Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Divert button working well

One of the first things I did after posting about the need for a budget is to go online and order some shorts and shirts for bear, for his holiday.  Some I got from some bits from Matalan (online via Topcashback with free delivery and 8% cashback) and one or two bits I got from ebay, who is my friend.  I picked up some sandals as well for the upcoming holiday.  I think I got good deals, and bear would need them regardless.  So far I have spent £73.50 (including postage) and have a rain jacket, three pairs of shorts, two short pyjamas, one pair of jeans, three shirts and a pair of sandals.

I have decided not to get a veg box until after the holiday and I also want to avoid any deliveries.  I can pick up things locally and I have a good stock of practically everything in my fridge and freezer.  After the holiday are things like the car tax and the roof, so the less I spend now the better.

Budget? What budget?

It's like I have 'divert' permanently on.  I will tell myself firmly that it a housewifery day, then I will spend hours writing or knitting.  I will tell myself it is a writing day and immediately housewifery is happening.  That is, of course, without life happening at me.

Yesterday I read Frugal Queen's post about budgeting, which you can see here.  I am not good with budgeting.  That is, I can write as many lists and plans as I like, the divert button is still on and I am unable to stick to it.  But that cannot continue.

We don't live hugely extravagantly.  We have too many takeaways, food is wasted more than I would like, and the heating is on at 19C.  Our holidays are quite low key, and none of us are desperate for the latest gadget.  We fritter but we are not the worst in the street.  However this won't last.

Bear is growing, that is not going to be inexpensive.  He is bright and able, I need to make sure money is there for him.  Then there are rising bills.  Food is going to be more expensive for at least another few years. The roof needs mending, the kitchen is over twenty years old and falling apart and we need to consider the bathroom in a few years.  The windows will be out of guarantee soon.  DH is working hard, but in twelve months since I became self employed I have earned @ £30 by writing.

I have been given some excellent advice about budgets, and I know where I can find out more.  What I need to do is find a way to turn the divert button off, and that is going to be the hardest bit.

Getting better

Bear passed a quiet(ish) night and is off to the doctor at 8.30.  He is doing an Oscar winning performance of 'not well enough to go to school' but while I will probably keep an eye on him this morning it is looking v likely that he will be packed off to school in the afternoon.

As for the groceries, I checked.  Twelve bottles of pepsi will not be arriving.  I actually put on sixteen to make the amount.

Normal for here.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Online Grocery Shop Utter Fail

Earlier today I put together an online order.  That is, I booked a slot and thought I would twiddle it later to get everything I needed but the slots were filling up and I needed a few bits.  I would sort out exactly what later but I had to book the slot there and then.  But with one thing and another, including DH being an absolute hero looking after me, I forgot.  Until now.  Well, until 1 minute past eleven which is one minute after the latest I could change the order.

The thing is, to book the slot you need to have a minimum order of £25 with Mr A.  As bear was quite impatient for me to carry on playing Plants Versus Zombies with him I just bunged in the five tins of condensed tomato soup that I actually needed and held my place with a random twelve bottles of diet pepsi. Tomorrow between 3 and 5 pm I will be getting a delivery of twelve two litre bottles of diet pepsi and five tins of soup with nothing else.

I don't even like diet pepsi.  I prefer Coca Cola.  I'm trying to avoid fizzy drinks.  I need crackers and sandwich fillings and children's nurofen.  I can get it all locally but it will have to be after DH gets home as with DF away I don't like leaving bear on his own.  Even if he wasn't poorly he is far too young to be left in a house all alone.  I thought a delivery would be easier.

I can't wait to see the driver's expression.

Bear is lovely

I have finally wound down enough to crawl into bed.  I am expecting to be disturbed twice and to be honest, I don't care.  Looking after bear is a privilege.  It happens so rarely and he is so good.  I know that the occasional ear ache is nothing to what some people have to deal with and I am very grateful.

We got a takeaway.  I'm so frustrated as we have lots of good things in, but bear needed fuss and I gave it him instead of preparing dinner.  Normally I am a bit tougher.  And bear rejected his chocolate ice cream bought special in the hope it would soothe his throat and instead raided my salad and took all the tomato, all the cucumber and all the olives as well as a hefty handful of salad.  And I know that this is no example or teaching that I have done but something wonderful in bear himself, who likes his plain and undressed salad.

I'll take what I can get

I am supervising bear's homework and sneaking in a quick post while he slaves over his writing.  He has to write five sentences about an animal that lives in the sea.  Bear chose killer whales.  I am a bit bewildered by the choice but I am helping him by looking at Wikipedia (yes, not the best source, but good enough for a six year old's homework and killer whales are likely to be okay).

I have been checking his spelling.  He can spell 'whale' and 'group' without much problems.  He decided to write that a group of killer whales was called a pod.  I checked he was okay to spell 'pod' and he assured me confidently that of course he could, he knew about a pod after the Sontaran pod in Dr Who.

It's more or less educational.  I'll take the crumbs I get.

Man proposes and God disposes

Or in other words, I made a plan and something heard and is now rolling on the floor laughing its socks off.

DF is abroad.  This is my big chance to be able to do more than fifteen minutes writing without interruption.  To put in context, 'At the Sign of the White Hart Pt1' was written in around two to three hours scraped together over a couple of days and frequently interrupted mid sentence.  It is not ideal.  I am desperate.

So DF is several hundred miles away, a slice of four or five hours should be mine - except bear has a bad ear infection.  He woke up a lot in the night crying in pain and he is not a happy bear.  I am running low on calpol.  I am now so exhausted that even if the time was there I am not sure about how much writing I could manage.

So I am wallowing in self pity and when DH comes home I shall go out to buy a very large quantity of chocolate.  Looking at how things are going I guess writing this week is going to be a challenge.

Of course I don't mind looking after bear.  If it came to a choice between writing and bear, bear would win any time.  Bear would win against anything any time.  He looked very disbelieving when I once told him that I loved him more than chocolate, but it is true.  I am, however, reserving the right to a small pity party.

And the pasta I was planning for tea as DF isn't here who doesn't like pasta but everyone else does?  Possible but not likely.

btw this post was written between 10.30 and 12.55.

Sunday, 28 April 2013


I was emptying the dehumidifier out of the top window as Oscar was strolling past.  He took one appalled look at me through the window and ran for his life.

I think I will have let him forget about this incident before I try and coax him into the house.

stock image from free stock images until I find the camera

Bear has a walk

I have managed to get bear out both days this weekend despite his determined opposition.  Yesterday my brother came to visit and brought his dog.  It was a lot of fun.  The lovely woofer had a good sniff round and begged shamelessly.  I shut him out of the kitchen where a small piece of lamb was cooking in the slow cooker.  The poor dog was tormented by the smell and kept queuing at the door, just in case.  So we had to take him out for a walk.  Bear was so good, and so was the dog, it was between showers, the sun was bright and I managed to half convince bear that there was buried treasure along the way.

Today we went to feed the birds.  It is only three bus stops but it takes over an hour to walk each way.  The birds don't hang out in our part of the beck, they hang out in the tiny 'reservoir' upstream which takes the overflow from rainwater drains from the area and channels it into the brook.  There is a bird feeding platform there and we got rid of a lot of stale bread.  Bear had a lot of fun.  There were swans, mallards, some ducks I didn't recognise, Canada geese, coots and seagulls.  Bear was a bit uninterested in different types of birds.  They had feathers, they ate bread, what more did I want.  He could recognise the swans, though, so that was something.

DF is on holiday at the moment.  He left at 4am this morning, leaving his alarm on snooze.  Thank goodness it didn't wake bear because he would have wanted to still come downstairs.  And thank goodness he left the house before I had to get up at daft o'clock to turn his dratted alarm clock off otherwise he may not have made it to the airport.

