Monday 29 February 2016

Positive Start to the Week

After being effectively housebound for a while, mainly getting out for matters concerning bear, I went for a brisk walk after dropping bear off.  Then I had a healthy snack and reviewed some writing I had been doing and called into the Knit and Natter at church.  Regrettably they had changed the times since I last went, which was about four years ago and I missed it, but I'll get there on time next week.

It was remarkably positive, the most upbeat start to the week I have had for a long time.

I am also grateful for Ana for giving the link to the Khan Academy.  It sounds like a good choice.  I also found a few other bits at Open Learning which are free courses run by the Open University, distance learning in the UK that has a very good reputation.

Did you know that there is a free module about Babylonian Mathematics?  I had to have a go.  It wasn't very long, and I quite enjoyed going through it, but unfortunately it assumed you understood current western mathematics.  I enjoyed the history, but when the numbers came out my brain went off and picked daisies.

It has been a long, long time since I really learned something new.  It is going to be incredibly hard for me to work through stuff.  After this morning, challenge accepted.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Compound Interest

Darn it to Heck!

Bear found some maths games.  Regrettably I think they are aimed at children a little older than him.  One particular game caught his eye.  You start with a really easy sum like 7+5 and then work up to harder stuff, trying to hit the top.  Some of the stuff needed explanation and a little support.  DH was upstairs as he has a stinking cold and he really needs the down time.  I was on my own, faced with maths.

I have the same relationship with maths as vampires have with garlic.

I managed to remember that a negative number multiplied with a negative number results in a positive number, and he was happy to talk through the questions with me, but then we were faced with compound interest.  I have heard the concept, I understand that it happens in banks and that computers do the sums for it.  I can probably work out the sums the long way round.  I have never really 'got' it.  I wasn't much help and we didn't get that one.  Bear sulky put on a YouTube video.

I am going to have to bite the bullet.  I'm going to have to sign up to maths lessons for myself.  I can't think of anything more depressing.  Fortunately there are plenty of maths lessons around that are inexpensive/free aimed at adults who struggle.  I am not sure the teacher will deserve me.

The things a mother will do for their children.


I was looking on YouTube to see what the UK's entry to the Eurovision song contest was like (quite pleasant, in my opinion, and better than last year) when one of the prompts let me to this.

It is exactly what I have been wanting to do.  I had walked away from it, I had forgotten it, I had pretended it had never happened and then - pow!  I was ambushed.  Also, I think I may get caught up with this YouTube Channel.  Not only does she have the tutorial that makes sense, but she also has a list of supplies needed underneath the video.  She seems to do all sorts, and I have enjoyed what I see, though the New Zealand accent sounds strange to me sometimes.

The video keeps stressing the need for accuracy.  I suppose it would be a good thing to practice on, to get more accurate.  At the moment I feel I could be accurate to the nearest half yard, so I need to raise my game.

Finding this actually could be a good thing.  I can get copies of the picture above dotted strategically around the place, including on the computer, but I can't start it until I've cleared my outstanding projects.  It may take some time, but it has to be worth a go.

Saturday 27 February 2016

So Much for That

I did the stall at the Table Top Sale at the church.  I made a net profit, after paying for the table, a dvd that bear saw, a ticket for the tombola, bear's generous bacon sandwich and a rather nice pair of candlesticks, of around £1.  I left everything that was unsold for the next church jumble sale.  It was definitely an excuse and a push to get rid of things, rather than make money.

The hall was freezing, though, so I am going to settle down and hang out with bear for a quiet afternoon.

Friday 26 February 2016

Headache Continues

I've eaten something that doesn't agree with me.  It isn't as bad as cheese - I would have been throwing up all day - but something I have eaten has given me the continuing headache.  It will pass but it's a naff raff while it's here.

I am still not ready for the table top sale tomorrow, but to be honest, I'm not too stressed about that.  I know where the change is, where the carrier bags are and I've mentally set aside a few things so I'll be good to go.  I refuse to stress.

Bear has brought home a sponsorship form.  I don't agree with knocking on neighbours' doors demanding sponsorship, and we are unlikely to see either my brother or sister in law before the form is due in.  That leaves DH and I.  I think I shall do what I did last time - send in the form uncompleted with a tenner enclosed.  To be honest, I'm tempted to make it a fiver.

Thursday 25 February 2016

Random Reading

I read old books on housewifery.  The house doesn't get any cleaner but I know what ought to be done with laundry in the eighteenth century.  The more I read, the more grateful I am for the automatic washing machine.  Actually I have a book about how to do laundry that I think is from around 1910.  It claims that the washing machines around when it was published are unlikely to be improved on.  It just goes to show.

I was considering the raggedy blanket I have pinned but not sewn.  It is layers of old, soft cotton with raggedy edges.  In other words, it is potentially very flammable.  Neither of us smoke, and we are very clear about keeping candles away from fabric, but accidents happen and I was a little worried.  You can buy flame retardant spray on eBay, but I was worried what would be in it.

I remembered somewhere a Victorian tip about soaking clothes in Alum to make them less flammable - a serious concern with long skirts and open fires.  I had a quick look on Wiki and apparently, yes, it could be used as something that helps cloth resist fire.  I wondered if it would be safe to have as something next to the skin.  Not only can alum be used to make fabric less likely to burn fiercely (it does not perform miracles), but it has been used for centuries to fix dye into cloth that would be worn next to the skin.  In itself this is not a recommendation.  After all, arsenic was used to colour wallpaper relatively recently.  However not only has alum a long history of being used medically - including in Ancient Egypt - but it is currently used in some mainstream western medicines.

