Saturday 31 October 2015

Why do I do this?

I'm updating my blog.  I have just cleaned my sink.  The sink that my sister in law will not see.  That is, the sister in law who is coming in two hours.  And the study and the living room are awash with rubbish and washing and stuff.  I mean, I need to do everything.  So that is why I am sitting here updating my blog.

My sister in law loves bear.  She adores him.  There will be lots of sweeties, cuddles and fuss.  Bear is incredibly lucky.

Bless - I saw the sign from a distance while waiting for a bus and thought it was bound to be a teddy bear shop, possibly with dolls.  The window is full of the most old fashioned pipes, cigars and shaving brushes.  I was so surprised!  There was another sign.

Hair by Cats.  I wasn't tempted.

Friday 30 October 2015


Finally home.   It was an awesome holiday with extremely flaky wifi, great food and lots of fun.  I think bear had the most amazing time of all - he rescued a time crystal from a Dalek in the interactive part of the Doctor Who Experience and was generally a star.

Also, found this in the Wyndham Arcade in Cardiff

The Bear Shop is a very upmarket tobacconist.  We didn't go in.  Hair by Cats is an actual hairdresser, but we didn't go in there either.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

We found a Pencil Sharpener!

The station didn't sell them in four possible outlets.  The Doctor Who Experience (which was awesome) didn't sell pencil sharpeners but it did sell pencils and rubbers.  We wandered around Cardiff Bay and went to Techniquest, which was awesome, and we got a pencil sharpener in their gift shop.

I pointed out some cormorants in the Bay.  Bear asked why I thought they were cormorants and not crows.  I pointed out the long necks.  Bear suggested that they could be mutant crows that just looked like cormorants.  I suggested that if they look like cormorants and are on a landing point in the bay then there was a good chance they were cormorants.  Bear suggested they were robots and how could I tell at this distance.  I pointed out that no-one was charging people to look at them.

To be honest, I'm not that confident in my skill in identifying seabirds.  I've had a quick check of the internet and I probably got it right.  It definitely wasn't a crow.

Tuesday 27 October 2015


I am typing this in Cardiff with very flaky internet access.  I can't comment as I would like but sending good wishes to all.

The journey was uneventful.  We had bought our tickets on line via trainline which saved quite a bit, and with the railcard brought the total to a reasonable amount.  All I had to do was print off the tickets when we got to the station.

We got to the station without any problems.  I put in my card and it started printing the tickets.  It kept going and going and going - nineteen tickets!  There are only three of us and we are only going from Leeds to Cardiff.  Apparently some of the tickets were for the seat reservations (which were very useful from Manchester to Cardiff) and some were the actual ticket and then there was the receipt.

I also knew that I had had a mother fail.  I realised as we waited for the bus to take us in to Leeds that I should have checked bear's coat.  He had been playing football in it yesterday.  Normally he wears a t-shirt or sweater but yesterday he wore his coat.  You can tell.  The coat will probably need to go through the washer twice when we get home.  Until then bear will be wearing my failure as a mother to keep him in clean clothes.

By the way, did you know that it is impossible to buy a pencil sharpener in Leeds Rail Station.  There are adult colouring books (yes, bear persuaded me to pay station prices for one) and coloured pencils displayed temptingly next to them (yes, fell for that as well) but no pencil sharpeners.  I'm going to be scouring Cardiff tomorrow.  Who would have thought that two card shops and two WH Smiths at Leeds Station would be so lacking?

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.  We are off to the Doctor Who Experience and I am seriously looking forward to it.  Bear is also primed.  It will be a lot of fun.  We may be able to get a pencil sharpener.

Monday 26 October 2015

Half Term

I am on the second batch of drop scones and it isn't even lunch time!  Bless mentioned that they sounded like American pancakes.  They look identical.  I wonder if some faux gentile lady in mid Victorian times thought 'drop scones' sounded fancier than pancakes or griddle cakes that were so much the staple of the rural poor.  I love my griddle, it does great bacon for sandwiches.  

Bear is looking a lot better, so fingers crossed he can enjoy half term.  DH is off as well, so a major programme of doing nothing together is on the cards.  I have a lot of stuff to do before Saturday when my sister in law will visit.  

