Saturday, 19 October 2013

My New Blog - Sybil Witters On

The link to my new blog is - Sybil Witters On

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

I hope I can make you all welcome there.

Sybil Witters On - the new blog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Friday, 18 October 2013

Investigations continue

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

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

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Closing time

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

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

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

Hugs to all.

I'm not on Kobo any more!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Noisy Disagreement

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

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

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Bear is poorly

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

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

It's going to be a long day.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Being a Bad Mother

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

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

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

Tomorrow is definitely not a jam sandwich.

Monday, 14 October 2013


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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Facing the Fact

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

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

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

Chewing gum is now definitely banned!  

Friday, 11 October 2013

Veg Box Delivery

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

I am already planning lots of meals around them.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Feeling pretty good

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

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

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

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

MSE Meaty Crumble

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

The ham shank

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

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

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

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

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

Guilty realisation

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

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

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

Ticking over

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

So all very normal.

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

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

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

Monday, 7 October 2013

Making bread in the microwave

Tried it - epic fail!

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

Considering breadmaker again.

An interesting Saturday

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 4 October 2013

Paying attention

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

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

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

Bear lives dangerously

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

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

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

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Things I learned today

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

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

I am always going to check the graph now!

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

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

Alleged Duvet Day

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Duvet Day

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Having a complain

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

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

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

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

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

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