Saturday 31 December 2016

Aldi is Calling

I shop mainly at Tesco.  I shop at Tesco a lot.  I got a Christmas card from Tesco.  I find their customer service lovely, their products more than adequate and their prices competitive.  Also, they deliver and for £6 per month they deliver frequently.

Today we called in to Aldi as they sell the diet cola I like, plus the small chocolate bars that seem to just suit all of us.  I noticed that a lot of my staples were a lot less expensive than Tesco.  I am sure that I could save a considerable amount there if I stuck to a list, bought only what I needed and did a monthly Tesco shop for the stuff that Aldi didn't carry.

There is no way I could stick to a list.  I would be good as I went round the bread, the sweeties, the canned goods and the fruit and veg.  A few extra bits might end up in my trolley, but not much.  It's the Aisle of Doom, also known as 'This Week's Special Buys'.  There is such temptation!  It's where I got bear's dressing gown (which he still wears at all opportunities) and some great pyjamas for DH and today I forced myself to put back some aran weight yarn that was being sold at under £3 for a 400g ball!  It is far too tempting.  When I shop online I can at least look at the total and remove the stuff that is a want and not a need.

So it looks like I may need to ration my trips to Aldi and stick to Tesco who are, after all, pretty good.  I especially need to stay off the special buys that can be ordered online.  I quite fancy this fabric for curtains in my room.  It's a single duvet cover, and checking the measurements it would give me four metres of 135cm wide fabric for £5.49.  I would need two duvet covers to make the curtains, but that is still a bargain.  Fortunately it's almost sold out and I should be able to resist temptation for a little while.

Friday 30 December 2016

Ringing in My Ears

Our phone has stopped working.  Actually, it was getting overworked.  It was ringing non stop but if you tried to answer it then all you heard was a strange clicking.

Of course it started when DH was out and it was impossible for me to unplug the dratted thing as the cables behind the cupboard where the telephone lives are a nightmare rats' nest.  DH sorted them all out for me but somehow they are intertwined and knotted and I didn't have a clue.  Bear and I sat in the other room with the door firmly shut with the telephone ringing non stop until DH came home and managed to unplug it (and the router which I had managed to dislodge when I attempted to sort the phone).  We locked it in his car overnight just in case.

And adding to the wrapping paper and toy packaging is the packaging for the wardrobe that has been delivered today by two lovely men who kindly took it upstairs for me.  I was so grateful.  I shall let DH build it.

Thursday 29 December 2016

I Need to Get More Sleep

I've been sleeping badly for the last week for one reason or another.  It's affecting my judgement.  The stuff on its way from my friend eBay isn't too bad, though a little eclectic, but I actually caved and bought the Little Book of Hygge which I totally do not need.

I have been considering the concept of cushion covers as well.  If I get my sewing machine set up and I am very brave it will take me no time at all to make really basic envelope cushion covers that even I should manage.  We really need new covers.  What with one thing and another, the cushions look like they are ready for compost.

Unfortunately I've seen some fabric I like on eBay.  I have no right looking, I have all sorts of bits stashed, but I saw this.

Normally I avoid patterns like the plague and it won't go with anything in the room but it sort of called to me.  I'm not sure it's even the right weight.  Besides, it isn't repurposed duvet covers or curtains or remnants.  I must be losing my mind.

|It's briskly cold here.  Bear has, of course, been out playing football, but I have not got much further than beyond the kitchen door to take out rubbish.  Last night I swear I saw the frost falling, and this morning the cobwebs looked encrusted

and there were icicles hanging off the central heating vent

and we never usually get icicles.

I hope it warms up by the time the school run starts.

Tuesday 27 December 2016

Just Chillin...

It has been a wonderfully unremarkable day.  We have watched more Flash episodes than I care to count as bear has got hooked on the show.  I'm okay with that as it isn't too bad as far as tv for young lads goes, but I gave myself eye strain before Christmas and the craft light I use in the living room isn't working (bulb) so I can't catch up with my knitting while bear is mentally being Flash.  His version of Flash going up our stairs is remarkable.  We have fourteen stairs (I think) but when bear channels the Flash going up them it sounds like we have 52.

I'm still feeling flattened but I only have another day of antibiotics to go.  I need to get a few nights of decent sleep and prepare for my New Year's Resolutions.  I have written so many times on this blog that I am going to do something and have never managed it, so I am going to concentrate on what I have done instead.  I did decide, however, that if I'm going to get anywhere with my resolutions then I needed to prepare.

Something I have actually done is wrap bear's birthday presents.  There were some action toys (some of them new this year as I got a great deal), some books, a box of sweeties and this...

