Saturday 31 January 2015

Not Baking

I can't remember the last time I did some baking.  It was quite some time ago.  It never seems worth the effort as it is cheaper to buy rubbish and DH and I need to lose weight.  Also, stuff has happened and I rather got out of the rhythm of things.

Yesterday I saw the recipe for Magic Custard Cake.  Why did no-one tell me that this recipe exists?  For those in ignorance like me it is a cake where you mix up all the ingredients and pour into a greased tin and when it comes out there is a pastry type layer at the bottom, custard in the middle and cake on top - apparently.  I can't test it out because you really need a mixer to do this, and I've thrown my mixer out.

Darn it to heck.

Mind you, my hand mixer was older than some of the teachers at bear's school and looking a bit on the grim side.  I suppose I could always lay out for another mixer, but I don't want to, not even an Argos very basic cut price one.  I can't think when I'd use it apart from this Magic Custard Cake, and we really do need to lose weight.

However, bear has a lot of friends around and they are hoovering up the treats like eight year old boys.  I was going to compare them to vultures, but I bet that vultures would remember to put the empty packets in the bin.  So I am going to dust off my cookbooks and try and provide some home made treats that are still likely to be slightly less expensive and certainly healthier.  Bear is suffering from green nose at the moment.  I could do with cramming some more vitamins and minerals in.

So I am going to dust off my cookbooks and see what I can come up with.  I'm not entirely sure how successful I'll be, but it has to be worth a go.  I've found an interesting recipe for peanut cookies that is just peanut butter, sugar and an egg.  I'll test that out tomorrow, I think.  

Bear is being good

Actually, bear is being a bit under the weather.  He is green nosed and a bit gruesome.  However he has just watched Jackie Chan's Police Story and is thoroughly enthused with the whole concept.  Bless him, he got very fed up with the whole concept of a plot and wanted to get on to the stunts.  So all the flirty stuff (which, with Jackie Chan, isn't very flirty) bear was just irritated and wanted to get to the bit where they smashed all the windows by throwing people through them.  I am not one hundred percent sure, as I worry a bit about violence, but as bear has watched lots of YouTube videos about how they set up the stunts, and we are clear that it isn't physically possible to do that in real life so hopefully it isn't too bad.  Bear has been practising his own stunts with poor DH who is getting battered on a nightly basis.

He is now playing 'Tasty Planet' on my phone.  I am not sure about that either.  It is a game where a microbe tries to eat everything.  Bear was happily playing away to the sounds of people crying out in theatrical horror while in the background the best of cheesy 1970s lift music bounced along.  I may ban it just for the background music.

Yesterday next door's cat tried to get in to the house.  I let it.  I miss the cat stories.  However I am enjoying the freedom to actually type without feline terrorism.

Friday 30 January 2015

Great British Sewing Bee

It's on again next Thursday, 8pm, BBC2.

I haven't even unwrapped my sewing machine that was the result of last year's season of Great British Sewing Bee.

I'm stuffed.  Which is more than you can say about any cushions, quilts, tea-cosies or padded wine carriers that I really should have managed to put together over the last year.

I'm still looking forward to it.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Deceptive Weather

I looked out the window this morning and it looked a little damp and very cold.  I grumbled and got bear and I out of the house.  There is still the grit lying around in the garden from the last lot of snow so it was only a few yards out that I realised just how deceptive the road was.  There had been snow last night, but just a little, which had frozen to a lovely thin, wet glass sheen.  This had been overlain by a further very slight dusting of snow and also slightly melted - not enough to disappear, just enough to make it interesting.  I skidded as I walked.  Poor bear fell, and was not happy at all!  It took me five minutes to cross the Matalan slip road and get down on to the path outside the school.  It was extremely treacherous, not least because it just looked a bit damp.

Now further snow is happening and I am unimpressed.

Fortunately I do have the sort of thing that Wean mentioned, they straps on to my trainers and have spikes to help me grip.  Though if the snow keeps on at the same rate I think snow shoes will be a better bet.

Yesterday I got pounded by the weather as well, and I had to attend a meeting about father.  The basic problem is that he is not getting the calories in.  Another problem is that you cannot tell father what to do or not do.  He will smile, nod and be completely charming - and do exactly what he wants anyway.  I don't think the consultants realised just how tough-minded he is.  I left him with some Baileys, and fingers crossed that will pick him up.

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Screaming Swede

I found this on facebook, and I had to have a go.

First of all you get a swede, the vegetable type.  I think they are called rutabaga in North America, and I suspect they are called cattle fodder in a lot of places.  They look like this

First you give it a quick wipe over but you do not peel it or prick it or trim it in any way.  Then you bung it in the microwave on a little plate and cook it for ten minutes.  It oozes a little and 'sings' or 'screams' as the steam gets going inside the vegetable.  After ten minutes you turn it over and then give it another five to ten minutes.  The wonderful people on facebook recommended that you rest it on kitchen roll, and there was a certain amount of bubbled up and caramelised ooze on the plate at the end, but I'm wary of putting kitchen roll in the microwave ever since I set fire to some trying to dry some flowers.