I'll worry about that later.  Bear is busy with his pal, so now is the perfect and rare opportunity for uninterrupted adult conversation.  

Sunday 25 October 2015

Drop Scone Day

Bear is up and down - normal for a lad of nearly nine who I suspect has a strong cold.  At the moment the only food we are coaxing in to him are drop scones.  Not only is bear refusing chocolate and other sugar filled goodies, but I only tried this recipe yesterday.

For those who know these things, you beat up 125g (four and one half ounces)of self raising flour (gluten free for me) with 2 teaspoons of sugar, an egg, a tablespoon of melted butter and 5 fluid ounces (150ml) of milk to a batter and drop tablespoons onto a griddle, cooking both sides.  The full recipe is here.

I may have a go at varying this with spices at some point, but I am quite enjoying them.  I have made four batches so far today.  Bear hasn't got fed up.  I'll keep going.

Saturday 24 October 2015

Bear is being Bear

Yesterday bear didn't want to go to school and was feeling poorly.  Reluctantly I kept him off, but it was the right decision as over the course of the day bear's temperature crept up until by the time DH came home bear was flaked out and dozing on the sofa.  He was really bad, poor kid, and he does run a temperature well.  He always has.  Over the years a lot of health care professionals have taken his temperature, double checked and looked very worried while bear tootled around.  It is still unnerving watching him bright cheeked and burning up with paracetamol and ibuprofen not really denting the fever.

Last night I slept on the fold out bed next to him as I was so worried.  DH shared my worries and insisted I call him if things got worse.  It wasn't a comfortable night, at one point bear was shouting out in his sleep and he woke at 3am after a nightmare.  However at 7am bear sat up, said brightly, 'I feel much better' and has been catching up with his sugar consumption.  Yesterday he couldn't face eating chocolate.  He can today.

Yesterday I caved and added £5 per month to our bills and got BT Sport.  We already have BT Infinity, and it has been wonderful.  Bear has become strongly attached to soccer and Liverpool FC.  It has been odd.  For the first years of his life bear has utterly rejected soccer.  He doesn't do soccer, it is nothing to do with him, he loathes it.  Suddenly this summer bear has become soccer mad and I have lost count of the balls that have been lost to the wilderness behind Matalan. Yesterday he was flaked out watching a match on tv.

Father loved soccer, had been in the same director's box as Bill Shankly, had coached, been a director, played for the Army, played semi pro in the fifties, was dedicated to it.  It's as if when he died, bear took over.  It feels odd.  I wish I hadn't thought about it.

Friday 23 October 2015

That Time of Year

I've spent a little while this morning filling in surveys and hope to get Amazon vouchers in return.  It's made me think about Christmas and the cost.

I stopped and thought, 'what am I spending for?'

Bear has almost everything he wants.  He is likely to get the fancy rubik's cubes that he wants as a reward for an good parent's evening and being in the Special Book.  He has a room overflowing with stuff and we are reluctant to get him a console because that is harder to police than a pc.  Besides, bear will be nine a few days after Christmas.  That seems early for me to get something like an Xbox, but I know that many of his classmates have had them for years.

That leads on to the next issue.  Bear will return to school where many kids will have had hundreds spent on them.  I don't want bear to feel left out or be picked on because he has had a 'lesser' Christmas or because he is the only one in the class that hasn't got an Xbox or Playstation.  On the other hand, I don't want him to feel his status relies on 'things'.  I don't want him to feel that getting 'things' is the same as being loved.

Then again, this is the first Christmas bear has without any grandparents at all.  Father always went overboard.  Bear is not likely to be deprived, but there is still going to be a gap that means more than just not getting presents.

I just want to do what's best.  I know that it isn't always a lot of stuff.  In fact I was planning on cutting down stuff.  I can guarantee that bear will get a lot more than he needs.  I just wish I knew how to get the balance right.

Thursday 22 October 2015

Bear Negotiates

Bear has had an awesome parents' evening and last week he was in the Special Book.  Both things are normally well rewarded.  He is negotiating for some fancy rubik's cubes as a joint reward for both.  I keep pointing out that he hasn't managed to do the one he has got.  Bear magnificently ignores that and sweeps on about some stuff that he has picked up from YouTube.  He is asking for something that would cost £22.90.  This is on the generous side of our normal rewards, and will also leave us short of ideas for Christmas and birthday presents.