... which ended up like this...

... and is probably the reason that I ran out of sticky tape and had to use some of bear's stash.  Bear asked for it very nicely, it wasn't too expensive to start with and was on sale, and I think he will enjoy it being part of his plush pile very much.  After wrapping it, however, I am seriously considering giving him a gift card for his birthday next year.

Monday 26 December 2016

Not Many Leftovers

Because we had steak we had no cold turkey but we did have a little stuffing left over that we managed to find room for on Christmas night.  This meant today was bacon butties for lunch, another round of pigs in blankets and stuffing cooked fresh for dinner with ordinary roast potatoes and sprouts and generally less stress than you would think.

We do have a large quantity of goodies left over, but I'm expecting bear's pals to turn up tomorrow so I'm sure that will go down.

I have a lot less wrapping paper.  August 2015, when I had to make a hole for the piano, I found I had @ fifty full or partial rolls of wrapping paper.  I used four for bear's Christmas presents this year alone and I haven't wrapped his birthday presents yet.  He's got another large stack of books, a computer game, and a few other little goodies.  I can't see it taking less than two rolls.  I won't be getting any wrapping paper in the sales this year or next year, but possibly I may have to have a look on Boxing Day 2018.  The wrapping paper is all fairly plain to do Christmas/wedding/birthday etc so it does get used during the year.

I do still have over five hundred Christmas cards (I accidentally bought a vast quantity on eBay a few years ago) but even they are reducing and next year I plan to make sure that they are matched up with envelopes and donate the majority to the Church Christmas Fair.  It's a start.

Sunday 25 December 2016


Wishing a Happy Christmas to all you kind people reading this blog and hoping you have a wonderful break and an epically awesome New Year.

Bear has more toys than he knows what to do with and I feel so stuffed that I don't think I'll ever be able to move again.

I hope you all have had a wonderful break x

Saturday 24 December 2016

Memories of Turkey Dinners

We are having steak this year.  It's a huge treat, DH doesn't like turkey, bear isn't bothered by turkey but loves the idea of steak and I don't really have the respect for turkey for Christmas dinner that I should.

My parents divorced when I was young, and it was unheard of in the small(ish) town I grew up in in the 1970s and early 1980s.  I was the only one in the school who had divorced parents.  It wasn't very amicable either.  However they made an effort at Christmas.  Father used to come to our house for Christmas dinner.  His Christmas bonus was vouchers for the local supermarket which he gave to mother to buy our Christmas dinner - except the turkey.

Father's cousins raised turkeys.  I can almost hear the conversation, 'We can't give our kid a small turkey.  We've got to give him something decent.  Put that one back, we'll give him something that's worth eating.'  Every year my mother would ask for a smaller turkey.  Every year we got a giant mutant.  The biggest one was 23lb or around ten and a half kilos.  Turkey should cook for 20 minutes a pound and twenty minutes over, or, in this case, eight hours.  Mother was supposed to put the turkey in at 5am.  It wouldn't fit in her small electric oven, she had to take all the shelves out, grease the sides and line the floor of the oven with foil.

Father always promised he would get to our house at a decent time.  He always ended up staying for after hours drinking at the club.  He always rolled in far too late and mother would be unimpressed waiting up for him as she had to be up at daft o'clock to wrestle with the turkey.

So when we came downstairs we would find father feeling fragile and mother feeling stressed and tired.  Every year mother would complain bitterly about the (free) turkey.   We didn't have a freezer and so vast amounts of turkey went to waste as mother wouldn't keep it more than three days.  In those three days we ate TURKEY.  My mother made the most amazing turkey scouse on the third day.  I've never managed to get it right.  Scouse is supposed to be a Liverpool dish, and it's really a poor man's dish - whatever meat is available plus whatever veggies or 'pot herbs' you could scrape together.  To my mind, the quality of the scouse depends on the potatoes.  They should be lovely and floury and disintegrating.  Mother's turkey scouse was my favourite dish of the year.  I've never managed to copy it.

So I'm happy to eat turkey at all sorts of times, but I prefer not to have it at Christmas.  I'm also not looking forward to the sprouts but as bear and DH adore them I shall have a token sprout on my plate and shovel the rest onto theirs.

AND I'm really looking forward to Christmas.  It doesn't matter what's on the plate.  It's the love that's sitting round the table.  I can remember the arguments and the grumbles, but I can also remember two people doing their frail best to get things right for their kids.  That's more important than turkey.

Friday 23 December 2016

Dark And Stormy!

