Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Grumble, Grumble, Grumble

I have spent the day trying to get the dratted laptops to darn well co-operate and do what the heck they were designed for.  It has not been entirely successful.  However after a day I now have a relatively up to date copy of Word on a machine with a working keyboard.  

Bear had an awesome day.  There was a hint of bewilderment when SIL brought him back, but that is normal for anyone who has entertained a giddy just about nine year old when they are not used to it.  It is also normal for someone not used to bear and has had him full force.  

We have a tin of Celebrations in the house.  I have a suspicion that some of them may be gluten free, but the info is unhelpful, so I thought I would email Mars Customer Services and see if they could give me an insight.  They replied very quickly - with a link to EU labelling regulations.  The box is labelled, but only for the overall content, not each type individually.  So there still may be a gluten free sweetie in there, but who knows?  They even said, and I quote, 'We appreciate that this may not bring closure to your concerns about labelling'

I replied a bit sharply.  

Off to listen to DH read the first chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to bear.  

It's a Start

I got a letter to get checked for breast screening today.  Not only did I immediately sort out a new time when I could actually make it to the hospital, but I put it in Google calendar and put the letter in the 'pending' bit of my folder.

I also found the Liverpool FC pyjamas that I had got for his birthday so I'll give those tonight.  Bear is okay with that.  I consider it an even score.

Bear is out for the day with his auntie, hopefully safe in this weather.  I know my SIL will keep him safe, but there is a lot of weather around.  I have just had my Christmas treat from my brother delivered of some computer hidden object games.  That is my day sorted.


Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Getting Ready for the New

This is a blog post written on father's laptop.  My laptop was getting very limp.  It had hissy fits if I moved it from room to room, frequently dumped me off the internet and some of the letters were no longer responding.  It seemed sensible to just move it over.

It feels odd, though, I won't deny it.  The keys are in a lot better layout, and just in this short time I am finding the typing a lot easier.  All the better to post with!

Did you know that if you log in to Chrome on a new machine then they can import your bookmarks.  In my case they imported a version of my bookmarks that hasn't been seen for several years.  It is going to be fun sorting that out.  I can also sort out the differences and make sure that the Facebook page of Lyssa Medana is all professional and writery and my personal page is full of local stuff and school mums as I have two laptops open and can switch between them.

It's a good thing to happen, and a good time to happen.  It is satisfying to sort out all the junk and rubbish in January and I can do that with all the saved pages.  It will be good to remind myself why I saved some links, and perhaps whether I should go back to them or whether I should junk.

I also need to go over my writing stuff.  I have lost a lot of stuff over the years when I made a transition between machines, so I need to make sure all that needs to come across is safe.  It is a really good time to take stock.

I am really looking forward to January.  I feel like it could be fun.

Happy Birthday Bear!

Bear is happy.  He got his Liverpool FC strip plus a Solar Energy Science Lab (utter steal from eBay), an exploding science set, books, pens and even a Liverpool FC ring binder.

It made me a little sad.  There were no presents from father.  It reminded me that, for father, age appropriate was an interesting concept that didn't apply.  I lost count of the toys I diplomatically stashed until bear was old enough.  I think there are still some around.  Of course, I didn't mention anything to bear.  He was too busy enjoying the 'Periodic Table for Beginners' (yes, it is a real book, here, and, yes, he was thrilled, and, no, I didn't pay that much for it).

Bear also insisted on getting me to video the present opening on his new kindle fire.  He insisted that I do it straight away before I had even time to find my glasses.  One thing struck me.  If bear is insisting on being video'ed, I really, really need to sort out the house.  The video includes a right pile of stuff as a backdrop.

The biggest hit of the morning was actually the birthday card.  I spent an utter fortune on it but it was so worth it.  If you could have seen bear's face as he opened up the card to hear a Dalek's voice ordering him to celebrate or be exterminated - it shone!  I wish I had video'ed that.

Monday, 28 December 2015

I Accidentally Bought...

I accidentally bought four fleece blankets instead of two from Tesco Direct.  This was before I hit the Merlyn, so I have no excuse.  I may see if there is a local place that would like the spares as we are local to  the floods.  It was still only £10 in total.  The charities may prefer money, they may get more for their money. I will spend some time seeing what is possible tomorrow.

I also bought two bottles of the Merlyn, one for Christmas and one a few weeks later to make up the extra delivery order on the 21st to £40.  One has been heroically finished off and the reeds for a diffuser ordered.  The other is calling to me.  I could have a pair of diffusers.  I haven't drunk much alcohol since father went into hospital, and as DH can't drink due to medical reasons it seems unfair to drink in front of him, but I am confident I can dispose of this within a reasonable time.  A bottle of Merlyn is 700ml.  I have measured the volume of the nutella glasses I use and they hold around 175ml.  I suppose I could enjoy half a glass over a few nights.  I may joke, but half a glass is about the right amount for me.  By the end of January I should have a lovely diffuser in two rooms.

I also made a very pleasant microwave frittata for dinner.  When I sort out the timings I will share, as I sort of made it up as I went along.

Hungover

I'm not used to strong drink, and while 17% alcohol isn't very strong when it comes to strong drink it is still stronger than the tea or diet coke I am used to.  However I did my duty and sank the rest of the bottle of Merlyn, and felt very good about it.

I also felt good this morning when I checked my eBay account and I hadn't accidentally ordered something more random than normal.  It is always worth checking if you have form like mine.

Other things to feel good about - I managed to wash the absolutely massive throw on my bed that I randomly decided to stuff in the washer.  It only just fit, but it got washed.  The washer is still working as well.

Bear is happy with his kindle fire.  He has been given lots of lovely Amazon gift vouchers so is sitting on £75 of potential purchases.  He was looking at the Minecraft Story thingy - he explained the game but didn't explain his explanation - and he could get to the next level if he registered for free at a particular site or he could pay £3.69 for the full game.  He got DH to register him.  I'm hoping this keeps up.