Okay, so it's probably safe but can I get hold of it?  I looked on eBay.  I can buy it as powder, as a stick for using as a deodorant or perhaps a block sold to close shaving cuts.  It's remarkably inexpensive.

If I ever get the dratted blanket sewn, I may well consider soaking it in alum solution after a wash.  Or I may not.  There hasn't been an incident involving a candle in our home for over twenty years.  And that was malevolent cat nearly setting herself on fire.  Alum is not helpful against feline stupidity.

Wittering on about alum has not been particularly productive, but I am on day two of a headache that makes me feel sick when I move so at least while I am considering alum I am at least not thinking about how much I want to throw up.  It's a win.

Wednesday 24 February 2016

I Need to Do Sums

I love, love, love the show 'Extreme Couponing'.  It is an American show, on TLC mainly over here, and I love it.  For those who are interested but have never come across it, here's a link to one of the shows on YouTube - link.  There was also a sort of competition where over $12,000 of groceries was donated to the local shelters - another link.

I look at awe as they use literally hundreds of coupons.  There seems to be stacks and stacks and stacks of them.  The programme shows them literally getting hundreds of dollars off their bills (although I believe there are suspicions about sharp practices at times)  There isn't the same coupon culture over here, but I looked at the MSE Extreme Couponing page to see what I could do. 

You have to do the sums.  If I go physically to a supermarket then I need to pay £6.30 in bus fares and I can only buy what I can carry back on the bus.  If I get a Tesco Delivery pass I pay £6 per month and all sorts can be delivered.  Tomorrow I am getting four packs of the 40 wash size Ariel delivered with my groceries as it is half price at £5.50 instead of £11 and according to that is about as low as it gets.  I think it only comes around every six months or so, and I was finally running out from last time.  I would struggle to get those big cartons on the bus.  I am also having problems getting out the house so to be brutally honest I don't think I could do it.  

On the other hand, most coupons seem to need you to be present in the shop.  

I think I will have to work on it.  In the meantime I have eight episodes of Extreme Couponing saved on the tv and I plan to sit there with my knitting and enjoy!  

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Bear is Not Happy

Bear is having issues with his shoes.  He has been complaining bitterly but there is a lot of room in the shoes.  The very nice lady in shoes said that his shoes were fine, he didn't need another pair and had someone at school got a new pair.  I suspect, after hearing this, that his socks may be tight.  We called in at BHS but the socks were £8 for a pack of three, and I just couldn't.  However on the same trip we picked up the world book day outfit he wanted, a snap band and had dinner at Spudulike.

So I am going to check in Matalan tomorrow and then if there is no luck there have a quick look on Amazon Prime for a swift delivery.

Bear however has already broken the snap band and also has a graze on his elbow from school.  It is a cracking one, very red, and the teacher had put a plaster on it - which bear removed immediately he left school because he allegedly couldn't bend his arm.  Now he is grumbling because it is sore, and also he is tired.

I am not looking forward to exchanging the snap band, but it's the principle for bear.

Making New Friends

I have often mentioned that eBay is my friend.  There have been some extremely odd results from that friendship, but I do have plans for the 90 ties and I've had some bargains as well.

Now I seem to be getting cosy with Amazon Prime.  Amazon isn't as much fun as eBay, but it has a good spread of oddness.  Did you know that you can buy slow match on there, and pure magnesium (not telling bear that! - apparently it can be used for starting fires in difficult conditions) and wallpaper as well as books.  I am coveting this wallpaper though I have no idea what I would do with it.  Put it on a wall, I suppose.

The Prime membership is @ £80 per year, which we thought about, but it is useful as I am picking up a lot of gluten free stuff from there and if you use suppliers that are used by Amazon Prime then delivery is free and next day.  It is not helping impulse control if I know I can get something gorgeous so quickly.  So the membership is likely to be outweighed by the savings in delivery charges but that has to be offset by the increase in spending on random things.  They do all sorts of craft things as well.

The one thing that I am really glad of is the tv and film.  I am currently mesmerised by the made for Amazon series Lucifer.  It's about the devil moving to Los Angeles.  I don't think it is theologically sound, but it is very entertaining.  So hopefully instead of impulse shopping I can watch a programme instead.  That alone would be worth £80 per year.  Amazon Prime could really be my new best friend.

Monday 22 February 2016

Bear Needs Watching

Bear was lounging without any apparent bones and asked me for some biscuits.
'Sure, help yourself out of the treat cupboard.' I said.
'Can't you go and get them for me?' asked bear wistfully.  'I'm very tired.'
'Nope.' I said, trying to work out what I was doing with a Tesco order.
'I won't have any biscuits if you won't get them for me.' Bear said plaintively.
'That's okay,' I said briskly.  There was a pause.

'I'll go and get the biscuits, but will you make me some Milo.' bear said with a sunny smile.  This was cunning.
'Okay, I'll make you Milo, and while I'm down there I may as well pick up the biscuits.'  Bear had won that round.