There is a lot of weather about.  The rain is lashing down, the wind is blowing the laurels across the street every which way and it is a time for closing the curtains, lighting a candle and snuggling down.  Bear decided it was fine to play football.  Not only did he decide to play football, he was out, in sleet and hard wind, in just a t-shirt.  Normally I let him decide what sort of weather he plays in as part of a life lesson, and I don't nag that much about sweaters and coats.

Today I called him in.  Bear is full of cold, hasn't recovered his appetite and would have to be insane to go out in that weather!.  He was indignant and soaked when I got him inside.

The Tesco delivery came with a couple of subs which were absolutely fine.  I'm sure I've forgotten stuff but I can't face stressing about it.  We will be fine.  After all, the shops will be open on Boxing Day.

I haven't wrapped a present yet, and bear has a lot so tomorrow night is going to be fun.  Actually, it is going to be fun.  I shall set up at the table with something fun on tv and just tootle along.  I've already sorted the 'stocking'.

For those who don't know the story, bear doesn't get a stocking, he gets a pillowcase.  I am against the whole pillowcase thing on principle because it seems very greedy.  We all had one of father's football socks when we were kids and that was plenty.  However one year on the morning of Christmas Eve I panicked when I realised that I hadn't sorted out stocking stuff.  Bear was about three at the time, I can't remember exactly, and DH reassured me that bear hadn't mentioned it and was probably too young to know about Christmas stockings, he was getting a tonne of presents, he wouldn't miss having a stocking.  I was reassured, bear hadn't mentioned it, it would be fine and I wouldn't have to try and find and stock a Christmas stocking in just a few hours in a packed city centre.  Of course, bear waited until bedtime on Christmas Eve to ask about his stocking.

So in desperation I left a pillowcase at the end of his bed and when I started wrapping (I always leave it to the last minute) I shoved a load of the little bits I had into a shoe bag type thing which I think had Ben 10 all over it.  I'd picked up the bag as part of a bundle or for very little and I had thought he would like it as a gift.  So when bear was flat out the pillowcase was swapped for a shoe bag type thing with goodies in it.

This has started a tradition.  Every Christmas Eve bear leaves out a pillowcase and every Christmas morning wakes up to a shoe bag or gym bag with goodies in and the bag is used to take his kit in for PE at school.  This year he has quite a small bag as he has a perfectly good backpack which I am not replacing but he could do with a bag to keep his muddy trainers/football boots in.  It is from my friend, eBay, and I got it personalised.  It looks like this.

However it is considerably more stuffed.  I'm sure it will keep bear going until at least 6am.  Well, I say I'm sure, it's more that I desperately hope.

Thursday 22 December 2016

We Went to IKEA

We saw these...

(my particular favourite was the hang gliding pandas, but I loved the way that the store sneaked in loads of stuffed toys) but we didn't see this...

... which was the actual purpose of our visit.  We also got this...

... which we hadn't meant to get and was definitely a want not a need but I wanted a yarn holder for when I'm knitting and while I had planned to make one (and still might), this looked well suited and, yes, I regret the £10 but it could have been worse.

We also got a red fleece blanket 130cm x 170cm (around 51 inches x 70 inches) for £3 which isn't a bad price per metre, even if the fleece isn't very thick.  I planned to use it for the hot water bottle covers after practicing on the stash of well washed fleece baby blankets, perhaps double thickness, but bear has claimed it.  Red is his favourite colour and he loves that it is soft and cosy.  Then there were the soft toys that bear had requested for his Christmas/birthday present that I got when DH kept bear elsewhere.

So we came out with £37 of goodies but no wardrobe.  I've gone online and ordered it, which means that we are paying £39 for a wardrobe and £35 for delivery.  It would be £25 for delivery if it had been in stock but we have to pay a picking charge.

Bear loved the trip.  He loved opening all the doors and checking all the cupboards and was totally ready to buy everything.  I'm not letting him watch any home improvement programmes.  I'd never hear the end of it.

The yarn holder is no good, however, as the super thick yarn has turned up and I have abandoned all other projects for the chunky jacket I've been dreaming of.  It knits in stripes so I would be always changing the yarn in the holder.  I will see if it is as quick as they say.  Apparently it takes 8 hours to knit and another 7 hours to embroider.  If I do manage to finish the project I'm willing to bet it takes a great deal longer than that for me.  However I have videos to watch.  Bear, DH and I have watched Flash together and we are now on episode 13 of season 1 and we are over half way through season 3 of the Arrow and we will no doubt be starting season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow - all series based on DC comics with great production values, very good acting, awesome fight scenes and men with their shirts off.  Also there are YouTube videos.  I plan to watch videos about Iceland, history, craft and also funny cats.