Bear has been complaining about ear ache and is now coughing.  There is a nasty cold there but bear is making the most of it in a campaign to stay off school to play Plants versus Zombies.  I am keeping an eye on it and will try and get him to the doctor just in case.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Keeping on keeping on

We had mushroom souffle for lunch.  It worked!  It was light and fluffly with a slighly gooey centre, all cooked, very tasty and bear asked if we could have it more often.  I'd put the recipe here but I have no idea what happened.

First off I decided that the recipe from the last time I did the mushroom souffle was a bit insipid.  So I got the Hairy Bikers recipe for smoked haddock souffle from BBC good food and then added a bit more milk (14 fl oz instead of 11) as it was going to be mushrooms rather than fish.

I weighed and measured the flour, butter (1oz or 25g each) and milk and separated the 4 eggs.  Then I chopped one of the bags of mushrooms that came with the veg box very finely.  I thought for a moment and added a crushed clove of garlic to the mushrooms.  I cooked them very slowly in the butter then added the flour, let it cook for a minute and then very, very gradually added the milk and a small pinch of dried basil.  It was all going so well.

I left the mixture to cool slightly as I was beating the egg whites and that was when disaster happened.  I spilled a load.  I just had been thinking that I hadn't had a cooking disaster for a week or so and now this.  I had no idea how much egg white had been spilled but it seemed like a lot.  DH came and comforted me and I was very grateful.  Then I made a guess, added another egg white and carried on beating.

It worked!  It really worked!  DH suggested taking a picture, and I would have if I could have found a camera.  I am really thrilled.  It tasted lovely and I will certainly be doing it again.

Learning more and more

Today I am going to try and fit in a huge amount of writing.  I want to get 'At the Sign of the White Hart Pt2' finished over the weekend.  This will be free to read on the Lyssa blog.  On Monday there is a prompt from a writing group for a 500 word piece.  I'll have a go at that, and people will be directed to Lyssa's blog and I want something else for them to read when they get there.  Hopefully I will start making a name as a good writer.

The rest of the time I'm working on Digging up the Past.  I've just killed someone off and things are flowing much more smoothly.  However the writing is having some pleasant side effects.  I've copied over a post I made on Lyssa's blog, and I hope you find the links interesting.

Writing is sometimes as educational as reading.  I've been struggling to remember what flowers when, as during the last twelve months in the UK the weather has been cold, damp and unpromising and things haven't grown as they should.  A tv show 'The Wartime Farm' struggled to reconstruct farming during WWII because, as the presenter put it, even the weeds weren't growing.  As I have been pottering around this week I have thought the flowers are doing well for the beginning of March.  However I am typing this at the end of April. 

So as ever, when everything else fails I turn to google.  I found this site - English Wildflowers, a Seasonal Guide - and I had a good look round.

While I was trying to find the right plants to add to a descriptive passage in 'Digging up the Past' I found a small entry called 'Chickweed Willowherb'.  I had a bit of a look out of curiosity and I found a plant that I had known from childhood as a very common weed that was easy to pull up when weeding and that had pretty flowers. 

picture by martinjohnbishop and posted on iSpot

So while I've known what this plant looks like since I was old enough to toddle, I only now know its name.  I probably won't drop it into the middle of a block of description, but I will remember it.

Interestingly enough, as I was looking for a picture for this I found a site called iSpot, which has all sorts of nature sightings and records just sent in by the public.  I found a few bits that were local to me.  So I learned even more.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Sad reminder

I have just had a card in the post.  It is a sympathy card from the vet and is really lovely.  I think I will actually frame the picture as it is so pretty.  There is a lovely verse inside and a nice handwritten note.

I'm still missing evil cat.  I keep thinking I see her out of the corner of my eye, and I keep automatically thinking that I need to leave a door open/check the water/make sure she isn't under the blanket and then remembering.

Nice Mr Next Door is trying to persuade me to take on their huge black tom cat.  Oscar is something of a gentleman, and all members of the house agree that he would be welcome.  Also Oscar I think would prefer the quiet of no other pets just at the moment thank you.  My dreams of more than a few weeks without pet hair seem to be crumbling slightly.  I am not very surprised.

Normal for me

I feel a bit overloaded.  It's a combination of many things this week.  There was a phone call with darling uncle that lasted for well over an hour and left me feeling like I had been repeatedly hit over the head with a wholemeal loaf.  There was, and is, the continuing feeling of being totally overwhelmed by a backlog of housework now I am finally in a state to do something about it.  I am gradually pushing back the awfulness but it still seems such a mountain.  Finally I am trying to stick to a much stricter writing schedule.  It is too important to me and I need to keep the feel of a deadline snapping at my heels.  However it is a bit tiring.

On the other hand I am LOVING the writing.  I have finally got round to murdering someone in Digging up the Past and feel quite good about that.

Because everything seems to be out of control and I am not on top of everything I was sort of not surprised when the veg arrived because while I had forgotten it was arriving, I had also forgotten about the small Asda delivery that also arrived forty five minutes later.  I got a lot of bottles of 7up at £1 per bottle, but wasted the £8 saving on buying lamb.  I know the rest of the family love lamb, so I bit the bullet.  It will be cooked in the slow cooker.

So there is no chance of photos this week of the veg box.  I don't even know where my camera is.  But last night we had asparagus again.  That is the joy of the veg box. I would never consider buying asparagus in a supermarket, but it's a lovely treat and bear really enjoys it.  I didn't have asparagus until I was an adult.  On the downside I am now looking at two aubergines with an increasingly blank expression.

Tonight was supposed to be stew, but I wasn't sure about the meat.  Then I thought I could do a mushroom souffle which actually would be comparatively easy, and serve with the pak choi and sauteed courgettes.  However it is supposed to be bear's piano lesson tonight.  We won't get in until late but I could always do a spaghetti bolognese.  I am actually having nightmares about not knowing what to do for dinner.  I wake up even more confused.

On the other hand bear has been practising his coughing all night and fought strenuously against going to school.  Bear slept through his coughing, but I didn't, and I am exhausted and I am not sure if I have the resources to get him to the piano class.  So I could still do the souffle.  My head hurts.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Do I really need it?

I really want a new vacuum cleaner.  My current one has certainly not worn out through use, but it isn't picking up and I suspect something has gunked it up.  Unfortunately the hole where things are sucked isn't easy to get to, it's sort of slanted and narrow.  So I can't really get in to have a jiggle at it.  I've tried fiddling with filters and repeatedly emptying the cylinder, but without any luck.

I've seen a new one I like.  It looks like this...

image from Lakeland Ewbank chilli vacuum cleaner see here

It is £37.99 at Lakeland and it has 14 positive reviews.  I am coveting it.  It is light, bagless, has a long cord and you can take the handle off and use it as a hand vac.  Apparently it can get into all sorts of crevices.

If I was any sort of an old style housewife I would get the vacuum I've got sorted out.  I would use a hand brush, as really it wouldn't kill me.  I really need to get the money together for the roof.

I'm getting it next week.  

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Terms and conditions apply

Bear is being interesting about food.  In fact, he is being a bit spoiled.  I was his age over forty years ago and even if the money had been there, the range of foods were much narrower than now and what would be tolerated with regards to waste was a lot different across the whole of society.  I remember when the inflation was so bad that you didn't know how much a loaf of bread would cost from one week to the next, and we have had so many years since of stable prices.  It is an unwelcome shock to see food inflation coming back.

So bear has food he likes and food he doesn't.  Sometimes he likes food a lot, the same food can be rejected utterly a week later, then he complains that he 'never' gets it and please can he have some - now.  The most recent example is raisins.  He used to love raisins, he had them in his packed lunch.  Then they were utterly rejected as deegusting and I sighed as I worry about iron in his diet and that was one easy route.  Bear was adamant.  He loathed raisins.  He rejected them, they were not fit to cross the threshold and he would never, ever eat them.  Bear was emphatically clear - no raisins.

