

Thursday we get the new delivery.

I am dithering as ever.  Should I go for the smaller box?  The last one, with loads of onion, pepper, courgette, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower, mushrooms, runner beans, broccoli, potatoes and tomatoes (and probably other stuff I can't remember) would be great if I could just make sure that I used it up in a timely manner.  But I still will have a backlog, especially with the squash.  I think next week  I will go for the smaller box, then the large box the week after, when I've caught up.

I may have overestimated my greengrocery spends.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Read an Ebook Week

Read an Ebook Week kicks off at next week - linky here.

I have registered for Cats in the Bible to be free that week, so if you haven't read the stories, then now might be a good time to pick it up.  And if you have read all I have put up so far, it is still worth looking at Smashwords.  They are a great publisher and have a really wide range of stuff.  Now is as good a time as any to pick up a free or inexpensive ebook.

Just to add, if you are new to the idea of ebooks, Smashwords is a great place to register as a first stop.  You can get apps or programmes to use on a pc or smartphone to read a book and Smashwords has books compatible with Kobo, sony, Apple and Kindle.  You can download books as text or as a pdf.  It is really, really easy to get inexpensive books to read on the device that connects to the internet.

They also make it extremely easy to give the books as gifts, though I think the recipient needs to be registered as well.  There has been a hiccup or two when I've tried it, but I am sure nothing that can't be worked out.

Spread the word - good books at Smashwords!

Do your bit for bees

I stumbled onto this site here which is run by the Friends of the Earth, Do Your Bit for Bees.

Our bees are still there.  I saw them hovering around a week ago despite the cold.  I don't know why they are out so early as there is a shortage of flowers around, but hopefully they know what they are doing.

The thing about having a colony of bees in the chimney is that they actually don't cause any trouble.  We don't have a fire in the hearth under the chimney, and when they installed the new gas fire the smoke test was unaffected.  The bees aren't blocking fumes and presumably are unaffected.  Obviously they do benefit from the warmth which may be drifting up there, and the fact that it is on a south facing slope.  And that there is a lot of waste land around full of plants.  And some gardens around here have flowers (some don't!).  And there is farmland, and some attempts at woodland.  There is also a lot of factory/warehouse type places that have lots of buddleia growing around the edges which are heaven for bees and butterflies.  I live in a bit of a hodge podge area, and it does have its benefits.

The bees have been around for years, and have never been any bother.  They have hardly been in the house over the years.  They haven't stung anyone to my knowledge.  They keep themselves to themselves and all is fine.  I do get a bit stressed if they swarm, but that isn't common and they haven't caused any trouble then either.

I am wondering about buying some bee-friendly seeds.  They can't go in the garden.  Darling father has Views about what goes in the garden and while it does include some very bee friendly stuff, no-one had better mess with his roses.  I could scatter them on the wasteland and hope the local starlings and sparrows don't get them, and it would make it a lot prettier.  As I haven't done much to look after the bees so far perhaps I ought to make an effort.

I just wish I got some honey out of it.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Bora da

One of the few bits of Welsh I know - good day (in Welsh) on St David's Day.

So far I have trashed my New Year's Resolutions and my Lent abstinence.  Not good.  Time and again I come on here wittering about my good intentions and completely epic fail to do anything about them.  Sometimes I wonder if I could stick to a challenge or a plan of action even if there was a gun held at my head.

Part of the problem is that I don't have many physical resources, and I want to do more than is actually physically possible in the hours that we have.  The combination isn't great.  Add lack of will and a 'kitten in a feather factory' approach to all the different things I need to do and it gets worse.

But I am getting better.  Not by big, sweeping, Oscar winning changes but in tiny increments, just tiny tiny bits that keep things getting better and better.  It isn't good yet, but it will be.

From today, 1st March, I am going to count exactly how much I spend on fruit and veg and try and keep it to £150 per month - that's all fresh, frozen, tinned and dried for four, including trying to get veggies into a six year old in quantity.  I am not really willing to skimp on this.  I am going to count exactly how much I spend on meat and try and keep that to £150 per month - all tinned, frozen, bargain, non bargain meat including the ham for bear's lunchtime sandwich.  I am aiming for good value for money, so a nice roast to be stretched rather than steak.  Then after than I am aiming for £150 per month on the rest - that is, cleaning, snacks, flour, milk, eggs, cat food etc.  That is a really generous total.  Approved Food will have to come out of the latter £150, as will any extravagances. Any splurges for kitchen stuff from places like Lakeland will have to be paid out of any savings.  I won't be including alcohol in that, as darling father will happily pay for his, and OH doesn't have many vices.  Nor will I be including delivery charges, as I would have to get out of the house otherwise and they are usually better value than bus fares.

Everything else I am just doing my best until I get into the right rhythm the food.  So far this month (in the twelve hours it has been going) I have spent the amazing amount of £1.45 on the only bread OH will eat.  Once I have cracked food, I will move on to something else.