Wednesday 31 December 2014


Bear is continuing with Beast Quest.  He informed me with glee that there were 150 titles.  I didn't check.  Today I shall be read to - and if bear gets his way I will be read to all day.  There are worse things.  He currently the proud owner of the first 18 (a very good deal from the Book People a few years ago).  Further books will be contingent on good behaviour and possibly bear buying his own - he has £4 pocket money every week for a reason.  That reason is that bear learns to save and prioritise his spending.

Tomorrow in my quest to save pennies I will start the New Year by checking online every day.  It will keep my spending in check.  I have made the list, but I am seeing that as a starting point.  Just checking the account first.

The other thing I need to do is make a spreadsheet of the contents of the cupboards, and that is a quest of feature film proportions.  I threw out bag after bag after bag a few months ago, but I need to know what I have.  I could do with a really clear list so I know when to take advantage of the sales and when to let them go as some sales are better than others.  I want to sort through the kitchen stuff anyway.  I have a lot of pyrex that I am not currently using and I could do with the space.  I could do with a few less oven trays as well.

However my first big quest of the year is the walk in cupboard.  It is about three metres or so long, about a metre and a half wide and is full.  It is disorganised, it is messy and it is stuffed beyond reason.  That is my first quest.  Heartbreakingly, there are two sets of golf clubs in there, belonging to father.  I know he will never, ever use them again.  I can't bear to get rid of them without his permission - that would be so wrong.  I can't bear to ask him to get rid of them while he is still so fragile.  And I could really do without the dratted things.  I can work round them.  As they are in front of stuff that hasn't seen the light of day for around three years, I think that those shelves are going to get emptied first.  Then next weekend, the tip.

The walk in cupboard may not be as fierce as the quests that bear is reading about, but I bet some of those heroes would rather fight a dragon.

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Bear's Birthday Happened

I don't know how much longer we will be able to do this, but bear had quite an inexpensive birthday.  He had a massively huge pile of presents, all stacked and tempting.  He was thrilled with all of them.  However while there were a lot of presents they included a separately wrapped fancy eraser, a wavy ruler, a small puzzle book and lots of little bits like that.  Bear is set up until next year.  He also got a box of 'action soldier dolls' which definitely are nowhere near the action man copyright, honest, with a zillion little bits (I shall be using at least one of the sweet boxes for those) and has been playing solidly with them all this morning.

One of the biggest stacks was books.  They were all new which seemed a little odd to me, because most of my childhood books were second hand.  However it is a lot easier to get hold of books these days.  Back in the early seventies, when I was bear's age, it was hard to get hold of books.  We lived in a small town and getting hold of affordable books was tough.  Now it is a lot easier.  Apart from Amazon there is ebay, a lot more charity shops and even supermarkets.  Most of bear's books came from The Book People who do very inexpensive books and are on TopCashBack.  It is less expensive than Amazon for some stuff and certainly cheaper than a charity shop.

Bear opened one package of books and was delighted.  "Beast Quest!  They're contraband in school!"  I immediately started to panic - had I bought illegal or inappropriate books?  "Why are they contraband?"
"They are only for Year 5&6," bear said happily, "And I can read all these."
I breathed a sigh of relief.  They are not as advanced as that.  They are designed for 'reluctant readers' and bear isn't.  They are fine for him.  Apparently there are 82 of the things, and they follow the formula of hero + villain + monster + treasure.  It sounds perfect for a young lad.  Bear has already read one.  The 114 pages have the text quite thinly spread, so it isn't quite as impressive as bear would like to think.  However it keeps bear happy and that is good enough for me.

Sunday 28 December 2014

Containing myself

The thing about Christmas goodies is that a lot of them come in 'added value' packaging.  They have cute boxes or tins with pretty pictures, and I always think to myself, well, that is bound to come in useful.

They don't come in useful.  The biscuit tins and the tins of sweets and the fancy soaps all leave their boxes behind - and they breed.  They sit on shelves gathering dust and multiplying.  They clog up shelves and the backs of cupboards and I never seem to really use them.  I have a gorgeous sort of roll thing that I got smellies in from father years ago.  The smellies went a long time ago but the roll has been a fixture ever since, holding stitch holders, safety pins and tape measures ever since.  That is an exception.

A few years ago I threw out about a dozen biscuit tins, relics of Christmas and gifts from well meaning friends.  Nothing happened.  The earth did not open and I did not discover a zillion things that needed to be organised in tins.  An awful lot of them end up donated to Nice Mr Next Door (his wife is going to hunt me down and take dreadful revenge for the increase in his clutter one day) to hold screws and things.  I still end up tempted.

The thing this year that is calling to me is the wooden box that is currently holding the ravaged remains of chocolate ginger.  It is a cute, softwood box with a pretty design on it.  It would be such a shame to throw it out.  However I have been fooled like that before.  The box has thirty days to find a use, then it is out.  The clock is ticking.

Thank you for the good wishes.  Father has pneumonia but is looking better.

Saturday 27 December 2014

Need to get Perspective

I know lots of people are having a hard time, and I know that I am very lucky, but I'm finding things tough.

Father has been taken into hospital - in the next town.  The nursing home is on the border between the two towns and as things fell out father went to the next town.  I got the call at 7am.  I got bear up, let DH get up, cancelled our trip to visit my brother, got the bus to the next town, then another bus fifteen minutes out of town to the hospital, then I found that father had been sitting in A&E for hours and didn't have his glasses, so I got the bus back to town, then the bus to the nursing home to pick up his glasses, then I caved and got a taxi back to the hospital - £10!

Father is on oxygen, a drip to give him IV antibiotics, anti nausea drugs and to re-hydrate him and is not really in a good way, a bit out of himself.  Eventually I got three buses to get home.  I am a bit reassured about the fares as the insurance of the person that wrote our car off will pay up some of our expenses.  Tomorrow is Sunday, during the Christmas holidays.  I think it is going to have to be taxi both ways which is likely to be expensive.

It looks like father will be in for a few days.  Bear is upset and DH is stressed.  I am feeling a bit run down.  But things could be a lot worse.  I need to get upbeat, for father if nothing else.  So if my next post is gloomy, kick me!  Father is in the best place possible and I am home, warm and safe.

I hope 2015 picks up.

Friday 26 December 2014

Resolutions Coming Up

I'm determined about this, I am going to make and keep good New Year's Resolutions.  I've got a page with them on, and I'm starting to get to work.  I'm not going to try and do it all at once - that way lies madness - but I'm going to take one resolution a week and start building it into my routine.

Week One of the New Year starts on 5 January for me, and the first thing I am doing is going for the 5 a day.  The NHS recommend that we eat five portions of fruit and veg every day, as a way of warding off cancer and other disease.  So I started there, a governmental health department that is pushing healthy eating to try and reduce having to pay for diabetes, heart attacks and cancer.  The NHS guidelines are here.

I was a bit low.  I was hoping to try and get my five a day easily.  Not a chance.  Breakfast was easy.  I normally am barely conscious until 10am, so breakfast is a packet of unbuttered oatcakes.  Right, add a tablespoon of raisins and that will be an inexpensive, tasty add on and there is even extra nutrition in the form of iron there.  Portion one sorted.  I could have a glass of juice (further glasses may be taken but wouldn't count) and I can get pure juice from Tesco, their Everyday pure orange is 65p for a litre, and that should manage me and bear at least.  I could have an apple with my lunch and I was sorted, and I'm always generous with veg at dinner.

That is when I came up against it.  The standard portion of something like sweetcorn is something like 3 tablespoons.  It wouldn't all fit on the plate!  I found a few places, but this one here looks okay.  The NHS guidelines are here.  A portion of celery is three sticks.   I will never manage three sticks of celery!  I'm not that keen on one.

I'm going to go away and think about this some more.  I will, of course, share.

Financial resolutions have started now.  We are going to have to find a lot of money to replace the car.  It is going to wipe us right out, and we already have one holiday already booked and to pay for.  We had years left in a really good, reliable car and now we will have to top up the payout, pay any excesses, run round and get hire cars and generally have a drain.  It is a great focus to concentration - and I am looking forward to it!

Contented and Calm

I feel contented and calm, and I am cherishing it.

We visited father and uncle, who were fine.  We cooked dinner, and only had a little bit left over, which is a massive improvement.  We watched Doctor Who and were terrified, and after bear flaked out we cuddled for a lovely Christmas.

Bear was utterly thrilled with the rubber gloves.  They are, according to him, gloves of power and who am I to argue.  He did very well with his presents.

I had managed to buy a load of Skylanders from a neighbour.  Rather than wrap them and add them to the stash, DH palmed a few and scattered them around, a few at a time.  Bear was delighted to keep finding cunningly hidden Skylanders, and prowled around as DH palmed a few more and I worked on misdirection.  Bear was enchanted that he kept coming back to one particular box and finding yet another one.  Regrettably he worked out where we had got them, but he is not one to complain if it is second hand, in fact he found it added to the magic.