Sharon - I am frequently embarrassed at how little non-European history I know, and the Native Americans are definitely on my 'to learn about' list.  I feel that language shapes the way we think, we can only usually think about things we have words for, and when a language dies I think a way of looking at the world goes with it.  I'm glad you enjoyed the link.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Bear gets an Early Present

Yesterday I dived into Aldi (bear and DH did something important that meant that they didn't have to go into a crowded store, and that was fine with me).  I forgot loads of stuff, of course, but one thing I did manage to snag was a dressing gown.  It is for 11-12 and bear is ten in eight days time but it isn't too big and has growing room.  Bear has been having a bad time for the last two weeks or so in our bathroom and our bathroom is unheated.  It gets plenty of heat from the rest of the house, it isn't too bad in many ways, but the poor kid was shivering in my dressing gown a lot of the time.  He's outgrown his old dressing gown.  This one is cuddly soft, has footballs on and was £5.99 which is around £10 less expensive than the cheapest ones I had seen on eBay.  This is the picture from the online page, but it doesn't do justice to how soft it is and how snuggly - bear is almost living in it.

It's probably not that good that I found you can shop at Aldi for some things.

Speaking of outgrowing, bear is not only much better but suddenly a lot slimmer and both DH and I swear that he is taller.  The Doctor Who onesie that he had been living in has either shrunk or we have a child who has just had a growth spurt.  We haven't measured him, but DH and I both agree, it's more than a smidgeon.

I also made a wonderful discovery.  It may not appeal to everyone, but when I was researching Icelandic on YouTube I found a great YouTuber who is a professor in California who teaches Icelandic and Old Norse.  I have been thoroughly enjoying his short but clear lectures - his videos are here if you are interested.

It was so cosy (if geeky) this afternoon.  DH, bear and I were all in the study, all on computers, I had headphones on and was knitting to a short lecture on where runes come from, DH was checking some complex stuff out and bear was on Minecraft and it was so comfortable.  We would emerge regularly to share info, giggle at stuff and generally interact, but were still happy doing our own thing.  Bear approved as he is suddenly very keen on saving energy and has been clear that we need to keep switching things off, so just having one main light and heater on suited him.

I also have the cold from hell, stomach cramps from antibiotics for cellulitis and I have broken a front tooth but actually life is pretty good.

I am not sure I will be saying the same thing tomorrow.  Tomorrow we go to IKEA.  I am braced.

Monday 19 December 2016

Don't Look at My Search History

When I wrote The Forgotten Village I actually googled how to make a Mickey Finn or chloral hydrate.  Apparently it's quite easy, according to Wikipedia.  You can look it up if you don't mind your search history getting odd.

I also found that actually embalming fluid isn't as flammable as I needed it to be for a short story but I went with it anyway, because who's going to check?

Today, when I was innocently looking at craft videos on YouTube, which led me to watching a video where they used string soaked in nail varnish remover and lit to cut a bottle which had videos on the sidebar about how to make nitroglycerine and how to make chloroform.  I'm really tempted to click on them.

I mean, I don't really want to blow anything up and I would be far too anxious to even think about chloroform, but it's research.  Honest, what else?

And added to research, did you know that you can get sulphuric acid from Amazon and a powder that takes away the smell of dead bodies.  I am really worried that one day my search history will be shown in a court of law and no-one will believe me.  Also, now YouTube has caught me looking at sulphuric acid being added to sugar (spoiler - not suitable for baking afterwards, but the video was on the sidebar of the video showing how to cut a bottle with nail varnish remover and I couldn't resist) all sorts of videos are showing up in the 'suggested for you' and I'm not sure I can cope.  I am going to try and top up my video feed with lots of videos of the Arrow without his shirt and some paper craft.  That's so much safer!  And for my own reassurance here is a picture of a kitten.

Sunday 18 December 2016

Bear is From Yorkshire

DH and I are so proud.

Bear's tummy is still having it's moments, so to distract him I started talking about the floor lamp next to my chair in the living room.  As I was cuddling bear I realised that the floor lamp had given up and was now only upright because it was leaning against the arm of the chair.  'It's had it.' I said.  'I'm going to have to get a new one.'
DH nodded but bear looked at me.  'It's still working.'
'Yes,' I agreed.  'The light still works but it isn't standing up properly.'
'But you can still use it.' Bear insisted.  'We don't need another one.'

Bear is adamant that as the light still works then we don't actually need to worry as long as we can still prop the lamp up more or less upright.  DH has had a twiddle, but it looks drunk.