Later this evening, I had a word with bear.  'Why don't I show you how to make yourself a cup of Milo?' I said.  Milo is a little like Ovaltine, made with warm milk and has alleged health benefits.  I can't have it as it has gluten in, but I did have a little before hand and it is gorgeous.  There's a link here.  Bear did quite a good job, under supervision, but I'm not sure I'll get the table cloth clean.  I am reluctant for bear to use a kettle as I don't like little ones standing on chairs in kitchens, and to fill and use the kettle would be a stretch without and I worry about scalds.  The microwave is much easier to reach and with a little sense it should be fine.  Bear has lost a tactic to get me running up and down stairs, but I'm confident that he will come up with something else.

Bear is actually remarkably hard to bribe.  DH offered to put the up to date Microsoft suite on his computer if bear would practise the piano.  Bear declined.  We told him to practice anyway.  He hammered out a few bars and then sulked when he was called 'bear minimum'.

Finally he stomped into the room.  'I feel that when I am asked to do piano practice that I am being forced to do something I don't want.' he said, with an air of injustice.  DH and I looked at each other.
'Yes, you are being forced to do something you don't want,' we said, almost in unison.  'And it isn't stopping.'

Bear is unimpressed.  I'm just waiting to see what his next move will be.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Need a Change Jar

Long ago, when father was first in hospital, I took his stockpile of change, counted it and put the equivalent of notes into his wallet to pay for stuff like papers and chocolates or wine for the nurses.  This left me with a pile of small coins that I kept meaning to get cashed in at the local newsagent.  I had been counting them last week as part of the clear up but they have been neglected this week.

Bear has been counting them for the last hour.  I'm not exactly sure how accurate it is but the alternative is bear flopping around and complaining about boredom so I will take it.  As it is, bear has been happily occupied and I won't be relying on his counting if I take it to the shop.

I'm considering the possibility of getting a table at the table top sale at the Church (if there is one left).  There is a lot of bric a brac that I've put to one side to take to the charity shop.  Anything left at the end could be donated for the Church's next jumble sale.  I mentioned this to bear who utterly rejected any thought of helping.  He informed me loftily that I would not have enough change.  I handed him the large and heavy tub of change and bear pounced.  He is just checking how much change there really is.

I remember uncle had one of those outsize whiskey bottles which he threw his change in at the end of the night.  He let it mount up and up and cashed it in when there was over a hundred pounds - this was forty years ago!  It was a great tool for keeping us quiet.  He would ask us to count it, and we would sit and get absorbed in the small coins and it would keep us quiet for hours.  Looking back, that may be why he never fully cashed it in.  It was far too useful on a wet Sunday afternoon.

I'm not hung up on the change jar concept, but at this moment, dealing with a bored bear who is no longer bored, it is looking like an awesome idea.  Having bear track the amounts and do the counting would be just the thing for him.  I shall dig out an old jar and we can take it from there.

Friday 19 February 2016

A Quiet Day

Today we have just been hanging out.  A little embroidery and knitting on my side.  Bear has watched videos, played games and generally been chilled.  He's found a programme called 'Operation Ouch' which is an age appropriate programme about medical matters.  I am expecting a severe attack of hypochondria at any moment.  He has also decided to design his own RPG.  I have no idea what that means, except that he keeps reading out different type of swords to me, but he has been happy.

I'm treasuring this.  It won't be long before it isn't cool to hang out with mum.  He'll be doing more complicated things or hanging with friends and I'll be sort of be in the background.  Until then, I'm taking as much as I can get.

Thursday 18 February 2016

I Can Not Just...

I suffer from 'I can just...' syndrome.  I will look at something, thing about something and the next thing you know I say to myself, 'I can just...'  It rarely ends well.

I bought a load of Grade C denim shirts.  I think I had my money's worth, cutting them up, sorting them, washing and pressing them, getting them into strips.  I had a lot of fun, but though I would love the denim rag rug, I was never going to do it.  I was never going to get that rag rug finished.  I thought about the two string method, I thought about using the non-slip mesh method.  It wasn't going to happen.  I've binned the lot.  I need them out of the house before I weaken, but I have got to look reality in the face.  I need the space and the ability to clean.

However something I can just do is get my tray cloth embroidered.  And the sooner that is finished, the better.

Sitting on My Hands

I am definitely not looking at the bag of old clothes - Witch Hazel convinced me.  The produce bag may have looked awesome, but I couldn't think when I would use it as I get everything delivered!

I just watched a recorded episode of Craft Daily, which left me even more determined to sit on my hands.  They had a demonstration of English Patchwork which Bless has recommended, and then they showed the first stages of how to make a gathered skirt.  I don't think I would wear it, and besides, I couldn't work out what on earth they had done with the interfacing at the front, but one thing stood out.  They used washi tape to mark the seam allowance on their sewing machine.  That looked like genius to me.  It looked so visible.  As the person being taught looked even less confident than I am on a sewing machine, and it seemed to really work for them, I am going to have to consider it.  All I need to do is get the confidence that I can measure the distance for the seam allowance accurately.

I am going to make a list and pin it somewhere - things I want to do!  Because only once the outstanding projects are finished can I start them.  I am going to settle down with a comfortable seat, catch up tv and a large quantity of knitting - especially the stuff that doesn't need at tape measure until I can pick one up.

Wednesday 17 February 2016

Darn it to Heck - Again!

When will I learn?  The internet is not a safe place.  I should have some sort of controls set - I can't be trusted!

I've reached the bottom of the ironing basket (although I need to empty the dryer, I have hangers and rack full and the washing machine needs emptying so that won't last).  I found a pile of clothes that bear has grown out of, including a really nice shirt.  I got it as part of an inexpensive bundle from eBay (of course), about four years ago.  It was originally from River Island and it washed and wore, and wore and washed for a long time.  Bear always looked good in it.  I can't really pass it on as there is pen on it, although there is a lot of wear left in the fabric.