Now I just need to get him a second email account that he can use for sign ups, offers, prize draws etc.

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Doing my Duty

I am writing this under the influence of alcohol, and very happy with it.

I bought a bottle of a Welsh version of Baileys, Merlyn, not guaranteed gluten free, but worth taking a risk as gluten is likely to be lost during distillation.  It's only 17% which is something you can drink neat, but it does taste as least twice as strong and is utterly gorgeous.

This picture is in the public domain and isn't actually bad considering I took it after I finished off the contents.

It is a good looking bottle and I thought it was a shame just to throw it out.  I was tootling around the interweb wondering what I could do with a good looking bottle and I found this, how to make your own reed diffusers.  I quite like diffusers but usually recoil from the cost of them.  But did you know that you could apparently use wooden skewers but it is better to use the reeds (available on eBay at £2.49 for 60, including postage) and dip them in a combination of carrier oil, essential oil and vodka.

I have some essential oil and can obtain other essential oils comparatively easily.  I have a good looking bottle.  I can get hold of the carrier oil easily enough, but will probably use the rapeseed or canola oil that I use anyway.  I even have the vodka as I never got round to making the usual chilli vodka for the lovely man who used to live next door.  Really, it was my duty to finish off the bottle so I could get sorted.

I'll let you know what happens when I sober up.

Not Doing This, But...

Does anyone remember the time I got giddy on eBay and bought 90 ties for a very reasonable amount?  Of course I haven't done anything with them yet, but I found this on Bored Panda


I'm not planning on copying it, but darn, it's awesome, and massive respect to Silvija Narušytė who did it.

Well, I've Started

So I've started.  I'm quite surprised I've done anything.  A very brief overview of this blog has lots of 'I will do this...' but very little 'I have done this...'

It's small, but I've made the list up for next year's Christmas Dinner.  I have finally got a central place for both cards and wrapping paper (both quite depleted, actually, but I won't be buying any more for a while) and I have identified a good place to stash emergency presents.  I am bidding on something that will be ideal for bear's girlfriend's coming birthday, but I haven't seen much else.  I have remembered my tumblr password and I am tentatively looking at Un**** Your Habitat again.  Sorry for the asterisks, but I try and keep this family friendly.  It is a site with rude words and is also about housewifery.

I've used the outstanding Tesco vouchers that were about to run out, I've even made a slot for them in the folder so that the ones that haven't been used won't get forgotten.  I've used the same plastic pocket to put the letter in for bear's appointment in February.

Not only have I filed bear's letter safe, I've also put it in the online calendar.  I've added a note for when I plan to let the school know that I will have to pick him up at lunchtime and goodness knows when it will be finished.  The letter warns ominously that I may have to wait some time so be prepared.

I've even had a look at last year's to do page and updated it.  Sadly I have deleted the stuff that was about father, and I've changed the shopping as I now have a £40 minimum spend instead of a £25 minimum.

Feeling cautiously optimistic.

Dark and Stormy Night

It was stormy, lots of weather round here.  It was dark because a large area that included us had a power cut.  It was only for a few hours and while bear tried to spin out his bedtime by pretending he was scared (he really wasn't!) we weren't too affected.  We have a couple of torches around, we have torches on our phones, we have candles, the gas stayed on and our house stays warm anyway.

DH went out and had a brief look to see if he could see any lights and, if so, how far the power cut had spread.  He said it was scary as it really was dark away from the street lights and you couldn't see pedestrians.

I feel incredibly lucky.  We had a very small adventure, bear was barely affected, it was a minor thing.  I do wonder, though, how others managed.  I worry about people who are perhaps less able to deal with this.  There is also a lot of flooding in Leeds which has not affected us, but will be affecting a lot of people close to us.


The picture above shows the KFC where bear had his meal with his pals just last week.  If you click on the link you will be taken to the story about some of the flooding.  Thank goodness this happened when a lot of businesses were closed.  It would have been far worse.  It does affect shops, some of which rely on Christmas trade to break even for the year.  There is even flooding in the centre of Leeds, though away from the main shops.

Wean - bear loves his maths and has a maths tutor once a week as a treat.  He also prefers brussel sprouts to chips.  I don't know where we went right.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Christmas Yet to Come

Of course I was daft enough to think about next Christmas on Christmas Day 2015.

Next year is going to be different.  Apart from anything else, next year I am definitely, absolutely, no question going to keep a list of what I have stashed.  I am going to write a list of what we are having for Christmas Dinner and tick off what I have got.  I am going to write down a list of what we are going to have for New Year, for bear's birthday, for all the snacks and invasions of small boys.

I am going to set a budget and I may end up being close to it - I have to be realistic.  I am going to make the most of offers.  I am going to be realistic about what I can achieve and anything extra will be a bonus.

I am going to stash a few bits in the sales for the unexpected presents that crop up.  I am going to establish, once again, a shelf for these presents so I can always put my hand on a house warming gift or an unexpected birthday.  I used to be so organised.  At least, I used to be more organised than I have been for a while. My New Year's Resolutions are starting NOW!


Christmas (Just) Past

Bear spent a lot of yesterday with dark shadows around his eyes and a funny colour around his lips.  This was due to the box of face paints he got in his stocking, which he had to try out and which I had a lot of trouble getting off.

There were some amazing wins yesterday.  Bear was thrilled with his haul.  There weren't as many packages as last year, but as father is no longer with us that was to be expected.  Bear was happiest with the books, which made both DH and I feel good.  He has some Calvin and Hobbes, the set of Narnia books and a few other bits and bobs, including a book on maths.  He got an awesome Doctor Who book from his girlfriend, so he is a happy lad.  However I suspect that the kindle fire will get a lot of use.

DH asked for one thing.  I bought it, got it delivered, stashed it and lost it.  He had other things, of course, but I felt very bad.  DH also did all of Christmas dinner, which was awesome.  He was a hero.

