Thursday 30 April 2015

Nearly May

It is nearly May.  This makes it worse when I look out at the sunshine, fill the watering can and then step out into freezing rain.

I've put most the herbs randomly into the flower bed around the rosemary tree.  this includes a small rosemary that came with the bundle.  I shall keep the little one for cooking so I can cherish the rosemary tree.  I already had the garden mint in the big pot, so I shall add the black peppermint and the coriander to big pots as well.  I have heard about mint and as I know DH loves coriander I want to be able to cosset it a little.  There is still a danger of frost, but hopefully we shall escape the worst before the tomato plants I have ordered appear.  I sort of dug a hole in the earth/coir/compost mix and shoved them in with a little press around it.  I also gave them a water, despite the rain, as I felt I ought to.  In this street that counts as Royal Horticultural Society standards.

The great big huge leaves at the right are from bulbs father planted and which I haven't got the heart to lose.  They are between chives and thyme so I'm confident I won't get them confused.  It is all rather random but I am desperate to get them in and my leg is really sore.

Bear has floated the idea of buying a jacket out of his own money.  He is also okay with the idea of a patch but when I was scrolling through (who would have thought patches would be under 'Collectables' on eBay?) he spotted a patch showing the crest of Lannister.  This is from the Game of Thrones.  My view is that no matter how lovely and dramatic the nice lion on the red background, school would think even less of a Lannister patch than they would of a torn jacket.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

Bear Again

It hasn't been a good day so far.  I'm bracing myself to go out and water the plants with plant food even though we have had icy rain, hail and a very cold wind.  So I was unimpressed when I found that bear has a tear in his jacket.  It is the first jacket I have ever bought for him new and the first one bear actually bought in a shop.  It cost £9.

I have no idea how he has managed this, and allegedly neither does he.  And now I am in a dilemma.  Do I send him to school in a torn jacket?  I'd probably end up reported. As it is the trousers he wore this morning were creeping north towards his knees and I need to keep an eye on that.  Do I force him to wear the one he dismissed as 'too girly'?  To be fair, it is a bit girly, quite big on him and the zip is iffy.  Do I buy another one?

This coat is five days old.  I am unimpressed.

I know what father would say - buy bear a new jacket and father will pay.  I suspect that DH will rightly say that bear has just ruined £9 worth of jacket and will need to live with it.

I think it comes down to whether I can bear the shame of bear wearing a torn jacket while other mothers look at me in the playground.  Several of them judge.

Of course, the perfect punishment will be to take bear shopping for the jacket himself.  Bear doesn't like shopping.  He looks at shopping like most people look at being hit repeatedly over the head with a half brick.

I have just had an evil thought.  Bear is spending the weekend with his auntie.  His auntie loves shopping, I mean, she really loves shopping.  I am a very limp amateur compared to her.  If I give her a budget I am sure she will find something for bear.  And bear can be there at the sharp end, trying things on.

I won't give in to this temptation.  Auntie shops at Harvey Nichols.  I definitely don't have the budget for that, £9 was more than enough.

You can get stick on patches.  That is bound to be less than a new coat and possibly less judged than a tear.  I shall go and do some research with my friend eBay - and any suggestions very welcome.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Bearing Up

I'm having a bit of a fail day, with epic amounts of self pity.  However loads of good stuff is around if I look for it.  The courgettes are not yet dead.  I may be getting equally lovely neighbours.  Also, bear is being, well, bear.

I suggested going to a museum on Saturday, after the bird of prey visit.  If you could have heard the sarcasm bear managed to fit into his 'Yay!' you would have thought I had a teenager.  Of all the ways he could be advanced, this is not the one I would have chosen but if you could have heard him giving me grief about his party you would have added five years to him.  The maths tutor was a witness to this and she could barely stop herself from laughing out loud (he didn't get away with it).

In fact yesterday bear rejoiced that it had been PE and maths and he had had extra maths - those were my worst nightmares at school!  Where did I go right?

This photo from WikiCommons is titled 'You scared me!' but to me it is saying, 'Yay, a chance to go around a dusty museum I can't wait - not!'  I'm braced.

Monday 27 April 2015

Time for Shopping

I sort of accidentally bid on a watch, but failed to win it.  The reason I got to the whole 'watch' thing is a long story, but actually I could probably do with a watch, especially as I am spending so much time at bus stops.

I had a look at my friend.  There are some dreadful things done in the name of 'watch'.  I just need something cheap.  I do things to watches.  The most reliable one I ever had was one of the early digital ones that came free with a box of Ariel.  Even that eventually told me that it was the 34th of June.  Any watch I wear seems to end up wandering, some are made of sterner stuff and last longer, but they all fail in the end, usually within six months.

I haven't felt the urge to bid, so I'm sort of keeping this shopping kick in reserve the next time I need retail therapy.

I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself.  Most of the effects of the gluten have gone.  All I need to do now is get rid of this cellulitis.  However it seems to be making me feel poorly all over, so I have skipped a visit to father.  I have managed to pot up the mint - in a big pot as I know mint's reputation.  The rest of the herbs are going mainly around the rosemary tree, but I want to get some compost first.  Sarah Head knows all about herbs, so I may take advantage of her kind offer.