So I was looking over a very small Approved Food order and noted that they had packs of the raisins for lunches.  'You don't like raisins, do you?' as a sort of wistful comment.  'I love raisins!' bear said indignantly.
'Since when?' I asked.  'I've always loved raisins,' bear said, very cross that I hadn't remembered this.

As DH says, when it comes to bear and food, terms and conditions apply.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Horrid Henry

As part of bear's Christmas/birthday stash of books we purchased a set of 30 Horrid Henry books (£25 from Book People, free delivery, and went through Quidco so got cashback).  We have been reading our way through them together at bedtime, and they have been brilliant.  Today DH read out loud that Horrid Henry spied Moody Margaret with a few friends and surrounded by bits of makeup and glitter.  Horrid Henry wondered what it was.

Bear (aged 6) commented in a weary, much married voice, 'it's a makeover, don't go there Henry.'

How he knows that I do not know, but it took at least five minutes before DH and I could stop laughing.

And anyone who has never come across Horrid Henry, I must recommend them.  The one where Henry is cast as the Innkeeper in the nativity play is glorious.

Almost keeping up

So far today I have got bear to school, which was an achievement in itself, put on the dishwasher and washed dishes, done washing, got bear to martial arts (another achievement), entertained him, caught up with some online shopping, a tiny bit of ironing and had a half hour walk as part of my campaign to lose weight.  I have also worked really hard to get Pt2 of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' up and running although the result of that is 250 more words on Digging up the Past, but that's something.

Bear declared just before we left the house for school that he was '100% tired' and 'too exhausted to go to school' with a sore leg, and arm, and tummy, and foot and had he mentioned his sore leg, and sore throat?  He ran around like a lunatic once we reached the playground, though, so I don't feel too much like a cruel mother.

I walked as far as a farm that has a sign saying, 'Fresh Free Range Eggs' but has no shop times.  So I am going to have a wander up there next time we need eggs and go and knock politely on the door.  I felt quite flushed by the time I got home, so I must have done something right.

However I don't seem to have got much further with anything.  I don't think I have slipped too much behind, but I don't think I have got ahead anywhere.  However DH and I have a cosy evening in tonight booked which I shall enjoy, and I shall start again tomorrow.

Monday, 22 April 2013

More free fiction

I am trying to push my writing, that is, I am trying to write more, write better, and find more people who want to read it.  Thomas Marlowe, who designed the covers for Cats in the Bible and The Forgotten Village, has been following writing prompts from a writing community called Write on Edge.  He's encouraged me to have a go, and though I find it very hard to keep to a low word count I think it is excellent discipline.

So I have followed their prompt, and have written 'Exchange on a Bridge' which you can find on my other blog here if you are interested.

I would also recommend that anyone interested in reading to have a look there, though some of it may not be family friendly, so you have been warned.  And do dip into some of the short pieces Thomas Marlowe has been doing.  Of the stuff he has done recently I find it hard to think of a favourite, but I think I like this the best.  It is family friendly, but I am not guaranteeing any of his other pieces.  This may be a bit dark but it is a very close second.

I hope all the links work, I don't think I have every put so many on a post.  Thank you again Morgan for helping me out with them.  And thank you more than I can say to anyone who has encouraged me.  You have helped more than you can imagine.

Thank you for your comments!

Mountain Ash - I am really glad you like this!  It is really kind of you to let me know and I appreciate it.  For general information if you get books from Smashwords you can download them as a pdf file, as well as all the other formats but if you let me have your email I will promise not to post it up but I will send full details of all the other stuff.

As for the next installment, if all goes well then the next chapter of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' goes up next weekend, I've already started writing it.  For the next proper sequel to FV, it should be about June all being well.  It is actually set in the Village and covers the wedding of Mike and Karen.  However there is a televised archaeological dig in the Village also goig on - but what could possibly go wrong?  FV was @ 61,000 words long and I am about 30,000 words into 'Digging up the Past' so I am optimistic that it should be finished soon.

Thank you so much for the comments and support, it means a lot.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

In trouble now

Bear has decided he wants eggs for breakfast tomorrow.  Great!  It is a wonderful, high protein, vitamin packed breakfast ideal to start the day.

I don't wake up until 10am

I move around a bit and make the right sort of noises, but I don't actually wake up.  I am technically asleep as I get bear dressed, fed, make his lunch, get him to school and then eventually surface.  I have ironed clothes, found arcane bits for homework, dug out all sorts for school - and all still under the influence of sleep.  So the chances of bear getting decent soft boiled eggs tomorrow morning are pretty slim.  Fortunately I think the chances of him remembering the eggs are also slim.

Wish me luck.

Edited to add: of course I will do my best to offer up perfectly soft to medium boiled eggs with cute fingers of toast.  It is a brilliant breakfast and I have been fretting.  Unfortunately the chances of me successfully managing this, even with an electric egg boiler are not good.  All I can do is my best.

At it again

If you enjoyed The Forgotten Village then you may like to take a look at the first installment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' which is a story set in the same sort of world as The Forgotten Village but set in York.

I have had a lot of fun writing it, I'm planning to publish in thirteen installments, then when they have all been up for a few weeks I will publish as a novel.  However while it is on my other blog it is free to read, and I hope you can enjoy it now.

And if you enjoy it (and I really hope you will!) please let others know, if  you think they will like it.  I love writing stories, it would be great if people enjoyed reading them.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Another Day Out

Today we finally got DF to the local garden centre.  It is very near geographically, but it is a nightmare to get to if you don't drive.  I don't drive.  Today DH and a very reluctant bear came with me and DF to visit the garden centre.

It is massive.  Even after the awful weather there is still plenty of plants.  It was supposed to be purely reconnaissance but DF couldn't resist a couple of plants (yellow, pretty, not sure what they are) together with some sweet pea seedlings and some lavender plants.

It is a big place, with a big tradition of Christmas decorations, lots of fancy furniture and statues and fountains - all rather wasted on us.  I deliberately avoided the large area filled with books and the very pretty homewares (so expensive!).  We managed to avoid buying the cakes but two bottles of wine did come home with us.  There was no point in getting a load of plants today.  We have a small yard in a street with destructive kids.  We don't have space to really raise plant from seed and it is currently not worth trying to grow veggies, though I may revisit that if the prices carry on.  The garden is DF's domain, and he enjoyed his visit, but he didn't get a full chance to look round as bear was apparently on his last legs, although he had managed to coo over the pets, have a ride on a dinosaur and generally been indulged by DH.  I also was worried that we wouldn't be able to fit everything into the car as the boot is full of tyres.  It was getting hard to resist the impulse buys.

I expect next time that bear will have to just cope and that we will make sure we have space in the car.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Had a bit of a day out

Actually I had just over a morning out - I left at 9am and I came back in at 1pm so it wasn't quite so gadabout.

I was planning to get a bus to Tescos on the other side of town.  However I saw it go as it went early, so I ended up in Halifax.  It could happen to anyone.

I quite enjoyed it.  I think there may be a farm shop within walking distance so will investigate that next week.  I passed a shop with the sign saying 'Immortal Supplements' which would never live up to my imagination.  I enjoyed looking at the chapels of the old woollen villages and the old cottages and all the bits and shops and corners that may well repay investigation.  I had a cup of tea in Halifax and then got the bus from there to Bradford via Shelf and Odsal and then from Bradford to home.

I enjoyed it a great deal.  If I look back through the blog I can probably find times I went out, but I don't seem to have been more than 500 yards from the house since Christmas.  There has been so much weather and everyone has been so poorly that getting out has not been an option - certainly not for pleasure.

I'll try and do it again next week.