'It isn't that much for a new one.' I said.  'They're very inexpensive.'
Bear just gave me a look.  'The light still works.  It will be fine.  We can save the money.'

To be fair, I'm the adult and bear is the child, but in this case I'm happy to follow bear's lead. I can see him being an awesome influence on me.  One of our projects over Christmas can be trying to get the lamp upright.  For full disclosure, the lamp that we were discussing is around twenty years old and a replacement will be a whole £14.  It looks like this...

Bear still has a poorly tummy (though much better than it was) but is now suffering with a significantly blocked nose.  I am happy for anything to distract him, and if it means trying to get a lamp upright then I'm good with that.  I am also happy that he's got such a good attitude to not buying when unnecessary, though any future wife may find things a challenge.

How long is Five Minutes

I've been watching craft videos on YouTube.  It rarely ends well.  I have come away with a long list of things that I might do if I ever get round to it, get organised and don't get distracted.

One particular group is the 'Five Minute Craft' channel.  Some of the videos are just quick hacks, some of them are a lot of fun.  One video, however, by this lot or another but definitely under the 'only takes five minutes' banner, showed a video about making an advent calendar.  It looked lovely.  You made a large hanging board which you decorated by glueing fancy paper, then you hand made twenty four little boxes from stiff paper or thing card, which you decorated.  Then you made twenty four beautifully written slips of promises for goodies/cuddles which you also decorated.  Then you tied each individual box onto the board with lovely ribbon.  This is supposed to be a five minute craft.  It would take me five minutes to find the ribbon.  I think I need to switch to funny cat videos.

Bear continues getting better.  Last night he slept on the sofa and dozed off to the Great British Sewing Bee.  Watching that with him did not help.

Saturday 17 December 2016

Mortified (Again)

Bear doesn't usually swap Christmas presents with his pals.  They are a good lot, in general, but boys don't seem to do presents like girls.  Bear was only bothered taking six cards in.  In my view, he's of an age to make his own decisions, I made Christmas cards available and left him to it.

Yesterday I picked bear up early from school as he had a poorly tummy (picking up now with the hot water bottle).  Bear was clinging on to one of those cardboard sick bowls that schools use and I was left to carry his coat and book bag - and an incredibly full, incredibly heavy, reinforced plastic bag full of his gift from one of his pals.  That is, a gift from someone we hadn't bought for.  A very large and incredibly heavy gift we hadn't bought for.  It includes what looks like a dozen large books and a wrapped present.  I could barely manage to get it home.

I asked bear about this.  'It's not my fault we haven't got him a present.' He said indignantly.  'I only found out on Wednesday!'  I patiently explained that because we pay £79 for Amazon prime that even at this time of year I could have to his pal a present delivered the next day.  That is, the Thursday.  That is, the day before the last day of term and I would be able to look the day (who normally does the drop off) in the eye.  Or I could have called in one of a dozen places on Thursday.  Or DH could have picked something up on the way home.  Or a dozen variations of the theme of 'if you had told me...'

I suppose that bear coming home early has a silver lining.  It makes it look that I was going to hand over the present for his pal at pick up on Friday but was prevented, and it also means that I can shop for something awesome in the sales.

There is always a bright side.

Friday 16 December 2016

Hot Water Bottle

I never had many tummy aches when I was growing up, but DH did and bear seems to be following in his footsteps.  He has been poorly all week and today he was sent home from school halfway through the last day of term.  I took him to the doctor.  It's almost certainly not serious but we need to keep an eye out.  Poor bear.  He has been up late at night all week and he is now a ghost of himself.

I've been fairly baffled. I've dosed him with milk of magnesia and kept plain snacks coming at regular intervals.  He hasn't really been interested in treats, so it has been bad.  DH had the idea of giving bear a hot water bottle tonight.

Bear loved it.  He snuggled next to it and sighed.  DH got so nostalgic for his own hot water bottle and also sighed.  I made a mental note to pick up an extra hot water bottle.

As bear snuggled down with the hot water bottle wrapped in a towel, I thought about making a hot water bottle cover.  It should be fairly easy, and there are a few sets of instructions on the web.  Then I checked my friend, eBay.  It is more cost effective to buy a hot water bottle with a cover than make one.  Or it would be if I didn't have a pile of fleece baby blankets I bought randomly when bear was tiny.  The pattern I saw on Instructables here needed fleece and the baby blankets should be awesome.  Sometimes I'm glad that I have a stash.

In other news, I've just junked 8000 words of a story.  It just wasn't working.  I feel really good about it, though, because I think I've worked out where I'm going wrong.