Bear, DH and I sat around, relaxed and just had a lovely quiet time.  I would have it exactly the same next year - but except next year I won't lose DH's best present.

Now I am bracing for bear's birthday.

Friday, 25 December 2015

HAPPY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Christ is born!

Happy Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Christmas.

Bear was up at 1.30am, but, after some persuasion, went back to sleep.  Now there is a drift of shredded paper.  All are happy.

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Faith and Religion

I am a Christian.  I'm not a very good Christian, but I do my best.

Jesus was very clear.  The first, most important thing was to love God.  The next was to love others.  Everything else flowed from that.  If you followed those two then you couldn't go far wrong.  God made it simple for us.  Start with love.

Man, on the other hand, made things complicated.  Jesus had a few choice words to say to the Pharisees who were so wrapped up with rules.  The rules were not important, the love was.

Stepping away from the theology (which I am nervous about) to history (much more confident), the history of monasticism in Europe in the Middle Ages is fascinating, and tells us a lot about human beings.  The most common basic rule was that of St Benedict.  There were others, but in the lead up to the Reformation most monasteries had a variation on the Rule of St Benedict.  You can find an explanation of the Rule in Wiki here and a copy of the rule here.  I suspect it is very human to use rules as a sort of comfort blanket.  The rules about food spread out from the monasteries into society in general.  They got very complicated.

The rule was that every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday you should avoid meat.  That's not a bad plan in today's western society for the benefit of the planet and our health.  Then there were rules about what counted as meat.  Eggs and milk were forbidden, which isn't so good in a northern, medieval society.  Fish was fine, you could fill up with fish - if you could afford it and there were lots of rules which meant that most people couldn't go off and just catch it as the local lord had all the fishing rights.  You couldn't fry in animal fats, you had to use expensive olive oil that in England had to be imported.  Lent was a forty day stretch where it was only vegetables and fish.  The fasts stretched out.  All of Advent was a fast so in December when a warming bacon stew would be welcome it was strictly fish or veggies.  It made little difference to the very poorest, but it must have been a strain on a housewife who had the money to make choices about food.  You really had to meal plan.

Of course, as soon as a rule about fasting was made, wonderful human ingenuity found the loopholes.  You couldn't eat beavers during a fast, but you could eat their tail, as their tail was technically fish.  For some reason so were baby rabbits.  Whalemeat, dolphin and porpoise were enjoyed as very meaty fish.  Cooks in the great hall made huge efforts to sidestep the rules.  There were recipes to make fake boiled eggs using rice and expensive spices.  Cow's milk was substituted with almond milk, made with expensive imported almonds and with a great deal of effort.  The faith part of fasting - having less to focus on God - was rapidly overgrown with religion and its rules.  I can only imagine the bafflement of the angels.

I like the rules.  I know it isn't helpful, and rules are not faith.  However today I won't eat meat.  It's not a big thing, I'll have tinned tomato soup for lunch and fish fingers for dinner.  It used to be the fast before the day of Christ's birth.  I'm not sure whether I am avoiding meat because of my faith or because I love history.  However making a conscious choice over food so that I am prompted to remember God isn't a bad thing, at least for me.

Now I am going to go off and remember that's it about the love.

Being Quiet

I plan to be quiet today.  My leg is sore.  I could find eleventy five things to do, but propping my leg up is going to be high on the list.

We all woke up late today.  It wasn't surprising, bear had played relentlessly all day yesterday and really only sat still at the cinema.  I think it was a record for bear, as it was nearly ten before he staggered out of bed.

I am suffering my usual panic of wondering whether bear will have enough.  He will have plenty.  Last night DH and I pulled out all his presents and divided them between stocking, Christmas and birthday.  I was reminded of some serious bargains I had scored from my friend eBay.  There was one fail, where I had bought a book twice.  The first time was quite early on in October, the second last week.  Neither time was particularly expensive.  Fortunately it is ideal to give to someone we had forgotten.

We watched the Muppet Christmas Carol on Tuesday.  We may watch it again today.  From what I remember of reading the book many years ago it is the version that is truest to the book and lifts a lot of dialogue straight from the pages of Charles Dickens.  It is my favourite Christmas film, along with the Richard Attenborough film of Miracle on 34th Street.

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Doing Okay

My leg is still sore, but not nearly as bad.

I took the lads to the pictures.  Bear's playground cred went up as I had got VIP seats and we all had popcorn.  Unfortunately the Peanut Movie, while very good, is a bit like a chick flick for nine year olds.  They were well behaved, but they weren't gripped.

This was followed by KFC.  I can only eat the coleslaw there, as it is heavy on the gluten, but I had to keep an empty stomach for the tablets anyway, so it wasn't too bad.

All in all, even with the extravagant seats it was still a lot less expensive than last year, and I shall definitely do it again.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Could Be Worse

I went to the doctor and I have quite bad cellulitis and they are worried that there may be a DVT.  I have to keep my leg raised - the GP was very firm about that.  I have antibiotics and creams and I have to be v careful.  If there is any sign things are getting worse it is straight back to the GP or A&E.

Tomorrow I am taking four small boys to the pictures.  As it is a treat I had booked the VIP seats anyway so I will be able to keep the leg stretched out.  Afterwards I shall be keeping the leg up.

There is always a bright side.  I checked and the antibiotic I have been given is one I can have with alcohol - and darn it, I will drink at least two drinks over the next few days.  Normally I wouldn't touch it, even if it should be okay, as alcohol is not really something that is going to make you better.  However at the moment I could really do with something.  Poor DH is not getting the rest he needs.  Bear is resigned, although I am being careful what I say to him.  Things will be okay.

Wean - challenge accepted.




Shopping Challenge

I was trying to clean the picture frame of one of the pictures I brought back from uncle's house.  It was an epic fail, so I decided I wanted to reframe the picture.  When will I learn.  I took the picture out of the frame before I got the new one and I shall be on pins until it is safely framed again.  My poor photography managed to get an image.