The swede is very hot when you pull it out and I used clean rubber gloves to protect my hands as I trimmed the top and bottom and cut off the skin.  I then mashed it with a teaspoon of butter, though I could have used less.  It was incredibly tender and tasted gorgeous.

I tried this because bear likes swede mashed with carrots and I was delighted at the thought of a vegetable that bear ate that didn't need a pan.  Unfortunately bear decided that the swede was inadequate without carrot.  DH and I wolfed ours down.  I wonder if you can cook carrot the same way?

Monday 26 January 2015

Feeling a bit Fail

I've looked over my list of New Year's Resolutions.  It is a Fail.  I've looked around the house and all that needs doing.  Definitely a Fail on the housewife front.  As for doing anything about it - not looking promising.  There is a Fail on the energy front.

Actually I'm feeling okay about the Fail.  It's not good, but I'm not giving up.  It's more a 'not succeeded yet' and at this time of year it's a miracle if I succeed in anything.

Today I am being lazy.  Bear was having nightmares at 4am and while he cuddled back to sleep quite quickly, I didn't.  I think I shall just pootle with things that do not require thinking.

Something I will be thinking very, very hard about is the Precious Rocks Collection.  Bear is incredibly into rocks as I have mentioned.  The info is here.  You subscribe and it costs six pounds every single issue for one hundred issues!  I was going to say that I wasn't sure that bear would continue with his interest for two years, but it has been fairly consistent since he could toddle.  The question is, how stupid am I and how much would bear really actually like it?

I'm going to try to not fail at that.

Saturday 24 January 2015

Plush Bear

Bear is holding onto all his soft toys.  There are many, including a four foot fake fur panda.  At the moment he is being very attached to them.  To my horror he is trying to get them all in his bed.

Bear has had to live with a lot going on, and I think this is a way of getting comfort.  However the pile of soft toys, all named and known with disparate personalities, are taller than bear.  Last night there was a sort of furry mountain where there should have been bear asleep.

The net result was bear asleep, perilously hanging on to the edge of the bed, all bedcovers in a heap on the floor and a sort of plush Everest behind him.  I may be exaggerating a little, but if the heap wasn't as tall as Everest it was at least a respectable foothill.  I excavated a space and bear didn't wake up but instead snuggled into the space and curled up under the duvet as I pulled it over him.

I am not going to worry about the squishy stockpile.  As long as bear can fit on the bed properly then I'm fine.  Negotiations will continue.

Friday 23 January 2015

Seven Second Hand Duvet covers

Seven second hand single duvet covers, together with pillowcases and single sheets have just arrived.  I have sinned and my sin has found me out. I can't believe I bought it.  I must have been temporarily unsafe for ebay.

On the other hand, for under £30 I have seven lots of patterned beige and black fabric, plus the plain fabric from the sheets and pillow cases.  It is a perfect weight for the quilt I want to do as well, nice and robust and in the right colours.

I am still not sure that ebay is my friend.

Okay, just done some measuring.  Each duvet cover is 54 inches wide and 78 inches long, two layers of material.  I've used my calculator, checked the sums and I am a bit staggered that it makes it around 30 yards of material, or just over 27 metres.  The single sheets are fitted sheets and I suspect that there is a little more fabric than a single layer of the duvet cover, but if we allow the same area for the sheets that's another 15 yards, plus the pillow cases.

Ebay is still not my friend until I get the stuff made up.

Here is a picture to warn me where I may be headed - lots and lots of fabric and I haven't threaded up the machine yet.  The picture is, as ever, from Wiki Commons, taken by Tony Hisgett and used under the Creative Commons agreement.

Meh, Whatever

I have a bad case of January blues.  Until I snap out of it, here is a pic of evil cat, just before she passed and a link to my favourite post by Thomas Marlowe

Here's the link

And here's evil cat, lulling us into a sense of false security

Hugs to all.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Tailor's Chalk

I have been outwitted by haberdashery.

I've started a rag rug.  I'll post some pictures later, but currently I'm on the 'cutting fabric into small strips' stage.  Now, it is a rag rug and part of the charm is the lack of uniformity, the slightly homespun air and the not-quite-perfect feel of it.  However it helps if I am cutting the material into roughly the right sort of size and I am using tailor's chalk to mark the measurements.

All I can say is thank goodness it doesn't have to be perfect.  Over the random years I have managed to accumulate two pencil style tailor's chalk and one sort of triangle thingy.  Bear was very disappointed to find out that the triangle thingy was something manufactured rather than something dug out of the ground, triangular and ready to go.

Well, it may be all manufactured, but it doesn't leave much of a mark.  I have been using far more than my quota of bad language as the edge of the thing seems to wear off, it sort of stops being a marker and starts being a rubbish paperweight.  I haven't found yet how to stop this.  One minute I'll be happily making a mark more or less around the right length, the next I will be scrubbing at the material hard and nothing happens.  I don't feel very handy when I can't even get tailor's chalk to work - and heaven help me if I have to draft something in it.  I am seriously considering biro.