Wednesday 14 December 2016

Tesco Sent me a Christmas Card

Actually, I think it's just something that they are rolling out to the 'frequent flyers' but I'm putting it up with the Christmas cards.  Apparently I've done 300 shops with them.  To be honest, my first reaction was, 'Is that all?  I thought I'd done more than that.'  They have very kindly included 250 extra Clubcard points, and that is very welcome.

I'm becoming very fond of Tesco.  They do very reasonable prices, their customer service is now excellent in my experience (hasn't always been!) and their clubcard points have been incredibly useful.  I am now spending time on their recipe website and when I need a bargain like the tv for bear's xbox I find myself on the tesco outlet on eBay.

Can I also mention that Tesco Living is quite interesting.  The page is here if you fancy a look.  One of their suggestions is snipping twigs from a real Christmas tree and putting them in a spray bottle full of vinegar, then allowing it to steep before using it as a cleaning spray.  I know Bless does something similar with orange peel, and I am tempted to have a go.  I'm also tempted to have a go at the ice dye cushion cover

Though I suspect it's the photography and the snuggly blanket behind the cushion that is pulling me in.

I should mention that unfortunately this post is not sponsored by Tesco, though I am wondering if they have any jobs going locally.

Tuesday 13 December 2016

I'm Easily Bewildered

I was up a lot in the night with bear who had tummy ache.  I think it was around fifty fifty tummy ache and desperately wanting not to go to school.  It didn't work.  He still went into school but I had had about four hours sleep after a bad night the night before.

About midday the electrician turned up.  Except it wasn't the electrician.  I had booked this through a booking service which was great because I actually found an electrician that would come and do the job.  Unfortunately they gave the job to two electricians.  The first one who turned up didn't know what the second one was on about.

I was worried that I would be a witness to a sparky encounter, but I left them to it and they sorted it out.  I now can see properly in the living room and study, I have a new circuit board and all is earthed that should be earthed.  I've rung the power company and I should have a smart meter by the end of January.  I'm happy about that.

Now all I need to do is wait until bear comes back from football training and we can all go to bed.  I am at the 'so tired I could cry' stage.

Monday 12 December 2016

Not Exactly As Planned

Last night I was up until 2am as I had forgot to charge my phone and I haven't got an independent alarm clock.  I had to stay away long enough to make sure that there was enough charge to wake me up at 7am.  Today I have been staggering along on autopilot.

I've identified my room, which is father's old room, as a road block.  I ground to a halt last year and never really picked up so it has become something of a dumping ground but badly organised, so I didn't have anywhere to put anything.  If I want to clear other areas of the house I need to have places to put them, and that means sorting out my room and the junk room.  However I managed to clear a very small space, which still filled several bin bags/donate bags and there's much more to do.

The plan was that as the electricians were coming at the first cough of the sparrow I would wait until bear had gone to bed before moving all the stuff around in the kitchen and dining room.  However I got a call from the electrician to say that they would not be there until around lunchtime.  So tomorrow morning I will be moving the kitchen stuff around.  This is perhaps just as well.  I have just come back to my computer after spending at least three hours with bear who has a tummy ache.  I am not sure how much is your actual tummy ache and how much is being overtired but it's been a long evening.

Last night I spent far too long watching videos about braided rugs and stuff made out of newspapers.  I found this particularly intriguing.  It is far too hard for me, luckily, so I don't have to stock pile newspapers and magazines.  If I do try anything, I'll share.  Here's a picture from one channel that I found amazing.  It's in Spanish, which I don't speak (yet) but the way she shows the process is incredibly clear.

Maybe I'll try it one day 

Sunday 11 December 2016

Trucking Homework

Bear is supposed to be doing his homework.  He needs to look stuff up on the internet about the rainforest.  He's limping along while taking a lot of breaks.

Meanwhile, in the breaks, bear is playing a truck driving simulator (while at the same time listening to a YouTube video of someone else playing a truck driving simulator) and making a list of all the places he visits.  Bear, being bear, prefers this complexity to just copying down some basic facts from a website.

I'm making the right sort of noises as bear enthusiastically tells me all about the cities the truck visits all over the UK and Europe.  I sometimes correct his pronunciation because he is a Yorkshire bear and has no idea how to approach names like Versailles or Cologne.  It's okay, though, as bear helpfully corrects me when I get distances between cities wrong and has explained the difference between a truck and a lorry.