Evil cat went quietly

RavyLesley - Evil cat was failing and on Wednesday morning she couldn't find her food or water dishes.  The vet would have been happy to put her to sleep on Monday but I wasn't pushing her a second before she needed to go.  Tuesday night she still managed to happily steal from my plate (I let her).  However she was so skinny that she couldn't do without food and certainly not without water.  She was wandering around in a daze and kept bumping in to things like the sofa that hasn't moved for years. I couldn't leave her like that.

I called the vet and they jiggled things around so the vet could come out - 3.10 was the time they gave.  I was supposed to be picking up bear at 3.15 from school.  So I rang around and got bear into the after school club and then I sat with evil cat and waited.  Nice Mr Next Door came in and said goodbye.  He is really missing her atm.  They were good pals.  I made sure I was in the room with her.  She was just sleeping.  Now and again she would climb on me, then she would want to get back to the sofa and I would help her.  I have a two inch scratch on my hand from where she was trying to work out where her back paws were.

The vet didn't get here until after 4pm.  Once here he was wonderful.  He knew her from old and sedated her first as I stroked her.  Afterwards he got a towel and wrapped her in it and took her out to his van as gently as if she had been just sleeping.

Bear was devastated when I told him, and is now alternating between being completely bereft and using his loss as leverage to get treats.

We will be going away in May, so I don't want to get a cat before that.  In fact, if we could get away without having a cat until we see evidence of mice I would actually be quite grateful.  I am guiltily enjoying being able to get on with stuff like knitting.  The Strawberry Tart has been adopted by a neighbour.  I am not even considering bringing in the Ginger Gentleman as Nice Mr Next Door would quite rightly object on behalf of his own cats.  However I never wanted a cat in the first place so I have no faith that I will not end up with a feline companion very soon.

Thank you for giving me the excuse to tell the story of evil cat's passing.  It was quiet and gentle and she will be missed a great deal.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Veg Box takes me by surprise

I'm sorry, but it is unlikely that I am going to be able to photo the veg box before I start eating it.  I was taken by surprise by its arrival, yesterday seemed to last all week and I am now a bit at sea.  I haven't even rummaged through it properly, but I wanted to get posted before picking up bear.

We have pak choi which I will probably steam.  We have mushrooms and broad beans and fresh peas.  There is a pepper and courgettes (possibly a stir fry coming on?).  We also have an aubergine.

There is always a list of predicted box contents, and I make notes based on that.  Whenever a predicted aubergine comes up I always say 'no aubergine, please'.  No aubergine was predicted, no note was left, and I now have a shiny purple thing and I am not sure how I will get on with that.

It all looks lovely and fresh and hopefully we will be able to enjoy it.  This last week has gone a bit off track, but on track again now.

Next week I shall be ordering a smalleer veg box and a Mediterranean box as DF will be on holiday so recipes will be slightly adapted.  DF isn't so keen on things like peppers so when he is away we will probably indulge a great deal.

I have also got extra cherry tomatoes, cucumber and clemantines for bear and his packed lunch.  I am trying to work out how to get more iron in his diet.  He won't eat dried fruit (he used to) and we don't eat a lot of red meat.  Fortunately he does tuck into cabbage so I can see a lot of brassicas on the horizon.

Mixed sort of morning

And it isn't even 9am.

Failed to get walked all over and hassled until I fed evil cat.  Couldn't find bear's book bag (DH found it in seconds).  Battled with bear over breakfast (I really need to go over his diet, cheerios may have added vitamins but they also have a lot of added sugar).  Posted on the lyssa blog about some fiction I will be putting on there (I'll let you know).  Dishwasher on.  Washer on.

Today I will be doing things like deep cleaning the litter tray area, sweeping up all the stray cat treats, passing on the cat food to the neighbours.  Then I need to get stripping wallpaper.  I will probably start that seriously next week.

I wish the weather would cheer up.

I am also incredibly grateful to the good wishes, hugs and just lovely kindness from everyone.  It has really, really helped.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Evil Cat has passed away

She passed away while I was stroking her.  The vet was really gentle.

She is either giving the devil ulcers or shedding hair in heaven.  I miss her.  Now I am off to pick up bear from after school club and break the news.

Un-bear-able breakfast

Bear was up at the first sparrow's cough.  As DF hadn't got in until 11.30 I was a bit unimpressed but he let me doze until 7am.  Then he wanted breakfast.  I was a bit unimpressed by his choice of buttered crackers but thought that there are worse ways to start the day, he would have a chocolate biscuit if I let him.

Unfortunately the crackers were completely unacceptable.  They were not the usual type and they tasted all wrong, at least the one he had tried.  And how could I expect him to try the rest of the selection as the first was disgusting.  Bear objected loud and long, rejected sandwiches and fruit and settled eventually on having some toast.  I sighed, got myself up and made the toast.

The toast was completely unacceptable as well.  It was burned!  Actually it had some dark bits but how dare I try and poison him with burned toast.  He ended up with a chocolate biscuit.

Tomorrow it is cereal or else -and I mean or else!  One morning where he has a chocolate biscuit I can cope with.  But I won't have him go to school empty and I certainly won't tolerate any more of his picking at rubbish.  I am also trying to tot up how much protein he is having and I am worried it isn't enough.  Today I will be researching better breakfasts.

Bear is going to object mightily.  I can live with that.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Evil cat has just stolen my leftover beeferoni.  I have let her.  Earlier she got stuck on the stairs, dithering about whether she was going up or down.  Then she was struggling to find her dinner dish.  But she can still steal and she is bewildered but not in pain.  She is now having a good wash.

I normally post just what is on the surface of my mind, and most of that is about evil cat.  However I think I will hold off posting about her for a day or two.  It feels like a morbid crawl towards something dark and inevitable.  At the moment evil cat is finding good things in life.  Until that changes I think the best thing I can do is keep quiet and hope.

Thank you for the hugs

I really want to say thank you for the hugs about evil cat.  I am not being as bracing as I would like, and the hugs have really helped.

I told bear about it once we got home from school yesterday, as I was hoping that if I tell him early then the actually passing of evil cat will not be so much of a shock.  Poor bear was devastated.  There is a lot of love in bear and he spent a lot of the afternoon in tears.  He is still too scared of her to stroke her.

Evil cat is still getting pleasure in life.  She marched up and down on me several times last night and I am up earlier than I would like due to being walked over by repeatedly by evil cat.  I went and put some food down for her and then helped her find it, so she is frail, but still managing to take pleasure in being inconvenient.  She is curled up purring at the moment.  Hopefully she will be purring for a while.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Evil cat didn't fight the vet

The vet has visited.  Evil cat is not well, almost completely blind and extremely skinny.  As it was the vet who visited last time he was aware of evil cat's potential.  Normally evil cat gets samples of the vet's blood, she takes no prisoners.  Not today.

Evil cat didn't fight or argue or complain.  My lovely neighbour didn't need to hold her down.  She let him use his stethoscope and check her hydration.  Her heart is okay, her lungs are okay, but her kidneys are almost certainly failing.

She is not currently in distress, although she is completely bewildered.  The vet thinks she may have a week or two left.  Mind you, she has proved them wrong before.  They know that as soon as I think she is in distress I will call them.  I won't let her linger but I am not ready to hurry her along.

Poor old evil cat.

Nice start to the day!

Bear was up with the first sparrow's cough.  I fed him breakfast and then dozed happily listening to Duncan does Tekkit on YouTube which must be one of the most relaxing things in existence.

Finally I dragged myself out of my pit and started the usual morning routine.  Make bear's packed lunch, get his clothes sorted, put some food down for evil cat (who was baffled by it) and then dashed out with a broom to break up the fight between next door's lovely Oscar, the black tom cat, and the ginger gentleman.