Still while I'm messing about with strips of fabric and ineffective tailor's chalk I can't go on Approved Food.  Because on Approved Food there are 5kg of ground coriander for £1.49.  It's a bit out of date, but would be wonderful for making little fragrant bags to put in drawers.  I even have some thin sheeting that would work really well.  I can see the expression that DH would have far too vividly to go there.  I'll stick with the chalk.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Finally got Snow

Anyone who isn't from lowland and urban England can start sniggering now.  I do not cope well with snow.  I really do not cope well with snow.  When I got back in after dropping bear off at his delayed registration (10am due to snow) I could have cried.

We have nearly half an inch.

It's that wet, soggy stuff that is half melted and I skidded and slid all the way to bear's school, clinging desperately to fences and posts all the way.  I nearly fell a few times, which I am morbidly and irrationally afraid of.  I've dislocated both shoulders and a toe and  I've sprained both ankles and a wrist.  The actual pain of a dislocation isn't fun but the absolute terror I felt as I joked to bear about how much of an adventure we had was entirely out of proportion.

Bear did not help.  I asked him to get his gloves on and he calmly informed me he didn't have any.  What?!  What happened to your grey ones?  Bear looked blank.  I went through all his jackets and hoodies and eventually found them.  'This is what the glove drawer is for.' I told him.  'So we can always find our gloves.' Bear was uninterested but put the dratted things on.

To be honest, bear is still not happy about the standard of treats we currently have in.  He described them as 'inadequate'.  As he has eaten them all before and they are generous compared to the sweets I had growing up I am unsympathetic and not rushing to get others in.  He will survive.  If he is lucky I will put some different ones on the order for Saturday - but I'm not getting giddy.  Bear is doing just fine.

Anyway, I struggled back, put some grit down and bunged some overpriced diced lamb in the slow cooker.  It's a bit of a treat for DH but I whimper at the price of lamb even though I want to treat him.  I'm on my second run of the dishwasher and second run of the washing machine.  Here are the photos of the weather that caused me so much angst - try not to laugh!  It really is grimly slippy.

By the way, in the top photo you can see various buckets and boxes filled with stones.  Bear continues rock hunting.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

I Don't Do a Good January

Meh.  I just seem as flat as last month's cola.  Bear spilled a full mug of milky drink over the carpet this morning.  He was doing his best dramatic effort to stay off school as it was.  The poor child was forced, yes, forced, to walk down a few steps to get his own second installment of breakfast.  He had to go up actual stairs to brush his teeth.  Apparently his head is dizzy and he is really tired and he can't walk as his legs hurt.  It was a real Golden Globe performance.  I am not letting him near drama school.  Fortunately they were having a lesson on rocks today so bear bravely struggled in.  I think he has a bit of a cold.

He nearly had a meltdown when the drink went everywhere and now I am looking at it and hoping that I got enough up.  I keep giving bear Milo, which is apparently a health drink and I keep looking at the list of vitamins and ignoring the sugar content.  It's this stuff, I got the picture off Amazon.

The link is here.  It has iron and B vitamins and stuff.  This doesn't help the carpet which is already on it's last threads.  It wasn't new when we moved in in 1994, and is now a veteran of three cats in varying stages of bowel control and potty training.  It needs to be replaced.  I can't afford it.

Today has been a bit limp as well so far.  I seem to just crawl through January.  Finding the energy to do something a bit positive is completely beyond me, and my experience of January in the past says that this is the forecast for at least another fortnight.

Having said that, Witch Hazel has kindly pointed me in the direction of Lakeland and Doctor Who.  I am now a lot happier bunny!

Monday 19 January 2015

Fail Day

It could be worse.  I managed to resist bidding on a job lot of 106 towels that was started at something like 99p.  If you don't believe me, link here.  By the time you click it may have gone up, but it started at 99p.  Even with the £19 postage it is still a good deal, if you have a purpose for 106 hand towels and have somewhere to put them.

Today has been a bit of an epic fail, though, so I am slinking off to come back tomorrow in a better frame of mind.  Hugs to all.  Here's a picture from Wiki Commons taken by Adrian Michael, the file here.  It made me smile and imagine sliding down a mountain on a rainbow, and I hope anyone reading can also find a smile in it.

Saturday 17 January 2015


I don't like the colour pink.  Actually, I don't mind it so much, but I just don't like it on me.  It is an okay colour, I suppose, but it always seems so feminine and girly, and I have never been girly.  I've always liked blue.  I enjoy pink at a distance - someone else looks great in it.

Incidentally, for those interested, until about a century ago it was pink for a boy (the pastel version of red, the colour of Mars and War) and blue for a girl (as in the traditional colour of the clothes of the Madonna, Mother of Christ). There's something about it in Wiki here.  I am probably just old fashioned.  Here is a picture of the Virgin Mary, from Wiki Commons and in the public domain.  The cloak is an unearthly shade of blue.

However I have grudgingly bought myself a pair of pink gloves.  I had a lovely warm pair of black woollen gloves.  Bear took them for school and they faded into the ether.  I had a rather nice pair of grey gloves.  They faded into the ether and the school run as well, as bear proudly displayed 'his new gloves'.  I think I am pretty safe with a pink pair.  While I am not betting anything on bear, he is less likely to waltz off with a pink pair.  And if all else fails, I'll grit my teeth and get flowery ones.