Today I will be queuing up the next few months of Light and Shade Challenges, watching tv, cuddling bear and DH and generally having a quiet time.  We still don't know what is going to happen with the car, so we have all that to worry about, but we can't really do anything today so we are just going to take this time to recharge and enjoy.

I was considering calling into Matalan and picking up some clothes for bear for next year in the next size up, but to be honest, I am not sure I will bother.  I suspect he has quite a lot of growing room in his clothes, and I don't want to risk misjudging a growth spurt.   I think I will have to give up on that tactic.

Sending hugs to everyone.

Thursday 25 December 2014


Bear caught me moving the gym bag stuffed with goodies that Santa left from the floor to the bed.  He has been up on the hour every hour since.  6.30am I caved and we are now downstairs.  Bear is having a marvellous time, even though I am the cruellest mother in the world for not allowing bear to open anything else until DH comes down.

I am letting DH sleep after yesterday - someone one ran into the back of him at traffic lights and while DH was unhurt it looks like the car is a write off.  As is the bottle of whisky he had in the boot.  I would rather the whisky went than DH.  I am going to make a huge fuss of him today.

Now I need to go and help bear work out the lock on his amazing Doctor Who locking notebook.  I can see me doing a lot of that today.  It's absolutely wonderful.  All in all, we are blessed.

HAPPY CHRISTMAS and thank you to everyone for reading and for the support.  I always feel lucky that you stop by.  I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Wrapping Presents

I think I may have got a bit carried away.  Bear did get something extra at the last minute which rather blew the budget, but he has had such a rough time with lots of different things and we caved.  A week ago DH was asking if we had enough for him and did we have a 'star' present each for Christmas and birthday.  Last night I got all the presents I've stashed out.

DH watched as I brought out carrier bag after pile after box.  "I thought you were only getting a few bits" He said as he looked at the massive heap.  And they were only a few bits each grocery shop but it sort of got away from me.  There was the cute little notebook with a tiger shape on it, that was 50p, and the sun catcher kit that was £1.50, and the post it notes weren't much.  The kit to make your own rocket pack with two pop bottles was £3.50 but there was a deal where if you bought four of some little bits you got the cheapest free and there were other bits, like the geometry kit that he is almost certainly too young for.

This is the notebook I got, along with three other bits along with my Tesco delivery.  Tesco had quite a lot of nice bits in their Go Create range with the deal and I took far too much advantage, just a little bit each shop.

We spent some time dividing the spoils between the 'stocking', Christmas and Birthday.  Bear's 'stocking' is the gym bag he will use next year and is red with a Dalek on it.  It is full of glitter pens and coloured pencils with of course a puzzle book - I got quite a bit from the local lovely newsagents as well - and will keep bear stocked for the year.

I wrapped all bear's presents from 'Santa' and used nearly 32p worth of paper.  It was 8p per roll last year and they weren't small rolls.  I was quite impressed that it turned out so well.  It is quite long, and while not top quality is reasonably sturdy.  I picked up as many rolls as I could last year, I think just before New Year when Morrisons were clearing out their Christmas stuff.  I won't need to buy any more for next year.  It almost makes up for the way I have gone giddy for bear.

Of course the majority of his gifts are books.  At his age I would have been appalled to be presented with books about maths, but I am confident that bear will be thrilled.  The Book People have provided with some incredibly reasonable prices, and I know he will love them.  I am saving the Brer Rabbit collection and Beast Quest books for his birthday.  I'll be starting on his birthday wrapping on Boxing Day.  That will give me time to find the glow in the dark solar system (£3 from Wilkinsons) and the geology kit that was a bargain from ebay which I remembered last night I hadn't seen.

Father was poorly last night.  They have had a GP out for him, and while his chest is clear he is bringing up a lot of food and he was very warm indeed.  He seemed to be a bit away with it and kept asking what day it was.  I am not coping very well so I am wittering on about presents and wrapping paper and trying not to cry in front of bear.  Father will be well soon, I am sure, and DH is visiting on his way home.  We will all call in tomorrow.

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Bearing up

Bear has been happening.  He has finished painting the wooden train as a gift for uncle (who loves trains) and has 'cleaned up'.  The bathroom looks like an explosion in a paint factory.  He has also happened to the suncatcher he was supposed to be making for father which has proved sadly inadequate.  There is the liquid lead stuff everywhere and as bear indignantly exclaimed, 'It is supposed to be for over threes and I am nearly eight!'  This nearly fifty something had enough problems.

He has been hovering around a package that I refuse to allow him to open until Christmas, has been relentlessly deconstructing the sofa and has been suffering from acute hypochondria at the thought of actually leaving the house to visit father.  To be fair, bear has hardly been able to force himself to eat sweets, but I am not entirely convinced.

He has managed to force down some Mathesons Fridge raiders.  I was having a quick sweep of the fridge when I found a pack of three and they run out of date today.

I got the photo from the Tesco website.  I am not hugely keen on them, but as bear has been incredibly picky and I was getting desperate for something that wasn't 70% sugar I got them in.  I explained to bear that they needed using up.  Bear pulled them out of my hand.  "They expire today?  What time?"

He actually checked on the package for a time they expired and was wolfing them down so that he could finish them off before 4.15pm.  I think I need to have words with him about food expiry dates.  I mean, I am fairly cautious about chilled processed stuff but there is reason in all things.

Then bear got indigestion from cramming the fridge raiders down himself so bear managed to have a desperately dramatic howl about that and flop onto the sofa, dislodging all the cushions again.

We now have to leave the house to pick up flowers for father.  I am bracing myself.

Every Year...

I am due a delivery this morning, the last before Christmas.  And just like every year I worry and think, 'is this enough?'

The cupboards are FULL.  The kitchen is FULL.  I cannot empty the dehumidifier in the walk in because presents have got stashed near there and the freezer is absolutely FULL.  I don't know that I will be able to actually find room for the delivery.  It is the same as every year and every year I have the nagging doubt that somehow my family will somehow starve to death during the brief flicker of time the shops are shut.

And the awful question - will bear feel like he has had a good Christmas?  At the moment I cannot move for bits - you know, the bits like the quirky notepad or the 'make your own rocket pack' kit.  I also have a load of stuff for bear to have from father, including a 'grow your own crystal monster' kit and a 'balloon helicopter kit', neither of which were very expensive but all are piled up all over.

I am so tired that I am floating, but can't sleep.  Yesterday I took a phone call from one of father's friends from Church.  I didn't know what to do, leave the room and let bear worry about what was being said or hear me trying to let father's friend know that if father feels he can't come home ever then there is a good chance he will just give up and go.  Bear is high on my worry list.

I am focusing on New Year, New Start.

Monday 22 December 2014

Lots of Weather

There is a lot of weather.  I had the gas fire on earlier but I turned it off when I realised how the wind was rattling down the chimney.  We can stick to an electric fire for now.  To be honest, I'm just glad I don't live near tall trees.  The weather forecast is not optimistic.

My shopping sins came to haunt me.  I now have 110cm by 360cm of very fine, gauzy fabric in a sort of naive/aboriginal/cave painting print that was remarkably inexpensive.  It looks like an elderly roll end.  I clicked on 'bid' before thinking it through, thinking that because of the price it was a small piece that could look quite 'arty' if it was framed.  I officially now have no idea.  I can't hang it at the windows, my windows are the wrong size, and it is far too gauzy for cushions, and those are the two main uses I have for fabric.  I am sure I will come up with something - it is too lovely not to use.

Bear is upstairs painting a model train to give to uncle.  Bless him, bear was supposed to assemble the model but it was a bit beyond his patience.  I don't have the nerve to look at paint happening.  To be honest I don't have the nerve to see if my pvc tablecloth is surviving in the tumble drier (long story).

I think I will stay safe and not look at anything for a bit.  

Sunday 21 December 2014

Looking on the Bright Side

Bear was discussing what he wants from Santa.  'I hope he brings a replacement Maverick nerf gun, because mine has broke.' he said airily.
Through gritted teeth I said that Santa probably didn't know about the broken Maverick, but he was bound to get some money for his Christmas and birthday and together with his pocket money he can save up for a new Maverick.
"You know what happens when it's your birthday, don't you?" DH asked jovially.
"I have to do chores." Bear said instantly.

Sigh.  Yes, when he turns eight bear will have defined chores that he is responsible for as well as keeping his room tidy.  He will be responsible for emptying the wastepaper bins in the living room and study and letting me know when he is running low on liners.

What DH was mentioning is that bear's pocket money goes up.  He gets £1 per year of his age per week, but half of that has to go straight into savings.  Soon bear will be in possession of a whole £4 per week, which I think is very generous.  Mind you, I make him save up for stuff he wants.