The ginger gentleman, the wandering intact tom cat, has been looking very battle scarred and is as cuddly as a brillo pad and has a sense that the world revolves around him.  Oscar is lovely, he has been neutered so he is chilled and he does give a lovely cuddle.  He is a gentleman  among cats.  Obviously he is less of a gentleman when he is squaring up to the monster that is the ginger gentleman.

And I've just had to go out and break them up again!  Now that it's sunny weather I can see me having a lot more mornings like this.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Laundry on a Sunday!

A lot of the older generation will remember how much condemnation there was for those who washed on a Sunday, although sometimes if it had to be done it had to be done.  So I am taking five minutes while the washer is on, the tumble dryer is on and the dishwasher is on.  For the last half hour the iron has been on as well, but it's the first time in ages I have been up to doing much so the elderly female relatives I remember would have let me off.

I have to say that I am not sure it is entirely appreciated.  DF and DH are both very glad that clean clothes appear, albeit intermittently.  Bear doesn't seem to appreciate it at all.  He has dressed himself the last two days and when I went to put away some t-shirts in his t-shirt drawer it looked like Sherman had marched through.

I sighed and re-folded.  I am getting more and more hints that bear may well become very keen on dressing sharply and I suppose this is the forerunner of clothes distributed all over the room as he finds the right 'look'.    I am not ironing again.  On one hand they are t-shirts and the creases will drop out.  On the other hand this is a six year old lad and anyone expecting a six year old to be uncreased for any length of time is extremely optimistic in my experience.

As I type bear is chilling on the computer wearing jeans, red braces and a vest.  He has the braces crossed over at the front.  He is happy with his look.

Evil cat creaks on

RavyLesley - I managed to delete your comment (so sorry!  It was lovely to 'hear' from you).  I hope you have a lovely holiday with lots of good weather, take care!  Wales is a great place to have a holiday.

Evil cat is creaking on, she is having a few problems with the stairs.  She is having trouble finding her food.  However the weather here is extremely windy and that always puts cats out of sorts.  She is currently doing an advanced course in sleeping.

I am not used to seeing her so bewildered.  I have seen her look baffled, she has never been the crunchiest cat treat in the box, she has run into plenty of doors and sometimes as she is looking so wise you just know she is waiting for thoughts to turn up.  However as everyone in the house has had flu symptoms, and cats can get influenza, it may be just a bit of a low point and she will pick up.  I think I will try tempting her with some tuna as she seems a bit off her food - but that could well be the weather.

As for the wind, we are at the bottom of the valley, so relatively sheltered, and the wind is absolutely howling.  I was considering putting washing out this morning but was not awake enough.  It is perhaps just as well, I don't think it would have stayed on the line!  Mind you, my late grandmother would turn in her grave - washing on a Sunday!

Still, warmer weather has been promised, and I look forward to that with enthusiasm.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Keeping food

It hasn't helped that yesterday was a nightmare and I ended up getting a takeaway.  However today's china chilo is simmering away and there is also a very small ham joint in the slow cooker.  So that's the lettuce used up today and then lots of carrots and potatoes tomorrow.

However it is getting a bit of a challenge because I caught the lettuce in the nick of time and the carrots will need using up before they go yeurk.  I really, really, really need to keep on top of the veggies.

Monday will probably be a stew to see off the celeriac, kohl rabi, leeks and any remaining carrots.  I will reassess then.

I am going to have to use my freezer a lot more.

I don't want to get a smaller box, I want to eat more veg.  However I may have to look at that as well!

Evil cat is not being evil

Poor old evil cat is really coping very well.  She is having trouble finding her food.  She is very keen on dreamies but while she will bug us for them, she has trouble finding them once they are down, even if they are right in front of her nose.  The water bowl is a bit of a challenge.  She keeps inhaling.  She is even sleeping normally.  She has never slept normally in her life, she has always slept as if she has a grudge against the Sandman, concentrating furiously on SLEEPING and making me exhausted just looking at her.  Now she is just asleep.

I have just about got used to her walking instead of running.  Now she is having trouble getting on the sofa.  She has got a cushion in front of the fire and a cushion next to the radiator but they aren't the same.

The vet comes on Monday.  I am really hoping he will reassure me.

Edited to say - I have posted up my poem about evil cat on my Lyssa Medana blog.  It's already been on here.  

Friday, 12 April 2013

Evil cat is a bit confused

Evil cat is a bit confused.  She just got lost in the kitchen.  She got outwitted by her water bowl.  She doesn't seem to know what is going on.  She has spent the morning curled up on the duvet purring.

She doesn't seem distressed or anything.  The vet is coming Monday.  Fingers crossed it will be another humorous checkup as she perks up when we get some sunshine.

My kitchen is possessed

It isn't really.  It's doing an okay impression of it though.

I need a new kitchen.  I will almost certainly get one in the next twenty years.  Actually there is a chance I will get a new one in the next twenty years.  All the counters are still working.  However two of the drawers out of six cannot be used and about four doors are hanging off.  But the shelves all work, I mustn't get to precious about it.

The kitchen is elderly anyway, at least twenty years old, it isn't shoddy workmanship that is the problem but age and twenty years ago things were not so robust as they are now.  We had to replace the sink unit as it was collapsing and the drawers on that are lovely.  The old ones are a bit temperamental.

However up until now the drawer in which we keep the cutlery has always been fine.  It opens, it closes, it holds cutlery.  Except now it seems to have a mind of its own.

Yesterday I put away some cutlery, shut the drawer and then watched as the drawer opened again by itself.  I shut the drawer and it opened again.  I shut the drawer a bit more carefully and it slid open again.  I checked that nothing was actually stopping it closing and shut the drawer again.  It opened.  Eventually I managed to get it to stay closed.  And I had a witness - DH watched it all and was equally baffled.

This is a little bit reassuring as I keep looking around, seeing the cutlery drawer open and thinking I've been slack and not closed the drawer and it was probably just the drawer deciding to open itself.

It really is unnerving to see a drawer open by itself in front of you, but I suspect that it is to do with the joint drain for the two houses at the back leaking damp into our house and so the cheap chipboard at the back is basically disintegrating.  I think this is making things all a bit looser.  And at least I am probably remembering to shut the cutlery drawer.

Actually, if it is possessed does that help explain where all the table knives and egg spoons have gone?  They seem to have evaporated recently.   Perhaps the ghost has taken them.  Or they have got caught up with something else.  Explanations that don't include ghosts are more likely to be true.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Bear likes asparagus!

We had mash, sausages and I put the asparagus in a microwave long dish, covered, with some water in and microwaved for six minutes.  They were perfect.  I just served it up 'as is' and it was fine.

I was so pleased that bear enjoyed asparagus, he seems so adventurous sometimes.  I hope he doesn't expect it every week, though.  It depends what comes in the veg box.  We will also be having celeriac and kohl rabi.

I tried the pear cake.  I wish I could fib and say that it went well, but it didn't.  I tried using the size of tin recommended by the recipe, but that was far too small, so I put some in another dish and I am waiting to see how it eats.

Hopefully I will manage banana cake tonight.

Veg Box has arrived!

This is what I still have

There is a lot of fruit, a lot of onions, and I still haven't had the avocado.

This is the fruit I got

It is organic, and very nice looking.  However the fruit cost £6.  That is a few apples and pears, three plums, four satsumas, four bananas and two kiwis.  I am weighing up this, as the apples and pears in particular are very good quality and it gives a variety that I would never think to get.

This is the veg I got

That cost £15.  I am confident I could get an equivalent weight of veg cheaper.  On the other hand I wanted to get a bit more adventurous with food and now I am looking at celeriac and kohl rabi and a very funny looking thing that is between an onion and a leek and I am finding new ways to do things.