Friday 16 January 2015

Bit of a Fail

Father was so poorly yesterday.  He was too weak to lift a plastic sippy cup half full of tea.  However the brandy and coke he shared with the manager last night seemed to have picked him up a bit and he was able to enjoy his paper today.

So yesterday evening I was doing my best not to fall apart.  Bear needs a slightly more upbeat mum.  I don't want him to fret too much.  And that is the only way I can explain why I have £20 worth of ammonites coming in this direction.

It just seemed to happen.  One minute I was tootling gently over mumsnet and spider solitaire, the next minute I was on ebay and happening.  On one level I could do without spending the £20, I could really do without spending the £20, but why ammonites?  I was sort of wandering around the general area of rocks as bear continues rock mad.  However why did I look at the ammonites?  I mean, why?

I think I need to get a bit more of a grip on my sanity.  Also, where do you put £20 of ammonites?  At least they don't need a litter tray.

I found this picture on Wiki Commons, and it seemed kind of appropriate

It's taken by Andre de Saint Paul and the link to the entry is here.

I think I will try and go for something else to divert myself into.  Something that doesn't involve spending money.  Something that doesn't involve random items being delivered by long suffering postmen.  I'll update if I find it - and I hope I find it soon!

Thursday 15 January 2015

Bear makes a Monster

Yesterday, training day, bear and his friend played with nerf guns, raced around, ate hugely, played on the computer, hung around and had a blast.  One of the things they did was 'make a monster.  You put together the cardboard bits (Muuuuum, can you do this bit?) then add some solution (I definitely did this bit) and crystals grow around the Monster, called Snarl, apparently.  I'll give it a few days before it disintegrates.  However here is the Monster itself.

Then off to IKEA, where bear didn't have room for much at all and I couldn't eat anything much either but DH enjoyed a large plate of meatballs and I enjoyed keeping him company.  We got a chair.  I whimpered as we paid - £130!  but it fit in a box that went into our boot and went easily through our complicated front door.  DH assembled it really quickly and bear was impressed.  I got this image off the IKEA website

Bear likes red.  It's his favourite colour.

Normally I have an upside to everything.  And we did get out of IKEA with only a chair and the cost of a meal and a few drinks.  But I saw the kitchen I wanted.  It isn't desperately expensive, but by the time I've messed around with all the structural stuff I suspect is going on in the kitchen I need to save up thousands and thousands.  It is very low on the list.  However now I have a target and I'm considering cutting out the picture from the catalogue and pinning it up as an inspiration, or using it as wallpaper on my computer so I see it whenever I hover over ebay.

Far worse, we need to replace the lap trays as the ones we bought a few years ago are leaking tiny polystyrene balls everywhere, and the ones from IKEA are lovely.  I can see £9 each happening very quickly.  And far, far worse, we need to replace the cushions on the sofa - and IKEA do lovely 100% cotton with a sturdy feel  in the sort of pattern I fancy for £7 per metre, 60 inches wide.  It looks like this, image again from the IKEA website.

It's a sort of blue, red, white stripe with a really solid feel to the fabric.  There were lots of other temptations there as well.  Some were a bit too girly to inflict on DH and some were a bit too modern for my taste, but some were absolutely gorgeous.

I also was seriously looking at the duvet covers and curtains to re-purpose.  The website doesn't have the same quantity as the store, and I can't find my favourites, but I think this one (image from IKEA website) would proved a large amount of high quality fabric for a very reasonable outlay (who am I kidding).

It £35 but for that you get four metres of fabric two metres across from the duvet cover, plus the pillow cases.  The quality felt pretty good as well.  It is still quite a lot of money, though, but I suspect I am still living a bit in the past when you could get stuff for £1 per metre from the market.  It wasn't that good, and I'd really like something sturdier.

Of course, I then start browsing places like fabric land online ( if you are interested) where you can get 10 metres of 94 inch wide sheeting for £27.50 and I'm tempted to get something like that at some point just for practicing.  It is looking like it will be more cost effective than buying old duvet covers from charity shops.  I think I can hold fire on the fabric for now, though.  I still haven't got a place set up for the sewing machine, even after all this time (though a lot has happened, to be fair) but when I have, well, I still will be trying not to spend the money!  After all, I will have a picture of my dream kitchen posted to inspire me!

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Not enjoying the weather

I am unimpressed with the snow.  Fortunately I don't have to go out as it's a training day so bear is at school.  I will be going out to IKEA tonight, but that isn't quite as bad as slipping down an icy bank to get bear from school and skid down the same bank later to collect him.  I'll be doing that tomorrow, of course, but that's tomorrow.

Bear has a friend coming around, an asthmatic friend.  I have been frantically scraping up dust from all around the house with baby wipes so hopefully he will be fine.  I am looking forward to it - I will be able to relax a little as bear and his friend happen to nerf guns, drawing, figures and a balloon helicopter.  They won't be able to have the treats I had planned as the Tesco Delivery was cancelled.  They said it was due to a breakdown but with all the snow I suspect the weather contributed.  Tesco were very nice about it, though, so I am not complaining.

