Sunday, 30 June 2013

I love bear

Bear has had a busy weekend.  Yesterday he visited my uncle in Wales, managed to bump his head and be sick in the playground of a garden centre (fine now, no hint of a problem) and came away with @ twenty books.  The books were on offer as it looked like the garden centre were closing a previously well stocked book corner.  Bear insisted that I buy him a book on English designed for 10-11 year olds.  He is six.  He made quite a good fist of the few examples that he checked in the shop to persuade me to buy it for him (79p instead of £2.99), but while he could have a good go I suspect I may straggle behind.  Fortunately the answers are in the back.

Today bear entered a sparring competition.  Sparring is not bear's natural way.  He usually tries a smile to get what he wants.  BUT HE WON GOLD!  I am so proud of him.  The trophy will be on my mantelpiece for the foreseeable future.  He has also complained about the inadequate level of cuddles he is getting.  In fact he was keeping a tally today.  I'm seeing that as a fun challenge.

Finally tonight he went to sleep in a card board box in his bedroom.  I am not exactly sure about the cardboard box, it is huge, from Approved Food, and he can almost lie down in it but his feet stick out.  DH says it is impossible to move him without waking him and has covered him with a blanket.  There has been sun today and it is 22 degrees on the landing which is cooler than his room so I am not too worried.  It is a sort of adventure.

I know it is normal stuff for a six year old, but I just love him to pieces.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Another iron bites the dust

Actually it might be possible to save the iron, but it is looking a bit unlikely.  I knocked the iron off the ironing board this morning while it was still hot.  It fell onto a carrier bag.  The mess is very pretty but I can't seem to get it off.  I am also a bit wary of using an iron that has been dropped, and it was getting a bit limp.  The soleplate is getting gunked a bit easily and it is all getting clogged.

I need to have a working iron to get bear's uniform and DH's shirt fit for tomorrow.  I think I will use the iron that I bought accidentally last year and work on the gunked on to keep in reserve as an emergency spare.

Anyway I need to get to grips with the latest acquisition that arrived yesterday.  It looks fiendishly complicated, should  be relatively inexpensive to use and comparatively healthy.  It is an 'oil-less' fryer so I have ordered extra oil for spraying and we will be having chips with everything for the next month.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

I Fried an Egg!!

Above is a picture from Stock Free Images - which is far nicer than the eggs I fried for DF for breakfast.  But I did it!  For the first time I fried an egg and the fire brigade were not called!  I didn't even set off the smoke alarm!  I feel very smug.

The shopping has died down a little.  Today I walked to Makro and picked up some digestives for bear.  All things considered it would be less expensive to get them from the supermarket but the walk did me good, it took about fifty minutes.  I picked up some bread and rolls as well but no rubbish or impulse buys.  I am reluctantly going back to a weekly supermarket shop.  The veg box no longer deliver here (grumble, grumble, grumble) and bear has decided he likes a particular type of bread not available in the local shops.  Sadly he won't be getting it for the rest of the week as we have run out.  It will give him something else to complain about.  So I am planning on getting a delivery on a Sunday to set us up with stuff for the packed lunch that I cannot get locally.  I am still trying to stay as local as possible.  

So far I have cooking sherry, DF's razor blades and bacon added, with some eggs.  I can see another sceptical look coming from the delivery driver.  I can't believe the price of sherry!  I do want it, though, as I think a dash of it would really improve some of my stews.  

Tonight's dinner is planned as fish fingers and potatoes boulangere.  

Monday, 24 June 2013

Grumbling Along

So far today I haven't spent on anything peculiar.  However it isn't even noon yet, so there's time.

Poor DH, he was clearing out a cupboard that hadn't been touched and where the roofing work had suggested there might be a leak.  There was dust everywhere!  However underneath all the paper fallen from the ceiling and the plaster dust was the old water tank.  It was disconnected when we had the boiler done around 2010 and it was apparently just left there.  In my defence, the fitter had every window open that he could reach, there was six inches of snow on the ground and I was struggling with a torn tendon in my ankle, huddled in the only room in the house with a shut window and not fit to hike up all those stairs.  Nice Mr Next Door has said he will move it for us.