I really need to get bear looking on the brighter side of life.

Saturday 20 December 2014

Christmas Shopping.

I have just been to the local shopping centre.  I am sitting and recovering.  All the stuff that is piled up.  Just piles and piles and piles of stuff that will need dusting and washing and putting away, just for the sake of giving a present.  I was looking for something for my sister in law from bear (looong story but this is definitely, absolutely definitely, the last time he gets away with farming out his present shopping on me) and I noticed that BHS had some very nice looking chilli sauces in a fancy pack.  They would be just the trick, I thought, then realised that I was looking at paying £4 each for three very small bottles of sauce, £12 in total.  The packaging may be fancy but the price of the actual oil per ml was a rip off!  And don't get me started on the mounds of fancy packaging we need to squeeze into the rubbish on Boxing Day.  All because you 'ought' to give a present.

And speaking of price per ml, I needed rum for Christmas.  I know that there will be days coming up that will definitely be improved by the addition of rum, and I will be better company for it.  And that is where the comparison labels come in, because per ml the standard Sainsburys rum was cheaper than the basics if you bought a litre - and I think that I will need a litre at least.  It really does pay to read the label!

I may get bear to make home made garlic and chilli oil for sister in law next year.  It will be considerably easier on my nerves.

Friday 19 December 2014

Another for the 'Get Sorted' List

I need to get a grip on my shopping.  I'm not as bad as many - and I'm a lot better than some - but I need to process.  Mind you, I've been up with a poorly bear every night this week so I can excuse some lapses.

I was buying presents on behalf of father for ladies.  There were three ladies in question.  In M&S you could buy an item of jewellery and get the second item half price.  This would only work if there were four ladies, not three.  Otherwise I would be missing out on a bargain.


Sigh.  I got four.  However as I trundled home on the over stuffed bus I realised that there was a fourth lady, and it was just as well.  It would have served me right if I hadn't thought of them, it is embarrassing that I fell for a trick like that.  If I had bought three necklaces at £15 each, with the buy one and get the second half price, I would have spent £37.50.  I actually bought four and spent £45.  I spent £7.50 more than I needed to (okay, in this instance it was a lucky fluke as I realised that there was actually a fourth lady, but only later).

I got the picture from the M&S website - I think it is the same one but I got it in four different colours and they all look beautiful.  I was tempted for myself, but at least I resisted that temptation.

I need to get a better grip on my shopping.

Thursday 18 December 2014

Snoring Giant

DH and I both agree, somewhere in the block of houses there is a giant snoring.  There is this sort of low, grumbling, rumbling sound heard distantly for a few seconds, then a pause, then another low rumble, then another pause.  The snoring giant is the only thing that makes sense.

Actually I wish it was something that interesting.  In reality I am torn between one of the neighbours having a new tumble dryer near the pipes or Nice Mr Next Door having something mechanical going on.

Which reminds me that it is time to read 'The Selfish Giant' to bear again.  It is a real favourite of mine and it is a great time of year to revisit it.

Wednesday 17 December 2014

Bear knows Things

Jean - bear confidently pointed out Canada.  I was proud.

Finding tissues for a snotty nose seems to be a bit more of a challenge for him, but that's nearly-eight year old boys for you.  I shall have to soak his jumper sleeves.  Finding his shoes in the morning, finding the vital lost toy that he absolutely has to have now, finding the food on his plate and eating it before he gets treats - they're all a bit of a challenge, but finding Canada is no problem.

Things could be a lot worse.

And does it fit?

I found an old Spiderman onesie of bear's as I was clearing out the dining room and asked him to try it on.  Bear was adamant that it fits.  Okay the legs are practically at his knees and the sleeves are almost at his elbows, but it fits, and it fits well enough for Christmas Day, thank you, so much, mother!  I'm leaving him to it.

I read Jean's comment on the last post with a sort of wince - I can't argue with it.  I remember once getting a huge colouring set for DH's niece and his sister's face falling.  They had been trying to explain to their daughter that even though she asked for it (with a lot of other stuff) she couldn't have everything she asked for, and then we walked in with it!

Bear, to be fair to him, hasn't asked for much this year and apart from the latest unexpected meltdown has been fairly laid back.  It's like the onesie - he remembers who gave it him, and when he wore it at happy times and what he means in connection with people.  That means the onesie, and the gifts, aren't about the monetary value but about the fun and the emotional connection.  It's one of the reasons that gifts from father are to be unwrapped at father's and be stashed at father's - it is as much for bear as it is for father.

Mind you, having a mental tally of all the (actually quite inexpensive at the time) stuff all over the house, he's not exactly short.  There will be towers of stuff, a lot of it books but plenty of fun and fuss for his Christmas and Birthday.  I don't think he will feel like a deprived child when he gets back to school after the break.

Tuesday 16 December 2014

That time of year

Last night bear fell apart.  He really, really, really, really wanted a particular toy and it was too late to tell Father Christmas.

This happens every year.  We get to the fortnight before Christmas when the deliveries are booked up and suddenly bear has a desperation for something that I had no idea he wanted.  If he hadn't been born just a few days away from Christmas I could say soothing things about 'perhaps for your birthday' but there just isn't time.

It also upsets my shopping strategy.  I spend most of the late summer and autumn watching ebay and amazon, picking up the bargains and stashing stuff away.  I am happy to get second hand stuff and if I ever got near a charity shop I would be happy to pick stuff up there as well.  Not all of my growing pile is new.  As far as I am concerned, books may or may not be new but the words are still in the same order.  I have an awesome cyberman voice changing helmet that I managed to snaffle for a very reasonable price indeed that is second hand and I know bear will be thrilled.  I also get a surprising number of stocking fillers with my grocery delivery - it really is worth a rummage.  Buying something at full price with full postage brand new seems to go against the natural order.

However I am confident that bear is getting money - my guess is that he will have around £80 in money so while I may not be able to give him everything he wants for Christmas (which isn't necessarily healthy anyway, within reason), I am sure bear will be able to practise being canny in the sales.  After he has put some in the bank!

Monday 15 December 2014

Decorations Up!

We are always the last in the street to put up decorations.  Mind you, Nice Mrs Next Door usually has hers up midway through November so it is a bit of a challenge if I want to get anything up earlier.
Speaking of Nice Mrs Next Door, I suspect that one day she will hunt me down - I keep giving her husband stuff.  We have finally got rid of a unit that has been in bear's room and the living room on and off since bear was a baby.  It was one of the few bits of furniture that we bought because we were having a baby and looked a bit like this

And it did very well for years.  However now it is getting rickety, shaky and I want less storage.

It may sound a bit odd, but I am certain I want less storage.  If I have less storage, I have less room for stuff and if I have less stuff then I have an easier time cleaning, promoting air flow and generally finding lost things.  I have less clutter magnets and I have to deal with stuff there and then, not put it down in a 'safe place' to deal with 'later'.  Just by getting rid of the unit we have made a space where the small table used to be as it is now holding the router, the Wii and the Christmas Tree instead of the unit, but it is a lot smaller and there just seems to be more air.

I saw Nice Mr Next Door this morning and mentioned that we were going to take the unit to the tip, but 'you can have it if you want it'.  Actually Nice Mr Next Door could think of a dozen uses so he would happily take it, thank you.  He's done it for spare tools (for the scrap), bits of furniture, old duvets and rags.  His wife has been less impressed.  I've just noticed some wire that we don't need and it would be a shame not to pass it on to someone who could use it.  I just need to make sure that Nice Mrs Next Door isn't looking.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Snotty Bear

Bear is completely full of cold and sniffles.  Fortunately it helped that when he did finally get to sleep last night he slept deeply.  There was a party in the house behind and trust me, Elvis singing that he wants to be my Teddy bear at 120 decibels at 3am does not put me in a good mood.

To be honest I am not sure what is happening with the neighbours.  They are a large family in the house at the back, the same family also rent the house next door but two, and they seem to spread between the two houses.  For the last week I have noticed them carrying furniture backwards and forwards, I have no idea what is going on.  They have been having some storming arguments, though.    There are a lot of scurrilous rumours going around about them, but apart from playing 'Stand by Your Man' at ridiculous times and at volumes that would kill small animals, and knocking on the door asking to 'borrow' milk they have been okay with me.

I've started making a list to use to get myself sorted.  I was determined to have a good start on New Year's Eve and just put in some spade work.  Why am I not so surprised that I spent yesterday afternoon not only sorting out some boxes that have been untouched since bear was at nursery but also shredding a load of correspondence that had built up since July.  Still, it has made a dent in the outstanding work and I have a few bits for my task list.  I am still haunted by clearing correspondence that my mother had hoarded for twenty years, some of it junk mail that just had never been opened.  The filing system is on the list.  I still bitterly regret losing the two four drawer filing cabinets at the time bear was born, but I can work round the two drawers I have now.  Lots of people manage very well with less.  I can't find the system that lovely Morgan sent me.  I shall have another rummage around.