The worry about Christmas and birthday presents is actually becoming quite real.  He will, of course, get a large quantity of books.  About the middle of November, when a particularly promising sale from the Book People is on, I shall order a large consignment.  I shall probably include an adult colouring book as he seems quite intrigued by those.  There will be sweeties.  After that - who knows?  He has a room full of stuff.  I couldn't buy him pens, pencils or crayons as he has more than many stationers.  He has boxes full of toy figures and games.  There is the expectation of what others in his class will have and already have and also, as he reaches nine years old a few days after Christmas, he is in the gap between young toys and teenage electronics.  Not having the rubik's cubes as part of the presents will leave a hole.

We are tentatively considering the theoretical possibility of perhaps maybe getting bear a very inexpensive and probably second hand tablet type thing.  I'm not sure about that either.  A lot of his friends have games consoles.  It's an odd mix in the playground between those with a lot of money and those who I have seen not have enough money to buy a pint of milk.  Both ends of the spectrum push towards the kids having consoles.  Some from Brighthouse or CEX, others from PC world or Amazon.  We don't want bear to have a console.  Bear is negotiating hard to have one.

At the time of typing it is 62 days to Christmas.  Then four days later it is bear's birthday.  That is a lot of time for bear to negotiate.  I'm not betting against him.

Wean - I am definitely considering the rag thing, especially as well washed sheets and duvet covers rip along the grain so beautifully.  If I try it I shall share.

Wednesday 21 October 2015

Yarn it to heck

I thought I'd got over my yarn addiction.  I thought I had moved on and was recovering.  I got rid of a lot of yarn to good homes, I'm being sensible and while I admit to a few balls arriving after a particularly low moment, I thought I had it under control.

Who was I kidding?

I was reading a magazine and I found an idea for weaving a rug, where you get a hula hoop and you criss cross twine across it and then weave strips of rag in between the twine.  A good example is here (and I've bookmarked the site which looks fun).

The example in the magazine used Katia Jumbo yarn - thick, chenille type stuff that costs @ £7 a ball and is meant for 12 mm knitting needles.  It must be like knitting a very furry but thick rope!  As I tootled around my friend eBay out of curiosity (honest!) I noticed a yarn by Yarn Paradise.  It is so thick that a 150g ball is only 16 yards long and the recommended needle size is 25mm.  It must be like knitting a mooring rope with telegraph poles!  It is only £5.17 for two balls as well, although the postage is steep as the store is based in Turkey.

If you have a weakness for yarn, do not click here.  They have weird and wonderful yarn, from the purest merino to the strangest synthetics.  They have lace yarns and bobbly yarns and all the weird and wonderful.  It is amazing seeing all the varieties.

I used them years ago.  They were wonderful.  I'm trying to forget how easy it was to order from them and how quickly the delivery came.

I am going away now to not think about buying yarn.

Monday 19 October 2015

Did I Say the Right Thing?

Bear found a used syringe this evening when he was playing out.  Thank goodness he didn't touch it but shouted out to me.  I'll ring it in to the council if it is still there tomorrow morning, but the council was shut when he found it.

How do you explain things to a nearly nine year old?  I did my best, and tried to explain that drugs could make you feel wonderful for a time but came at a dreadful price.  I don't know a lot about drugs, but I do know that any person I know that has done drugs has been lessened by them.  I said that to bear.  I told him that it could lead to diseases that couldn't be cured.  I tried to be matter of fact.  What I couldn't say was that in a very short time there will be dealers happy to target the young teens and he needs to be sceptical.  He needs to be on his guard.  He needs to be wary.  We used to have a drug dealer living a few doors down.  He was fine with us.  I am under no illusions.

When I first held bear I didn't realise the absolute helpless worry of not knowing the right thing to say about something that could break his life.  He is going to get a lot of hugs tonight.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Food for thought

Yesterday we had a savoury version of impossible pie.  I made it, and then DH and I looked at it sadly as we dished  it up and agreed that if it was too bad we could always get a takeaway.  Then we tasted it, and it was amazing.  I have, of course, lost the recipe I printed out and can't find the dratted thing anywhere on the dratted web.  I'm sure I'll find similar.  Bear devoured it, which is good.