My mouse is being very iffy.  It isn't keen on clicking on things.  I can scroll up and down without a problem, but no clicks.  It is a cheap, very small mouse that plugs into a laptop and has seen a lot of use so I can't complain if it is getting a bit creaky but I have had to be very careful about my supermarket shop.

Speaking of mice, guess what I heard last night.  I am not entirely convinced, but if it was a stray ant it was an ant in hobnailed boots.  I shall keep an eye out for any tell tale signs.

We were trying to organise a trip to a falconry centre near Settle.  DH and I went there years ago and were telling bear about the owls and the hawks and the vultures that they flew there.  Bear does not like things that are not at the end of the street and was very unhappy.  'I don't want to sit in a car for ages just to see a creepy bird taller than me!' He was very clear on that point.  We used dynamite and got him to Bolton Abbey yesterday.  We didn't try the stepping stones as they were under six inches of water, but all in all it could have been worse.  Next time we are definitely taking a picnic.

On the bright side I have dinner sorted out.  Yesterday I cooked a joint of lamb in the slow cooker with just stock cubes and a bouquet garni teabag.  Today it is simmering away with barley and we will have it tonight.  There's always a good bit somewhere.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

T-Shirt Folder, or A Moment of Madness

The link for a t-shirt folder is here.

I am still ashamed and humiliated that I bought it.  Fatigue impairs shopping judgement.

And here is the link to the embarrassing YouTube sales video

I am quite seriously considering going back to the doctors for anti depressants as urgent.  However I haven't been able to write for a month (not always easy even to get on here), and if I don't write my mental health plummets.  I will probably be able to get use out of this, but I think it's diagnostic.

(btw - here is the link to a homemade version of the thingy, which probably wouldn't be any good to me as not v rigid)

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Be afraid

Be very afraid.  You are no longer safe...

I have applied for a provisional driving licence.  My great aunt passed her test at 57 (not much older than me) and drove like a bat out of hell and was a hazard to anyone within fifty miles.  

When I finally get it in my hands I will book lessons with someone who recommended by a neighbour.  I am sure it will all be fine.  Probably.  

Also I have just happened to the Lakeland Catalogue.  If you spend more than £75 you get a free £10 voucher.  The parcel should be here next week.  

Fatigue affects shopping judgement still

The consequences have started to arrive.  I am honestly too ashamed to put one of the items bought on here, it is ridiculous.  On the bright side I have cleared some yarn out and will be plugging in air purifiers in the next hour or so which will hopefully diminish problems from the black mold.

Monday, 17 June 2013


Scaffolding turned up a day early and me without a clean teaspoon in the house.

Sleep deprivation is still affecting me

Fatigue affects judgement

Scared to look at what I have just ordered from Amazon

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Happy Father's Day

Bear approves of the Doctor Who books I got for him to give to DH.  He approves so much that he woke DH up early and they have been reading them together for the last two and one half hours solid.

I need to get off and do damage limitation on the freezer as I had left the door open.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

English Disco Lovers (EDL)

English Disco Lovers are a group that are hoping to reclaim the letters EDL for anti-racist, anti-fascist good people.  I believe they are trying to get their site higher up the Google list.

Their link is here

I was always more punk than disco, but I would force myself for this.  Here's their statement.  Please support if you are on facebook/twitter or just in general

Friday, 14 June 2013

Bear is getting into the swing

After the early morning revelation that bear needed a sweater, last night he said airily, 'I need to take all blue clothes in for class assembly next week.'
I paused for a moment, this was new to me, and I am usually good at remembering this  "What sort of blue clothes, ones like you wore on Tuesday?'
"Umm, darker I think.' Bear said as he concentrated on his computer game.
"What day do you need this?" I asked.  I then repeated this several times as bear was not paying attention.
"Umm, not sure, perhaps Friday.  You can send it in tomorrow because x has already got her stuff in."
I thought of the mound of ironing to rummage through, the lack of blue clothing in bear's wardrobe (he prefers red) and the general bewilderment of the random day.  "I haven't even washed the stuff you wore on Tuesday.' I said.
"You've got all night." Bear said dismissively, "But I need to take it in tomorrow."