This is the mint which has been planted half an hour and still isn't dead.  The courgettes, however, are looking a bit peaky

Saturday 25 April 2015

Whapped by a Vulture

We had a trip to the Bird of Prey Centre in Settle.  The vulture got me this time, last time they got DH.  Bear was fine.  Being clipped by a vulture doesn't happen to everyone.  I feel privileged.

Due to driving rain, cold wind and downright tiredness, no photos, so here is a picture of a caracara, one ran between bear's legs to his utter delight.

Bear deserved a treat.  He has been in the Special Book at school for always having something to say about topics.  This could indicate a wide breadth of YouTube videos or a know-it-all.  However he was also awesome at his second fencing lesson and has generally been a good lad.

I have cellulitis again.  I am a bit low.  However I need to get my act together as I have a dozen small pots of herbs that need to be sorted out.  I bid on them, regrettably won them and now I have to work out what to not only with the parsley and the mint but also the curry plant and the fennel.  That should be loads of fun.  The thought of it has really cheered me up!

Friday 24 April 2015

Light Fail

The very nice son of Nice Mr Former Neighbour installed the lights and did a very good job.  There were some issues, so I was glad I hadn't had a go myself.  Apparently some of the wires were not quite as they should be - but I knew that anyway.  We had had issues years ago with one of them.  So now we have lovely new lights in two rooms.  But the lights are too small.  It looks smaller than the measurements, if you understand what I mean.  I could cry.

It doesn't matter.  I'm still keeping them.  They cost a massive amount (for me) and I am not replacing them for at least ten years.  And they do look good.  They look small and good.  I would rather they were too small than too big.

I miss our neighbours.  There is now only a box from a lorry on the street.  Actually there is also a huge pile of junk in their former garden, two small cars that belong to a friend )and goodness knows what will happen to them) and a large lump of flytipping that I think my lovely former neighbour is going to get framed for.

The courgettes are still going.

Thursday 23 April 2015

Feel the Fail and Do it Anyway

We started making a pincushion in class.  I'm doing okay on the straight sewing but I had an epic fail on the curves.  I'll put up a pic when we finish it next week, such as it is.  It was great to have a go with.  The teacher (who is lovely) used the filling from an old pillow for the stuffing.  It was a sort of patchwork, where you use eight triangles to make a larger square, then sew them together.  It was excellent practice.  The machining was okay but my ability to cut out was seriously challenged and I pressed things all wrong.  It's a great way to learn.  I shall be patchworking with my ties so I want to have a good go with other stuff first to learn what I can do wrong - and then avoid the fails!

On the bright side, the rosemary tree has been in for nearly 24 hours and still isn't dead.

Also some more fabric came.  I actually spent @ £1 per metre on this (including p&p, of course).

It's a not-too-lightweight polyester, very pleasant, around 60 inches or 150 cm wide and roughly 20 metres long.  Fortunately I do have a plan for that.  Though I may have to ask DH to help me fold it.

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Rosemary for Rememberance

My rosemary tree is in!  I hope to surround it with herbs.  I've planted some purple carrot and purple spring onion seeds as well.  Bear donated some stones from his rock collection (things he has picked up off the road) to put at the bottom of the tub.  I felt I under surveillance as I swear a bee was hovering as if on guard for ages, right in front of the front step.  It wasn't a hover fly, it was a bee, but I think it was a little confused.  I also had a bumble bee bumbling around.  It was so big I thought it would show up on radar.  The laurels opposite are all in flower which is attracting the bees and the scent is lovely.

In fact it has been a busy day.  First of all the plumbers came at 8am and fixed the toilet flush.  They did a lovely job.  Then I called in to see father.  He is fed up.  He feels that the healthcare professionals have given up.  To be honest there is little more they can do.  It has been hard.  Still, as they are digging up a massive roundabout near to father, the buses are all over the place and I had to pick a route that wasn't going along the main road.  It was a bit of a challenge.  Here is an overview of some of the works

Image from who are doing their best

I'm sure it is going as well as can be expected, but it is causing havoc with the rush hour buses.

The man who was supposed to fit the lights didn't show up, but there was another play date.  It looks like the lights will be tomorrow.  Poor lad hasn't been well (I know him, he's lovely).

Now I just need to work out what the new neighbours are like two doors down.  I think they'll be okay.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Looks Like Gardening

Not only has my Approved Food order just arrived, but I have also just taken delivery of a Rosemary Tree.  It is a bit bigger than I expected.  I now need to clear the area where I want to plant it.  I had a little go earlier and I filled three bin bags far too easily.  I wish I knew someone who used compost.  It seems a shame.

Speaking of which, we have hostas.  I don't particularly like them and they attract slugs, which are already over-running the garden.  They ought to be re-potted.  I don't want to re-pot them.  I do not want to go through the whole soaking/tipping/lugging/compost/pushing/soaking thing.  I feel I will be a bad person if I get rid of them.  They were given to father.  I am considering getting rid of them anyway.

I should also have already got the seeds in for the Psychedelic Salad and Funky Veg kit.  Oops.