So I am off to keep bear topped up with buttercup syrup and cuddles.  

Saturday 13 December 2014


I really needed a lie in, I really, really needed a lie in.  Yesterday I had been barely able to move.  I have been so run down this week.  DH always gets up with bear on a Saturday, always lets me have a lie in just as he gets a lie in on Sunday if he wants.  This morning was a very necessary lie in and I was counting on it.

Bear was calling for me, not daddy, at 7.30am because he was distraught and bereft - he had dropped his pen top and couldn't find it.  He was absolutely beside himself.  I think he is really ready for the holiday.  I had a rummage under his desk and I realised that not only could I not find the dratted lid to his pen but also that I really needed to scrape down under bear's desk on a more regular basis, it was a midden.  The reason he asked for me was because he was worried that DH would be cross at the state of the floor under his desk.  To be fair to bear, DH had been a bit fed up about the state of the surface of bear's desk last night.  To be fair to DH, he is a lot softer on bear than I am, and actually found the pen top when I couldn't.

It was just as well I was up.  The shipping order from Approved Food arrived.  In a few hours the Tesco order with all the goodies in will arrive.  I may have got a little carried away.  The kitchen is going to be jammed.  I have just been pootling adding stocking fillers to the Tesco order that will come next week.  Due to the unfortunate accident when we got stuck with putting out a pillowcase, bear now expects to have a gym bag appear by Christmas morning that will hold his PE kit at school for the next twelve months.  This year I have found one that has a Dalek on.  They take more filling than I would like, but I am confident bear will be fine.

I have decided to add 'Get the Kitchen Sorted Out' to the 'Get My Self Sorted' list.  However I think the next step I need to take is to organise what I am going to do and how.  And I can do that while drinking tea and feeling virtuous.  Off to start that now.

Friday 12 December 2014

Much as Expected

In my last post I mentioned that I find it impossible to make a decision to do something and stick to it.  I pressed post and went downstairs to do some ironing...

... and sorted out the cutlery drawer.

To be fair, it has needed doing for some time.  When father moved in with us he brought a lot of stuff from his house.  I didn't want to feel he and his stuff wasn't valued, so I put a lot of his cutlery and bits and pieces in the cutlery drawer as a sort of reassurance to him.  Today I threw out a load of rubbishy stuff, like the blunt peeler and the plastic forks that bear used when tiny as well as some frankly iffy stuff that I remembered from nearly fifty years ago and put some other perfectly good stuff that was surplus but may well be needed later in a box and put that away.

I am now going to put a note in Google calendar to remind me in six months time.  If I haven't used the items then I won't need them and I can throw them out/donate them.

Another 'must' - I need to actually use Google calendar.

New Year's Resolution

I've come a long way in the last few years.  The house is a lot emptier.  It's not empty, nor is it clear and I couldn't answer for clean, but it is emptier.  Random shopping still happens, but with decreasing frequency.  I am no longer on antidepressants and I am physically more active than I have been for years.  That is, I am not very physically active.  I really am not, it is shameful how little I move, but it is an improvement.  I have survived the last eighteen months and I am quite proud of that, though I think it was more by luck than judgement - also prayers and support from lovely people, I can't take any credit but I can certainly give it.  I also must say that the last eighteen months have been tough, but I am very aware that other people have it tougher.  I wouldn't repeat the last year and a half if I had a choice, but I know very well that it could have been a lot worse.

However now I am in a slightly better place and I am taking stock.  The first big problem I have is that I am rubbish.  I can't decide to do something and then just do it.  If I decide that the next day I will be changing the beds you can bet the mortgage that the beds will be unchanged but I may have randomly cleared a cupboard.  It isn't helpful.

I was considering my options and I have decided that I am going to try and get my New Year's Resolutions set up and ready to go.  My normal attitude is that it doesn't have to be a special day to start something, but I think this time it may be helpful to have a 'start'.  The first line of my New Year's Declaration of Becoming Competent is:

Learn to Just Do It

That's a tough challenge, but there are a lot of resources out there.  Other goals, in no particular order are:

Lose weight
Eat healthily
Be more frugal
Get/keep the house clean
Finish up the outstanding projects
Learn to sew
Write more
Be more active
Sort Finances
Sort out the garden
Be more organised
Visit father and uncle more
Be a positive influence
Be better groomed
Sell or donate things no longer wanted
Redecorate the entire house - unfortunately actually needed and not exaggerated.

 They are all extremely vague and sweeping, but all increasingly important to me.  I'm going to spend what is left of this year trying to organise them and set realistic goals, with small, defined steps.  Posting on here will help me keep myself to account.  I'll share in the hope that others who read could possibly learn from my mistakes and I'm sure I'll find the humour in the situations.

Sarah - thank you, your comment brought a lump to my throat and really helped.  Thank you.

Thursday 11 December 2014

Bear's school play

We have just been to bear's school play and it was wonderful.  The kids were great, the music and costumes were great and only one child had a nervous breakdown.  It really did look like an absolute meltdown where they tried to hide during a dance routine, poor lad.  Bear was in the choir with the rest of his year.  I have two more years before bear has the chance to learn lines.  He was delightful and I was so happy to see him.

I've once again been caught between the duty to my father and duty to my son.  Bear really needed our support at the school play, but my father was being taken to hospital to have an electric wheelchair sorted out on the same morning.  Today bear's need won, but I didn't like the feeling.  I don't think that I could have easily got to the relevant hospital by 8.30am regardless, which made the decision easier.  It is a scary thought that father could be off and out on his wheelchair with no warning.

I'm about to hit the 'panic buying because bear won't have many presents' stage, I can tell.  I've just received fifty candles which I didn't remember ordering.  I think we all need a quiet Christmas.

Wednesday 10 December 2014

Bear has a balloon.

Actually, after much pleading and persuading and me finally remembering, bear has a packet of balloons.  Balloons have been blown up, released, blown up, released, squeaked, rubbed and bounced.  I think I shall start keeping a stock in - balloons aren't very durable here.

Mind you, the bright idea he had about filling the balloon in the sink and then pouring it out in the bath was not a success.  I am testing out the fifteen minute wash cycle on the new washing machine with the soaked towel, cloth and bath mat.

Of all the things he could be happening to, a soaked bathroom floor isn't the worst.  There are two crystal growing kits in bear's Christmas/birthday present pile.  I think I'll have more to worry about with them.

Monday 8 December 2014

I have a washing machine!!!!

I am happy, I have a washing machine, it washes, I am a happy bunny.  It has been on relentlessly since it was delivered.

Also, I have been a bit thoughtful about potatoes.

I have bought in Tesco own brand potato waffles for the kids when bear has had friends for tea.  The linky is here

At the time of typing they are £1 for a box.  They would easily do us as a family two meals, or cover quite a few of bear's meals, are gluten free, very quick to prepare, and not unpleasant to eat.  The value potatoes are £1.18 for enough that will do three meals now that father isn't here (I am generous with potatoes) but take a lot more preparation and energy to cook.  If I was on a pre-pay meter I would get the waffles every time.  They do not sprout and turn green if for any reason we don't use them up, and the cardboard is waste which I can recycle, but I do not have a compost bin for the potato peelings.  There is a lot of waste with the value potatoes, I normally go for the £1.75 pack as the quality is significantly better.

I don't think I am ready to ditch potatoes completely, but I am definitely weighing up getting more of these in as a standby.

It is a bit worrying, though, that processed and pre-prepared stuff can stand so well against fresh food that hasn't been fiddled with.  I am already a fan of frozen veg, and I think I will be looking again at some of the convenience stuff.

Friday 5 December 2014

Getting Colder

Yesterday I was unimpressed at the outside temperature.  I rinsed out bear's clothes which I had dragged out of the broken washing machine and hung them on the washing line.  It was dead still and cold.  When I brought them back in a few hours later they were still wet, although the worst of the water had dripped out.  The trouble was that there was a smell in the garden, like tramps.  I can't bear it, and it gets on the clothes, so I ended up with the clothes in the dryer with some tumble dryer sheets.  I have a few for when I tumble DH's sports kit, and I put a handful in with bear's uniform.

I bailed out the washing machine until most of the water was gone and then put in a couple of nappies.  It is a long, long time since bear was in nappies, but I keep a few of the very cheapest in because they are great at absorbing floods, defrosting freezers and general spills.  The new washing machine comes on Sunday.  I am usually quite up to date with washing, but I can see it piling up.  Between Wednesday night and Sunday afternoon I would normally do four washes at least.  In this weather I am going to resist the temptation to rub a few things through by hand.  Apart from anything else, my hands are in shreds anyway.