A short call to the school clarified that it was Wednesday and I am not sending stuff in this morning, but I will still need to make enquiries about exactly what is going on.  I am comforted to know that this is a scene that will be echoed all over the country and that I haven't even hit the worst of it yet.

Thursday, 13 June 2013


That was when bear told me he needed a sweater on for school regardless of the temperature.

I knew it was a school photo day but thought that in June it would be all shirts and polo tops.  There was one clean of course, but if there hadn't been then it would have been an interesting hour before school!

I swear this is just training for secondary school.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013


The laundry gloop is going okay.  It washed a really greasy oven glove and it came out beautiful and white.  I have noticed that the clothes washed in it smell a bit 'fusty'.

The oven glove is one of the old fashioned white cotton types that is older than bear and it was well overdue a wash.  I washed it in a warm, long wash.  The nature of things means that most lightly soiled clothes put in a washing machine will come out more or less clean.  Water cleans things quite well and the action of the washing machine really helps.  It would be a surface clean, though, and not so good against grease.  The oven glove came out a lovely white, though.  I think I will risk it for whites.

I also have experience of the clothes on our line coming in smelling 'fusty' even when using traditional powder.  However I have been a bit worried about how the keeping qualities of the gloop, and even though I have used vinegar in the rinse I am not sure about keeping it 'fresh'.   I have bought a small bottle of tea tree oil to add a few drops to each wash.  I don't know how that will affect its cost effectiveness.  The little bottle was £2.89 and I expect that it would have to last a few batches of gloop to keep it cheaper than value powder.  I think even if it only lasted a single batch it would still last longer than a decent powder and so far the results have been good.

The shirt, btw, that bear took in was cut into strips and woven into a display.  Bear 'couldn't remember and can he have a packet of fruit bottles?'  So I asked a teacher.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

...and thrice woe

Bear's school had a sort of sports type day.  Bear had to go dressed in all blue as he belonged to Team France so he was denim shirt, denim jeans and a denim jacket.  I kept humming Bon Jovi songs.

I have just picked him up.  I took one look at his very stormy expression and took him straight home.  He is drowning the sorrow of coming last in chocolate.  I am confident I will hear more of this, but temporarily I am hiding on the computer while bear is watching cartoons.

Oscar winning declarations of, 'It's not FAIR' have been postponed, but I doubt for long.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Shopping again

I hope I remember to edit the delivery I have coming on Sunday.  Otherwise I will have six bottles of whisky, six bottles of lemonade, a very large chicken and a delivery driver with a knowing expression.

Normal for a schoolboy

Bear carefully informed me this morning that he had lost one of his pumps for school.  He had lost it weeks and weeks ago but only thought to remember it today.  And by the way he needs to have a pair of pumps for Tuesday.

I picked up a pair of pumps from Matalan on the way back after dropping him off at school for £2.50 and I am confident that this will not be the last time I am put on the spot and there will be plenty of narrower margins.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Wean - I'm sorry but my mouse jumped and I deleted instead of publishing your post.

You said that it is a lot of money to pay, and I agree.  I would struggle to get the quality but I could certainly get the stuff cheaper.  The thing with the veg box is that I am getting pushed to use fresh fruit and veg that I normally wouldn't try and in larger quantities.  Next week I will probably get a lot less but I am re-stocking after running down after the holiday.  If I didn't get the veg box we wouldn't have much variety between frozen peas and carrots.  I would probably get a few bits of apples and satsumas but I would usually never bother with grapefruit (breakfast for me tomorrow!).

For organic veg boxes delivered the price is okay, and I know a lot of it is local.  The lettuce and pak choi were picked this morning.  Organic doesn't mean better nutrition but it is less likely to have pesticides affecting it and it is better for the farms.

Darling father has the garden.  I can't grow veggies there, though we had a lot of fun when I did grow tomatoes.  I suppose now that evil cat isn't around I could try a few bits on window sills although DH and DF are both opposed to that.

I will be honest, I am still weighing up about the cost.  However I am enjoying the variety at the moment.  I do know that the two absolutely huge cucumbers are a lot nicer than the ones I can get in the local shops, twice the size, grown within twenty miles and will vanish by the end of the weekend as bear loves cucumber and I am happy to let him stuff his face with it.  I think every week I will be assessing whether we can afford it and whether we will eat it all.  I shall keep posting and let you know.