Also there was this

I am now about to google what on earth to do with asparagus.  I would never think to have asparagus, but now I have that challenge.  The veg box is definitely worth it just for that.

I have peeled, sliced and frozen the mushrooms and six pears are currently being cooked as pear cake, and the lettuce will definitely be china chilo tomorrow.  I just need to bite the bullet and deal with that dratted butternut squash.

Shamed by lack of knowledge

I have a surplus of pears.  I know that those at DH's work place enjoy it when I send baked stuff in.  I am about to do banana cake (don't want to, really don't want to, want to go to sleep but I know that I have to) and I thought I would google pear cake.

Google helped.  I found an interesting looking recipe here which I thought might be nice (though I was a bit taken aback by the measurement of sugar in ml) and it even said it could be made as a loaf cake which would be ideal for DH's work.  All I need to do is adjust the temperature and cooking time.  And that was it.   Do I adjust it up or down?  Hotter or cooler?  Longer or shorter?  I couldn't imagine where to start, my mind was a blank.  My best guess is slightly cooler but longer, as it will be further from the surface to the centre.  But what do I know, I am used to having a theoretical knowledge of all sorts so have this gap has left me feeling a little embarrassed.  I feel that I ought to know.

I'm going to have a go at his and if it does by some miracle work out (I will be beating butter and sugar by hand so that should be a laugh) I shall share in full.

btw a word about a lot of the images I am using.  I signed up to stockfreeimages.com and I use the copyright free images from there.  If I ever got a lot of money I would pay for some of their royalty free ones, because some of them are lovely.  I am nervous of other images because copyright is a tricky thing, and I don't want to get it wrong.  I hope you enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Bobotie Happened

I actually planned to cook Bobotie tonight, and I actually did cook Bobotie and I almost followed the recipe exactly!  There seem to be a lot of ingredients, but most of them are flavouring.

I got this version from a book called 'Our Favourite Food' sold in aid of the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Ingredients: 1kg minced lamb (I used beef); 125ml milk plus extra for soaking; 1 thick slice of white bread; 2 roughly chopped onions; 3 eggs; 1 tbs curry powder; 1 chilli finely chopped (I left this out); 1/2 cup vinegar (@ 125ml); 1 tbs lemon juice; 1 tsp brown sugar; 1 tbs chutney; 1 clove garlic

1. Remove crusts from bread and soak in milk (I chopped the bread first)
2. Soften onion and garlic in oil then add the mince and brown
3. Squeeze milk out of bread and add to mince together with curry powder, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and chilli and cook for a minute or two
4. Beat eggs and milk together
5. Place mince mixture in buttered pie dish then pour over the eggs and milk mixture
6. Bake in oven for 30 mins 325F 160C Gas 3

The serving suggestion was with salad.  I served with mash and steamed carrots.  It is a dish that has its roots in South Africa and I suspect it is a campfire way of making tough meat tasty.  There is a lot of acid in the dish which would act as a tenderiser for tough bits of whatever could be brought into the kitchen.  Apart from the meat it isn't too expensive and different versions I have seen could be served again cold.  If I had got the portion control right it would definitely have done two days.

It went down very well with DF and DH.  Bear declared it was disgusting and I found it a bit sour.  I think next time I will not add vinegar and see how it goes.

Tomorrow is veg box day and I am really looking forward to finding out what is in it.  I shall also be eating salad as I use up the red pepper and courgettes.  There is a lot of fruit left over at the moment, although bear was tucking in a lot today, so that is good.

Find the silver lining

There is always, always, always a silver lining.  Having a quote for the roof of @ £1500 is a shock but there will be silver linings.

I have been wanting to get a bit better with budgeting and now is a good prompt.  I have been wanting to get the house sorted and this sort of thing always gets me motivated to clean.  I have been wanting incentives to write (when bear is not off school) and this is a good incentive to write and not only write but look for places that pay for writing.

So there is a lot of prompts and pushes and nags to do things that are a good end in themselves.  So there are lots of silver linings.

One thousand, five hundred pounds sterling.

Bear is winning

We are supposed to be going to Makro.  Obviously I fed bear breakfast when he came down at 6am but I crawled back into my pit and didn't surface until much later.  So I managed to scratch together breakfast for me and dragged some clothes on and started getting us all warmed up to go to Makro, just a short walk, not much of a wander, bribery included.

Then bear stubbed his toe.  It was a bravura performance, he had real tears and everything.  So he couldn't possibly leave the house.  I am giving it another half hour.

I would also like to add that you wouldn't believe the dreams you get when you are keeping an ear out for what is on tv/the computer.  I occasionally surfaced enough to do variations on the them of 'will you turn that down' and 'What did he just say?' and 'You are building what?'  And while the stuff was all innocuous it had an unsettling effect.  Then I started worrying about tea and ended up having nightmares about mash potato and carrots of all things.

I think I really need some fresh air.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Do you like dark short stories?

Thomas Marlowe created the cover designs for 'The Forgotten Village' and 'Cats in the Bible'.  He has a blog and he has written a few dark short stories, a bit gothic.  His latest one is called Abandoned Beauty and I very much enjoyed it, so I am recommending to anyone who may be interested.

Marco Pierre White's Great British Feast

I bought this cookery book when it was extremely inexpensive from Approved Food.

I have just been dipping in.  I am not sure I am up for any recipe that starts with a call for six live lobsters.  They sell live lobsters at Makro (walking distance) and just the look of the lobsters frightens the life out of me.  I am also unlikely to cook loin of venison unless I win it in a raffle.  I can't imagine me ever being able to afford that.

On the other hand I am a bit intrigued, especially by some of the beer batter recipes.  I shall read, loot for ideas in my fiction, shamelessly adapt any recipes that I think we can use and then share.  They are posh restaurant recipes, but there is bound to be use in there. I actually quite like the idea of sage leaves sandwiched together with tapenade and then dipped in a yeast and beer batter and fried.  However given what happens to my cooking I think I shall be a bit careful.

And actually, tonight's tea was the stew, as planned, and it was lovely.  I shall have the rest for lunch tomorrow.  Tomorrow is probably going to be bobotie and I'll save the butternut soup until Sunday lunch.  Also I am going to start doing a 'before' and 'after' menu.  I need a reality check.

Bear is winning

So we didn't go out yesterday, and today has been less than 100 yards to the martial arts class.  A large part of me doesn't want to go out as not only is it cold but going out will cost money and I do not want to spend any.  Apart from paying for the holiday we have the roof to fix.  If I had been more careful we would have a store to draw on.  At the moment we do not and we will need scaffolding to replace guttering and roof tiles.  Then there is the issue of the floor, and decorating and this and that...

So we could stay in and stay warm and not spend money.  Bear would not object.  His objective for the Easter holiday is to spend all his time on the computer while eating his own bodyweight in sugar.  Yesterday we did manage to have some non screen time while playing 'Chameleon Crunch' (which was rubbish) and junior scrabble followed by 3D snakes and ladders.  We watched some cartoons together and had cuddles and it was lovely.

Today has not been so successful, as I had a bad night, but we have been keeping each other company and I am quite impressed at bear's ability to grasp 'cohesive' as a word in a computer game.  We have just come back from a rigorous (for their age) martial arts workout so at least that is something.

Tomorrow I am determined we are going out.  Bear is determined that we don't, or that if we do that we only go a short way as he doesn't want to leave the street.  At the very worst he doesn't want to go so far as he needs a bus ride.  He loves being at home!  In fact, it is a hard job getting him to Whitby for the fun house and the soft play!  He would rather just chill at home.  Even the thought of going into town to get a bribe hasn't stirred him.  So far we are agreed that we walk to Makro.

Negotiations for Thursday are ongoing.