I put it to one side, thinking I would cut the buttons off and throw the fabric out.  Then I looked at it, and remembered that I had succumbed to the book on upcycling shirts, so I dug that out.  Nothing in there called to me, so I had a look on the internet.  Darn it to Heck!  There are dozens and dozens of ideas out there, including a heap for re-using old t-shirts.  I had put the t-shirts ready for the charity shop.  Now all I want to do is go through them all and re-purpose them.  But I already have eleventy twelve projects waiting for me!  Darn it, darn it, darn it!

I quite like the look of the produce bags on here, but I don't actually have any tops that would be used for them, and I really, really, really do not want to go out and get some.

I have to get those old clothes out of here quickly or I will have them marked down for a Project and they will never see the light of day again!

Visit from the Water Board

A man from the Water Board called this morning.  There have been lots of public information films about men pretending to be from the Water Board, one keeping the old person talking while the other 'turns on taps upstairs' and picks up whatever is lying around.  However this was a man in a Yorkshire Water Van, wearing a logo covered Yorkshire Water Uniform, with a badge and a clipboard.  He told me he was from the Water Board and dropped his papers.

Apparently there is a legal requirement for the Water Board to check water quality.  He took some samples, squirted sodium hydrochloride up the tap, took some more samples and was very, very nervous all the way through.  I felt for him.  I suspect lots of people don't like being sampled.

In fact, I have never met someone so nervous to be in my home.  He was absolutely on pins.  I was pleasant enough, didn't interfere or ask awkward questions but the poor lad was a wreck.  I was glad when he left, as I was becoming stressed just by watching him twitch.

I have just fed bear and his pal, which should keep them going for an hour or so.  There are serious negotiations ongoing about exactly whose turn it is and on what game.  I am staying out of it.

I still haven't found my surgical spirit.  I suspect I put it somewhere safe.

Could be Worse

I can't find my 2 litre bottle of surgical spirit anywhere, and four stone arrowheads have just arrived in the post.

On the bright side, my ironing all fits into my ironing basket.

Today is finishing off washing and ironing (as much as it is ever finished) and starting on the walk in cupboard.

I am also getting ready to follow Bless' example and making them clean up the mud themselves as they are about to go out to play football.  It is still tipping down with rain, but that doesn't seem to be an issue.  I'll just top them up with hot chocolate when they come in.

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Here's a Wall I Cleaned Earlier

This looks like the tell-tale sign of a desperate act.  Actually it's where bear trailed his hand when he was complaining that I was forcing him to actually come down into the actual kitchen if he wanted to get a treat.

In addition I have no idea how I am going to clean bear's window.  There are several impact marks on the outside made by a very muddy tennis ball.  This window is two and a half stories up and only opens outwards.  What is worse is that the rain practically never lands on the window as the wind direction is very much along the street.  Unless and until I track down a window cleaner that is willing to go up quite high ladders, I am stuffed.  I am also unimpressed.  There will be words spoken to bear's pal.

The front door looks like it has been attacked by a mud monster and the porch is beyond description.

I am actually quite glad that bear and his pal are not just hanging around the computer, but are getting some healthy exercise and fresh air.  I'm not really grumbling about the dirt.  It's what small boys do.  Football happens.  The muddy marks may not be appropriate in a house that is going to be cleaned under the 30 day to a clean and organised home plan, but it feels like I am doing something right.

Grumbling along

I was wondering how to distract a bear who is under the weather when his pal called.  All I need to do now is keep the snacks coming.  I provide healthy snacks, which bear vacuums up, but his pal prefers the high salt/high fat/high sugar stuff.  I provide that as well.

I am going to have to get some new scales.  I cannot be having with the ones I am using.  The Lakeland scales had lasted years but finally gave up the will to weigh a few months ago.  I found another set of scales from a while ago and I've been using them - but they are driving me crazy!  I can't see the dratted read out because the dratted scales are in the dratted way.  The platform for the bowl/plate etc goes over the display and I can't tell if it is grams or ounces.  Mind you, the reason the apple crumble was so disappointing the other day was because I forgot to set the temperature on the new combination oven, the crumble measured okayish.

Tesco have some inexpensive scales.  I've always preferred an electronic scale since a spider to stuck between the perspex cover and the needle on the old style scales.  I suppose it will do.  I'll put them on the next order and just continue to use the current scales with extra bad language.

Speaking of measuring, I am without a tape measure.  Bear has a habit of acquiring my tape measures and I caught him with a cloth tape measure, stretching it out between his hands to strengthen himself.  So much for accurate measuring!  I'll have to pick one up from eBay - and lock it up!

Bear is far more expert than I at curtain twitching.  Yesterday he complained about someone scraping the wall (next door repointing) and today he spotted the waste team truck 'blocking the road' - the truck was a little way out.  Apparently something is Being Done about the bins where there was such an amazing argument the other day.  I am just hoping he doesn't shout up with all of a nine year old's indignation about the weed smoking in the street.

Monday 15 February 2016

Preparing for Day Three

It is half term, so bear and I are just hanging around.  Bear is tired and full of cough so a week of not much in particular for him sounds good.

I'm taking a day to sort out the ironing.  It is currently a huge, vast heap.  I have to do it in short bursts as leg is still playing up, but I am determined to get it done.  Once I have cleared that and sorted out the walk in cupboard I can press on with Day Three of 30 days to a clean and organised house.  I can't wait to see how long it will take me to get to day 30.