It is very Victorian in flavour, mainly pencil with probably some sort of colour added.  You can see the marks of the pencil and in pencil it is noted that it is of Scone Palace.  There is no name or anything to say where it came from.  It is charming and I love it.  I have no idea how old it is, as the frame was elderly and stained beyond redemption.  It looked like the backing board had been reused previously so I suspect this is not the first time this has been re-framed.  The picture had some newspaper at the back.  I had to have a rummage, just to see, but whoever put the paper there were inconsiderate and had only used the bottom of the broadsheet newspaper, not the top, so there was no date.  There was an announcement of a performance by Cor Merched Rhyl (Rhyl Ladies Choir) and a crossword clue referred to something being in Mr Baldwin's cabinet - Stanley Baldwin was Prime Minister between 1923 and 1929 and also between 1935 and 1937 (thank you Wikipedia).  The pictures for the adverts suggest the earlier date.

And now I have the wonderful challenge of finding a picture frame fourteen and one quarter inches by 10 and one quarter inches, as the picture is an awkward size and I don't want to trim it.  I have had a brief look at eBay and it doesn't look promising.

Challenge accepted.

Monday, 21 December 2015

Today Isn't Getting Better

I have just had a message from one of the mums about the cinema trip for bear's birthday and that she can drop off no problem tomorrow.  I've booked it for the day after.  I have no idea what is happening.

I also realised that I haven't got much in the way of sweet treats in.  I'm going to have to bake.  I'm not sure about how that will work out.

On the bright side, I gave the lads some slices of apple cake I baked yesterday and it was demolished with enthusiasm.

I also found a tip that suggests that permanent marker could be removed by acetone or nail varnish remover.  It is actually a 'how to decorate glasses with chalk pen' thingy, but it suggests that you remove permanent marker with nail varnish remover.  The linky is here and I may have a further look on the general site, though I can't help wondering if the permanent marker thing is wishful thinking.  I may experiment with a marker, some polish remover and one of father's old handkerchiefs as marker on bear's school shirts is an issue.



Every little helps, lol.

My Mind May be Delivered Later

Yesterday I posted that the order I thought had been ordered for today was delivered yesterday.  I was appalled - there is no other way to describe it!  I honestly thought I was completely losing my marbles.  I had so much stuff I was planning on adding after I had had a think.  In desperation I added yet another order.  As it is my kitchen looks like someone has opened the ceiling and dropped stuff everywhere.  However there were some bits that I just needed.

This morning I was woken by a phone call from Tesco.  Their lovely customer service lady was checking that I did actually want this order, as one was delivered yesterday.  I was half asleep but managed to say very clearly - yes please!  I now suspect that there may have been a glitch, but it doesn't matter.  We will have a small excess of stuff, but it will be okay.

Actually, we already have a massive excess of stuff and I go in the kitchen and worry that I will never see the floor again.

I really resented being woken,even in a good cause, as I had a late night and couldn't sleep.  Then bear shouted me at 5am.  I stumbled into his room and looked at him, barely conscious.  He had managed to dislodge all his bedclothes and was covered by a very small corner of the quilt.  I tucked him back up and after clearly telling me he had had a nightmare, he went straight back to sleep.  Lucky him!

Last night I thought it was a good idea to pull out a load of furniture.  I am now typing in a half re-arranged room with piles of stuff everywhere.  I was sober when I did it as well, so I have no excuse.  I am starting to quite genuinely worry about my mental state.  And I need to try and fiddle around with the whole birthday outing thing.  But I have found the knitting pattern I was looking for, so that's a good thing.  There is always a silver lining.

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Has Anyone Seen My Mind

I've definitely lost my mind.  The delivery that I thought had rescheduled from 23rd to tomorrow arrived today.  This was a bit of a challenge, as I had no chance to sort out the final bits.  It's going to be a visit to the supermarket on Christmas Eve, I can tell.

I am all at sea.  I have no idea what I have got for anyone, and I bought something pink for a baby this morning - fortunately it was for a girl, but all bets are off.

My leg is very bad as well.

On the bright side, the banana bread that I made yesterday is not only flavoursome but a small slice is incredibly filling and will keep me going for some time.

Tonight I think I shall break out the alcohol.

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Another Fail

I just found out, after a careful question from DH, that I had booked bear's birthday treat at the same time as the Christmas delivery was due.  I've had to arrange the delivery for Monday.  I hope it will be okay.

This was after the appalling shock of realising that I had not booked enough seats at the pictures.  I still need to book the taxi.  I have no idea what I am doing at all.

I made an acceptable banana loaf today in the new combination oven, it worked very well.  I also tried the recipe for Milo cookies I found here.  Milo is a little like Ovaltine, a malted, chocolatey drink made with milk.  Bear loves it - but milky drinks don't always agree with him.  This seemed a great idea to use the tin up.  It didn't quite go as planned, as I left out the coconut and the result was no way firm enough to roll into balls as the video shows, so I put them in bun cases.  I've done this in the past with similar recipes.  The result is an incredibly sad looking, soft, melting cookie type cake.  Bear approved.  This is one of the few sad and lonely survivors


It looks flat and unlovely and is severely sunk, but apparently tastes just great.  I can't have any as Milo has gluten in, but bear is happy to demolish my share.

Progress of a Sort

Bless - we got an extra present for the little girl, we got an adult colouring book as I thought it may appeal.  We added it to the bracelet bear had already picked for his friend.  I would have taken a photo but it has her name on, and it is a delicate, gold coloured, nickel free bracelet.

Bear has progressed on the piano.  He has more or less mastered 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' but his attack on Jingle Bells need a lot more work.  We have neighbours and I feel for them.

I have even progressed slightly in the kitchen, but it still looks like a badly run depot for the disorganised.  I have got some stuff added to the Christmas order so that is more or less sorted.

I even have the left over soup from last night for lunch today.