I still haven't tried Sarah's impossible nettle quiche, but I shall dig that recipe out when the spring comes round and the nettles are tender.  I shall not tell bear what they are.

Tonight was spam, chips and baked beans.  Not haute cuisine, but it filled us nicely.  I should add that the spam and baked beans were both low salt and sugar.  It could be worse.  However what with risottos (still haven't tried that one you suggested, Witch Hazel, but will!) and cous cous and savoury impossible pies, we are eating rather well.

And here is something interesting.  I may be eating my own considerable weight in reese's cups but I appear to have lost weight in the last six months.  Jackets that were snug on me six to twelve months ago now fit comfortably.  I think losing the all the junk food that I loved but had gluten in has had an effect.  All I need to do is keep going with the good stuff, keep avoiding gluten and try and raise my activity levels and I really hope that I will start getting down to a more reasonable weight.

I am not yet ready to give up my reese's cups, so it may be some time before I am in any way slim.

Bear is Feeling Sore

Yesterday bear was playing out and fell.  This happens to boys who are nearly nine.  As far as I can tell he effectively body surfed a few feet along a muddy, stony, gritty road before coming to a stop.  What makes it so painful that bear wasn't wearing a shirt.  He likes to wander around bare chested, and I gave up on that battle long ago.  This means that instead of a wrecked shirt bear lost quite a bit of the top layer of skin.  Not only did he lose the skin, but he managed to coat the grazes heavily with mud and grit.

It took DH and I half an hour to coax bear out of the thick layer of grit and mud, sluice him gently down in the shower and carefully pat over with antiseptic cream.  Poor lad, we used up half the tube of cream.  Once we had managed to get the dirt off we could see the grazes over half of his chest, stomach and both elbows.  Most of it was light, with one or two nasty patches, but it was definitely a painful experience.

Today he is actually doing okay, until he remembers.  Then he is consumed by the agony and does he really have to go swimming with school on Monday.  And can I fetch him his drink as he is so sore and it really hurts.  Then he forgets the agony as he hurtles upstairs, runs to get his toys, jumps up and down at Doctor Who and generally being normal for nearly nine.  Then he remembers the agony again and can barely hobble to the nearest snack.

It is not just for bear's sake that I hope the grazes fade quickly.

Saturday 17 October 2015

Completely Impossible

I got an email yesterday from the 'Write a Novel in November' group.  The idea is that you write at least 50,000 words on a new project in November.  I tried that several years ago.  At the beginning of November I did something extremely interesting to my shoulder and couldn't move and then went on holiday.  It was a fail.

I know one idea seed I could use to start a novel, and no holidays are planned.  It would be a wonderful incentive.  However the idea requires me to know what happens in a couple of other planned books, which means at least 100,000 words needed on other stuff before I can even start.  I have decorating to sort out, the house is a mess, I haven't finished sorting out all of father's stuff, bear is needing a lot of fuss currently, I have a backlog of knitting projects I want to finish, DH needs fuss at this time of year, and besides I have another project I want to try.  Maybe next year.

I do recommend it to anyone who wants to do some writing, as there is a lot of mutual support and it can be a great incentive to keep going.  The link is here -  Go for it!

Friday 16 October 2015

Home to Roost

I was feeling low and in charge of an internet search engine and a paypal account.  This is not a good combination.  Today the results have arrived.  The mystery item arrived from eBay.  It wasn't very friendly.  In fact I was ripped off and it was my own fault.

The yarn I ordered from Marriners Yarns also arrived today.  It is gorgeous and I can't wait to start.  I got the free shrug pattern from Deramores here (Deramores are awesome, btw, and not only can be incredibly inexpensive but their service is as good as Lakeland) and I had some yarn in my stash so I have started.  I can crack on while watching stuff on YouTube that is strictly for research purposes.  However I saw this yarn on Marriners site and caved.  Marriners are also inexpensive and very pleasant to deal with.

Those are the pics of the colours I got - utterly gorgeous and I can't wait to get going.  But I need to finish the shrug I'm on first.  I am rather relying on the shrug as I have had hidden gluten somewhere and I am currently suffering and something loose but warm would be a real help.