Bear is watching Horrible Histories.  I approve.  I am also picking up a few bits on the quiet.  Not only am I picking up a few bits but I can occasionally impress him.  I'm holding on to those moments as I don't think that will last for long.

Saturday 13 February 2016

New Recipe - Celery and Lemon Soup

I tried a new recipe today.  You soften some celery and finely chopped onion, add stock and the juice and grated rind of a lemon and simmer until soft.  In a separate pan make a roux of flour and butter, add three quarters of a pint of milk very slowly until thick, then mix into the blended celery and onion in broth mix.  Then you beat up two egg yolks with three tablespoons of cream and then mix a ladleful of soup into the cream-and-egg-yolks and return to the pan.  The recipe was very insistent that you did not boil after this stage, so we didn't (DH was an equal partner in this).

I loved it.  DH loved it.  Bear asked for tinned ravioli as he didn't like the lemon.

It was the first time that I had used egg yolks to thicken a soup.  I had always been very nervous.  However it worked.  I may take a few more risks in future, obviously bear permitting.

It is a recipe from the first cook book I bought - Good Food on a Budget by Georgina Horley.  It is very dated.  The link goes to one published in 1969, though mine was around the 1988 vintage.  The Christmas cake recipe from there is awesome, and much recommended.

I love this cookbook.  The recipes are good, and all the ones I have tried have worked.  However the reason I keep coming back to it is that I love the way it is written and the down to earh discussion of the recipes.  It is someone who has tested each recipe to its limit, and I love the comments.  The recipes are unusual as well.

I am still feeling low, so I am working extra hard to avoid random shopping.  There is a type of compost made of wool and bracken.  I am working hard not to look at that, as it sounds awesome but the shipping would be prohibitive.  I shall scour the free ebooks instead.

Friday 12 February 2016

Bear is Awesome

Bear has got an honourable mention in the Special Book at school.  Each teacher gets to nominate two children in the class each week and somehow bear has got a multiple entry.  I am still not sure exactly what he has done, and I suspect that bear may be overstating a little, but he is still in the Special Book and therefore is an awesome bear.  He also brought home a free book for completing ten reading journals (not sure exactly what that means either) so he ended the week on a high.

Normally bear gets treats for stuff like the Special Book, good reports and good parents' evenings.  We are stuck, though, today as bear doesn't actually want anything.  He's good for nerf guns, he has forty eight BeastQuest books, he is good for toys and he loathes leaving the house unless for maths or in extreme necessity.  I'm running out of ideas for days out.  Bear would much rather stay in.

It's a wonderful dilemma to have.  DH and I have both told bear that we are incredibly proud of him.  Once bear has slept on it, I'm confident he will be inspired.  I can't wait to find out!

Thursday 11 February 2016

Entertainment of Sorts

I am having a bad time at the moment.  I'm sure I'll pick up, and I am so aware that others have a harder time, but I am having a fail at the moment.

At least I am managing to look outside myself  a little.  Yesterday the smell of weed was so strong in the street it would stop a clock.  I have no idea who or what, but I am keeping an eye out and hoping that bear will be okay.

This morning I was sitting and trying to be positive when I heard an awesome argument going on.  Apparently there is a dispute about the bins at the back of the flats.  I had a look and saw a van from the council's environmental people (with Grime and Punishment written on the side - someone got paid for thinking of that) and a lad who looked about twenty, wearing a high vis vest and a nervous expression, standing between the owner of the pizza shop and the hairdresser.  Both were being very forthright and arms were being waved.  

DH was also good about me getting some geraniums that arrived yesterday.  One is fine but the other got a little battered.  I'll enjoy fussing over them.

Tuesday 9 February 2016

Mathematically Challenged

It's the dratted 30 day clean.  Day 10 has instructions that use Oxyclean.  I think that could be an American brand.  Tesco have Oxi Powder, which is probably the same - a powder that has a bleaching action and stain removal for laundry.  Here is the challenge.  Do I buy 500g for £2.20 or 1kg for £3?

The same product, Tesco Oxi Powder, is £4.40 per kilo if I buy 500g, but only £3 per kilo if I buy a 1kg drum.  So buying 1kg is cheaper if you look at it as price per gram.  However if I buy 1kg of Oxi Powder instead of 500g I will still have spent 80p more.  I suppose I could look at it as if I buy one 500g pack of Oxi Powder for £2.20 and get the second for 80p, and both in the same pot.

I have washing soda in already and I am not in a hurry to build up cleaning supplies.  I'll get the 500g pot and save 80p.  It isn't a common requirement, and I don't think I'll use it quickly.

The next expenditure on the 30 day Clean may be a vacuum.  The author seems to assume a lot of different attachments and flexibility.  Mine has no attachments and I am happy about it.  I shall worry about the problem when I get to it.

Having a Beige Day

I can't really get up to much (ironing and pulling out the fridge) because I am on pins to see if the Water Board call, and if they do I don't want miss their knock.

I have started embroidering a tray cloth.  If I am successful I will share.  I bought it online (of course) and didn't realise that the edge was unfinished.  I have to buttonhole around the edge and then trim.  I am not looking forward to that!  I have started the buttonhole, after refreshing my memory on YouTube, and I am not convinced.  Still, it keeps my hands busy.