Friday, 18 December 2015

Bear is Grounded

To be honest, it isn't a big punishment.  He desperately needs a quiet day doing little but potter around on the computer or colouring or reading because the term has been a long one.  However he is not used to being grounded.  He was concerned it would affect his computer privileges.

I let him off loss of computer time, but I stood firm.  He was being cheeky and trying out the whole concept of 'teenage bolshy'.  He is definitely challenging my authority and I consider that as I will one day be dealing with a fourteen year old possibly six inches taller than me and a good deal wider, I think I will exert my authority now.

I wish small boys came with a manual.

(he wasn't really that cheeky, he is still a sweetie)

Trying to Hold Firm

This is the time of year I traditionally panic and start worrying that bear has nothing for Christmas and his birthday.  As I have been less organised than normal I have no idea what I have stashed.  Darn.  I'm trying to resist planning to buy everything.  Bear doesn't need it.  Besides, his big Christmas gift is a kindle fire.  DH has set it up so we can present some gift vouchers to use on an Amazon Account.  I suspect £10 of apps will go a long way.

I've just had a delivery of unexpected vegetables.  The order I thought was going to come last week just arrived.  Unfortunately I had stocked up on veggies and I have no room.  I have no room in a barely functional freezer to do anything with them either.  I am considering digging a root cellar.

I am going to re-use last year's resolutions.  After all, there is no wear on them as I got nowhere with extremely sensible and suitable resolutions.   On the bright side, I'm excavating the table between two armchairs and I hope to be able to throw it out before DH gets home.

There are always glimmers of hope.  I have only forgotten one important Christmas card and hope that I can hand it out tonight at the last school pick up this year.  Otherwise bear went to school with what I hope is a complement of cards and no trouble.

Finding things tough.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Presents and Dilemmas

Bear has a girlfriend.  Yes, he is only nearly nine and she is the same age, but they have been going steady for some time, about two years, I think.  They look embarrassed at each other in the playground.  They play together now and again.  Bear thinks that she is wonderful.  From what her mother has said, it is mutual.  Her mother is lovely and also quite baffled.

I've taken the opportunity to ensure that bear treats his girlfriend well.  So he is nice to her or else!  This includes nice gifts, and I force him to pick a nice card.  He has bought an inexpensive bracelet for her for Christmas.  Okay, I bought the bracelet, but under his supervision.  I am doing my best to rear at least one young man who knows how to treat a lady.  I am not sure how well I am doing, but I am working hard at it.  So there is one, small, pretty gift for a very nice girl.

Today the lovely girl brought over the gifts for bear - two large packages for Christmas and two large packages for his birthday.  The bracelet is now looking a bit limp and small in comparison, and I am stumped.  Do I get an extra present tonight when I am going through the hell of last minute shopping on the way to and from maths?  Do I risk inflation of presents by getting an inexpensive bath set to go with it?

Bear will not hesitate to delegate this to me.  Things like presents and cards are something females do, and in a few years time it will be his girlfriend that is left to get me something.  However now is the perfect opportunity to show bear that the nearly nine year old equivalent of last minute flowers from the garage are not up to the job.

I am going to regret it

If I don't write bear's Christmas cards, none will get sent.  It is a family thing - I am desperately bad at writing cards and I am considering donating the vast stash and being open that I will make a donation to a charity each year instead.  I fail at Christmas cards in a big way.

I don't want bear to get sidelined because he hasn't sent cards.  I know that if I don't do them then they won't get sent as I didn't nag him early enough.  We are out tonight straight from school as it is bear's last maths lesson of the year and I also need to pick up some stuff on the way home.

The thing is, I don't want bear to think that writing cards is only for women.  I hope that one day bear will find a loving partner and be happy.  I want to be able to look them in the eye.  I know that bear has Views.  I know I have gone wrong somewhere, but bear is firmly convinced, despite my best efforts, that all the work around celebrations is definitely only possible by females.

Although bear is only nearly nine, and I've done my best, he is turning into a typical Yorkshireman.  He is very careful with his money, can talk utter rubbish with his pals just like the men in the pub, and girls are definitely the ones in charge of sorting out the social side.

Off to dig out the cards.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Kitchen is FULL

I can't move in my kitchen.  On one had it is in desperate need of a deep clean, sort out and shift around.  On the other hand, darn, it is full.  I have had an Approved Food delivery, Tesco deliveries and the stockpiling against small boys calling in over Christmas has mounted.

I had an epic FAIL with the Approved Food order.  I thought some cereal was gluten free and it wasn't.  I checked the website of the brand, but I think I got the wrong page.  I could cry.  I was really looking forward to the cereal as well.  Still, the food bank will benefit so that's something.

I have a mound of cheap cake bars, piles of veggies (that need using up!), huge bags of crisps (that if we were reasonable people would last until February but will be lucky to make it to January depending on the presence of small boys), sweeties, treats and fizzy pop.

However there is not much more to come, and the rain has stopped, and bear has had an awesome time with his pal yesterday, so things could be worse.  Tonight I will make Egyptian lentil soup in quantity and start bringing some order.

I have realised that the more I write, the more I get done in the house.  I am aiming for a thousand words today.  That will get enough energy to get several cupboards cleared and a good dust.  I'll share when I think it is worth it.

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

No Idea

I have no idea how much I have spent this year.  I'm not sure what's going on at all.  We have yards and yards and yards of tinsel, as bear requested.  Most of the food is sorted by either stashed or ordered.  I am hoping that I have remembered everyone.  If I haven't, well I haven't.  I took an online test about the cost of Christmas here.  I failed.  I have spent a fortune on bear.

Bear has completely forgotten about the strain in the trouser area so it wasn't that bad.  I expect it to make a reappearance around about bedtime as a delaying tactic.