I ought to get things spotless for the playdate, but I'll just have a quick shuffle round and try and work on the garden.  The end of the week doesn't look good so I need to get the seeds in while it is briefly warm.  I also need to get the other herbs I want.  I don't trust myself with seed and I can't get to a garden centre easily so I think I will have to order from Amazon.  I can't really lean on my friend eBay at the moment as parcel deliveries are difficult and Amazon will deliver to a local post office.  I am out a lot visiting father and we don't have a neighbour to leave parcels with anymore.

Father wants to come home.  He thinks he will get better at home.  I think that medically it is insane.  If he came home he would never again have a shower (physically not possible to sort out in our house), he would struggle to get to a hospital appointment and he would never otherwise leave the house.  He is becoming more and more frail and needs (according to social workers and health professionals) 24 hour medical care.  If he came home I wouldn't be able to take bear to the Maths Tutor.

So I am going to think about gardening.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Creepy Crawlies

I had already had to scrub myself several times after sorting stuff out in the garden.  We seem to have far more than our fair share of scuttling mini beasts in our corners, which is apparently healthy.  I itched.

Today I visited the bathroom and found a Very Big Wasp.  It was possibly a queen looking for a place to nest, as it realistically did look quite large, but it looked roughly the size of a kestrel to me.  I fled.  But it was only me and bear in the house.  I had to do something.  I knew bear would not react well to a Very Big Wasp when he was trying to use the facilities.  A rolled up newspaper was out of the question.  Apart from anything else, we don't get newspapers now that father isn't here, so it would have been some form of magazine, most of which I actually want to keep!  My track record with anything rolled up is also abysmal.  I am a hazard and there are far too many things to knock over in the bathroom.

I wasn't sure if we had any fly spray.  I had a rummage and because I had recently had a bit of a clear out I found a can of bug spray.  I think it is older than bear.

I was not an adventurous warrior.  I crept up to the bathroom door and listened.  The angry buzzing continued.  I dashed in, sprayed madly, dashed out and shivered.  I left it about half an hour.  I stood, poised, listening at the door.  No sound.  I crept in with the spray can at the ready.  It took me a few minutes to find it and the poor thing was twitching.  I gave it another heavy duty blast and retreated again.  It should at least now be stunned.  Now I shall wait for DH to come home and be a mighty warrior and dispose of remains.

I looked on WikiCommons for a picture of a wasp for illustration.  There was no way I was going in to get a picture of the striped raider.  All the pictures made my skin crawl, so here is a pretty picture of a daisy instead.

Saturday 18 April 2015

Bear is Surprising

Bear surprised me as after lobbying for a new scooter he offered to pay for it!  Well, some of it.  Actually quite a big bit of it.  We got it from the Entertainer (whose service was awesome) and it looks like this

Then bear was discussing his maths homework.  I am unimpressed by the homework.  He has to arrange twelve shapes that are funny sort of arrangements of blocks to make a rectangle.  Bear suggested he went on Google Images for a clue.

Afterwards DH and I worked out that as bear normally would just say 'Google' or look it up on YouTube he has probably had a look.  At least once.  I am trying hard not to just let bear get away with cheating as it is sort of research, shows initiative and it's stupid homework anyway.  If I had ever been set it, I would have just taken the detention, I wouldn't know where to start.

For the record, after some research on Wikipedia, the dratted thing is a Pentomino.  It starts off looking like this

And is supposed to end up looking like the 5x12 example in this

Both above images from Wikipedia and the full article is here.  Tomorrow is homework day.  It could be very long.

Friday 17 April 2015

Another Few Bits to Sort Out

Father's room is full of 'stuff' and, while I am sleeping there (considerably quieter than the former junk room), it is still father's room.  I haven't cleared up the bits on his bedside table or anything.

Today I extracted bear's scooter from the space underneath the steps which I suspect was the original outside toilet.  Bear was unable to be consoled as his friend hadn't turned up for the playdate (third time this holiday, but showed up unexpected yesterday).  The under step space now looks like this.

Yes, there is a 400g ball of acrylic yarn there - long story.  I don't think this has been properly opened for nearly twelve months, and it was father that dealt with it all.

It feels disloyal getting rid of stuff that was stashed by father, but I'm going to have to do it.  It makes sense for me to start clearing some of the rubbish out of father's room, but I can't bring myself to do that.

I'm going to get rid of the rusted tins of paint (poor DH will have to make a special trip to the tip) and try and use up the swathes of plant food and weedkiller.  I've filled two bin bags with the most obvious other rubbish.  The rest, well, I'll worry about that later.  The folding chairs and table were something father wanted for the garden.  I can't bear to get rid of them while he's still with us.

My Mother Should Have Warned Me

I think that eBay is the sort of friend that my mother should have warned me about.  Mind you, my late mother passed before I had even heard of eBay, but really she should have said something.

The two yellow parcels contained this.

Around twenty metres of actually very pleasant voile in good condition.  I've seen a pretty scarf I can make (which is incredibly easy).  It takes about half a metre.  I've got some other ideas as well.  However, darn.  It cost 99p plus p&p and the amount on the parcel stamps was 50p less than the amount charged on the eBay listing.

Mind you, the lavender from the zillion lavender plants father planted mean I have all the means to make great lavender bags - and Christmas presents!  The church sale of work will be able to use them, and to be honest I quite like having a few around.  It still probably won't use up all the fabric, but I can save it until next year.  And the year after.  And the year after that.  I do want it in my stash, though. It could be fun.

