Thursday 30 March 2017

Another Thing Off the List

I have been meaning to apply for a passport since before bear was born.  I'm not planning to travel abroad but I could really do with the means of identification.  If someone tries to check my ID when I buy alcohol then I would be in trouble - I have no passport and no drivers licence.  Fortunately I look like an old biddy so I'm probably safe.

Stage one today was to have my hair cut (long overdue) and then get passport photos taken.  I've done that.  The next stage is get someone to sign the pictures and I'm optimistic I can get that done in May.  On my way to get the pictures taken I called in at the new John Lewis store that opened just before Christmas.

I think that there are a few non-Brits reading this blog, so for them I will say that John Lewis is an upmarket department store with a reputation for the high end of middle value, excellent service and awesome treatment of staff.  I had heard wonders about their haberdashery so I wandered in.

I did purchase a booklet of eight knitting patterns for £5, all of which look very plausible.  I didn't purchase the very small pouch, say around six to eight inches high, that had an embroidery transfer on it.  Even with the embroidery cottons I felt it was still over priced at £17.  I think I will call in now and again, but perhaps not for the bigger purchases.  On the way out I looked at shirts for DH.

DH has Views about his shirts.  He likes a certain range of masculine colours, he likes his shirts plain and they have to fit in with the 'sort of smart casual' rule where he works.  You can't buy plain shirts at the moment.  Everything seems patterned and DH isn't keen.  He is also lovely and wide shouldered, which is an issue with the fit of shirts, so some shops are ruled out for a start.  As several of his shirts are getting threadbare, I'm desperate.  I checked out the ones in John Lewis.

DH was not impressed at shirts for him coming up at £25.  He grumbled.  I think the last time he bought a shirt it was around £15 (though it was a while ago).  The shirts I saw in John Lewis, just on the racks, were £115.  I probably won't get DH a shirt from there.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Small Print Fail

I wanted another one of the silicone pan covers.  I've got two.  One is unfeasibly large but covers all sorts and one is about the right size for a small pan.  Both can be used on the stove and in the microwave and apparently can be airtight in the fridge.  I haven't tested them in the fridge, but they are awesome when cooking and I've stashed the pan lids in a far cupbard and have two easy to store silicone thingies in the shape of poppies at hand.  They look a bit like this...

But I would prefer another mid sized one and I keep wistfully thinking of a blue and white kitchen.

I saw another type of lid, this time in blue and much plainer.  I saw this image and didn't check the small print.

What I got was something that would comfortably cover a medium sized to small mug, 105mm or around four inches.  I didn't read the small print, but it is all there in black and white.  I'm going to have to send it back.  I cannot think of any use I would have to cover a not very big mug.

I could look for the bigger size, as they do look very nice, and seem very reasonably priced, but the ones who make the poppies also make the lids to look like daisies and tomatoes.  On the other hand the pretty ones are not inexpensive and the postage on top is horrific.

I should have read the small print.

Tuesday 28 March 2017

I Nearly Ordered

I was tootling around Approved Food again today.  I nearly ordered stuff, but it didn't really have the stuff I wanted at the price I wanted.  It seems to have some high end stuff at good prices, but I suspect I'm not that high end.

I only looked because the Easter holidays are nearly on us and I will be feeding bear and his pals.  He is still not a teenager and only ten, but I am confident that the snack cupboard will need a lot more stocking in the next few weeks.  I'm going to have to get back to baking.  It isn't always as inexpensive as the cheapest cookies and biscuits, but it isn't too dear and a lot healthier.  There weren't enough snacks at the right price, but I'll keep an eye out and see how it goes.  I very nearly almost ordered because they had some very inexpensive male hair removal cream.

DH has a lot to put up with, and that includes random orders of male hair removal cream.  I want to be very clear - as far as I'm concerned, the hair on DH's body, wherever it's distributed, is perfect.  However the hair removal cream was the cheapest I've ever seen and I was wondering if I should try the cleaning hack where you put hair removal cream down the bathroom plugs to dissolve any lumps and mats of hair that may be lurking in the pipes.  It's never been enough of a problem for me to want to pay for hair removal cream, but this was a good price.  I decided against it.  The rest of the order wasn't awesome and I still hadn't tried the liversalts and vinegar trick.