Bear has a pal coming around tonight for tea.  I'm helping his mother out a little as she has to be in several places at once, but also the lad is utterly lovely and a good friend to bear.  If the mother saw the state of the study and living room at this moment she would never, ever allow the child across the threshold again so I had better get a move on.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Bear has Pulled a Muscle

It happened in Marks & Spencers of all places.

I had reluctantly taken bear in to get shoes as apparently his feet were going to drop off if he didn't get new ones.  I am suspicious that he is angling for football boots, but as he is never anywhere appropriate to wear them, that isn't happening.

We had a list.  We needed a candle to replace the one bear broke, and a present for his auntie, and we needed shoes and some snacks.  We had had an epic fail in Marks & Spencer when we looked for trainers there, so we decided to head out.  We had got to the top of an escalator and I changed my mind about which way to go and told him, 'hang on, let's go this way,' without realising he already had a foot on the step.  He got a bit stretched in the trouser area.

I wish you had seen how bravely the poor lad limped to the shop where we got his auntie some inexpensive earrings.  How strong he was as he fought to keep going as he struggled to the till to pay.  Not to mention how quickly he forgot he was supposed to be suffering when he saw a Doctor Who lego set in a shop window and rushed over to it!  I am still not sure which side of the trousers are affected.

At the moment he is either practicing being a goalkeeper with his father in his bedroom or a herd of mastadon are sweeping majestically across the plain.  I'm not too worried.

Memory

When children are little I am a great believer in the same things over and over again, especially at bedtime.  Bedtime has always followed the same routine, right from the first night we brought him home.  Bath, cuddle, story, songs, then sleep.  When he was a new born we carefully bathed him, gave him a bottle while DH read a story (yes, right from the first night), then I sang until he was ready for bed.  It has evolved so it includes time for bear to have a play with DH and the story is now a slightly more challenging read than the Gruffalo, but I keep the same five songs I have used for years.  I believe that the repetitive routine winds bear down for sleep.

When bear was about four or five he asked for a change of songs.  By then I had settled down into a few songs only, as when he was newborn I sang to him for hours.  So now he has a 'playlist' which is the cue for him to settle down and read himself to sleep.

Last night I decided to go back to some of the songs I used to sing years ago.  Bear was intrigued.  He couldn't remember the songs I sang when he was a tiny and I was getting him to sleep in the small hours.  However they were familiar to him, he almost knew them.  They were just on the tip of his tongue, like ghost memories.  They also seemed to comfort him.  He went out like a light.

One of bear's favourites - sung better than I can!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Flood has gone down

I went out to get photos and there was nothing to see.  The water had gone down and it was back to being a functional busy junction.



The beck is still very full.


I don't know if it is clear on the photo, but you can see the line the river got up to last night.

In other news, it was the first frost and there was ice on the pavements.  Once again I shall be walking like a duck.


Someone has moved in at the back.  I heard them swearing at the kids last night.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Bad Weather has Even Affected Here

I took some photos with my phone, but they didn't come out.  I'll try again tomorrow.

Just down from us is a beck which runs next to a dual carriageway.  Maybe a mile or two to the west is a small reservoir which is supposed to act as an overflow when the beck can't cope with the water.  I have been muttering for some time that it was silted up and filled with rubbish and that it would overflow.

It has overflowed.

The beck has reached the top of the arch of the bridge that takes the road at the end of our road over the beck.  The traffic lights at the junction are still working and there is a very fed up policeman the other side of the road directing traffic.  Last time quite a few houses were flooded out.  That was 2007.

It will probably go down quite quickly, and is incredibly unlikely to affect us even though it is only yards away, but rain is forecast for tomorrow.  I hope it will all be okay.

Just Thought

Bear's piano lessons continue, despite bear's best efforts and he did quite well this week.  He was slaughtering 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas' with more skill than usual.  He is not a child prodigy.

Then I realised.  This is the shape of Christmas Yet to Come.  Year after year of more and more carols treated in ways that are cruelty to piano.  It could be worse.  My poor mother had to listen to 'Away in a Manger' on the recorder year after year after year.  The recorder is particularly evil, and 'Away in a Manger' really didn't deserve what we did to it.

I have finished practically everything.  I have a few bits and then I am done.  Bear has far too much stuff (again), I have the Christmas pudding, the gluten free stuffing, frozen sprouts, brandy butter and a delivery booked for 23rd December.

Next week I'm sort of planning a deep clean of the house, but to be honest unless I pull myself together we are going to have a dust covered Christmas.  I still feel very blessed.

Friday, 11 December 2015

Another Fail Day

There is a hole near my house.  It's not exactly outside but along a few yards and I walk past it when I go to pick up bear.  Unfortunately a car reversed into the hole, one wheel got stuck in the very deep hole and it has taken most of the afternoon for them to get the car out.  There have been a lot of men standing round nodding seriously and wearing hi-vis vests.

I need to work out how to clean the pump in my dratted washing machine that I don't like anyway.  I suspect it may need pulling out.  It is a very tight fit and so getting the washing machine is a real challenge.  I need to find the manual first.  This is the manual didn't tell me that the dratted machine would darn well shut off and I had to twiddle the knob nicely to get it to work again - I found that out after I'd done everything up to changing the fuse!  All I know that it seems to be coming over all faint and keeps pausing with the 'clean pump' light on so I'll have to tackle it this weekend.

Bear is exhausted.  The school play has been demanding.  He was only singing in the chorus as well.  However there were performances Tuesday, Wednesday morning, Thursday morning and Thursday evening when bear didn't get home until 8:30pm.  Bear is often asleep by then, so I was prepared for a sleepyhead this morning.  I didn't count on being woken at 4am as bear had nightmares.  So we both had a broken night.  Bear will be fit for rags tomorrow and not much else.

I am not in a good place at the moment, so I am working on a 'pull myself together' plan.  I hope I will be back soon with a cheerful update

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Hit and Miss

Normal for me to be hit and miss, I know, but it may get worse.  I can't get Chrome to work on my laptop so I have lost all my bookmarks and I am communicating through a very shaky version of Firefox.