I have some ready made pancakes in the fridge, and I am considering making Toad in the Hole for dinner, in the spirit of using up eggs.

I am feeling very flat and restless.  In the past this has led me to be more random than normal.  I am sitting on my hands and avoiding eBay, just in case.

Monday 8 February 2016

Bear is Becoming a Medium Bear

When I first started blogging I called bear, 'little bear'.  It was a nickname that stuck from the cuddly, playful, sunny baby that I brought home from the hospital.  I dropped the 'little' part around the time when bear started school.  I thought it was important to recognise that he was getting bigger and more autonomous.

Today, for the first time, bear was happy to skip night time songs.  It's probably only tonight, as DH is out so bear doesn't get a story.  Tomorrow the routine will continue as we have another chapter of A Horse and his Boy (by CS Lewis who could really write) which will be followed by the songs, but I suspect we have set a precedent.  It's just a significant moment because bear has always insisted on songs, and even extra songs if he wasn't getting a story.

Now that bear is in Year 4 he is getting to big and cool for mum kisses.  I can't kiss him goodbye in the morning as I drop him off anymore.  I have to sneak them in before we leave the house.  I have been uneasily waiting for this, as most of the cool dudes stopped kisses a while ago.  There are not so many hugs.

I suppose bear is now becoming a Medium Bear.  Before I know I will have a hulking, awkward, independent teenage with hollow legs hanging around.  I going to sneak in as many cuddles as I can, while I can.

Back to Day One

Doing okay actually.

I'm not doing the spice cupboard again, but I'm working through the Daily Cleaning List and I'm finding the Bullet Journal useful.  I've been on to the Water Board and chased up a missing duvet.

I am considering a pot plant or two.  They are supposed to be healthy, and geraniums are supposed to be good at absorbing formaldehyde, at least, according to this article on the BBC website.  I adore scented geraniums, and it would be great to have a few.  What more could I want - something I want that is good for my health.  The two problems are that there are not many good places to keep a sun loving plant in the house and also DH isn't as keen.  At least we no longer have cats ready to prune anything green.

It's probably the wrong time of year anyway.

Sunday 7 February 2016

A Less Good Day

There is always a good side.  I have just cleared a counter and rethought how I can store stuff.  I am starting the 30 day to a cleaner house again tomorrow.  This means that I need to get some serious work going on.  The kitchen counters are a serious issue as when someone is living in the house behind us, it is often too damp to use the cupboards so everything gets left on the side.  I can work on that.

I've been re-reading the book and there will be a few interesting days ahead.  One day, I think it is Day Twenty Six but it will show as I go along, I am supposed to wash all the blankets.  I have swathes of blankets.  I have four on the sofa, a few on each chair, small ones on bear's computer chair, on the beds, in cupboards just in case their needed on the beds, and at least three still wrapped - I'm not washing the wrapped ones!  I can manage it.  I may have to plan carefully and hope for a good drying day.

However once I am in the rhythm I am hoping that I will have some good habits formed and the house will work well.

I have also done something interesting to my knee and the drain outside the kitchen has backed up.  That is not so good.  I think I am having a good day, just a less good day.

Saturday 6 February 2016

Home Made Cleaners

I'm really not sure about these.

I tried home made laundry detergent which was an enormously epic fail.  The home made powder refused to dissolve in the washer and the gloop never really got to the gloop stage.  I stocked up on Ariel instead when it was half price at Tesco.  I have just got a coupon from Tesco for 160 extra Clubcard points if I buy before 3rd April, so I shall be keeping a close eye on the price of Ariel until then.

When I cleared out the cupboard under the sink I found three spray cleaners.  It will take me a while to get through those, even with the 30 day cleaning plan.  However I was considering some of the recipes in the book.  One is a spray that you use on the shower and bath daily which is one part vinegar to three parts water with essential oil added.  I may use it.  I just bought 5 litres of white vinegar for just over £3 so the cost of a few drops of essential oil is likely to be the most expensive part of it.  It is unlikely to do much damage.

I am seriously considering using Bless's idea of steeping orange peels (in vast supply here) in vinegar and using that as a cleaner.

My basic reservations about home made cleaners is that many of the recipes combine vinegar (acid), baking soda (alkaline) and essential oils.  My very, very basic knowledge of chemistry says that acid and alkali cancel each other out so you end up with a neutral solution scented with essential oils.  I found, amidst a drift of articles about home made cleaners, a very interesting one here which includes this statement:  

However, the NPR report also stated that researchers at the Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at Tennessee State University found that “water can remove 98 percent of bacteria when it’s used to rinse and soak produce.” Rubbing or brushing helps in cleaning.

So plain water with the compulsory 'few drops of essential oil' would be just as good.  I would also suggest that essential oils need to be treated with respect and care.  They can be incredibly powerful in very small doses.  

I think it is incredibly important to label any home made solution.  If and when I make up some of the diffuser solution I shall be labelling it as poison.  Surgical spirit and essential oils are not good for anyone.  

Looking through the links has made me curious so I am off to browse.  I will share if I find anything interesting.  

Why Do I Want To?

I have replaced the pillows on bear's bed.  I had put this off for some time, as bear doesn't bother much with pillows.  He usually sleeps next to them.  However when I changed the pillowcases last week I actually noticed them.  They were a poor example of a pillow, flat and limp with miscellaneous stains.  I don't allow food in the bedrooms, but stuff slips through occasionally.