Actually lots of good stuff happened today.  Father's talking watch that was ordered last year (sixteen days ago) was finally delivered.  It to a few attempts as the driver couldn't find the address.  I did feel like referring them to all the other delivery companies that manage, but it got here, and that's the main thing.  The lovely Nice Mr Next Door gritted our pavement, I found a load of rubbish I could throw away and the sun has come out.

It could all be a lot worse.

Tuesday 13 January 2015

No Jury Would Convict Me

I have lots of different alarms on my phone.  One of them goes off at 8:49 am and is the signal for us to leave the house.  In reality it is when I start asking questions like, 'Well, where did you last wear your shoes last night?' and 'It is not my job to know where your book bag is.  When did you last have  it?'

However it was at 8:44 that bear piped up, 'Muuuuum, I've lost my t-shirt and shorts out of my gym bag and it's PE today.  I tipped it all out last time, I don't know how they have got missing.'  Five minutes before we were supposed to leave the house and bear wanted a miracle.  I hurriedly dragged out an elderly version of the t-shirt and shorts and kept everything crossed as I stuffed them in a carrier bag.  Given how much I had recently thrown away it was a wonder they were still around and it's only because bear is incredibly skinny that they still more or less fit him.

My morning got rearranged as I called in to town on the way to visit father instead of going direct.  No-one is currently selling school PE kit t-shirt and shorts.  It is the sort of thing they have in for September.  They have just been stuffed with Christmas merchandise so there are bound to be gaps in the normal range - and how many people buy gym stuff in January?  I could have cried.  I have reluctantly gone on ebay and Amazon - and it was hard going finding stuff on there!

I was grumpy with bear this morning, not shouty but being clear that this was not a Good Thing.  I am hoping that in a few years' time he will realise that this sort of behaviour will backfire because I will not be able to wave a magic wand.  I am not holding out much hope.

Father was very weak today.

Monday 12 January 2015

I've Made a Gap

I took father's golf clubs down to the church to be dealt with further.  Father was happy with this, in fact he suggested it.  This has made things a lot easier, I have a huge gap in the walk in cupboard now - father had two very full bags of golf clubs and staggering down to the church a few yards away nearly finished me.

I am mentally rearranging things, too flat with January blues to do more than a mental re-organisation, but it is looking more and more possible to get another freezer in there, which would make my life a lot easier.  Though that is a looong way off and need some serious savings.

Step Two in the plan is moving things around.  That can wait.

I browsed for a picture of golf clubs and found this picture from Wiki Commons which is in the public domain because it is taken by NASA.  How awesome is that?

Sunday 11 January 2015

All Normal Here

This morning I was woken by the loudest cup of tea in the world.  The kitchen at the back is next to father's room, where I am sleeping.  I don't know what they were doing to make stirring a cup so loud but it sounded like it was hooked up to a microphone and pumped through the sort of amps they use at Glastonbury.  At 6.30am on a Sunday it was Not Welcome.  This is especially as bear didn't stir until 8.30, which is impressive, so I managed a little more reading.  I'm a bit bogged down on the book I am reading on my kindle.  It sounded so much more promising on the blurb, and I am quite interested in stuff like dinosaurs and fossils, but it is turning out a lot dryer.  Still, it was free.  I may make the effort and read some of the classics that I keep thinking I ought to read as a lot of those are free.  I'm going to have to work up to that, though.  I'll put it on the list of Resolutions, which are looking a bit limp, to be honest.  Although I seem to be doing a lot of cleaning as I go along.

I'm going to have to spend out again.  It's going to be a lot of money as well, at least for me.  Bear needs a chair.  He has been sitting in a kiddies chair and now it is far too small for him.  It has now reached 'ridiculous' so I can't put it off much more.  Still hopefully it will be the last such purchase for a while - if I can stop bear bouncing off the sofa.  I keep expecting to hear a 'crack' and a shout.  I feel a bit depressed just thinking about it.  I am wary about buying furniture second hand as getting stuff through our door takes a lot of skill and effort.  It is looking depressingly like this...

I took the photo from the IKEA website.  By the time I've paid for delivery it will be £200.  Add in the associated costs of visiting IKEA such as the tempting morsels in the kitchen area and the meatballs for the men in the restaurant and on top of everything else I could cry.

I could put it off, but it is already getting a bit tense between DH and bear as they compete for sofa space and so I need something, and I am hoping if I get something comfy it will be used and last for some time.  On the other hand, I don't want to spend the pennies.  I'll have to work something out, or start with the second hand stuff.

So, all normal for here.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Bear leaves no stone unturned

Bear is in heaven.  At school they are doing rocks, soils and volcanoes.  Bear has been picking up odd bits of stone for years - since he was in nursery, toddling back in his reins and picking up stones to put in his pocket.  I currently have a bucket full of stones in my porch dug up from the street.  In reality they are variations on bits of broken brick and concrete, but bear is convinced there is at least one piece of moon rock in there.