Epic Veg Box Delivery

It feels like it was an epic veg box delivery.  I took a lot of photos.

Here's photo one - the salad box.

That was an extremely huge cucumber, five tomatoes, an avocado, two red peppers and what they called some salad leaves which look like a few blades of chives, some red chard and two leaves from the heart of a very small lettuce.  It cost £3.

There was the large veg box

The cucumber was truly massive and when it is that big it is hard to make a display of the veg without it setting off those like Nanny Ogg.  This was about one pound of new potatoes, a sweet potato, three red onions, about half a pound of mushrooms, another avocado, pak choi, lettuce, cucumber, a race of ginger, a big bule of garlic, a red, yellow and green chilli, half a dozen big tomatoes, three carrots, a yellow pepper and two red peppers of which one was rotten.  This cost £15

There was a basics box, as I thought I had better top up

This was six carrots, five very nice looking onions and about two pound of new potatoes.  This cost £3

I treated us to a large fruit box

Four apples, two pears, two peaches, four apricots, five oranges, one large lemon, one grapefruit, four bananas and a bowl of cherries that bear has already decimated.  This was £9.  I also had a dozen eggs which were £3.60 for local, organic, large eggs.  The shopping totalled £35.60.

The veg box company have a rule that if your order comes to more than £33 then you get £3 off.  Their site is under development at the moment and the £3 was not deducted and to be honest I didn't remember.  So they included a small fruit box for which they normally charge £3.

That is, two pears, two peaches, two apples and two bananas.

All the fruit and veg except for one pepper is really prime!  I know I could get better deals but I also know that I wouldn't buy such a variety by myself and so I am happy to pay the extra.  We are all going to eat much better for it.

Tonight for tea will be salad with meat left over from yesterday with hard boiled eggs.  I have an eclectic view of salad so there will be diced pepper, apple, raw mushroom and celery (already in) stirred together, leaves washed and shredded and a heap of grated carrot.  I may or may not add mayonnaise or vinaigrette.  I have olive oil and bottled lemon juice in.  I shall keep the lovely large lemon for a lemon and honey chicken later on.

Laundry Gloop

Still haven't done any ironing.  However I finally got round to making the laundry gloop.

When I see the instructions on other blogs and sites it all seems so straight forward and I am always impressed at the efficiency and ability of those who do these things.  So I thought I would share how it went today.

Step one - find all the bits I bought ages ago.  Actually quite easy.  That was a dedicated jug, bucket with lid, stirrer, pan, grater and cup measure.  I am confident I could have done without getting stuff to keep separate but I feel more comfortable with this.

Step two - grate the soap.  I started grating it into a plastic jug I was planning on using for making laundry gloop as I don't like to mix soap and food stuffs as some detergents can transfer into food and sort of stick to plastic.  You should never use a container that has held, for example, Vanish for storing food.  However the grater bought extremely inexpensively for the purpose was just a little too big so I grated the single bar of soap into the pan (inexpensive, bought for the purpose).  It took ages and I got very fed up.

Step three - add water to the soap, heat gently.  I probably should have waited until all the soap had melted before adding the cup of biotex (borax under another name) and washing soda.  I also should have perhaps done it in two steps as the pan was very, very full.  In future I will definitely do it in two steps.  The proportions were one cup of biotex, one cup of washing soda, one bar of value soap, two litres of water.  The pan was advertised in Argos to take a lot more than two litres, so I am a bit unimpressed.  I am also unimpressed that I couldn't find a pan second hand for a lesser price.  The washing soda and biotex dissolved really easily but the soap took ages.  It was also very near the top of the pan and I was stirring really carefully.  I kept the heat low as well as the thought of trying to get it cleaned up if it boiled over made me shudder.  It was lovely and thick and gloopy.

Step four - add the hot mixture to a bucket and top up with hot water.  I think the plan is to get the mixture to nine litres but in the end I just added 'some' hot water to near the top of a ten litre bucket and stirred really well.  I put the lid on and left it.  Tomorrow it should be ready to use, a good drying day is forecast so I shall try it out on the fleece blankets using a cup of gloop directly in the drum of the machine.