I got the pillows relatively inexpensively, and these ones may be worth washing.  The ones that they replace are not.  The filling is grinding down to dust and the cover wasn't robust to start with.  At the moment they look like distasteful placemats. I quickly removed them so that bear couldn't declare an emotional attachment so that they had to be kept.  So why do I have to sit on my hands to stop myself from washing them before throwing them out?

I am tempted to succumb, just to do a 'before and after' pic.  I expect they would still be flat, just a lot lighter.  I think the shame of the state they got into will stop me.

Friday 5 February 2016

I Made Two Diffusers

I blogged about making diffusers on 3 January 2016.  It wasn't very satisfactory.  I tried again today.

First of all, I found these

It's a bottle of a basil seed drink, which is apparently Good For You and available in Thailand.  Bear enjoyed his.  It turned out that they are the right size and shape for the whole diffuser thing, as worked out by me.

Once bear had emptied a bottle or two and I assembled my kit, I had this

That is, surgical spirit, essential oil, glass bottle with narrow neck, water and gemstone chips.  Getting the gemstone chips (remarkably inexpensive from eBay, but I got less volume than I expected for £3.29) into the bottle was a challenge, but I split it between two bottles and added the mixture left over from last time (50% water, 50% alcohol, loads of drops of essential oil).  I got this

The picture doesn't really do it justice.  The chips are lovely and iridescent and the liquid is very clear. It looks muddy in the picture.

And when it needs topping up it will not only be visible but use remarkably little.  The kit is stashed away for use in a few weeks time.  That's one thing off the list.  Eleventy ten to go.

Thursday 4 February 2016

Bear is Still Slightly Endangered

The Battle of the Curtains continues.  I have had a long talk with DH.  We have had to look at what is realistic and possible with nine year old boys.  After some discussion, we agreed.  We are eventually going to move furniture to limit his access to the curtain.  Giving bear some naff raff about the curtain has limited success and I suspect in the end it will just bounce off him.  I am currently trying to work out whether I can sew a casing under the heading tape to take the curtain pole.  It will either resist bear's accidental attacks or pull the pole down.

I have to stress that I do not think bear is trying to do anything.  I think it is entirely accidental and without malice.  It is also without much contrition.

Last night I was on the phone telling bear's cousin all about it.  I stopped mid-sentence as bear paraded through carrying a piece of card with 'Shame' written on it.

I could hear giggling behind the cardboard as he held it in front of his face.  I told this to his cousin who was highly amused, and updated her on the position of bear's thumb.  Bear returned with this.

I reassured him that it would be very simple and he would be fine while continuing to chat to his cousin.  Bear returned with the amended first sign.

I'm working on stopping him interrupting phone calls.  At least it has stopped audible interruptions, although the giggling kept going.

Bear does continue advanced.  For a nine year old, his eye rolling at what his parents are telling him is remarkably forward.  At the moment I find the roll of the eyes amusing.  Long may that continue!

Failing to go Blonde

I failed at the hairdressers.  They had rescheduled the appointment, but when I got there I ended up waiting half an hour.  During that time I got a call from school and they are ringing me back (just checking on thumbs etc),  I decided not to risk the extra time getting the highlights and just went for a cut.  It was a very nice cut, and I am very happy with it.  I'll call in and make the colour appointment some other time.

It's been a fail week so far.  I've got bits done, but it hasn't been as productive as it should have been.  I have seen something on Mumsnet, which led to to the Bullet Journal website.  This calls to me.  It really does.  I am missing stuff and forgetting stuff and anything that hints it might help sounds amazing.  On the other hand, if I listed all the stuff that needed to be done, I think I would sink.  The porch roof needs doing, the carpets are desperately unfit for purpose, the stair carpets are heading towards Health and Safety breaches and that is without considering the cleaning that I need to do.

You are supposed to get a lovely notebook.  I have a weakness for lovely notebooks that I rarely indulge.  I get pads of A4 paper instead.  This may be the reason it calls to me.

I shall fossick out a notebook and give it a go.  If I last more than three days I shall share.  I am desperate.  I am scared of starting a to-do list as I suspect it will run to three volumes, but if I don't do something I am going to drown.

Tomorrow I am going to spend the day organising what needs doing.  I intend to make lists and start plans.  Today is supposed to be sitting and making curtains, as my leg is bad.  This is presumably why I've cleared out the treat cupboard and disinfected the veg rack.  I'll see how the rest of the day goes.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Caught Him!

The dratted curtains are so far off their dratted hooks that I don't think I can get the dratted things back up.

On the comparatively bright side, I've worked out what is happening.  This morning bear waved goodbye to DH through the window, pushing aside the curtain to do so.  The curtain caught on the back of bear's chair.  When bear went to get dressed, he swung around and the chair pulled the curtain. There was an awful crack and one of the remaining curtain hooks broke.  Bear was completely baffled that I should find this stressful.

The solution to keep my curtains up lies, on the whole, with bear.  I can try to bear-proof my curtains, but unless I can convince a nine year old boy to actually pay attention to what he is doing and respect soft furnishings I am fighting the odds.  It isn't impossible to get a nine year old boy to respect soft furnishings, but it is not easy.  I ought to be thinking, 'challenge accepted.'  I am actually thinking, 'darn it to heck'.

Last night as I was considering tab top curtains (wouldn't work as the pole is right against the ceiling so there would be a gap at the top) or ring top curtains (would have to buy ready made and I'm not sure I want to go through that again) but if bear is pulling on the curtains it could bring the whole curtain pole down.