There are a lot of things that I ought to be doing today.  I think I will stick to knitting.

Thursday 15 October 2015

Every picture tells a story

Bear's school photos have arrived with the 'please spend a lot of money' letter.  There are two poses.  The first pose tells a story that bear sat on something extremely surprising just as the photo was taken.  The second one says 'Hello ladeez'.

Overall the pictures tell the story of a mother picking  up the pack and going, 'How much?!?!?!!!'

The dreaded Christmas card thingy has also arrived.  The parents have the privilege of buying craft supplies (actually most parents already have craft supplies but don't let that get in the way of a good rant) then encouraging the child to make a Christmas card at home, then it gets sent into school who send it off to be turned into an over priced pack of Christmas cards which the parents have to pay for.  Bear has declined to participate and I'm quite glad.

I will probably send in a small donation to the school to represent their cut.  It does feel like I'm being mugged.

Minor Niggles

I missed the Tesco delivery because I had to take bear to the doctor.  It is hard to know how serious things are with bear.  There are the real, physical, actual things wrong.  Then on top the poor kid is not coping well after losing father.  I can't risk ignoring potential problems, but I know that bear is currently heavily focused on cuddles and computer games with added sugar.

Tesco have been lovely.

I have a minor sore throat and the damp weather is making me feel flat, but at least I don't have to water the garden.

I'm now going to watch YouTube Videos of Skyrim game play now for research.  I can do knitting while I'm being bewildered.  When I take a break I'm going to do a full scrape down of bear's desk which really needs to be done with a pressure washer on a daily basis.

It could all be worse.  Sending hugs to all, especially Bless.

Wednesday 14 October 2015

What have I let myself in for...

On the bright side, Witch Hazel left a comment recommending a risotto recipe from Delia which I will definitely be trying tonight as risotto is on the meal plan (managed to stick to one meal out of two, it's a work in progress).

Delia has a really great recipe for Risotto, which is oven baked... none of the add/stir/wait/add/stir/wait hassle. Here's a link If you don't fancy mushrooms, just leave them out and stir in some cooked chicken right at the end

And it isn't raining.  And bear, while grumbling, was happy to go to school because it was something to do with computers today, and he let me off the epic fail when I couldn't find a clean sweater for him.

However I have said I will sort out a facebook page for the local church.  It's easy to do the whole click-here-and-you-have-Facebook/blog/twitter.  I just have no idea about content.  It's the church father went to, and it will do me no harm to go there either.  They are lovely people, a real working church, and they do their best.  I don't want to let them down.

I can feel a huge attack of cut and paste coming on.

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Accidentally gluten free

I have a book called 'Feed your Family for a Fiver'.  It's an okay recipe book.  Yesterday I made a version of the sweet potato pudding.  You are supposed to cook it in a ready prepared crust, but I didn't.  You mix 500g of mashed sweet potato with 100g of soft brown sugar, teaspoon of mixed spice, 90g melted butter, four egg yolks, 450g milk and 4 egg whites beaten to stiff peaks.  You cook it at Gas 7 for fifteen minutes and then Gas 5 for another half hour or so.  It isn't deliberately gluten free but if you cook it in a pyrex dish as I did then there is no flour.  It tasted quite good as well, but while the men would like it again as soon as I like, I was underwhelmed.

Bear 'helped' me make it.  I have never been good at cooking with him as I get stressed after a while.  I seem to spend most of my time saying, 'hang on a minute... ' and I feel desperately inadequate.  I will also say that I do tell bear he is awesome, and he is, and he stirred and whisked and weighed with gusto.  It did seem to use a lot of pots and pans, but that's cooking for you.

It's the sort of recipe I am looking for, however, that isn't deliberately gluten free, just doesn't have gluten in it.  Risotto is another one.  Now I know I can make it in the microwave I can go for it.  There are lots of options out there without gluten.

Bless - your worries put mine in perspective.  Praying for you.

Monday 12 October 2015

The House Didn't Burn Down (again)

I have been using an elderly convector heater.  I think it is older than bear.  We had it in the study, then father used it in his room, now I have been using it in the study again.  I love convector heaters.  They are quiet, relatively inexpensive to run and make the room lovely and warm quite quickly.  I put it on last night for half an hour.