Darn.

I need to transfer large quantities of text to father's old laptop.  He bought it some time ago in an attempt to show willing, and he managed well enough, but he never really got into it.  So while it may be as old or older than my creaky current machine, it has less mileage.  My current one keeps dumping me off the internet and comes over all peculiar if it's unplugged.  It also has issues with the letter J and it's surprising how often I use it.  I know I have actually changed a character's name in something I'm writing because I'll rattle along and then have to back space and pound repeatedly until J appears. 

The whole creaky connection thing does make it a lot harder to chat to my friend eBay, but that's not a bad thing.

I went to see bear's school pantomime.  Bear will not take part for another few years, he is in year four and so in the choir while year six performs.  It was utterly awesome and I was incredibly impressed, not least by what I suspect was the massive effort from the staff. 

Bear is managing enough drama as it is without being in an actual play.  He had a hair cut yesterday, which was significantly overdue.  He has now suggested that I trim his fringe further.  I have two objections.  One is that the fringe is actually not that long and why didn't he say something to the hairdresser when he was there.  The other is that he went to an extremely skilful barber who does an amazing job for a very reasonable price and hacking at the fringe with kitchen scissors will do the cut no justice and him no favours. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Feeling Proud

Look at this...


The shirt on the left is one that bear started wearing last year, around September 2014, possibly as late as Christmas 2014.  The shirt on the right is one that has been washed for the first time and is new.  They are the same shade of white and I am so proud of myself.

I have had so many washing disasters, so many fails, but when I saw them hanging together looking equally clean I felt that I had actually had a win.  Most of last year's shirts survived equally white as well.  Bear obviously did his bit with pens, paint and mysterious brown stuff that would not wash out, but there has been a good survival rate.

I don't have a secret.  I could say that always doing a separate white wash and using white vinegar as fabric softener is the key.  I could praise Ariel, my soap powder of choice.  I could mutter about appropriate temperature and line drying.  I suspect that the reason that the two shirts are the same shade is luck.

Even though I still can't get the mysterious blue mark out of bear's otherwise brilliant white t-shirt (not shown) I feel pretty good and I'm holding on to that.

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Kitchen Happens

My kitchen is in a bad state.  There is stuff everywhere.  This is not helped by the latest delivery - a new sort of oven type thing.  It's actually a combination microwave/convection/grill.  It is like mission control.  I have no idea where to start.  It's got potatoes baking in it at the moment.

The microwave failed and I use the microwave enough to make it worth while replacing.  I also have been missing my mini oven and the gas oven doesn't bake properly.  I have been pottering around the various possibilities and thought that the cost (ouch!!) of the combination thingy was worth it compared to replacing the microwave and then the gas cooker.  The hobs work fine.

So I got this one here.



So far, so good.  It hasn't exploded.  It hasn't tried to tap into the internet and take over the world - yet.  That may be a possibility.  I have an oven that can out think me.

I think I'll just concentrate on clearing the decks for Christmas.

Monday, 7 December 2015

Ought!

I ought to be doing around elventy four things.  I could post a long list, but it would just depress everyone.  Mind you, I haven't even the get up and go to write a to-do list.  All I can see around me or hear in my head is that I ought to be doing this, I ought to be doing that, I ought to have sorted this, I ought to have replaced that, ought, ought, ought, ought.

So I am posting a very apt poem and hopefully I will be back tomorrow in a better frame of mind.

I Meant to Do My Work Today
by
Richard Le Gallienne

I meant to do my work today - 
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me.

And the wind went sighing over the land,
Tossing the grasses to and fro,
And a rainbow held out its shining hand - 
So what could I do but laugh and go?






Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bad Weather

My heart goes out to all those affected so badly by the storms and flooding.  It puts my minor niggles into perspective.

Tonight I am very grateful for a warm, dry home and power that is staying on.  

Saturday, 5 December 2015

A Day Out

I met up with my friend in Hebden Bridge.  The weather was wild, wet and windy and the river was full


We still had a wonderful gossip about everything and anything.

Hebden Bridge is a place with lots of very interesting hippy type shops, and we browsed them all, and all the charity shops.  I got a hoodie for bear, which I gave him straight away while it still fits him, a fake leather jacket which is not only gorgeous but immaculate but sadly is far too large for him.  However getting an immaculate, leather-look, Next jacket for £3.50 is worth seizing the moment and getting it to stash.  It is really nice.  I also picked up a book I shall probably give him for Christmas, which is book about football by Pele that was also incredibly inexpensive.

Tonight is a night to stay in, knit and listen to the storm.

Friday, 4 December 2015

When Will I Learn

A while ago I decided to buy some Christmas cards in January and stock up.  I found a whole slew of them at 99p plus reasonable postage for 100 cards, so I bid on them all, convinced I would maybe get one or two.  That is why I have literally hundreds and hundreds of good quality cards.  The cards will outlast me.

I also make a practice of buying wrapping paper on Boxing Day.  I've picked up some very good quality and elegant wrapping paper, that not only covers Christmas but is generic enough for all occasions, for a song.  The rolls of paper that were 10p a roll, well, I got an armful.  This is why when I cleared the space for the piano this summer I found over fifty rolls of wrapping paper.

I've found some bulk sales of tinsel for auction on eBay.  Please let me be outbid, please.  Otherwise there will be a very festive heap here and I've nowhere to put it.

The weather is very wild here.  I'm glad we're not on the top of the hill, or I would worry for the roof!

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Another Day

Thank you again for all the kind words and thoughts.  I have felt wonderfully hugged.  I am getting back to normal.

I have been to the doctor who said that I have a very bad cough.  It sounds horrific, it sounds like I am about to collapse.  However my lungs are lovely and clear.  So I have come away with a bottle of stomach medicine and an inhaler.  At least there is no sign of bacterial infection, as I was worried about bear catching something.  Bear has been practicing his cough, but it is still a supporting act to the drama that is the Sore Ankle.  This Sore Ankle is a strange beast.  It stops bear from being able to carry his dirty clothes downstairs, and leaves him limping bravely to school, but doesn't stop him playing football.  That is one child that is not getting drama lessons.  He really doesn't need them.