I have also ruined one of bear's school shirts with gunk from the iron.  I can never get the stuff out.  Another has some very suspicious stains on the sleeve which have resisted all chemicals thrown at them.  I'm going to have to pick up a couple more for him.  I'll try and put that off until New Year.

At least I found a present for DH.  Time for some surreptitious wrapping.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Timing is Everything

For once, just for once, I wanted to replace my washing machine before it went and actually trundle the old one off before it caused a crisis and a rushed buy.  Just for once.  Just for once I wanted to take my time.  I was planning to go to AO (who are marvellous and on TopCashback) and see what they had in the January sale.  I was planning to take my time.

Of course it didn't happen last night.  When I went downstairs last night to transfer bear's school uniform from the washer to the dryer all the lights on the washing machine were flashing and the door was stuck.  I did the all the obvious things.  I said some very rude words, hit the machine and turned it off at the mains.  No result.  I tried fiddling with the dials.  No result.  I stamped my foot and said some more rude words.  I am already overdrawn on my ration of rude words as it is, and this wasn't helping.

All of bear's school sweaters and trousers were in there.  I could feel a real chill going through me.  I couldn't send bear into school without his uniform - the school are very strict on that.  I managed to fossick out a pair of trousers that had slid down the back of the ironing mountain and a sweater that is a bit small but still fits.  Poor bear, going to school with inadequate uniform.  At least I had got his shirts sorted.

This morning, before the sparrows had even started coughing, I was up and on the AO website (via TopCashback, of course) with DH's credit card (for the miniscule amount of cashback on that) and buying the machine.  Here's the picture from AO of the one I am getting.  It's a Whirlpool with A+++ energy rating.  I hope it's okay.  Apparently I'm saving £159.  I wish I was saving 100% until January.

It's coming Sunday unless when I call them when their office opens I can convince them to deliver earlier, even though it will cost me more.  I've paid for the disconnection/connection/removal.

I managed to prise open the door this morning so after I drop bear after school I'll come back, mop up the rest of it, rinse out the uniform and then work on getting it dry.  Hopefully without breaking anything more.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Sort of Dingy Grey Wednesday

I avoided shopping on Black Friday with determination.  Besides, while the deals over in the states are pretty good, the deals in the UK aren't that amazing.  There are far too many tricks being pulled.  I also avoided Black Cyber Monday apart from ordering DH's present from bear, because bear had finally decided and I needed to get in there.  Even though I am such a good friend, ebay still limped slowly and I had to go back a few times.

Yesterday I picked up some perfume for father to give as a gift - 3 for 2 box sets of Impulse.  He is telling me to get all sorts.  I will just have to get on with it.  It does mean having to actually go into the actual shops, but father is worth the effort. There were plenty of deals around.

Today I was doing the shopping.  I can't find anything for DH yet.  It is quite worrying.  I just can't think.  Instead I spent best part of the morning trying to find something for DH's aunt, that I could send from Amazon with gift wrapping.  I also picked up a picture of a train for uncle, some bits for bear (that he didn't really need) and came slap up against an awful truth - I have no idea what to get father.

After today I am still even more cynical about Black Friday in the UK.  There were still plenty of good deals, offers, bargains and crazy prices.  Approved Food were even doing a White Wednesday with plenty of offers (I decided not to bother).

I need to start a list.  I will have a list for Christmas cards, a list for presents and a list of presents to buy in the January sales this year.  There are always some decent 'present' type bargains if you keep your eyes open when shops genuinely need to clear the shelves.

Right, off to try and think of something for DH.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Christmas Present Fail

I missed it.  There was a perfect present for DH on ebay and when I went to buy it, it had gone.  Darn, drat and poot!

DH is not easy to buy for.  I don't like buying clothes, he doesn't use physical books so much as he prefers audio books, and he doesn't actually want anything.  He doesn't wear cufflinks, he doesn't wear jewellery (I think he is gorgeous enough) and he doesn't shave.  I could get him alcohol, but he is fine with what he has, also father has put in a bid for that.  DH is not really a big drinker, especially now father isn't insisting.

I am fairly open about things to buy as presents.  One of bear's stocking fillers will be a pair of rubber gloves.  However while I know DH would be politely grateful for anything given to him, after the time we have all had I want to get him something all singing, all dancing with extra oooomph.

Also, I refuse to do the 'spend several hundred on something that we don't need' thing.  I mean, apart from DH not actually wanting or needing anything particularly expensive, I think he would book me into the doctors if I spent hundreds.  In one way I am completely blessed because DH would really like something that made him feel hugged.  He doesn't care about the cost, he cares about the thought.  In a very minor way this is a bit of a problem because no matter how much I think, I'm stuffed about what to get.  Ebay is not being friendly when it comes to ideas.

Also, both father and uncle have entrusted me with money to get something nice for DH.  My head hurts.

Monday 1 December 2014

Unseasonal hands

My hands are well and truly nettled.  Most people manage to avoid nettle stings in December, but I couldn't put off sorting out the garden.  I didn't actually sort out the garden in full.  It is just slightly tidier and I have a bin bag full of weeds, including some stonking, venerable, tough nettles.  Mind you, they say nettles only grow in good soil.

I've got some coir compost stuff like this that I am soaking and hoping to get onto the flower beds before the winter really sets in to let the frost work on it.  I am grubbing out the worst of the toadflax and pouring boiling water on the dandelions.

I've included a lovely sunny picture from Wiki Commons taken by Mars 2002 (link here) because it looks so much nicer than my muddy plot.

Father had Views about what should be in a garden.  I am much more haphazard.  However I don't think I will be able to resist purple tomatoes.  I need to clear the decks to do the red brussels sprouts and yellow cucumber (yes, they are real, and probably tasteless but even so...).  More realistically, I need to get things a bit tidier.

And just for the record, this from Amazon is almost designed to appeal to me.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Homework for Bear

Bear's homework this week is to research on the internet about the continents, their climates, currencies and population.  Normally they expect about half a page and bear is nearly eight.  While I am normally supportive of the school, I have a few reservations.

There is the generic one, what if we didn't have the internet.  This is a bit of a straw argument as practically everyone has internet these days, but if you are on a PAYG dongle or restricted and limited access it can be a bit of a bother.  Bear is fine.  We have internet, we have a generous package, it isn't a problem.

There is the lack of precision.  I am unimpressed by the scope of the question.  Bear has managed an extremely badly written paragraph about North America - his handwriting is appalling - but it looks like this is going to be impressively long for an exhausted, stressed and obsessively meticulous little boy.  He will want to get everything right.  Besides, what do you put about currencies in Asia?  How about Africa?  I can see me spending most of this week navigating through this one.  However part of being a student is learning how to make a question ask what you have revised so we can lay the foundations of that.

The biggest reservation I have is 'internet research'.  I am actually very careful about this with bear.  I have talked about it with him and in front of him with DH about the hazards of the internet, about things not being what they seem, about clicking on to iffy links and that it isn't always safe.  I know when I search for innocuous things I don't always get family friendly results.  While I am an adult, I don't always know the 'code words' for naughty things so I could accidentally put it all sorts.  There are some strange people out there.   Yes, of course we are watching him while he is on there, that's my version of parental control, and we have programmes on the computer that block access to odd places but really, it is a minefield.

This is going to be a looong piece of homework and I shall be glad to see the back of it.

Saturday 29 November 2014

Toilet Roll - the Update!

Never has so much energy been expended on such a humble matter!

We went to Makro.  It was too early for the deal that Witch Hazel tipped me off to, but there was a similar deal for 24 roll packs of Blossom for £9.99 plus VAT, two for the price of one, strategically positioned next to the entrance.  The Blossom was also quilted and I looked with reservations and wondered if it would make it through my toilet's bendy bit.  I bunged two in the trolley and started wandering around.

Our local Makro wasn't inspiring, it is halfway through being remodelled and, to be honest, a lot of the stuff is still cheaper in a supermarket.  However as I wandered I went past the toilet roll aisle.  I wondered if I should get the own brand sort of stuff which is thinner, and therefore a lot easier on my system.  I looked again.  This was £2.69 plus VAT or around £3.25 for 24, or £6.50 for 48 and easier on my plumbing.  I took out the Blossom and put in the 24 own brand stuff.  It isn't as good quality, and may even last a shorter time, but it is more appropriate and considerably less expensive.

It goes to show that just because it is a good deal (the Velvet is £7.75 for sixteen rolls in Tesco so 48 rolls for @ £12 inc VAT is a good deal) doesn't mean it is the best deal for you or even the right deal.
Witch Hazel - thank you for the tip off about Makro.  I had a lot of fun not spending.