What bear doesn't realise is that he is, in fact, educating himself.  He forgets nothing, he really doesn't, so he is learning the main cities of the UK and Europe (which is more than I ever learned in school) and roughly where they are, with the distances between them.    He is hoping to get the expansion packs for Asia and the Americas soon and will then be teaching himself the main cities of those as well.  All by playing a rather quiet computer game.

And while I have been typing this up, DH has been helping bear set up an excel spreadsheet so that he can generate random routes between different cities.   Apparently they want to try and make their own game.

I wish more games sneaked education in sideways.  Bear may be wanting truck simulator expansion packs but he also wants Skylanders.  I haven't spotted education in that, but he enjoys it, and that's good enough.

Saturday 10 December 2016

And Breathe

The piano tutor said that bear was doing incredibly well even though bear has not practiced.  It worries me how good bear is at blagging   The nice man could do the service without any problem because I had moved all the stuff.  The awesome maths tutor was awesome and had plenty of space to work in an almost okay place.  I managed to get some ironing done, did some Christmas planning and watched some more dratted episodes of Arrow.  We're probably getting some Flash dvds for Christmas.  I have a sense of what the future holds.  I see men without shirts and get to do my knitting so I'm not complaining too much.

So now it's just the lovely electricity men coming on Tuesday.  Most of what I needs to do involves moving things on Monday night to a Heap and then moving it all back after they leave.  I'm feeling confident.  Well, I'm feeling almost confident.

Now I can move on to tomorrow's big challenge - bear's homework.  That is the tough one.

Fails have found me out

Those people who read this and are half way competent housekeepers will not understand.  I am up way too late because I am doing a last minute, desperate scrabble so that the nice man who comes to service the boiler tomorrow will be actually able to get to it.  All sorts of junk has been dumped in that particular corner and I have had to finally catch up with some bits that should have been sorted months ago.  Those bits include a bottle of lavender oil which has leaked all over the counter.  Cleaning it up has left me with a stonking headache and a sensation of having been mugged by a granny.

I have also cleared off the vast swathe of junk around the piano so when the piano tutor comes tomorrow he won't be too distracted by the heaps.

Tomorrow isn't much better.  The awesome maths tutor will be coming to visit at 4pm and the dining room needs to be in a fit state.  It isn't in a fit state.  It is in an appalling state.  Also, I need to catch up with the ironing that is stashed there to make space for whatever awesome maths happens.

And next Tuesday the nice electrical men will be running cables and all sorts around the kitchen which means I will have to move stuff around in heaps, especially as I have started stashing goodies in the kitchen.  I have no idea where I'm going to put stuff.  I am seriously considering putting the crisp stockpile in DH's car boot for the day.  I am glad I got the stock pile going, though, as bear and his pals break up for the holidays on 16th and I'm not sure how many I'll be feeding or how often.  The nice electrical men will also be fitting the lights so I need to make sure that there is plenty of room in both living room and study.  I shall also be digging out the old sheets to cover the electricals from potential dust.

This would not be so bad if I had started from a decent standpoint.  I didn't.  I have failed at housewifery on a scale so epic that it makes Ben Hur look like holiday snaps.

It could all be worse, though, and I did find a local shop selling 'pigs in blankets' flavoured Pringles at £1 a tube.  That will definitely help the provisioning over Christmas.

I'm going to crawl off and sleep now, probably dreaming of something like this.

Thursday 8 December 2016

Bears will be bears

Three pairs of bear's school trousers have decided to go at once.  Each one has a threadbare patch on the right knee waiting to become an actual hole.  You can almost poke your finger through one.  He has also ripped a tear up the back of one of his shirts.

I've ordered some more trousers as a click and collect so I should get them soon.  Bear does have two pairs of school trousers left, but both are looking faded.  I really recommend Matalan for those buying school uniform in the UK.  Those trousers have washed and washed and washed as bear usually has a clean pair everyday.  They do great school shirts as well.  I'm not exactly sure what bear managed to do, but there is a tear right down the centre of the back of one of his school shirts.

He has also managed to completely destroy his shoelaces.  I'm not sure exactly what is going on as his shoes are fine, but the shoelaces are just fragments.

I may wonderwebb some fabric to the inside of the knees of the new trousers.  Something tells me that they may need it.

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Insert Rude Word Here

The dire rear bug has hit with full force.  DH and I are wrecked.  Bear, however, is back in full force.  He is still practising his 'whistle'.

It will be better tomorrow.  Until then, here's a favourite of mine from the lolcats page

Monday 5 December 2016

Let There Be Light - Please!

I am failing significantly at electric.  Back in May or June the man who installs the smart meters almost fainted when he saw the fuse board and that the gas and electric weren't earthed.  The people from Northern Electric were called out to make the electric wire safe and I was told I had to have a PME bond sorted out.  I have been trying since then.