Ingredients - one bar of value soap, one cup of biotex (borax), one cup of washing soda.

Things I will do next time.

I will wear gloves so that next time I won't cut myself on a packet and then get washing soda in the cut as it really hurts
I will find things like oven gloves to lift the pan with its cheap, non-insulated metal handles before I start.
I will put the bucket in the place I want it to end up before I start filling it up with heavy liquid
I will not try and make laundry gloop just before I have to go out and pick bear up from school.

I don't think I will add essential oils as I don't like clothes to smell of anything.  I like to smell of perfume, not fabric conditioner.  This is just me.  However I can imagine that they would work really well but I would add just after I had put it in the bucket so that the heat was less likely to affect the scent.  I am pretty sure it works out inexpensive

1 bar of value soap was 13p.  I used around a quarter of the bag of washing soda, if that, and that would cost @ 25p.  I am not sure about the biotex as I had it in a jar and had been using it for a while so I'll guess generously at a half or 85p's worth.  That makes it £1.23 for the bucket full and I expect to get a lot of washes, around thirty or forty at least.  Sainsbury's own brand non bio is £7.50 for fifty washes, and even the value is £1.68 for thirty washes.  If I manage more than thirty washes out of the bucket I will be happy.  I probably won't remember to count them but I'll see how quickly this goes down.  I shall also see how well it washes.  It should be fine when it's just the fleece blankets and I think it should be okay on darks.  While it is sunny I think I will try it on the whites so they can get an extra bleach on the line.  I use white vinegar for a rinse anyway, and that works well.  

I actually found it fun making it and the kitchen smells like housewifery.  

Ticked off the list

Today I really, really, really needed to get some ironing done.  So I have just sorted out the tins cupboard.  I think I may have a syndrome or something.  I'll definitely do some ironing later.

I have been meaning to get to the tin cupboard for over a year and to put down what is in it.  Today I get my veg box and I need to clear all the bits that are on the kitchen table.  Therefore I needed to make space to get the jar sauces I had got from Approved Food.  Therefore I needed to have a clearout of the tins cupboard.  Therefore I might as well do a proper job and write it down.

I found a few tins that were a bit elderly, but less than I expected.  I found plenty that I had forgotten, which I had expected.  I was actually quite reassured that I was not as low on condensed tomato soup as I had feared - in fact I had fourteen cans!  I also have thirteen cans of normal tomato soup which is the only tinned soup I really like.  There are about the same of other soups which the men prefer.

It's a start.  I'm going to start transcribing it on to the computer, which won't take long.  I shall be using a word table, as I don't get on with excel.  I am also quite impressed.  Today I have a massive sore throat, feel very achey and sore and haven't had a proper night's sleep since before we went to Whitby and I have still managed something.  I shall make the most of it.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

What is French for 'bear'?

According to Babelfish the French for bear is l'ours.  Today I get the letter home saying that bear will be taking part in a thingy to do with sport and he is supposed to be part of the French team and please can he dress appropriately.  Fortunately they have qualified this to say that those representing the French should just dress in blue.  Allez les bleus!  Bear has blue clothing.  This is just as well as the thingy is next Tuesday which doesn't allow for ebay (which is my friend)

Perhaps it is just as well.  To say that I didn't want to spend much I managed to have spent plenty so far this month.  There are swimming trunks for bear who wants to go swimming with his friend.  I bought slug death for darling father's garden.  I bought bits and bobs and all sorts of odds and ends and then finished off today by having a haircut.  I badly needed the haircut, as I was looking more and more like a badly trimmed hawthorn hedge and I am no good with my hair.  So that was quite a few pennies at the local salon.  It looks really nice now, the lovely hairdresser took my instructions in her stride, as I told her I didn't know what I wanted but I wanted it shorter.  Bear approved of my hair but decided you could see too much grey and I should go back and get it coloured.  Bear seems to do a lot more fashion than I do.  I told him we were still going to the Doctor Who experience in autumn, we needed to save up and I was staying grey.  He does not approve.  I believe this is normal.