Now I just need to keep my fingers crossed I'm outbid by lunchtime...

Thursday 16 April 2015

I'm On Pinterest

I'm now on Pinterest, or rather, Lyssa Medana is.  I've been putting stuff up for 'The Forgotten Village' and 'Digging up the Past' and I'm pulling together a few bits for 'A Simple Spell' which I am currently working on (just over 31,000 words and counting).

I'd love to follow anyone reading this, so could you either comment with who to look for (I will only publish if you explicitly say I should) or follow Lyssa on Pinterest and I will follow back.

I'm still trying to work out what I am doing.  I suspect I shall lose a lot of time there.

I Wilted Some Salad Greens

Actually I poured a kettle of boiling water over some of the dandelions that are growing between the flags in the garden, but it looked like what happens with the fancy chefs.

The garden looks like a distressed area but it can only pick up.  I've pulled up some nettles, and refused to save them for soup.  I can only imagine bear's expression.  I'm pulling up a weed or two every time I go out.  I will have to a concerted effort at some later time.  The courgettes are looking a bit healthier and I gave them a fine spray with a spray bottle.  The compost looked damp so I didn't want to flood them, but I wanted to give them a bit of moisture.

Actually, today has been a bit odd.  It is only @ 10.30am as I type, but I have weeded, stripped beds, filled the dishwasher, filled the washing machine, got something out of the freezer for dinner and filled a bin bag with rubbish from the porch.  Actually almost clearing the porch has revealed the rose for the watering can, and that is a help.  I have an apple tree in a tub that needs watering as well, but I can just bung a bucket on with that.

I've been doing all that but actually I feel really poorly, very dizzy and disorientated.  It's probably not anything important, and I keep waiting for it to wear off, but it does feel odd.

Here are my wilted greens

And by the way, does anyone know what this is?  It's all over bear's apple tree.  With the bees around I don't want to splash chemicals around, but this is bear's tree.  It was brought from uncle's as it was bear's.  It was planted for him when he was born.  It's important.  I thought I would ask here, but I will also be fossicking around the internet etc.  It's a bit sad that I am the most greenfingered person I know in real life - and I really am not!

Another worrying thing is that when I popped out for these photos I filled two bin bags just with the bits of rubbish in the corners of the garden and a few weeds (plenty left!) and put in another load of washing - all the time feeling very poorly when I bent over.  I suppose I  might as well make the most of it.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Not a Good Start

Darn it.  A parcel failed to be delivered on Monday, while we were at the dentist.  I arranged redelivery today which was the earliest possible.  It must have been posted on Saturday at the latest.  It held three courgette plants that I wasn't expecting yet.  I haven't got the garden fit for plants.

I've got the poor things potted up with some sterling help from bear.  It isn't conventional.  There is a layer of that white, bobbly polystyrene stuff that helped pack around the sewing machine.  Then there is a layer of compost (thank you, Tesco, for delivering that), then a layer of the coir compressed stuff.

To be honest, I'm not sure how they will do now.  I'll get them staked in a week or so, and see what happens.  I'll be leaving them near to the central heating vent, we are sheltered here so I will hope for the best.  Gardening is another thing I know a lot of theory but little practice, and the theory is at least thirty years out of date.

I've put them into two tubs.  I'll keep watering and feeding and see how I go.

Bear likes Maths

Apparently bear is very good at maths for his age.  He sat at the table in the Tutor's room (she is lovely!) and did maths tests - and loved them!  It would be absolute hot hell for me, and to be honest I didn't know a lot of the answers that bear did, but all I know is that bear was very happy.  He came away giddy, bouncy and full of excitement.  The Tutor was a bit surprised as normally she takes on children who are struggling or are trying to pass entrance exams.  Bear is really not struggling and as the local grammar is the other side of the city and at least an hour's travel each way I don't think I'd ever get him there, so no stress about the 11 plus.

I worry about bear.  At the moment he is getting the equivalent of something like drama or street dance that he loves.  He also gets out of the house.  I really don't want him feeling any pressure.  I don't want him to lose friends by gloating about how clever he is.  I don't want him feeling pushed where he isn't comfortable.

I'll keep an eye on things and see how it goes.  As long as bear is getting the benefit I am happy to keep going.

I had a look on WikiCommons for a picture of maths.  I found the pictures very intimidating, but I chose this because now bear knows what an obtuse angle is.  It hasn't been covered yet at school but it was in the tests and the tutor explained.  Bear got it.  I never did.  At least I can help with the literacy homework.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Shopping - Epic Fail

First there was the batteries.  I ordered AA batteries from Tesco, and they were substituted.  They said AA on the form but just a different brand, but they actually gave me AAA which won't make the mouse work.  In fact I don't think we need AAA for anything.  Darn.