As I was getting ready to go to bed I heard the heater click as if heating up.  I looked down and the lights that showed whether it was on or off were off but when I went to switch it on to see what happened the switches were hot.  When I unplugged it the plug burned my fingers and there was a significant flash, and that part of the strip extension was also hot, though the other plugs that were working were cool.  I've no blisters but my fingers are still sore this morning.

Until last night the convector heater showed no signs of this.  In fact its replacement is already here as the heater wasn't getting very hot and I expected that one day it would just not heat up at all.  I didn't expect it to start overheating at the plug.  I honestly think that if I hadn't heard the click, checked and then unplugged it then there would have been a high risk of fire.

Jobs for today - go round and unplug everything that isn't actually being used at this moment.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Things I have learned today.

First of all, the comment from Witch Hazel which I am putting in a post because I never pay the attention I should to comments on other blogs and this is worth sharing

The problem with jam is usually caused by someone sticking a buttery/crumby knife in. This leaves behind some residue, and it it's that which ferments.
I've found that insisting on people using a clean spoon or knife to hoik some jam out to the side of the plate has reduced the occurrence of mouldiness.

Then DH said that he had seen on tumblr that if you cut eye shaped holes in a Pringles tube (other tubes may also work) and put in an activated red glow stick then, when you turn out the light, you have a set of glowing red eyes in the dark.  He demonstrated and it looked awesome.  We shall definitely be doing that when DH's sister visits for Halloween.  We are going to decorate with home made decorations and everything.  I shall share if I find good stuff. 

Then bear said he could eat a lemon.  We let him.  He did.  He said it was refreshing.  I go with the flow.  At least it wasn't pure sugar which will probably be his next suggestion.

Also, I spent a lot of the afternoon trying not to cry.  Then afterwards I went on eBay.  I have never seen the connection so clearly.  If my random 99p bid wins, I have no idea what will arrive.  I need to find a different way to cheer myself up.  Though I am feeling better, it will still cost 99p plus postage and I would like to find a free way of cheering up that will not result in stuff piling up in the house.  

Bless - thinking of you and hoping all went well.

Autumn Cleaning

Actually that's a bit of an overstatement.  I am not really in full housekeeping swing.  On the other hand my kitchen smells like a brewery - and not in a good way.  I've thrown out the contents of seven jars of fermented jam.

A jar of jam goes the same way every time.  An unopened jar is stashed in the cupboard.  Bear or DH fancy some jam.  They have one portion.  The jam goes back in the cupboard.  When I remember to check I find that it has grown fur and I throw it out.

I am seriously considering getting the mini jars of jam in.  They don't work out as good value, but at least I don't cry at the waste.  Of course, I could just stock up on the Everyday Value Strawberry Jam which Tesco are currently selling at 29p a jar and grumble about the waste.

I think this month is the month when I try and get my to do list to rock.  On it I will note stuff that needs using up.  Jam can go on there.  I can also try keeping it in the fridge but I suspect that will only delay the issue.

Friday 9 October 2015

Shopping Fail

I got my delivery today.  I asked for my shopping in bags as while it adds 40p to my delivery now, it's sort of a donation to the food bank as they really need carrier bags.  The delivery man was pleasant, everything was as it should be - and I forgot half the dratted things I needed.  Darn.  This was not the same when the cut off for free delivery was £25 as getting a second delivery with £25 of stuff in was very easy.  Now the cut off is £40.  That is actually a lot more.  And my freezer is not working well so I can't just bung stuff in there.

I could just get a delivery of a few bits, because the cost of the delivery is £4 and that is the same as the cost of the bus fare to the place I could get those bits.  However I would have to carry the dratted things and I don't want to take the time.  So I am going to grit my teeth, put in another order for tomorrow, grumbling all the time, and stock up on some tinned stuff.

Then I can sit down and construct a regular shopping list, a template for meal planning and perhaps a list of what I actually have in.  I might even stick to it.