The problem I have is that, while bear is very keen on rocks and pebbles and general stone stuff, to quote Sir Terry Pratchett, we're on loam here.  It is all deep soil with plenty of farm land.  As bear violently opposes travelling, the places nearby where there would be a chance of rock collecting are out of the question.  I've been racking my brains for somewhere within easy distance.  I am sure I can find somewhere with a bit of a google, and until then I can see what else I can suggest.  Meanwhile there is always YouTube.

I am feeling very blessed.  The weather is dreadful but we haven't been badly affected.  We have power and the roof is in one piece.  There are places in the USA that are colder than Mars!  I have been reading threads about foodbanks, and I am grateful for food and the money to pay for power to cook on it.  If all I need to worry about is finding a place for bear to pick up stones, I am blessed indeed.

Now I am off to Wiki Commons to find a nice 'rock' picture.

Friday 9 January 2015

More from father

I opened up the cupboard where we keep batteries.  It ought to be a really convenient and helpful cupboard but because of the way the room is we have to have furniture right against it so I only climb over the sofa to get in very occasionally.

Apart from the batteries there were some candles, a very suspect bottle of sloe liqueur and a bottle of Devon cider father brought home three years ago.  There was no sell by date on the cider but it went down the drain.  The drain has seen some action this morning.  I had a quick foray into the walk in cupboard and there was some sad reminders of how enthusiastic I get and how I forget stuff.  The stardrops with ammonia's bottle had gone all squishy and I just got rid of the carpet cleaner as I think the carpet is beyond even professional help.  In fact all sorts went down the drain and I kept the water running just in case there was a chemical reaction.

My heart sank at some of the other stuff in the battery cupboard, particularly the bottles of red wine.  There must be about a dozen.  I don't like the stuff and neither does DH.  We don't really cook with it.  Father can't drink it any more (and has probably forgotten it) so I am staring at all this stuff and wondering how quickly I can get it out of my home to make room for just room, or at least stuff that I like.  I'm going to pass them over to my brother tomorrow.  That's if I can get to all the dratted things and if they're still fit to drink - wine doesn't keep indefinitely, at least not the cheap stuff we get in.  Once it has gone then there will be a space and I am not in a hurry to fill it.

Mind you, I'm wondering if the sloe liqueur counts as one of my five a day.

One week into the Year

I'm not doing brilliantly with the Resolutions.  Don't get me wrong, it could be a lot worse.  I have been checking the bank and diary daily, and the shop is more or less under control.  I did order something from Amazon one day after the deadline as bear had been awesome and I ordered him a complicated dot-to-dot with lots of numbers.

I think the thing is to keep on going.  The Resolutions are really an ongoing list so I am just going bit by bit.  I was working out the big reorganisation I need to do of bookcases and had the uncomfortable realisation that before I do this I need to do that and before I do that I need to sort this and to make room to sort it I need to move this and shift that and finish the thingy in the corner.  I also cleared out part of a cupboard and got rid of a load of stuff that only I liked and that is full of gluten.   I know it is going to the foodbank, but it is still incredibly depressing.  I miss some stuff.  I could live off ReadyBrek, but it is full of gluten and I am still recovering from the diet cola.

Currently the biggest challenge is still the five a day.  I have managed to have some dried fruit for breakfast.  I managed some orange juice and an apple.  However the veggies for dinner was a challenge.  I did carrots with dinner and looked up the amount that made up one portion.  It is three heaped tablespoons per adult.  I always thought I was generous with veggies but the carrots on our plates were about half that amount.  It was eaten with tortilla, which bear utterly rejected, so there was a bit of veggie in there.  It is turning out to be a challenge, especially if I want to stay away from sugar filled fruit.  Mind you, I think a bigger challenge is staying away from sugar filled chocolate.

Still, I can look at yesterday and be fairly pleased.  I sorted out the gas and electric bills, the phone bill and chased up the pumps that bear needed.  I got washing done, I got bits of housework done, I set up a pile for next Tuesday to take to the foodbank, and I even planned tea and cooked what I planned which is a bit of a miracle in this house!

Now I am going to find a pretty picture from Wiki Commons to cheer up the blog and try and happen somewhere.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Bear and Stories

As you would expect, bear has a real sense of story and can get lost in them, he reads stories, he makes up stories and he has a lot of fun creating stories with DH.  He also uses stories.

I wish you could have seen his pitiful face as he looked up at me.  He had just seen a YouTube video of the worlds creepiest things that really exist.  He was convinced that just looking at the image of a cursed picture would mean that someone or something would come and get him.  After all, it works with Weeping Angels in Doctor Who (thank you, Mr Moffat!).  I asked him how many people had seen the video.  He checked and it was over a million.  I said very pragmatically that if everyone who had seen it had been affected it would have been in the papers.  Bear was unconvinced.  He said that people seeing the picture were light headed and nauseous and he felt light headed and nauseous and he needed a lot of stories to make him feel better.  I looked into his pleading, innocent eyes and it was like an extortion racket run by Tiny Tim.  This was the leverage to get more stories.