Then there were the t-shirts.  There was an incredibly reasonable deal for t-shirts, @ £2 each for plain, wash, tumble, drip, line dry basic t-shirts.  I got a selection because I thought it would take bear through.  Not only that, I thought cheap t-shirts on eBay are likely to be a bit on the small size so instead of getting 7-8 I got 9-11.  Bear isn't very small for his age, I would say he was a little tall so I thought it would be safe.  Bear just looked at me when I unpacked them and held one up against himself.  He could wear it as a dress.  Double Darn

I caved and got the fusible stiffener.  It's supposed to be 'iron on'.  That would be fine if I could work out which was the sticky side.  The problem is that both sides seem equally shiny.  I think it will be a case of trial, error and spray on adhesive.  Triple Darn.

To cheer myself up, here is a link to the Buzz Feed set of pictures showing Cats that Have Made Poor Life Choices.  I think my favourite is No 7.

Packed Programme

Yesterday bear went to the dentist.  Not only were there no problems but he charmed them - again.  Then we went shopping and I bought him some trainers - and that was hard!  A few months ago  I bought him some trainers from M&S for school which cost £12 and I was reluctantly agreeing to get a second pair to keep at home, because they were apparently awesome.  Except bear spotted a different pair.  Apparently these were even more awesome - and more expensive!

He charmed the shop assistant at M&S as well and she said she couldn't resist his smile.  We had lunch in his favourite cafe where he was once again utterly spoiled.  Then we called in to get some lavender oil.  If you had seen the performance bear put on when I asked him to sniff it you would have thought he had had a lungful of mustard gas.  I am still going to be putting it on the cuts, scratches, grazes and stings he is collecting regardless of any drama.

All this pales to nothing compared to the wonderful thing that is happening later today.  Bear is getting extra maths.  He is very keen so I am rather reluctantly taking him somewhere.  I don't want to have a child that has been pushed to be good at maths.  However as bear has been asking for extra maths for some time now, I have caved.  I've asked that they stick to around the current curriculum and give him plenty of 'sums'.  I can't keep up and neither can DH.

Sometimes I wonder.  At the last parents' evening the teacher told us that bear had told him facts about the topic that he didn't know - and that the teacher had checked and found to be right.  I suppose being a slack mother giving too much screen time has its benefits and bear had hoovered up all sorts of YouTube videos and books on the subject.  However I now have a wonderful incentive - clean your room or you won't get to do your maths.

I never thought it would come to this.

Monday 13 April 2015

EBay is a Strange Friend

I was looking on eBay, which is my friend.  Don't ask how I found it, but you can find the little cardboard tubes you use for making fireworks on there.  You can also find 'joss money' which I had never heard of but apparently is burned at Chinese funerals.  You can find bags of used wine corks (if we ever drank wine and drank the sort that had corks instead of screw tops I would save ours up) and I even found a five foot high (160cm) papier mache giraffe.  I'm not even drunk.

I'm typing this at 11pm and I think it's time I went to bed.

Home Made Laundry Detergent

I was reading a copy of Your Home Magazine.  It is aimed more at the budget end of the market so while it does have links to wallpaper at over £70 per roll or more and is obviously going to show off some fancy home decor, it is more relevant to me.  It's not absolutely relevant to me as I am no nearer decorating, but I can dream.

May 2015 issue has a recipe for Home Made Washing Powder (p61).  I had indifferent results when making Laundry Gloop.  It got my clothes lovely and clean but there was The Smell.  I couldn't lose the foul 'tramp' smell.  However if I tumble dried the clothes or dried inside it was fine.  Washing with normal soap powder has acquired The Smell when I line dry sometimes, so I am considering taking a risk again.

One of the 'Shopping List' items is a paper plate because you have to grate the soap onto the paper plate before tipping it into the glass jar.  The glass jar looks lovely and was the first thing that caught my eye, but they didn't say where they got it.  It looks rather like the jar I got from Matalan which shattered explosively when dropped.  Other items on the 'Shopping List' include 'Truly Scrumptious Doilies'.  I didn't know you needed (actually very pretty) doilies to make washing powder, and they look like this.

They do look very pretty, but are not what I would normally consider necessary for a laundry room.  However they are apparently vital to create the label, which also needs washi tape.  I am not sure what washi tape is, but I believe it is pretty.

However when you take away the pretty label, the shabby chic scoop and the paper plate, you get what I think is a workable recipe.  According the magazine, you grate one bar of soap.  Then you add twice the weight of the grated soap of borax or borax substitute, twice the weight of the grated soap of soda crystals and stir up.  It doesn't say how much to use in the wash, but I would go for about half a cup or less.  I won't be using a wooden scoop but a left over plastic measure, it will be a stick on label rather than a crafted one and I will probably be using a plastic container. However I think I will go for it once my current soap powder runs out.

Costs as I type - one 125g bar of Tesco Everyday Value soap is 15p.  The soda crystals in Tesco are £1 for 1 kilo, so 25p for each lot of the recipe.  They don't have the borax substitute there, but I would feel confident adding the Wizz Oxi Stain removing powder which is £2.50 for a kilo, or 63p per lot of recipe.  Homecare Essentials supplied the Dri Pak borax substitute which was used in the magazine, £1.90 for 500g (85p per lot of recipe but you have to account for postage) and I found the site here.  They also do Biotex which absolutely rocks!

I will share if it happens.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Words of Wisdom

Christine wrote:

When you're struggling with the sewing machine you can't be shopping :-) It's so tempting though to take the easier route especially if there is no price difference. Just think how proud you'd be once storage cube made and if you go to IKEA you'd probably come back with more than that! Good luck whatever you decide! Christine.