Bear has preferences

Bear very carefully explained this morning that actually he only wanted  black socks.  He preferred them, thank you.  I promised that when he grew out of his current school-boy grey socks then I would get black socks for him.

Of course, every other person in the house has black socks.  I have black socks with coloured bits on, but DH and DF both have black socks, in different shoe sizes, and I have found myself at times looking at the socks very, very carefully before allocating them.  Fortunately they like different styles of sock but adding another set will not help.   I had bought bear grey socks for a reason.  Still it won't be too much extra trouble and they are on bear's feet not mine after all.  I shall do what I normally do, buy two dozen pairs exactly the same at the same time (and at the best price) and get them as plain as possible so that they are easy to match up and the odd stray doesn't matter.

So far today I have loaded the dishwasher, washed extra by hand (my dishwasher is tiny) washed clothes, hung out washing, washed more clothes, watered the garden and had my call to darling uncle.  Bear went to school happy enough with celery sticks which he carefully explained that he preferred to blueberries - after I had bought an expensive punnet of the dratted things.  It will be the other way round next week and a home can always be found for blueberries until then.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Keeping on

Yesterday was a bit of a challenge as I tried to get a lot done but had to work around bear.  Today I had a lot of things planned to make up for it.

I had a really bad night, so I was unimpressed crawling out of my pit at 7.30am.  This is really late for bear, who had worn himself out yesterday, so it was as well I had got everything ready the night before.  I didn't get my walk as I had forgotten to take bear's sports kit in with us, so I had to dash home and drop it in the office.  After I had emptied dehumidifiers and put in a wash I remembered that I needed to pick up stuff for rice salad tonight, so dashed out.  I bumped into the mum of bear's bestest friend (or his worst enemy, depending on the last five minutes) and had a really long (lovely) chat.  That put me behind.  I dashed back, caught up with darling uncle which took me a long time to get away from, then got some washing hung out, a gammon joint in the slow cooker to have cold tomorrow and some more washing out.

I have just managed to get some online shopping done and now I will dash down and try and do the amount of ironing that I should have spent all day on.  I am pleased as now I have the sweaters for bear for next school year.  M&S usually do a 20% off school uniform around now so I purchased six which I hope will take him through the year.  I also picked up a jacket for me.  This felt very indulgent, but I am hoping that it will balance the fleece jacket I have and keep me going for a while - at least three or four years.  I used a gift card which I had had sitting there for some time and I didn't want to lose the money.  I already have the shirts for next year from Matalan and I will be getting his trousers from there.  I have found them very good, but they don't do the v necked sweaters bear likes.

Anyway, off to cook the rice for the salad.  My joints are very bad today, but I am optimistic that I can get a lot done.

Monday, 3 June 2013


The Hawthorn tree half way down the street is in full bloom, absolutely covered in blossom.  I haven't got a camera that would do it justice.  If all these blossoms set to haws then the whole tree will be bowed down.  It is usually stuffed with sparrows and I suspect that they will do very well.

I have a recipe somewhere for a hawthorn liqueur where you stuff a jar full of hawthorn blossoms and then top up with lots and lots of brandy and some sugar.  I forget where I saw it, somewhere like Mrs Beeton.  It is in the same category as infusing gin with the young leaves of a beech tree.  I hadn't really thought about it much but the scent of the hawthorn is so heavy and hanging on the air and drifting into our windows that I am almost tempted.  It smells like Ameretto every time I go past.  However I shall leave well alone.  Enough alcohol comes into this house anyway and I am enjoying seeing the blossoms too much to pick them.

Much nicer than the wild garlic!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Back to Normal

Nice that things are getting back to normal.  The washing machine had a hissy fit and started flashing all it's lights at me and when I moved the wheelie bin outside ants scattered everywhere.  At the same time I was dodging the bees who were, for some very strange reason, hovering around the old cat litter tray cover that evil cat had rejected.

The washing machine is currently behaving.  I am keeping all crossed!

Home Again

The house was still standing.

We left quite early and the coast was cold and wet, but we arrived in sunshine.  The empty dishwasher is on to 'clear the tubes', the washer is on, I hope to get a line or two of washing on the line, and there is no sign of ants.

Time to get on with things.