...but on the bright side

I'd planned to go to Asda with bear.  It is pretty unexciting for bear to go to Asda, but this is a huge one with a cafe and toys and stuff.  So it is unexciting but there are possibilities of bribery.  The bus ride is okay as well, a little wander up and down some country lanes and through to the massive Asda, once per hour.  Except the buses no longer run.

I hate huge shopping centres that can only be reached by car.  It seems wrong on so many levels.

So yesterday we failed for the walk to Makro, today we failed at a trip to Asda but on the bright side bear is playing a lot of 'Plants versus Zombies' computer game and he was happily reading out the descriptions of different types of zombies and the plants that oppose them.  So he has been exposed to words like 'fascination', 'cohesive' and 'penetration'.  And he at least has the martial arts lesson this afternoon.

At least I don't have to worry about tea as we have yesterday's failed-to-cook-in-time stew lined up.

Tomorrow we are definitely, definitely, definitely going somewhere.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Monday Fail

By the time DH had come in the stew was still crunchy.  I had put it on the slow ring on the simmer mat, but I don't think I got it hot enough first.  So we had fish and chips, and at least they were on offer due to opening after refurbishment (and they do award winning stuff as well).

So the stew is simmering still and will be fine for tomorrow, nicely heated.  Then the day after will be the soup which means that I will make Wednesday a baking day and tomorrow a 'get the kitchen fit for purpose for baking with bear' day.

And if all goes well I will share the soup recipe.  And something has to go right at some point, doesn't it.

Monday continues

Well, I managed to get the stew on.  I put in the two leeks, the parsnips and a good bit of the carrots.  I also added some dried onion and some potatoes.  I really need to google some of the potato varieties in the veg box as they do tell you and it does make a difference.  I put in a packet of dried vegetable soup mix rather than any stock cube, and don't tell bear but garlic was involved.  I am used to the supermarket garlic (many years back when I last used it fresh).  This was a lovely fat, chunky clove that squeezed very satisfactorily.  I also really must remember to chop the chopped turkey breast.  The chunks are enormous, but today I just tipped them in the pan.

Memo to self - learn to make a small  stew.  Bear is currently campaigning for fish fingers.  Sigh.

If all goes well it is butternut squash soup tomorrow with cake.  If it works I shall share the recipe.  Then Wednesday will be bobotie, but a new recipe, fingers crossed for that but the recipe includes a tablespoon of chutney and it could be the answer to the Christmas gift chutney.

I have also started using the new chopping boards I reluctantly picked up from Argos for £2.99 for two.  I don't like Argos but I was in a rush.  I also picked up their least expensive food processor for £14.99.  I need to start working on that, as it will make a lot of the chopping much easier.  At £14.99 I don't expect much - the next one up was over double the price.  However hopefully it will help me get into the swing of more adventurous cooking.  Some medieval and early modern cookbooks recommend beating egg whites with twigs for half an hour.  I am very grateful for electric or pump action whisks.

I have also decided that tomorrow my lunch will be a mashed avocado sandwich.  I quite like that, and it is v nutritious also not going to waste.

Also on the bright side I have sorted out the problem with the static electric in my red sweater.  I managed to tip half a bottle of hair conditioner on it.  Smells quite nice, actually.

Ambushed by Monday

I was hoping to take bear out but the wind is far too biting to go for an unnecessary walk.  I really could do with getting bear baking but it is so long since I did much baking that I will have to sort stuff out and I don't feel much like doing that while under critical supervision.  Also bear got irrationally stressed when I pointed out his shirt was buttoned wrong and we are all still recovering.  We all need breaks from the screen.


Obviously as soon as I started typing anything that had purpose bear came in and decided we were going to play a game.  So we are going to try the Chameleon game that I won just before Christmas.  I am looking forward to it.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Veggie box again

Tonight we had chilli con charlie.

It was going to be china chilo but the lettuce had gone very sad.  Then we were going to have spaghetti bolognese (with fusilli pasta, DF to have rice) but the mushrooms had gone peculiar and furry.  So we had chilli con charlie.

I am going to have to be much quicker to use things up and much more careful to use things in the right order.  And with mushrooms I am going to peel, slice and freeze on the day of receipt.

I have put some diced turkey to defrost in the fridge so the casserole tomorrow is looking quite safe.  That will take care of the parsnip, the celery, some of the carrots and some onions.  I shall include dumplings and do mash separately.

Tomorrow is also looking like cake making - beetroot brownies and banana cake.

Also tomorrow is a trip to Makro.  I haven't been able to make the laundry gloop yet, and I want to top up the powder anyway for the white shirts.  Five per week for DH, five per week for bear during school and an indeterminate amount for DF depending on church business and nights out.  Makro usually have a sale on for an extremely large box of some sort of mainstream powder.  I need to get out with bear and the short walk won't hurt him.

I think getting the veg box may be one of the best things I have done.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

City Varieties Leeds - Brilliant!

I don't know how many remember 'The Good Old Days' years ago, where they had old music hall acts and variety performers.  It was filmed in the City Varieties, Leeds and today we had a tour.

It was brilliant.  I haven't been there since it has been refurbished and it does look brilliant.  There has been entertainment on that site since 1772 according to the guide, but it was mid nineteenth century when a purpose built music hall opened on the site.

Apparently the music hall was considered very much for the lower classes.  It was a place where people could drink and were not required to keep quiet during performances.  It was rowdy, hot, and had sawdust on the floor.  The rules were that they were not allowed to have none musical plays - it was designed to keep Shakespeare out of the rowdy music halls and in the 'respectable' theatre.

Bear was the youngest by a few years on the tour and was well behaved, paid attention and didn't touch.  The very indulgent guide told him he could sit in the very seat that the Queen had sat in when she had been there - D8 in the stalls, if you are interested.  Bear was very pleased with this.

The guide (who was brilliant) talked about the performers, including Charlie Chaplin as a youngster as part of a Clog Dancing troupe.  They had Lily Langtree perform there and Edward VII had a discreet view although he had to be smuggled in and out and kept in a box with only a small gap in the curtains as a royal couldn't possibly be found in such a low place as a music hall.  Acts that have also trod the boards include a lion tamer and a lady who hypnotised an alligator.  One of the play bills in the bar had third from top a lady who performed 'low comedy and speciality dancing'.  I didn't ask.

After cinema took off, followed by radio, the music hall declined.  So less tasteful acts followed.  Nudes were on stage, and were considered art as long as they stayed still.  Apparently all sorts of tricks were used to make the nudes seem more animated than the license allowed.  There was one anecdote about some young men who brought pea shooters along to the show and sat as near to the stage as possible, blew hard and tried to make the feathers move.

At the end of the this the lady asked if there were any questions.  Bear's hand shot up.  "In 'Plants versus Zombies' pea shooters are used to kill the zombies." Bear explained seriously.  "They are nothing to do with feathers."  He then started a measured lecture about the *&"@! computer game, despite every effort I made to shush him.  Mortified didn't cover it!  The tour guide was lovely about it.

If you ever get the chance I seriously recommend that you enjoy the tour at the Grand.  It was amazing.  The theatre that now seats less than 500 once held 2000 and the atmosphere is amazing.  Also I am proud that bear is confident to speak in public like that.  Mortified, but proud.  I am going to forbid him for mentioning computer games outside the house or school!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bear is creative

The Approved Food order came today and filled up all the space I had cleared yesterday.  However although I couldn't take bear out I could help him decorate the box.  There is now  craft stuff everywhere but we have had fun playing for most of the morning.  He is now watching Disney cartoons on Youtube.  Despite my best efforts bear seems to have managed to eat his own bodyweight in junk food and I don't know how.  I have been being really careful but he seems to be surrounded by wrappers.  Mind you, he has also polished off lots of healthy sandwiches and stuffed himself with cherry tomatoes.  I guess this means that in another week he will be growing out of his clothes.