By stories bear means stories about cats, which to be frank I am running out of, and stories of olden days (pre-1994).  I am regularly racking my brains.  So for bedtime, as DH was out, bear had a Brer Rabbit story, an account of malevolent cat trying to catch meerkats by fishing into the old tv while a wildlife documentary was on and an account of my brother sneaking off and trying to climb the Great Orme when he was about four (father caught up with him).

I hope you like the picture of the Great Orme, father got to my brother before he got to the nasty scree part.  It's just next to Llandudno and they had neolithic copper mines there.

Bear really likes these stories, but I am running out of ideas.  There is always a punctual call from upstairs, between 8.50pm and 9.10pm, where bear claims that, 'Muuuummmmm, I can't sleep without a story.'  You could set your watch by it, it is so often on the dot of 9pm and it is certainly more punctual than the local buses.

I should add that DH has a good half hour or more with bear making up stories with him as they battle monsters or explore dungeons, mazes, space ships or jungles (depending on what bear has been watching or reading).  Then there is story time at school, the games they play in the playground and bear's own quiet time as he plays with his toy soldiers/cars/figures or reads.  I have a story addict.

It could be a lot worse.

Wednesday 7 January 2015

I'm Going to do the Lottery

It isn't really bad luck.  I hadn't got back to DH about the dates for the holiday in Whitby that I had booked for May, so when he went to book it the dates had already gone.  So we won't be going away in May half term as we had hoped.  It's bad planning on my part but it does feel a bit like another swipe.

Now I can see this as a really good thing.  DH can get the week before off so he gets some down time, we don't have the rest of the holiday to pay for and we may even get our deposit back if the holiday can be relet, and besides we can really do without spending the money that we would.  Bear usually just hangs out and we have to drag him out of the holiday cottage apart from the local softplay and the museum adventure playground.

Another up side is that father has been talking about coming with us.  That is completely impossible.  However once he realises it, there may be a problem.  I worry about him getting depressed and giving up.  So not having a deadline in May is a good thing, it gives him longer to adjust.  We have planned to go to Cardiff anyway in October so that is something he can keep in his sights.  It is equally unrealistic, but October is a lot longer away than May.

The down side is that bear is likely to be devastated.  He has had so much going on lately.  He was worrying about father and the car accident and he definitely didn't enjoy the juggling around of things so that was involved in getting the visiting done.  He always goes to Whitby, well, as long as he can remember, and he always stays at the same place.  For nearly two years he has lived with so much upheaval and now something that was always so reliable isn't happening as well.

Time to stop borrowing trouble and get tidying for bear's friend coming round.  I'll tell him after they go home.  He may not be too bothered after all.  

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Definitely Fail

Bear prefers school dinners to my cooking.

Off to raise my game.

Bit of a Fail Day

I dived out to get father's shaving stuff to the home first thing.  I was supposed to be taking the shaving tackle in yesterday but forgot it, perhaps it is just as well.  I was only in a few minutes as father looked tired, but much better for being there.  I've got a list for some toiletries for him, and I've started the notebook that I need to keep for money in/out.

Since I've got home, well, I've sort of drifted.  I've got this bit here done, and that bit there, but I feel that there is so much to do and nothing in the engine to do it.  Annoyingly I've had some Tesco diet coke, and that has gluten in, so I have been hammered by that.  Such a little thing that really doesn't work for me.

So I am making a plan.  I admit that there is a track record of making a plan instead of actually doing anything, but I am optimistic.  Tomorrow I am tidying the living room and study because bear has a friend coming to play.  I can take the opportunity to have a really good go.  Thursday I call in on father then start on the cupboards.  I need to know what I have to shop sensibly, and there is a superb offer on the Heinz soup at 50p per tin.  I am avoiding frozen stuff as I am trying to get the freezer empty.  I've said that before, but I really need to do this to give me a fighting chance of stocking up sensibly.

For the rest of the time today I am going to aim at getting some writing done.  That tends to give me some get up and go, and heaven knows I need it.  Now that things are settling down with the car and father is back at the nursing home it has rather hit me.  Poor DH is still suffering from the whiplash so we will snuggle down tonight and get some quiet time in.

I thought I'd add a random pretty picture as I'm feeling a bit homesick and this cheered me up.

Monday 5 January 2015

You are Kidding!

I couldn't believe my eyes.  When I went into Tesco during a very try day they had Easter Eggs on the shelves.  It isn't even Twelfth Night - our decorations are still up!  How can they put Easter Eggs out with a straight face.  I can just imagine the staff putting it out and grumbling, knowing full well that the customers will be complaining at the till.

It isn't quite Plough Monday.  It isn't quite past Twelfth Night but I feel that we're off again into the working world.  I had planned to start some more of my New Year's Resolutions but instead I got called to a meeting with father's consultant.  He will be back at the nursing home today or tomorrow where they can spend some time feeding him up, teaspoon by teaspoon.  He is still frail and I am still quite worried.