Bless - I hope you are feeling okay.  Keeping all crossed for you.  Chilli con charlie is something I learned from my mad uncle about 1982.  It's one of those recipes that can adapt.  For four you need around two largish onions, well chopped, which you soften in some oil.  Then you add around half a pound to a pound of mince or ground beef if you are across the pond.  You can't really manage with less than half a pound for four unless you bulk it out with other stuff like sweetcorn, extra onions or peppers.  Quorn is a vegetarian meat substitute made from mushrooms, low in fat and some versions, like the mince, are gluten free.  Once the meat/meat substitute is browned then you add a tin of baked beans and whatever seasonings.  I like Italian herbs and worcestershire sauce, and I always add paprika as well as chilli.  If you are in North America then I should say that the baked beans in the UK are usually vegetarian and I think (please correct me) that a lot of the tinned baked beans over there have pork in them.  I think that would make the chilli lovely and I am slightly envious!

Bear does have an allowance.  He gets £1 per year of his age every week, half of which has to go into his bank account and half he gets to spend.  However he is very good at suggesting that he pays out of his own money, then relying on us forgetting to take it from him.  I have found it invaluable, though, as when bear asks for stuff and I suggest that he pays himself, he has to think if he really wants it.  This has reduced the amount of rubbish coming in considerably.  When he gets older I am going to apply the same principle to clothes - we buy the basics and he has an allowance to buy jeans, trainers etc so if he wants brands he can save for them.  I am confident he will get very clever at getting the deals.  Bear was born in Yorkshire, and no true Yorkshireman will willingly pay if they don't have to!

It must have been so awkward chopping potatoes with the 'wrong' hand.  Sending hugs and prayers and hoping that you heal quickly.  Take care of yourself!

Thursday 8 October 2015

Recipe Fail

I forgot to get the cardamon seeds so I didn't do the Indian yellow split pea soup with coconut milk.  When I do that I'll definitely report back.  It looks lovely.  I was going to do it Tuesday but I ran out of onions.  Still, at least the onions that I finally remembered to get yesterday were good in the Chilli con Charlie (like an normal chilli con carne but with things like baked beans, it would make a Texan cry).  Then bear utterly rejected the chilli because it was quorn and bear thinks that quorn is an abomination.

I've amended my delivery that is supposed to get here tomorrow.  There was another fail there.  DH tried the couscous with salmon that was on Eat Well for Less and we all agreed it was delicious.  I couldn't wait to have another go at it.  It was relatively low fat, it had veggies involved, and oily fish and the gluten free couscous from Tesco was not too extortionately priced.  Tesco have stopped doing the gluten free couscous.  Just as I find an awesome recipe that we will all eat, darn it to heck, we can't find the ingredient.  I may have to use quinoa.  It won't be the same.

This morning I spoke to someone who was really missing father.  She is having trouble with the church boiler and she knew that father would have made the right jokes and said the right things and even if he couldn't fix it, he would somehow take the sting out.

On the bright side, thanks to Barbara Anne who kindly pointed me in the right direction, I may be able to pick up another Remy.  That will make my life a lot easier.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

A Nervous Moment

Bear is a big lad now, and nearly nine.  He still sleeps with his soft toy rat, Remy from the film Ratatouille.  Tonight he couldn't find it.  It was tense.  I turned the house upside down, lifted things, moved things and prayed that it hadn't found its way into the rubbish that had been collected this morning.

We found it.

Despite my best efforts I have never found another one like it.  Uncle bought it when bear was about two and it cost an arm and a leg.  It was worth it.  I melted the beads in the paws when I tumbled dried it on holiday, and it is looking saggy but it is holding together and while it currently needs a wash, it isn't in bad shape.  I can't replace it.

I am really glad we found it.

There was a major thunderstorm here yesterday, a real downpour.  I hope we don't get too many of those, but at least I don't have to water the garden as I still haven't got another rose for the watering can.

Tuesday 6 October 2015


There's been another murder, quite close.  There was one a few years back as well.  This one isn't that close, and it's quite a long walk, but it's walking distance.

I wonder about the people left behind, the people who have to always remember that they have lost a loved one in a dreadful way.  I wonder what sort of person kills another and what their family think and how they will cope.

I feel like pulling bear close, closing the curtains and hiding away.

Tomorrow I will be looking for the bright side and finding the jokes, but it feels a little hollow now.