Morning After

Today is the morning after the second all night party.  However bear wasn't too affected and slept fine, DH wore earplugs and I had the dehumidifier on as white noise so it could have been worse.  This explains why I managed to delete Witch Hazel's comment instead of publishing it (I'm sorry but sadly have form for this) but I managed to pull it out of the email notification.  Witch Hazel posted

Following on from our earlier "conversation", I see that Makro has an offer on Triple Velvet toilet paper. Bogoff on 24 rolls (so 48 rolls), reduced to 9.99 +VAT. 3rd-16 Dec 

My first response was to say, 'la la la, I can't hear you...'  Of course I then started doing the sums.  48 rolls for £9.99 plus VAT is a very good deal indeed.  It equals the best price at Tesco, is far better quality and provides the emotional security of a stock pile.  Of course I can find quibbles.  The toilet roll quoted is really soft, luxurious and thick.  I am not sure my plumbing will cope with it.  Of course I could take the risk...

The main reason I won't be getting it is that DH is giving me a lift to Makro today, before the offer starts.  It fits in with the rest of the running around.  I have not put all the awful stuff that has happened over the last eighteen months in my blog - you would never believe me - and it is starting to really get to bear.  Today we are going to see 'Paddington' then have a mid afternoon meal at the Harvester, call in at Makro and then come home for cuddles.  I shall see if there is a decent deal there.  I am down to my last five rolls.  I am starting to get very twitchy.

Of course, I could just wander down there on Wednesday and then walk home with 48 rolls of toilet paper...

Friday 28 November 2014

Good Night?

When I got up at 6.30am the people at the back had been playing loud music all night and were still going.  Sigh.  Bear only got off to sleep at @ 10.30 so I had to dig him out of bed this morning with a crowbar.

I was a lot less stressed than I could have been, though.  For some reason 'Blanket on the Ground' is not nearly as bad at 3am at 130 decibels compared to Techno Disco or whatever the 'thump thump' music is.  Though I did think that if you are only 'Half Way to Paradise' at 6am then you are probably doing it wrong.

Thursday 27 November 2014


I got immense amounts done a few weeks ago.  This week I have been an epic fail when it comes to getting anything done at all.  Mind you, today I saw the consultant.  Apparently it's varicose dermatitis that has spread.  I am reserving judgement as I continue to spread myself with flammable substances as per doctor's orders.

What I didn't realise was that they were going to do stuff that relied on me having a steady resting blood pressure.  They put me in a corner to rest.  I am not sure it was a true reading.  I dragged bear to school this morning at top speed and then raced across town to try and get to the appointment in time.  I almost skidded into the reception and was four minutes late.  Fortunately the clinic was running thirty minutes late so I wasn't in trouble but I didn't have a stress free journey.  Then I started thinking about the fiction I was working on yesterday and it's a fight scene.  It wasn't exactly relaxing.  It turned out that my blood pressure was on the high side of normal, which is a bit worrying as I normally on the low side of normal, but I got the results they needed.

Now all I need to do is lose weight and exercise more.  I'll work on that next week.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

A visit to Father

Today father wanted me to buy him some perfume.  Nothing too much, around £20 per bottle, just something nice.  He wants presents to dish out.  Between my bewilderment (you want to spend how much on scent?!?) and his problems with speech, I was a bit at sea, but I think I need to consider bulk purchases.  He will want to hand out 'nice' presents to every nurse and carer in the building.  I approve.  I just hope that I can keep up with his demand.  There are stacks of wine bottles building up in the corners of his wardrobe and he asked me to bring in some Christmas cards.  After the disaster of last year's Christmas card purchasing, that was not a problem.  I think father also has Views on presents for bear - though I am insisting those are kept with father and opened with father.

Thank goodness I am on such good terms with ebay.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Bear is worrying me

He has watched YouTube videos about the periodic table, he has watched YouTube videos about acceleration and inertia, he has watched YouTube videos exposing sodium to water - and giggled.

Now he is watching a video giving a comparison of calculators.

I wish I was making this up.  I don't think he understands most of it, but I am sitting here terrified he will ask me question because I will be totally stuffed.  Anyway, I now have to go and boil the water for pasta for tea - apparently it boils at a lower temperature in higher altitudes.  Yep, bear has watched a video about that as well.

Please let him just keep his questions about toilet rolls.  

Monday 24 November 2014

Morgan is now tempting me.

Morgan recommended Nicky toilet roll from their local Tesco.  Ours don't carry it, darn.

I have had a think.  The amount of energy and effort I am expending on this search for the perfect loo roll purchase is ridiculous.  It's taking far too much of my attention.

I'm going to get it with the rest of my groceries and try not to look, except when I am in Makro. All bets are off in Makro.  Or if they start selling Nicky locally.  Or any other reason.

I shall now start fretting about Christmas.  Actually, it's pretty much covered.  I just need to start writing cards, pick up one or two things and wrap some presents.  I have nothing to stress about.  It isn't good planning, and it isn't good discipline.  It is a combination of too much interest in shopping and not many to buy for.

I'm 11,000 words into a novel which I am optimistic will go somewhere.  I'll stress about that instead.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Witch Hazel leads me into bad ways...

Witch Hazel commented below about looking for toilet rolls when Makro are doing a two for one deal.  I couldn't help it, I had a look.  I found some kitchen roll.  The current stuff is cardboard tough and unabsorbent and was extremely inexpensive from Approved Food.  I now understand why.  I found this stuff.

This stuff lasted me for ages.  I am very parsimonious when it comes to kitchen roll and use torn up newspaper a lot of the time, so at £6.35 for 36 rolls it is a decent deal and also compares very favourably with Tesco.  It would probably last all year.  The toilet paper at @ £12 for 24 rolls is not quite as good as Tesco, even if it was BOGOF it would not be beating Tesco significantly and I would not be walking for thirty minutes carrying a vast quantity of bathroom paper and trying not to drop it if Tesco delivered.

Darn it, Witch Hazel, I'm going to call in on Makro and keep an eye out for their deals.  Thank you.

Saturday 22 November 2014

Feeling edgy

I'm down to my last nine roll pack of loo roll.  I don't know why, but more than anything toilet paper is the most comforting thing for me to stock pile.  I feel an immense sense of well being when I trip over an over-enthusiastically stocked pile of rolls.  Now I am feeling edgy.

On the other hand, I don't have the room or money to build a pointless stockpile.

It would make sense for me to get it with the groceries.  The delivery charge would be there anyway, and Tesco do basic toilet roll at £1 for 4 rolls.  Their eighteen roll pack of posh stuff is £6.50, or just over 36p per roll.  I already pay for the Tesco delivery saver, so if I stick to my aim of only getting the absolute minimum I am sure that I will need a bit of help getting the total up to the £25 before the delivery saver kicks in.

If I look at ebay or Amazon there is still the humungous delivery charge to be added, no matter how inexpensive the loo roll is, because it isn't cheap to send dozens of rolls through the post.  I mean, if I am desperate, I can always go to the local shop, they are not that expensive!

However that means I will have no toilet paper stockpile.  I shall feel the fear and do it anyway.  It may sound very trivial, but it is a really big step for me towards getting a streamlined, clutter free house.  It is just a very strange thing that these steps turn on.

Friday 21 November 2014

Tis the Season to Shut the Door!

I feel the cold.  Bear certainly doesn't.  He has a habit of shedding clothing as he wanders around and would happily spend most of his time in his vest.  The only exception is if he is getting out of bed, as the last few mornings bear has had to fight to get out of his pit instead of his usual eruption into the day.  The feeling of cold doesn't last long, though, and he is soon spraggled across the settee and shedding socks.  DH doesn't feel the cold as much, either.  He hangs around in his shirt, perfectly relaxed while I am shivering under a blanket.

I really feel the cold.  I really, really feel the cold.  I always wear slippers, sweaters, t-shirts and cardigans.  I snuggle into blankets and wear gloves and a hat when I go out.  I need the heating on.

I hate paying for heating.

I keep 'air exchange' in mind.  To function properly and safely we need a certain about of fresh air.  That means that I have the windows open at least once a day on each floor, even for a short time, as I race around trying to stay as warm as possible and flinching.  I wouldn't mind, our house is very warm and we don't really suffer as much as most.  However as I wince at the cold and the heating is so expensive I keep to the checklist.

Lined curtains at the double glazed windows, finally!  At the moment they are bunched up on the windowsill but I will, eventually, get my sewing machine working and shorten them so they don't cover the radiators.  If my sewing machine isn't sorted out soon I am using fabric glue.
Draft excluders
Thermostat on the central heating set to 19 degrees and on a restricted timer.  The rest of the time only heating the rooms we are in.
Low cost halogen heaters.
Slippers, socks, t-shirts under sweaters, blankets to snuggle in.
Hot drinks
Keeping moving, keeping ironing.
Lighting candles - it always surprises me how much extra warmth they can add over an evening as well as a lovely snuggly glow.
Leave the oven door open after cooking
Shut the internal doors to keep the warm in - I'm working on this.