I'm considering some stuff on eBay.  I've seen the ideal door curtain that would match with nothing.  I'm not even sure that DH would like it.  On the other hand I haven't done anything crazy on eBay for hours.

I'm going away to sit on my hands.  If all else fails, there is the Nessie ladle.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Sorry

I've pulled myself together now, and I am really grateful for the kind thoughts and comments.

I did spend some time talking to my friend eBay.  Fortunately eBay didn't talk back to me so I didn't get anything silly.  I was tempted by a loch ness monster ladle, but I got past that.

Instead I did a little writing which always makes me feel better.  It's here, if you are interested, and while it isn't great, it did help.  All is well here.  Bear is complaining of mysterious aches and pains in an effort to avoid school, DH has his oIwn aches and pains and I'm doing alright.

I may yet go back to the loch ness monster ladle, though.  It looks like it may be actually useful.  In fact, it looks perfect to put on my Christmas wish list for my brother.

Grief

Last night I dreamt father died.  I visited him as he was dying and then he died and I organised his funeral.

He died July 28 2015.

Grief is a peculiar thing.  I don't suppose anyone reading this is surprised that it has hit me again.  The funeral directors thought I hadn't cried properly back in August and I don't suppose I have yet.

Today has been an epic fail on a heroic scale regarding anything except self pity.  I'm posting this because I am sure I am not the first one to be unexpectedly ambushed by grief, and I'm sure I won't be the last.  Sometimes it is good to see it in print, that you're not alone.

Really, I'm doing okay.  More or less functioning, more or less ready for Christmas, more or less okay.  I have a lot of good days, a lot of days with lots of fun.  The world is still an amazing place.  A lot of people are worse off, and I know that.

I am going off to read about predictions for the weather after Christmas.  I won't desperately believe any of them, but it's fun to think about it.  The berries think it's going to be a tough winter, but they've been wrong before.


That's the hawthorn a few yards down from the apple tree with two types of apple.  I wish I could tell father.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Paying Attention

Yesterday I wrote about the apples.  Today I was walking past on the way to the shop and I had my phone with me so I thought I would take a photo.  I looked down and saw lots of the big apples, and looked up again - and winced at what I had missed.  Most of the tree is crab apples, but there is one large branch coming off the tree that isn't but is heavily loaded with eating apples.  This is the best photo I could manage


If you look closely you can see lots of little, golden crab apples and a very large sweet apple, all on the same tree.

I remember a while back watching a programme on PBS (which you can get in the UK and is well worth watching) about Johnny Appleseed who went around the settlers in the Mid West selling apple seed and planting it.  However apples do not grow true from seed.  You can plant a seed from the most delicious apple you have ever eaten and anything could come up.  A lot of the seeds planted by Johnny Appleseed and the pioneers apparently did not bring up eating apples but they were okay to make hard cider, which led to problems with drunkenness, which led to the Temperance Movement, which led to all sorts.  Nowadays if you are growing commercial eating apples you choose a healthy rootstock, which could be a crab apple type, and graft a cutting of your choice of apple onto the stock.

I think that the apple tree here may have got confused.  It just goes to show how wonderful the world is.

By the way, I did some crafty conversions on the post following this, and I used Online Conversion.  They are awesome, and I now know where to go if I succumb to some of the absolutely gorgeous stuff on The Greater Good website which has some of the most amazing things but I would have to convert the clothing sizes.  The Online Conversion people not only convert litres to pints but have conversions for clothing and weight and if you look under miscellaneous there are calculations for radioactivity and armour penetration.

You Lot are Awesome!

In general, people who read and comment on this blog are awesome.  I've had a tough few years and this has been a safe place for me with incredibly supportive comments, good wishes and inspiration.  I am sincerely grateful.

And in particular today I am thanking Bless and Jean from the centre of Canada for their ideas in the comments of the last post.  I had never, ever heard of potato fudge nor had I heard of orange rolls.  I will investigate if I can get my act together this morning as I am feeling meh still.  I am not forgetting either (though I am not sure how safe I am with boiling sugar - it's worth a risk) and I am very grateful for the ideas.

I tried a new recipe last night.  It's supposed to be around fifteen minutes to make.  By the time I had faffed around it took much, much longer, but that is always true of a new recipe.  I had surplus lettuce from a delivery that needed using up so I tried Pea, Lettuce and Bacon soup.

You start by gently softening two large, finely chopped onions and 200g (around half a pound) of bacon.  I thought that sounded a lot.  Then you add 1.5 litres of stock (around three pints).  I thought that sounded a lot.  Then you add 1kg (around two pounds) of defrosted frozen peas and half of the finely shredded 1.2kg (about two and a half pounds) of lettuce.  How much?  I weighed my two lettuces.  It's winter and they were the inexpensive supermarket ones, so they weren't the fattest, but they only came to 365g.  Just around a quarter of what the recipe asked for looks like this.


It is a massive bowl full,  I just tipped it all in.  Then you simmer until the peas are soft, allegedly around five minutes, and then blend.  You add the rest of the the lettuce (I skipped this as I had none left), simmer through and then serve.

There seemed to be oceans of the stuff.  I checked and the recipe said that it served four.  I assume they meant four very large, hardworking men who had been on a starvation diet for a week.  If you look at how much stock alone, one and a half litres between four is 375ml or nearly three quarters of a pint.  We had gallons left (lunch is sorted).

It tasted gorgeous, really nice.  Both bear and DH would like it again, please.  Bear utterly cleared his large bowl full, which was impressive.  I'll do it in half quantities and I may well add a tiny drop of mint sauce and a few croutons.  I may also wait until summer when you get more lettuce to a head.