No-one comes out of IKEA without at least an extra £14.72 of stylishly designed, reasonably priced, vaguely useful tat.  I shall go for the sewing.  I have some old duvets, some old sheets and I am considering gluing in thin card for the first attempts.  Mind you, the instructions call for spray adhesive but it is never actually mentioned in the 'step one', 'step two' etc bits so maybe it is for the practice.

Also, some of the fabric in IKEA is awesome.  It would definitely not be safe for me to go there at the moment.  I would really love some of this.

Saturday 11 April 2015

Feeling a Bit Inadequate

I've been reading the instructions in a book to make a fabric storage cube.  There are a few issues with DH's magazines and a storage cube may work better than the current rather nice magazine rack.  There is a few snags.  I am not entirely sure my machining is neat enough.  I am not very confident with the way they sort of fit handles between lining and outer layer.  Also, they require ten squares, each measuring nine inches, of fusible stiffener.  The instructions only mention five.  Darn.  IKEA sell very reasonably priced storage cubes, it makes more sense.  I priced up the fusible stiffener and it is £6.29, which is a lot when I'll probably have a go with some second hand duvet/curtain material to make sure I'm doing it right before attacking it with 'proper' fabric, which means two lots of stiffener.  That comes to £12.58 before I've even touched fabric and thread.

On the other hand, if I'm swearing over fusible buckram perhaps then I won't be spending randomly on eBay.  It may be a saving.  I'm currently browsing elderly, used curtains with a view to finding the fabric to make bear a cloak.  He may accept a cloak (though I am not going to put a bet on it).  There are truly dreadful things done in the name of curtains.

Another concern is that eBay may get jealous of my growing relationship with Amazon.  For the first time in nearly twenty years we are getting a new shower curtain.  This is completely random, actually quite needed and it looks like this.

I really need to step away from the shopping opportunity.

Friday 10 April 2015

Bear is Very Clear

Yesterday I used up an Amazon £25 voucher for some gluten free crispbread that I love.  There were a few pennies over and as my current shopping focus is sewing I picked up a £2.80 pattern of some boy's shorts that is supposed to be really easy and ideal for my first attempt in sewing class with a pattern.  I realised that they were the wrong age as they only went up to age 6 and bear is emphatically 8, but after measuring bear I found he would fit into the largest size.  There is more meat on a butcher's pencil than bear despite his best efforts and he fit into a pair of jeans that were aged 5 a few days ago.

This is the pattern.  It looks very normal to me.

It arrived today and I asked bear if he would like me to make him a pair of shorts.  Bear reacted as if he had been asked to volunteer as a subject for the freestyle disemboweling contest.  He was emphatic.  He ran around the room.  He flopped heavily on the sofa.  He was Very, Very Clear and utterly rejected any sewing input from me.  He isn't even a teenager yet.

I think I will stick to trying to sew bags for a bit.  At least, after the invasion of small boys has ebbed.

Sitting Down Day

There is a high chance of small boys running around today.  Unfortunately there are some that can't be trusted not to break nice things, so I can't risk setting up sewing.  I really, really want to finish the bag and I have seen a lot of things I would really like to try.  Some of them require fusible stiffener.  I'm not exactly sure what fusible stiffener even looks like, but I'll have a quick chat with my friend eBay and I'm sure I'll work it out.

I won't be able to watch tv.  I keep telling small boys to turn the computer volume down and to shut the door over but have had the success you would expect.  Bear is currently into Pokemon.  I am pretending it isn't happening.  I also have to listen out for parcel(s).

So I am having a Sitting Down Day.  I don't have many 'running around' days anyway, but today is a sitting down day, so that is writing, surveys, possibly a smidgeon of knitting and the strong possibility of a rag rug.

I looked on WikiCommons for pictures of buckram, which seems to be what fusible stiffener is based on, and I found that it is another name for wild garlic or ransoms that grow so prolifically around here.  We will be getting the flowers soon, but here is a picture which is a lot prettier than horsehair fabric.

Thursday 9 April 2015

Veg Box

I should have taken a photo.  I just had a very large box with fruit, salad and veggies delivered.  I will need to get a wiggle on to use it all up.  I suspect bear will attack the strawberries, but I will attack the sweet pepper - I love pepper raw!

I also had a portion of smoked fish delivered.  This is a bit awkward as I had planned a second attack on the very large gammon joint but the smoked fish will wait until tomorrow (I hope!) and the gammon is lunch for bear and I, dinner tonight and lunch tomorrow.

What I should do is sit down and list what was delivered and how I'm going to use it up.  Maybe next week.

Tonight is going to be the cold ham, carrot and parsnip roasted in the remoska for DH and I (bear is currently utterly rejecting although he has loved it in the past), with the HUGE head of broccoli.  Tomorrow is the smoked fish with greens (hopefully they will be fine), carrots and the bag of new potatoes.

There are lots of things in the freezer so I will be using them and looking at swede and parsnip cooked together then mashed with butter and pepper, pasta sauce, salads and when it is cold next week I shall have veggie soup.