I am fine with coming or going but I am not fine with sitting in a draught.  Bear is indifferent.  So this weekend I will be once again shouting 'Door!' and he will once again be shouting 'Darn!' and the doors will be slammed shut.  And again.  And again.  I will disappear downstairs for thirty minutes and will come up to find the heat from the heater in the study wafting happily up the stairs through the open door to the study, the door to the stairs and probably the door to the icy porch.

How do you make a nearly eight year old keep a door shut?  I could try threats but bear would snigger at me.  I could try bribery but I am being extremely tightfisted on the run up to Christmas, not just because of expense but also so he gets to appreciate the gifts.  Repetition isn't working.  He just good-naturedly chuckles and dashes back to slam the door - again.

All suggestions welcome.

Thursday 20 November 2014


I shouldn't grumble, I get quite good sleep on the whole, but last night was not impressive.  I kept sitting up half awake wondering why I wasn't in the bathroom or why Scottish Power had cut the energy to the Space Station while I was trying to talk to all these Klingons.  Yes, I have those sort of dreams and when I have disturbed sleep I remember more of them.  I suspect last night was because I got cold.

I am considering moving in to father's room.  It is warmer, quieter and more convenient for bear when bear has a nightmare at 4.40am (night before last - he now wants a dream catcher).  It seems wrong, though.  I don't want to feel like father is being pushed out.  If he did come home he would have to come back into the study, and it isn't looking likely.  All the logical and practical reasons say I should move in there.  I'm thinking about it.  He hasn't been in there since 20 July so I'm not rushing.  It seems so final though.  It also feels like I'm making a fuss over nothing.

One thing that is really dissuading me is that I am scared of father's bed.  It has one of those motor things which lifts and shunts and moves - I have too much imagination.  Bear is fully behind me sleeping there, though.  In his view it makes sense for me to be close at hand should he want me in the middle of the night, especially with all these recent nightmares.  He is very clear that a dream catcher will make all the difference.  As I consider them a complete waste and, while not wanting to be disrespectful to Native Americans, I find them a symptom of sloppy thinking.  Hopefully bear will grow out of it.

I really need to consider this when I have had more sleep.

Wednesday 19 November 2014


I confess - I have never decorated.  DH has papered three rooms - once when I was in hospital in the early nineties, once when I was at work and he had flu (it says a lot about DH that he manically papered when he had real, proper flu and was running on lemsip and adrenaline) back long before bear was born, around 1997, and once when bear was expected.  He did a pretty good job each time, but it's not his natural habitat.

I feel a bit of a failure as a wife.  In DH's family it is usually the women who decorate.  My mother didn't decorate and while father did, I never lived with him to 'labour' for him and learn the ropes until he moved in with us, and then I was too terrified to let him decorate as he would insist on going up ladders.  Besides, the house has been far too cluttered to even think about it.

I have lost count of the number of times I have blogged about my determination to lose clutter and have a good clear out, but actually, the house is currently a bit clearer.  It isn't clear and it isn't really clean but it is a lot better.  There is a really noticeable difference.

Yesterday, as I cast on the back for bear's slipover, I found myself watching 'how to decorate' videos on YouTube.  B&Q have done a whole series.  I suppose they found it worth while, and it helps them to sell products.  I noticed that they had 'decorator scissors' not 'sharp scissors'.  On the other hand I am sure there are people out there who would try and cut wall paper with nail scissors.  In the right frame of mind I would be one of them.

I'm not saying I'm going to decorate.  I am just saying it's a scary possibility after my confession of lack experience. But what could go that wrong?  Besides, I don't want bear to grow up like me in a house where decorating never happens.  On the other hand, it looks incredibly difficult.

I have also thought of a good plot line for an erotic novel and I'm a bit worried about that as well.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Tesco Win


Tesco were running a promotion that if I spent £40 this week I could save £40 off my shopping next week.  I didn't want to spend £40.  However after facing up to the horrific state of DH's duvet cover I added on a duvet cover from Tesco for £14, and while I was at it I made the total up to £40.28.

Tesco Basics Reversible Duvet Set King Size Navy/Brze
Image taken from the Tesco website - I'll review the product later!

I will still end up spending more than I wanted to next week, but there are a lot of little bits I can get for bear's stocking, so it could be worse.  We certainly don't need alcohol and I'm running down the freezer in the run up to Christmas, but I will be adding glittery paint and paper to the basket.

I also pottered through town today on the way to visit father and saw this - it made me smile.

Though I wish I could reproduce bear's expression when I explained to him this morning that it wasn't a new door bell next door but a Christmas decoration.   Next door get a bit giddy.  To be honest, this year so am I!

Monday 17 November 2014


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DH really needs new bedding.  His duvet is limp and flat and his duvet cover is frayed and the seams have gone - the material has given way so I can't re-sew it.  At least his sheets are fine.  I got quite expensive ones a long time ago and they are holding up well.  I think that is the thing that annoys me the most.  I spent quite a lot on DH's duvet cover and was promised good workmanship and good quality cotton.  I have had neither.  Of course, it is older than bear, but not by much.

When it comes to sheets I do think it is worth buying expensive, buying reputable and buying once.  There is still a blanket upstairs that my parents got for a wedding present in 1963.  I wonder how many of today's blankets will keep going?

I usually buy cheap and cheerful but some things I think are worth paying for.  I got an extremely expensive set of pans back in 2003 or 2004.  They still look new and likely will outlast me.  Yes, I got them at half price, but they were still phenomenally expensive and I swear my hand trembled as I handed over the money - half price at £125!  The shop has gone now, but they had some wonderful kitchenware that not only cost a lot of money but at the same time were absolute bargains.  

I suppose I could wait until the January sales for bedding, but to be honest I am not sure that the sales are worth much these days.  Prices are artificially inflated on the run up to the sales, and you can quite often get a decent bargain another time.  I don't think DH has noticed, but I care about his quality of sleep.

I am seriously considering cheap and cheerful for a short term duvet cover replacement and then I will start some serious research.  A John Lewis should be opening in town within the next two years, so I could get cheap until their first sale - and I can have fun looking!

Sunday 16 November 2014

Another Bear Day

Bear loves his weekends.  He spends a lot of time with DH on Saturdays - yesterday they had breakfast out, had a good drive around, visited father, and bear got a chance to let a tarantula walk all over his hand!

I decided not to put up a pic from Wiki Commons as it may be a bit cruel on any arachnophobe coming across it unexpectedly.

He had a long cartoon watching marathon with DH, lots of cuddles and some stories.

Today he and I are chilling on our respective computers.  I may bring my blanket it.  It will be interrupted soon as bear has decided that it is my duty to knit him a sweater, as that is what mum's do.  Whether he will wear it is another thing.  Rather reluctantly I scrolled around Deramores and got bear to approve a slipover, plus the appropriate yarn, plus a little extra for a scarf.  Then I grumbled about when knitting was a cheap way to get clothes.  The pattern is here and the yarn is here.  Bear has asked that it is knitted in Berry.  I am still not sure why I said 'Yes' when really I should be saying, 'Are you going to actually wear an actual slipover?  You can't keep your shirt on at the moment.'

It shouldn't be hard.  It shouldn't take long.  I should know better.

Saturday 15 November 2014

Thoughtful presents

I have watched bear play with a particular thing of mine relentlessly over the last few days, having huge amounts of fun and getting up to quite a bit of mischief.  He has found one hundred and one uses for this thing and it took me all my time to claim back my own.

Given that he has had so much fun, I am getting him this rather mundane thing as a Christmas present and I know he will have at least as much fun with that as with his other much more expensive and carefully chosen toys.

So the question is, do I put the rubber gloves in his stocking or wrapped in the pile downstairs?

Bear has been playing with my gloves and has previously decorated them, splashed with them, used them as web shooters in a Spider Man game, actually used them for sensible stuff like cleaning out paint pots, squeaked them up and down windows and on the whole had far too much fun.  I've found some really cool looking ones for £1.59 (p&p inc - thank you ebay) and I can't wait to see what he does with them.  Hopefully he will wear them during painting, playing with the crystal growing kit, possibly even while washing stones - but I am sure he will not limit himself.

Friday 14 November 2014

An extra Day Off

It's a training day, and as bear is absolutely exhausted by life at the moment I was hoping for a lie in.  Bear had strict instructions to go back to sleep when Daddy went to work and see if he could catch up.

Actually bear lasted until 8am which is practically noon for him.  Then he told me he was too hyper to stay in bed so was going downstairs.  I gave instructions about getting himself some cereal and juice and told him I was going back to bed.  I hunkered down but at 8.15 bear called up to say sorry for breaking a plate and all in all could I make his breakfast.