Bear is Less Awesome (but still proud of him)

It's started.  Bear does not want to wait for Christmas, he wants things now!  Of course, with Christmas so near, his birthday not much after and so much we have had to spend out on, he is having to wait for Christmas.  Apart from anything else, if we get stuff now, we won't have anything left to get for Christmas or birthday presents.

Bear is not sympathetic to this view.

Yesterday it was a rubik's cube.  It wasn't just any rubik's cube, though, but fancy ones.  Bear has been watching YouTube and found lots of videos of people solving not only the things that I recognise but these

Bear has all the fancy names for them but I call them weird ones.  'But mum, I've looked on Amazon and to buy one individually is £13.99, but if I get the set plus the pyramid and the dodecahedron it's only £22.99 which is a bargain!'

This worried me.  First bear had learned to search Amazon.  I am stuffed!  Then the cunning angle to appeal to my weakness for bargains.

Bear continued, 'And I've lost my rubik's cube and I can solve it really easily.  It's completely lost and I can't find it anywhere so I can't practice.'

I found the normal rubik's cube in less than two minutes.  Bear completely failed to solve it.  He still wants the fancy ones.  I am sure I haven't heard the last of it.

The weather is warmer.  Bees were hanging around what is left of the lavender this morning.  Oddly I found this.  It's an orange blossom, normally seen around May.  You can see the evidence of autumn in the rest of the shot.

Monday 5 October 2015

Bear is Awesome

DH took bear into town on Saturday with ongoing negotiations about playstations, x-boxes and Fifa 16.  We are not ready for bear to have a playstation or x-box.  Apart from the money (and that's a big thing!) he is just too young.

They were walking through a shopping arcade and they spotted a piano.  Bear waited for a turn, relatively patiently, and watched kids that are younger than him have a bang on the keys.  I missed it, I was doing other things, but I have seen the video DH took.  Bear did not look anything unusual, just a t-shirt, jeans and a fake leather jacket (eBay is my friend).  He sat down, thought about it, then started playing 'Ode to Joy' - with both hands!

I am incredibly proud of my darling as he did so well.  He isn't brilliant. It wasn't a 'child genius' performance, but it was pretty good and bear loved it.  Finally, a chance to show off!  According to DH, bear was impressive.  And now he can see where practicing gets him he may voluntarily sit down at the piano.  On the other hand he has just scraped mud all over the piano stool, so perhaps I shouldn't get my hopes up.  

I am so proud of bear.  I can't wait to see what he will get up to next - whatever that may be!

Friday 2 October 2015

Bear Continues

I was considering apple crumble for dessert last night.  I noticed that a couple of apples had fallen off bear's tree and thought that it was time to pick them, and that meant apple crumble.  I asked him about it.  Bear ummed and aahed and then confessed.  The apples weren't really ripe.  It's just that he had completely accidentally kicked a football against the tree and the apples were sort of knocked off.   By the way, could I ask Matalan for his ball back as he had kicked the ball over again.  The apples were small, hard and unpromising when checked.  

I visited uncle today for the first time in a long time.  I was only there for around half an hour, and had to tell him three times that father had died.  I'm feeling a bit low after that, but the walk through the park there and back was lovely.

I didn't see any nice things to take a picture of on my way and I really need a happy picture, so I had a look on Wiki Commons and found this.   

Thursday 1 October 2015

Bear is Unamused

I could tell last night that I was heading for a tough morning.  Bear was told he could have one of the fairy cakes that came with the Approved Food order.  Three cakes later they 'smelled funny' and 'I feel sick...'

The cakes did smell a bit sour, but if they were so bad it did make me wonder how he managed to eat three first, as did his pal.  Bear is also keen to try and stay home.  At the moment, hanging out with his mother is the best thing possible (except for hanging out with his pals, playing football, arguing with his pals, playing computer games...)  This means that mornings are a challenge.  This morning bear managed to bring up some faint strands of phlegm - and I still forced him to school!  He was very indignant in a failing voice that he was being forced to school after being sick!  Past experience says that he will be fine.

Wean - lol, the tomatoes were stepped on before they reached the windowsill.  The delivery drivers are remarkably sensible round here, despite my influence.  I do have a visiting cat that has widdled on windows, though, which also makes me think I may have had a lucky escape with the tomatoes.