Displacing onto housewifery will be a lot less expensive and a lot more use than displacing on to ebay.  I am currently trying to work out what happened to my parcel.  It is allegedly at a local post office.  This post office is miles away, foul to try and reach on a bus, and I am not exactly sure where it is.  I'm even less sure what will be in the parcel, there are a lot of possibilities.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Realistic Attempt

I decided to have another go with sewing, as bear seemed to be completely engrossed in a YouTube Video about Pokemon.  I have a book called 'Patchwork Bags' (acquired during a low moment).  I had a look.  It was full of patterns that needed webbing and fusible interfacing and and wadding.  I decided I may need to work up to that.  I then pulled out a 'Sew a Metre Book'.  This was more promising.  There still were mentions of interfacing but it seemed nearer to what I could possibly manage.

My first challenge was the pattern sheets.  There were four sheets for the book, all contained in a small envelope.  It looked a bit like this.

I carefully disentangled the four sheets, cut out the pattern for the very basic bag and tried to fold them up again.  I had an epic fail and it looked a bit like this.

I will never be able to get the pattern sheets back into the envelope.  Fortunately I have some envelope files stashed from other things and a remarkable supply of pillowcases that I sort of acquired so I should be able to keep it all together.

I very carefully cut out the pattern piece, ironed it, ironed the piece of duvet cover I was using (the nice teacher at the sewing lessons said that it needed to be aligned to the selvedge but it's a bit of old duvet cover that has been washed beyond knowing so I skipped that bit), pinned the piece to the fold, carefully cut out the fabric, twice, as required and then bear was BORED!!! and also devastated that the friend that was supposed to be calling hadn't called, and I couldn't raise the friend on the phone.  We had a heavy duty cuddle and now we have watched five minutes each of the Lego Movie, Scooby Doo, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I have hopes that we may make it to ten minutes on the Power Rangers.

Tomorrow I hope to not only sew the bits together but also come to terms with bias binding.  I also hope bear will be in a better place.  Poor lad was beside himself, and as he has been on the edge of something horrible and green nosed for a while so I just hope it either passes or breaks.  I have more heavy duty cuddles on standby.

Tuesday 7 April 2015

Oyez, oyez, oyez

That is what the town crier should say, from the Old French equivalent of 'listen up!'

We went to the Royal Armouries in Leeds with a friend of bear's and we had the most amazing time.  One of the performances was a kids' show of 'King Arthur and the Dragon'.  Bear got called down on to the stage to be the town crier with the proclamation on the stage.  The (really very good) performers were very encouraging.  They didn't need to be.

Bear sauntered onto the stage with his hands in his pockets and looked supremely at ease.  They put a hat and tabard on him and gave him a bell to ring.  Bear was happy to oblige.  He rattled the bell up and down with extreme vigour, yelled a confident 'oh yeaz' (their spelling) and then sauntered off, hands in pocket again.

We had a glorious day, I really recommend a visit there, especially if you take your own sandwiches or buy from the local Tesco Metro.

Sunday 5 April 2015

I Made a Tube scarf

Here is my tube scarf being modeled by a toy penguin.

And I did it.  I made something with the sewing machine.  It was easy stuff, the main problem I had was turning the dratted thing right side out after I had sewn the ends together.  The principle is that you make a tube, sew the ends together and have a circle of fabric that you can wear casually around your neck.  I used the old duvet that I got from a charity shop and didn't use half of it.  The material had had all the fight washed out of it a long time ago, and was very easy to work with.

I also found that the disappearing pen that I had had such high hopes for after my struggle with tailor's chalk wasn't ideal.  By the time I had finished working out what the heck I should be doing and put the final marks on, the first marks I made had disappeared.  I suppose they're supposed to, but darn it, it wasn't helpful.  I used pins to mark, but I was tempted to use biro.

I am seriously considering making one from fleece for the winter.  If I decide against using any of the fleece I already have, or if I have already used it, I shall pay a visit to IKEA, because as far as I can tell the fleece that is currently selling for £3 will be a brilliant amount of fabric.

Okay, what do I make next...

Saturday 4 April 2015

I Felt Brave

I threaded up my sewing machine for the first time.  I hacked some pieces of an old duvet (should have ironed, I think, but didn't bother), watched the dvd twice, followed the guides on the machine and went for it.  You can see the result above.

I had a few issues with tension and the hole is where I tried to use the buttonhole function and it all sort of got sucked into the works.  I realised too late that I should have used the buttonhole foot.  I shall consider that later - much later.

Then once I had dug it out I had a few issues with rethreading the thing.  I used some language.  I jammed it again.  But I got it running properly and practiced going up and down again.

I bought a sewing magazine on Thursday for change (and indulgence, I wish I could fool myself).  In it is a pattern for a tube scarf.  I have never worn a tube scarf.  However you sew together six fat quarters, two rows of three, in a tube then the ends to each other and you then wear it.  It sounded plausible.

I had to look up what fat quarters were.  I had sort of heard the name, but I had to check the size.  Then I had a quick word with my friend eBay and nearly fell off my chair at the prices they were asking.  I did see one bit of fabric I liked and it was sort of striped and I thought it would be cute to have the stripes all running in different directions - until I worked out the price.  It would cost @ £15!  That's more than I pay for a pair of jeans/shoes/top/any item of clothing.