8.15 isn't bad, a lot of people would be grateful for it and I know DH would.

As it is tipping down relentlessly bear has spent the day so far lounging around.  He hasn't even bothered with any maths.  I am making the most of it.  He has been boneless watching people drawing on YouTube while I have sneaked in a spot of ironing and some very minor pottering.

I am not sure what to do with myself.  I am actually a bit fed up.  I am no nearer getting bear's blanket finished than I was at the start of the week but the ironing pile has shrunk considerably and I've cleared out a load of rubbish from the bathroom.  In fact I have completely re-jigged it and given it a good clean.  I even cleaned behind the fridge the other day - anything except deal with the objective I set myself.  I think I may suggest bear and I watch the Lego Movie (again) and I can get some knitting done then.

Thursday 13 November 2014

Alcohol Again

With father not being here we are going through a lot less alcohol.  To be fair, I have made some serious inroads recently but the humiliating trip to the bottle bank isn't quite as bad.  DH has joined father in many glasses of whisky and lemonade over the years, and still likes an occasional tipple.  And while a bottle lasts considerably longer, it is still worth buying up a few when I see a bargain.

I have just seen Famous Grouse 1L bottles for £15.  That is incredibly cheap.  That is probably the cheapest I have seen it in over a year.  It is amazing.  Two of those would have lasted father a week.  One will last DH quite a bit longer, and he really enjoys a glass now and again.  Of course I am going to buy some - but how much?  Should I get one bottle and be happy in the knowledge that the £15 will easily see November out?  The RRP is £22 for a litre, and it isn't unusual to see small bottles at more than £15.  I could get two and be safe that the run up to Christmas will be covered.  DH is bound to get a bottle over Christmas as a present - father will insist, although Naked Grouse is also on at a very reasonable price.

If I get three it will certainly take us up to Christmas Day.  Other offers aren't likely to be quite as good.  Even checking on the graph on shows it is a superb deal.  Should I go for four?  There are never decent deals on booze in January.  The whisky won't go off and it really is an amazing deal.  But then I would be spending £60 on alcohol - I thought I had escaped that!

I've a feeling it's going to be another 'four bottles of whisky and a small bag of frozen mince' again.  I shall get another Look.  Thank goodness we don't always get the same driver.

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Second Thoughts

I have been thinking about the quilt I want to make.  I've been wanting to make it for years and years.  Sigh.  I bought the vast amount of second hand grade C denim shirts, cut them into their component parts, started working on getting my machine going (brief pause during a very full summer) and I don't think it will work.  The material is all different weights.  No matter how carefully I work it and try and match, at some point the heavier material will be pulling away from the lighter stuff.

Darn it to heck.

I am not making it ornamental, as I want something warm for cuddling on the sofa.  I really, really, really want to make it, and I would like it that bit different from the general run of quilts.   So I am going to buy some decent, hardwearing denim at the best price I can manage, give it about a zillion washes and make the quilt from there.  I will still use it as my first project and I will still enjoy using it.  I have some ideas about applique for some of the rag denim - like these

As for the extremely large tub full of pieces of rag denim, I've been wanting to make a rag rug for some time.  I don't mean the traditional rag rug, but one that is like this

So the rag denim won't be wasted, I will get a chance to get at two different projects that I have wanted to do for some time and I will have a chance to do some shopping for fabric.  It could be worse.

I just searched images for denim rags to put in the blog.  I didn't find one that I particularly wanted, but I found a lot of inspiration!

Monday 10 November 2014

Getting Ready For Christmas

I have been depressing myself reading various blogs about Christmas preparations.  One was about home made mincemeat and getting it made now.  I suppose it must be about the time of Stir Up Sunday.  I ought to be getting my pudding cloths out.

Of course I won't.  It is cheaper to buy a gluten free Christmas pudding (already purchased and snug in the cupboard) than it is to make a decent quality one, not to mention the saving on time, stress and steaming up the kitchen.  I have made mincemeat in the past, but no-one likes it.  I usually buy six mince pies every Christmas and I usually throw away four.  That's even when I buy the 'nice' expensive ones.  I used to make actually quite palatable Christmas cake but while everyone agreed that it was a nice Christmas cake, no-one really likes Christmas cake no matter who made it.  Even the M&S Christmas cake wasn't finished off, and that was one of their posh ones.  

I shall get some fruit in, which will almost certainly go to waste, and I shall get some chocolate in, which will almost certainly not.  I shall do a roast joint of beef or an Aldi three bird roast as DH doesn't like turkey.  Besides, even a turkey crown would be wasted on three and I am still scarred by childhood memories of 23lb turkeys that wouldn't fit in the oven (seriously, my mother had to take the shelves out and grease the sides).

Each year I get less stuff in.  We don't get any sadder.  Christmas still is a magical time for bear.  We are warm, safe, happy and blessed.  It's just that every year I cut back a little bit and every year there is a bit less waste.  So bah humbug, we are not getting or making mincemeat, mince pies or Christmas cake.  Instead we are just going to enjoy ourselves and stuff the adverts instead of a turkey.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Bear has done his homework

Bear has finally done his homework.  He gets homework on Fridays so normally I start my campaign to get it done as I pick him up, but we had an amazing playdate on Friday evening.  Saturdays are usually kept calm and his favourite pal was visiting next door so bear had a full play plus he started putting together the Kano.  It is a package where the child puts together a motherboard, memory card, keyboard etc and basically builds a computer.  Not only does bear get a chance to do that but he also gets to play games on it while learning how to code as part of the games, plus he gets to do sound and drawing stuff and works towards making his own games.  Then there was a long run up to a storming episode of Doctor Who.  Bear didn't get his homework done yesterday.

Today bear settled down.  The maths homework he rattled through and there was something to do with French, though I think bear got a bit side tracked with that.  He had to sign on to a site and do stuff and ended up on the sign language page.  I may need to ask a few more questions when his friend has gone home.

Then we came to literacy.  Bear can read.  He takes the view that of course he can read.  Reading is easy.  Writing out stuff is boring and as he can recite huge swathes of probably true facts from YouTube videos I can see his point.  Mind you, he didn't manage much further than about five on the periodic table when he tried to memorise it.  He also turned around, gave me a withering look and said, 'That is quite enough, thank you.' when I corrected his pronunciation of 'macho' as he was reading some text on a (quite respectable) internet site.  I just concentrate on the homework.  I don't actually check the homework.  I just insist that it is done.  I believe that it is then up to him to get the credit or blame for the content, despite bear's best efforts to include me in the literacy process.

I did slip a bit on the last bit today.  Bear was writing down five facts about Ancient Egypt and he rattled off a few, including that the Nile was flooded by the rains from Indonesia.  I blinked and asked him whether he was sure about that.  He thought about it and came to the conclusion that it was probably something about Inundation but he was using more interesting stuff anyway.  By the way, did I know that the son of a famous Pharaoh got wrapped in a sheepskin as a mark of dishonour?  

I have told bear's teachers that I don't contribute to his homework.  I am not sure if they believe me.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Trying to Pronounce 'Quinoa'

Bear has been falling on the floor in giggles as I try and work out the correct way to call the dratted stuff.  The Ainsley Harriott Lime and Chilli Quinoa and Basmati rice was on an incredible deal at Approved Food, and when we tried it the other day I worked out why.  It tastes like it is good for you, that is, not very warming.  Bear utterly rejected it.

I don't mind it so much when there is sufficient ketchup on it, so I will be having it for lunch until the last of the stuff runs out.  If I can get sufficient ketchup I may even order more at the very reasonable price on Approved Food.  It is apparently good for me.

Actually it is good for me in a non-nutritional sense.  You have to measure out water, put it on the stove, keep a half hearted eye on it for 16-18 minutes, leave it covered to stand and then serve.  These days my cooking style is 'bung'.  I 'bung' it in the oven/microwave/slowcooker and walk away until something goes ping.  Even the Spanish Tortilla (still a bit hit and miss but a huge favourite with bear and DH) while it may have a fiddly peeling stage still gets the 'bung' as I drop the sliced onions and potatoes in the remoska and walk away for fifteen to twenty minutes.  It is a miracle that anything gets peeled.

When my grandmother first started keeping house in 1937 this would have seemed like miracle food.  I read the old, economy cookbooks and there are a lot of long, slow, laborious recipes.  I love that I no longer have to make jelly by boiling up a calf's foot.  Actually I love that I can buy ready made jelly at a very reasonable price, and I have been known to do so.

So while I may be pathetically grateful for the convenience now, it will do me a lot of good to just stir something for a bit rather than just wait for something to go 'ping'.  Besides, I have worked out that I can just use the packet with the quinoa and basmati rice and leave out the flavouring, and a very small dash of gluten free soy sauce and some ketchup and I will have a very palatable lunch.