The position with father is this: his stroke in the summer badly affected his ability to swallow.  This puts him at high risk when it comes to getting food and liquid in his lungs.  Father has taken advice and decided he wants to keep eating the pureed/thickened stuff.  I worry.  Tomorrow I will be taking his stuff up to the home and then I hope to start getting things started properly.

In the meantime I want to try and fit in fussing bear and DH - both in need of it, although I want to say DH has been a real hero being battered by bear playing 'Jackie Chan' while still suffering from whiplash.  Then I need to review where my resolutions are and get going with them.

I am optimistic.

Sunday 4 January 2015


I've been throwing things out.  I've thrown lots and lots and lots of things out.  The house is better for it, though I feel I have barely made a dent sometimes, it is definitely better.  The more I throw out, the sooner the house will be in a fit state.

Except of course when I throw out bear's pumps that he will need tomorrow for games at school.

I had had some of his old pumps in the pile and got rid previously but I think I threw the current lot out while I was trying to be efficient over Christmas.  I have to get some more!

Matalan didn't have any, neither did Asda or M&S when we called in on the way back from visiting father.  I am going to send all his other kit in, keep everything crossed that they don't need their pumps tomorrow and see what I can find.

Of course there is the matter of size.  Bear has been a junior size 13 for a while.  I have no idea how much longer his feet will stay there though so I am going for the size 1 and hope that they won't be too big.  With pumps I think bigger is better.

I have just had a quick look on Matalan click and collect and there are none there.  It is the wrong time of year for it.  Under the circumstances I think I will have a look at my friend ebay and hope that there is someone who will do express delivery.

This is not stopping me throwing things out!

Saturday 3 January 2015


We have a new to us car, the same make and type but newer with less miles.  DH spent half today driving around getting used to the car.  We got lost visiting father and the park we hoped to visit was shut.  It was still fun although DH is still a bit shaky after the accident.  It is going to be a test when he gets back to work.  I feel a bit sad, the new car is lovely but we had so much life left in the old car, and so many happy memories in it.  I hope we shall be able to keep this car a lot longer.

Bear went out with his doting auntie and came back with a nerf gun that if stood on end reaches up to his chin.  He has repeatedly demonstrated this nerf gun and there are ricochet marks everywhere.  So far he hasn't dented the ceiling but it is only a matter of time.  He has taken DH upstairs to play his version of Jackie Chan which, as far as I can see, means lots of bouncing off things and waving hands very fast.  Sigh.

Then bear was able to meet up with his doting uncle and found that he has had a donkey adopted for him, and he was very pleased with that.  I think he was a bit disappointed to find that while he can visit, we can't brink a donkey home.  I was clear about my views on what a donkey in his bedroom would do to the carpet.

Tonight is a large drink (thank you, brother) followed by an early night.

Friday 2 January 2015

Bear Fu

DH has kindly shown bear his first Jackie Chan clips on YouTube.  The furniture will never be safe again.

I've been working on the walk in cupboard.  I am donating the pans father brought.  I looked at them and thought things like, 'what a useful looking pan, what a good size.' and then I thought, I barely use all of my pan set anyway.  I may have a vision of an old fashioned range with pots bubbling gently but realistically if I am cooking I am just as likely to use the microwave to cook fresh veggies and rice and the slow cooker, halogen and remoska do far more than our hob.

I spent some time thinking.  I have decided to keep the cleaning stuff, diy stuff, freezer, material and sewing supplies and any bulk buying.  I am cutting down on the bulk buying, just a few bits now and again.  I am less likely to bulk buy the huge boxes of Ariel as the Aldi is so well recommended and I can just buy at a normal size.  I am getting a grip on the whole business of stockpiling loo rolls so there is less and less stashed.  As I have had and am having a a clear out of the cupboards there is more space to put the tins and pulses, and I am not planning on buying 72 tins of soup again any time soon (I've nearly used all those up and they are still in code).

I also got off a stop earlier after getting the bus into town and back and had an extra little walk.  I am feeling quite good about that.  I have been asked to go into the hospital to speak to the consultant about father on Monday.

Positive Thinking

We have a new car!  It's five years old and almost identical to the old one (but younger).  I hope that this will last us for ten years or so.  It has been okay, we have a settlement figure, we have a good position and now we can make a start.  There are some niggles left, but DH is well on top of them.

Father is still weak.  The doctor described him as 'frail and fragile', but he is a lot, lot better.  However he may now finally get his food sorted out.  Bluntly, father isn't getting enough calories as not enough is staying down, despite .  He was doing well but when he is tired he can't be bothered, and I suspect that food coughed up has ended up in his lungs, causing the pneumonia.  Now I have stamped my foot and said clearly that my father is likely to starve to death they are taking it seriously.  At the moment he is too weak to have most of the investigations.  However now he has a chance of getting them.

I have checked my calendar and online banking.  I am feeling positive.  I've found a bright side.

Thursday 1 January 2015


I've checked my Google calendar, I've checked internet banking, I have started off the New Year's Resolutions.

Now I am crawling off to recover from last night.  I didn't have a lot to drink, but the people at the back did and Dolly Parton at 120 decibels is not something I can cope with at 3am.  Regardless, I am feeling optimistic.