I am about to start reconstructing the living room and study.  It may take some time.  Then I need to be sorting out the kitchen. And I confess - it is looking seriously like a chinese takeaway tonight.  Or fish with mash and carrots.  My head hurts too much to think about it.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Situation Normal

... all fouled up.

DH came home from work with the thing that has been wrecking me all week - shivering, shaking and completely and 100% unable to eat dinner.  Au contraire.

I didn't have a tin of emergency hot dog sausages in the cupboard, so I had to dive out to get them.

The new veggie steamer for the microwave is a bit keener than the one I am used to.  I have never seen broccoli burn like that before.

So DH had nothing, bear ate cold hot dog sausages only, DF had the pulled pork with potatoes and I had the sausages as well, but couldn't face more than half of one, though I also had potatoes.  The potatoes were nice, though.

So we have disposed of the broccoli, all the rest of the veg to go.

I am not sure what to do for dinner tomorrow as I am not sure what poor DH will feel like.  It is looking like fish fingers, mash and carrots.  Then by Saturday night DH should be able to manage china chilo, then I can drag one of the bits to roast out of the freezer and we are on our way.  I plan to snaffle the pepper and the courgette to eat raw.

I was toying with the idea of getting an order in, as even with bus fares already paid and the cost of delivery it will still be a lot more expensive to take bear into a supermarket, not just in terms of bribery but also of impulse buys and the strain between mother and son.  However I can ask to be dropped off at Morrisons after the City Varieties tour and pick up what I need then while bear is safe with DH.

Now off to google 'beetroot brownies' recipes - thank you Lesley!

Finally a Picture!

Here is the vegetables that we got...

That's two courgettes, a red pepper, a nice full lettuce, a rather disappointing head of celery, broccoli, loads of carrots, parsnips, potatoes, mushrooms, onions, an avocado, two leeks, garlic, onions and a considerable quantity of beetroot.  There is also a small punnet of cherry tomatoes that I don't think you can see in the photo.

Then there was the fruit box...

That's plenty of bananas, two kiwis, satsuma-type things, apples and two oranges.  

Together they came to £21.  They are all organic and there was no delivery charge (I love this).  I can almost certainly beat this if I shop around for non organic stuff.  However I would be making a choice rather than thinking - what on earth can I do with beetroot?  I want something that will drive diversity in my cooking and try and push me to cook more imaginatively.  

I also have loads of stuff left from last week - more apples, bananas, lots of pears, sweet potatoes and the butternut squash that has been staring at me for around a month or more.  There are plenty of potatoes as well.  This is going to be an interesting challenge.  

Tonight DF and DH are having pulled pork that DF bought at the Kirkstall Abbey fair.  It has been in the fridge, so I hope it is okay.  Bear and I will have to have something different with the broccoli and remoska potatoes.  I am clutching a bit at straws here, it may be hot dog sausages.  

Tomorrow bear and I are going shopping.  It will be infinitely less expensive to get stuff delivered, but bear hasn't left the house since Sunday and will happily spend twelve hours tomorrow on the computer.  He needs to get out.  While we are out I will leave a casserole in the slow cooker.  We have such a quantity of carrot, parsnip and onion and we need to get the celery used up quickly.  That leaves china chilo for Saturday, which will please DH, to use up the lettuce.  I won't be able to use up any of the veg Saturday lunch as we will be out.  I should be tightening our belts, but we have booked to go on a guided tour of the City Varieties in Leeds.  Lunch will be in town.  I have no idea what comes after that, but I know that I am faced with beetroot and have no idea.  No-one in our family ever remembers to use pickles.  I am about to throw out half a dozen jars of chutney, most given at Christmas, all with one serving taken out and then abandoned.  I am not pickling beetroot.  

I am off to google recipes.  I am loving this challenge.

Distracted to professional standard

I promised that I would take a picture of the next veggie delivery.  The delivery has just arrived.  All I needed to do was clear the rubbish off the kitchen table, put a sheet/tablecloth over it (as the table is a dark wood so things wouldn't show up well).  Easy.  Except there is a heap of rubbish and STUFF all over the table.  There are things that need things doing to them, and things that don't have homes, and things that I have no idea what to do with.  Also some ketchup and brown sauce, but they are easily moved.

So all I needed to do was move all the rubbish off the table, put on the sheet/tablecloth, take the picture and then sort/not sort the rubbish from the table.  It isn't complicated, I should have just started.  Except I thought that I would sort as I took stuff off.  And there aren't places to put stuff.  And I have an inexplicable burst of energy despite my current headache being three days old and not easing.  So I started clearing the back counter.  Then I would have places to put stuff.  Besides, bin day is tomorrow so if I am going to generate a lot of rubbish now is a good time.

I found some savoury rice that expired three years ago.  I can't stop now.

Bear is feeling a bit lonely, and I am short of stamina, so I am taking a break.  I think I may have started a cleaning fit, and I am not stopping while I have this urge.  The veggie box picture may have to wait until next week.  However I will come back and list what we have and all the fruit and veg we have already, and then I can tally them off as I go along this week.  I really hope this irrational burst of energy persists!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Swings and Roundabouts

Bear is helping to save water by never remembering to flush the toilet.  This is normal for six years old.  Perhaps less normal is his good habit of always washing his hands, and that's when we lose the water he saved as he usually leaves the tap half on.  At least it is the cold tap.  And I am very grateful that he washes his hands.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013


I have just paid the last of the money for the holiday we will be having in May.  Ouch!  We have a hole in the roof and the gutter is pulling away, we need to get that sorted.  Ouch!  When we are away we are hoping to get the floor done as it is the best opportunity to get it done all year and to be honest it has needed to be done for years.  You cannot imagine how bad it is.  Well, you may be able to imagine after watching some of the emergency cleaning programmes.  It is fit only to be condemned.  But before we get that done, to be in any way sensible, we need to do the rest of the decorating first.  This involves buying some paint and some lining paper.  That isn't too bad.  It involves a lot of clearing, and that isn't too bad.  It involves cleaning which is definitely a good thing.  I also want new light fittings as the one in the study has lost a thingy which means you can't get a shade on it, and just for once it would be nice to have nice things.  The ones I want are these.

I found them on ebay and they are £29.90, plus £8 p&p and they are perfect.  But on top of everything else and paying for them fitted, ouch!  But we have the dado rail already, and actually I don't want much more.

I have an Approved Food order on its way.  I have an Amazon order on its way.  I will be sticking to the veggie boxes.  However I wonder if I can manage without any further orders?

Hmm.  Actually I am not feeling to worried.  I am feeling a bit excited at the challenge.  We have a freezer that I keep saying needs to be emptied.  We have food cupboards that I keep saying need sorting out.  Given the nature of the household I am confident I will need to buy some stuff in, but I wonder how long I can spin it out for?  This could be fun!

Monday, 1 April 2013

Muddling through the menu

I had it planned.  We had pork pies from the fair at Kirkstall Abbey yesterday for lunch.  We have two more meals worth of pork and some mushrooms so it was looking like pork with mushroom sauce and the broad beans and rice.  Tomorrow is pork in a jar of Hoi Sin Sauce (one of my better investments from Approved Food.

DH decided that actually he really, really, really fancied a pub lunch.  As he hardly ever goes out anyway and very rarely asks to do anything like that then I couldn't do anything but encourage him.  So off we went.

The pork pies will probably be fit tomorrow, we will have the pork etc as planned but without rice tonight (we are all stuffed) and it will all work out.

I am a bit worried about bear.  He really does not like going out.  He objected violently to going out, then declared firmly once we reached the pub that he did not feel hungry at all and that he he didn't want anything to eat.  This progressed to he didn't like anything, to he wanted the children's tortillas, to 'where is the food because I am starving'.  I could have written the script.  We will get there.