I also failed when I tried to get new lights in.  It may have been last year, but I got new lights fitted in the living room and study and they are far too dim.  Sometimes I feel like I need a coal miner's helmet as the light just isn't bright enough and it can get so dark at this time of year even in the daytime.  So I arranged for yet another company to come and look at the lights and quote for the PME bond.  I was so happy at the thought of being able to have decent lighting at last and to have the end of the whole PME bond in sight.  I had two new lights ready to go and the lightbulbs that fit them.

When I booked the appointment I stressed that I needed to do the school run, so turning up between @ 8.50am and 9.05am wasn't going to work.  You can see where this is going.  I raced across the road from school waving my arms frantically to stop them leaving.  They must have arrived literally the moment we left the street.  I came panting up the road to them and must have looked like a mad woman.  Then they had a look at the fuseboard.  Sigh.  I've known for a while that the fuseboard is dated, it's probably older than me.  There is a good chance that the man who fitted it also worked on the first phase of Stonehenge.  The electrician flatly refused to touch the lights without first doing the PME bond and replacing the fuse board.  They're coming back on Wednesday.  It's going to be expensive.

Here is a picture of some pretty electric lights that cheered me up.  I hope mine work as well.

Sunday 4 December 2016

Very Quiet

Today has been very quiet.  The bug that bear had has spread to DH and I and it's been, well, a mix.

There is always a bright side.  Sometimes you have to scramble for it, but it's always there.  We may both be feeling rough, but it's not all bad.  Today bear has hung out on the computer while actively not doing his homework and DH and I have watched back to back episodes of Arrow.  We must have watched four this afternoon and I expect to watch another two this evening.  So while I have had the pleasure of DH's company I have also made massive strides on my knitting.  Poor DH has been very badly hit and has spent most of the time enjoying the fight scenes while stretched out under a blanket and occasionally dozing.

I am really enjoying the knitting.  It's going to be a wrap when I've finished.  I should have finished off the sweater I've already started or the slip over for uncle, but this is easy and, at this moment, easy is good.

Saturday 3 December 2016

Bah Humbug

I do it every year.  I haven't checked but I am willing to guarantee there is a similar post on my blog last year.  I always say that I'm not going overboard with bear, then I start to panic about how few presents he's getting.

This year does look limp.  He has some books, a few figures and not much else.  Part of the issue is that he doesn't have to wait until Christmas to get football boots or clothes.  We are very lucky.  However this means that when it comes to Christmas and his birthday, it's goodies.  As I pointed out to bear, he's a little old to be getting little ones' toys but he isn't quite a teenager.  I told him I wasn't ready to buy him body spray yet, which made him laugh.  I've been scrolling through eBay until I'm travel sick, but I haven't found much.

I should add that bear and DH are currently excavating bear's room.  The wardrobe has finally collapsed so it needs to be replaced.  I've seen one in IKEA for £39.  It's not anywhere near as good as the Ben 10 one that is currently sitting in a sad puddle, but I'm not going crazy until he stops playing football in his bedroom.

This is what we have lost.

It was cheap, cheerful and had two hanging rails.  At least we can still use it elsewhere.

And, to add insult to injury, the local cats have been using my flower bed as a toilet.  There is a truckload.  They must have saved it up for weeks.  I am completely unimpressed, but I know how hard it is to keep cats off, especially as I suspect my garden is on the front line of a territory dispute.  I'm going to put down some vinegar weedkiller and see how it goes.

Thursday 1 December 2016

The First Day of Winter

It's sort of the first day of Winter.  According to the Met Office, meteorological winter starts on 1 December but astronomical winter starts on 21 December on the Winter Solstice.  Actually it's slightly warmer today, which is perhaps just as well.  I picked up a pair of gloves for bear at Matalan yesterday.  This morning, without even leaving the room with them, he has managed to lose one of the gloves.

I've finished the blanket.  It's around three feet wide and three and a half feet long and sort of okay.  It's great for dementia patients to twiddle and fiddle as there are different ridges and stripes, so hopefully it will be fine for uncle.

It took around 500g of yarn, and I hope he will enjoy it.  When I've cleared the decks of other projects I may knit some bigger ones for the sofa.

I have a to-do list as long as my arm for all the stuff I need to do for winter, but today I'm concentrating on getting the kitchen more sorted as a man is coming to service the boiler.  As I have started to stockpile the Christmas goodies and there are piles everywhere, I may have to get imaginative.  I'm making home made soup for dinner, it's that sort of weather.