I tried to take a photo of the curtain, but the light is too bright outside.  I found this picture on Wiki Commons, which gave me curtain envy.

I also found a story on the BBC about a domestic cat being mistaken for a leopard in Chelmsford here.  It cheered me up.

I've no idea what to do now.   It may well start with grounding bear.

Tuesday 2 February 2016

A Sort of Afternoon

I'm not sure if it was a good afternoon, or a tough afternoon, or an expensive afternoon, or a trying afternoon.  I am sticking to afternoon and working out from there.

First things first - bear has trigger thumb.  There is an issue with the tendon in the thumb and he will need a minor operation, probably under a light general.  I am sure he will be fine.

Getting there was a stressful experience.  Time was tight and I was really worried we were going to be late.  I shouldn't have been stressed.  We had to wait over an hour.  Seeing some of the children there who were in far worse positions than bear made me very grateful for how blessed we are.

The doctor was very good, and explained things very well to bear.  He drew pictures of the bones and tendons and he let bear know what was happening.  I am confident that bear will be fine.  I told bear that the anaesthetic would be fine, and whenever DH has an anaesthetic he has a lovely sleep and feels much better afterwards.  Unfortunately bear asked how I reacted to anaesthetic.  I didn't lie, but quickly moved on to reminding bear how much like his father was.  I do not react well to anaesthetics well at all.

I have decided that it is less expensive to go the awesome maths tutor in a taxi.  The bus fare for bear and I is £6.30.  The taxi fare, including a reasonable tip, is £8 - but I don't get sucked into buying bear a treat.  It is definitely expensive to hang around town killing time before the awesome maths tutor, but by the time we would have got home we would have had to go straight out.  That would have been the less expensive option.

First of all we agreed to go to The Works for stickers at bear's request.  However before we even got to The Works we had a diversion.  Bear spotted the Dunkin Donuts shop.  As he had been very patient in the waiting room I agreed that we could stop in.  That was a doughnut for bear, one to take to the awesome maths tutor, a pack to share with DH and a drink.  Then we called into The Works.  For those not familiar, they are a shop that sell cut price kid's craft stuff, inexpensive but interesting books and all sorts of tempting bits of stationery.  That led to a large pack of dinosaur stickers, one book on dinosaurs because the stickers were on a buy one, get one free deal which also included some books, and a completely unnecessary book on gardening which I am determined to use.  That lot was £10  Another £10 went on a case for bear's tablet.  The Doctor Who one had been for the wrong model, so we purchased a generic one from a barrow in one of the shopping centres.  Then we went to a cafe which not only does gluten free and bear appropriate food but where the staff indulge bear.  They had stopped serving food so we had a stop gap of cake with a drink and spent another £10.  I can't remember how much bear's sushi was.  I bought a pack for him to have tonight and a pack for breakfast tomorrow.  Throughout all the shopping, bear was as focussed as a kitten in a feather factory.   By the time we had got off the over crowded bus at the stop for the awesome tutor, I was on my knees.

In my defence, I had taken soluble paracetamol with codeine.  It suppressed the cough, which was necessary.  The continuing issue of convulsive cough and weak pelvic floor means that I am having to regularly change clothes and making me reluctant to go out.  So the codeine cut that down a little.  It also left me completely spaced out.  I was glad to sit down and be quiet when I got to the awesome maths tutor.

However bear had also told me how lucky he was having all his nice things.  He gave me hugs.  And, for the first time with me, he went into the gents' toilets on his own.  He is nine.  I can't take him into the ladies with me any more.  It was in a nice shopping centre, quite busy, and I told him if he got stuck or something then he should shout out and I am sure someone around would help him.  Those few minutes he was in there were some of the longest I have ever spent.  I should have known better.  Bear came out safe, well and he had washed his hands and face! He no longer was streaked with the after effects of the doughnuts.  That made up for a lot.

Not a Good Start to the Day

The dratted curtain has been pulled off another dratted ring.  I think if I'm going to keep the dratted curtains at the dratted window I'm going to have to nail them to the frame!  Bear swore he hadn't touched them.  I was wondering if 8.22 am was too early for strong drink.

The school run was far too windy.  It felt like I was taking a brisk walk through a Dyson hand-dryer and I came in reeling.  I was so stunned by the wind - which is far less than many parts of the UK - that I tried to hang my keys on the light switch.

The wind is bad at the moment.  There are overturned wheelie bins outside the flats and the laurel 'bushes' across the road are really being shaken.  I dread to think what it must be like for the poor people in Scotland.

Odd piece of information.  Vampire bats, the little ones in Central America and not the fictional ones in films, are altruistic.  The details are a bit gruesome, but vampire bats will share with those not related to themselves and prioritise the most desperate.  This puts them above some people I know.

The curtains are driving me demented.

Monday 1 February 2016

Darn it to Heck (Again)

I've lost the letter that I am supposed to take with me for bear's hospital appointment tomorrow.  I have rung in and checked so know where I am going so fingers crossed I will get to the right place.  The lost letter warned about waiting.  Just because the appointment is at 1.45pm doesn't mean bear will be seen then, or even nearly then.  The letter advised bringing something like books etc. to keep little ones occupied.  I suspect that it will be a loooong afternoon.

I've promised bear some treats afterwards, then hopefully the awesome maths tutor.

Today has been a fail day.  I'm going to have to pull myself together somehow.  I always feel low this time of year, though, so I am sure I'll pick up when the nights get lighter.