However it looks a really useful way to learn to sew seams, so I am going to keep cutting up bits of old duvet, ironing them, cutting them to size, and then having a go.  I found a tutorial here, but there seems to be loads on the web.  The results can be taken to Nice Mr Next Door's new house for his rags.  Though if he continues to fail to move out I shall be able to just hand them over to him.

Friday 3 April 2015


I did a serious clean under bear's desk in the study yesterday.  I think I need to be a bit more vigilant there, as it was a grim, grim task and showed I had not nearly got up all of the hundreds and thousands he had spilled over the floor last week (don't ask).

I also found the clean socks I gave him yesterday.  What do I have to do to get that child to change his socks?  The way he carries on you would think that that I was asking him to do a full pedicure instead of just putting on a clean pair.  It isn't so bad on an eight year old but my limited experience of teenage boys says that one day I will be dealing with a hulking fourteen year old who really needs to change his socks.

I'm going to have to go back to bear's desk again and pull everything out properly and get DH to help me with the rat's nest of wires before doing a vacuum, then stiff brush, then vacuum again.  Part of the problem is that desk was moved into that position around 1996.  Before then there was a more rickety desk from the day we moved in.  It isn't a little desk.  I bought it for £2.50 when the court got new furniture.  It is around five feet long (@ 150cm) and about thirty inches deep (@ 75cm) and is seriously solid.  It has always had a computer on it.  I really dread to think what I may find at the very back.  It will probably include a pair of bear's clean socks.

I looked on Wiki Commons for an appropriate picture, but after I found a full frontal picture of a naked man wearing only socks I thought I would leave the whole sock picture business well along.  Here is a pretty picture of something else.  It was the first random picture that came up and seemed quite appropriate for Good Friday.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Another Sewing Lesson

I jammed the sewing machine twice - I swear I heard it snigger.

Mind you, it was comforting to know that I am not the only one there with a serious eBay habit, although no-one there had randomly bought 90 ties.  Sigh.  I am still hoping I will be outbid in the next four hours or I may be getting some serious fabric stash.

We watched another pattern being laid out, and I understood it, and we practiced doing notches and clipping curved seams and it all made sense.  All I need to do now is work out how to thread the sewing machine.  That may take some time.  However I live in hope and have decided that once I have got the hang of things with bags and cushion covers I am going to going to make bear a cloak.  Bear will approve.  If I can make one for DH, so much the better!  He may forgive the curtain fabric (though I don't think I should risk making the cloak from the actual curtain fabric, I think that could go a bit silly).

When I was looking on WikiCommons for a picture of a cloak I found this.

It's from the V&A Museum and I think bear would love something it.  I think he will have to wait for a while before I get up to this standard.

Busy Night

Last night I dreamt that Social Services had come to take bear away.  Bear was wandering in and out looking fine and they were telling me he was fine.  However I did have to keep explaining the strange men wandering in and out who I didn't actually recognise.

Then I was dreaming we had missed our bus stop and ended up in Norway (it seemed logical in the dream, could happen to anyone).  We had a bit of a look round and then went to get the bus back and I couldn't find bear.  He had gone missing and I was going frantic.

I was very relieved when the alarm went off.

We are about to start the two weeks holidays here.  There are bound to be times when I am ready to wring his neck.  I think I shall hold on to how I felt during those dreams and give him a tickle instead.

Wednesday 1 April 2015

What is an Appliance

Yesterday I received a text and email that I was going to have an appliance delivered.  I hadn't ordered an appliance.  I confess I had to check as I have not been having a brilliant time and have been spending a bit too much time with my friend eBay, but I had no hint of anything.

This morning I got the time it was likely to be delivered - just at the time I had my first hair appointment for a very, very long time.  Father had been insisting.  I was on pins, tracking the appliance on the very conveniently linked website and watching it getting nearer and nearer as I was blow dried.  I got to my house with minutes to spare, I didn't even have time to put the kettle on.

It was a chopping board.  It was a plain chopping board that had cost pennies.  The total I spent for the board plus postage wouldn't have covered half the postage.  The delivery man was chuckling.  Apparently it was on 'must be delivered before noon' as well.  I do not believe a chopping board is an appliance.  In this case it is a bit of pine.  While I was relieved not to have an unexpected tumble dryer, a bit of plank was a let down.

I think I may have to cool my friendship with eBay a little.  I've not found any really nice lampshades that would fit the 'plain, dull, not too short, probably magnolia' description.  I have found some dreadful, dreadful things done in the name of lampshades, though, so I may just end up on the market.

I have also been looking at tablecloths.  My pvc tablecloth is now battle-scarred and shouldn't be tumble dried and I wondered if I would be better off with a thickish cloth I could both wash and tumbledry, bleach and soak in Ace.  The kitchen table is the £30 find we got that is thinly varnished with that cheap brown stain so isn't perfect and would be better for some protection, but I can put an underlay of fleece which not only would wash and tumble dry but I also have in abundance.  I looked on my friend. There are some dreadful things done in the name of tablecloths.  I'm considering some second hand previously Indian Restaurant stock at a very inexpensive price, far less expensive than the fabric.

Or I may just not bother now that the time of year for drying outside is coming up.  There is no hurry, after all.