Bear was urging me to order a tonne of potatoes today.  I've seen a recipe where you mash potatoes and use it to line a baking dish, I think you bake it briefly.  Then you fill it with cooked chicken and mushrooms and top with a cheese sauce and put it back in the oven to heat through.  Cheese does not agree with DH or I, but I'm sure that if I filled it with cooked chicken and onion and did a mushroom sauce it would work just as well.  If I ever get around to trying it, I'll share.

btw, for those who enjoy history, I found these lectures on YouTube.  They're history lectures aimed at university undergraduates, and I'll be honest, it's at the top of my understanding, but I've enjoyed it, and I thought I would share - here.  They also do podcasts - here.  I haven't tried the podcats, but I will see if I can knit to them.  I'm desperate to stay away from craft ideas, so I'm digging out all sorts.

I Managed Monday

I had a meh Monday.  I tootled around and faffed and while the house is marginally cleaner than yesterday and the ironing is very slightly less, I can't take it as a win.

One thing I can take as a win is dinner tonight.  The gluten free sausages and frozen mixed veg were nothing special, but I did a sort of version of potato bourgeoise and the men almost inhaled it.  Unfortunately it's one of those 'make it up as I go' versions' and the basic measurement is 'some'.

I had bought a rotary grater, a little like this...

... but mine is cheap white plastic and has three drums, one of which is a sort of slicer thing.  I used up the last of the potatoes by slicing them incredibly thinly, quickly and easily with this (and it washed up nicely as well) and layered the potato with some onion sliced in the same way.  I poured some stock over it, covered it and bunged it in the microwave for twenty minutes.  It would have been fine then but I cooked it for another ten as DH hadn't got in then.  DH and bear both insist that I do this again soon.  It's incredibly flattering.  Next time I may add a tiny taste of garlic or herbs, but it worked well.  I got the original recipe from Hardup Hester but used the microwave for a change.

I'm desperately trying to run down the freezer as I'm not sure how safe it is now.  The seal is very limp and the frost is building up inside.  It may make for some interesting meals.

Sunday 26 March 2017

Actually Did Knitting

I've been knitting.  I'm working on the sleeveless version of this which is knitted side to side and I am intrigued to see it work out.

I did nine inches today, which wasn't bad as I was taking it all steady.  I've stayed away from the craft YouTube videos and instead I've been watching videos about Medieval Europe and Dinosaurs, which should be safe.  

Unfortunately the videos didn't take up all of my attention.  I didn't buy the Doctor Who fabric that I saw yesterday because I have sacks of fabric and I really shouldn't get any more without getting using some of the current pile first.  Besides, I couldn't think of anything to make for bear or DH and it was £14 per metre (which is a good price considering I can't get it anywhere else!).  Today bear was 'sorting' his pencils by colour, which is always interesting as it shows exactly how colour blind he is.  He announced that he needed more pencil cases and gave me an expectant look.  

There are a gazillion YouTube videos on how to sew a pencil case, many of them use zips.  I've never sewn a zip, but I do feel that it is time to accept the challenge as it will give me an excuse to buy the Doctor Who fabric and make some awesome stuff.  Bear won't mind, I'm sure.  

I also caved and opened the parcel from India.  I bought a sari, sold as suitable to reuse as craft projects.  It's very frayed at both ends, but apparently is pure silk and the design on it is gorgeous.  I don't think I will every get used to how beautiful sari fabric is.  I plan to use Bless's idea and use a bigger piece of cardboard and make a bag like this one but bigger.  If it happens, I'll share.  The fabric is a lovely old gold with a small pattern of red and green and looks amazing.  I've given it a quick wash and it is now draped over my ironing board looking magnificent.

I am now going back to the knitting and dinosaurs.  

Saturday 25 March 2017

I Went to York

I thought it was time I called in to York, as I am trying to write about stuff set there.  There was a complete absence of werewolves, vampires and mayhem but there were lots and lots and lots of crowds.  I could barely move.  It was absolutely packed.  York is a tourist town and also the centre of a lot of countryside.  There are some glorious shops there if you like expensive shops.  Even the market had a lot of upmarket and expensive stalls next to the ones selling cauliflower and rhubarb.

I tried taking photos but my camera wasn't co-operating.  What I need is a cheap camera that transfers to the laptop.  I have no idea where to start.  There was a camera shop in York, but the cheapest camera in the window was over £300 so probably not what I am looking for.

I did buy some fabric when I got back to Leeds.  There is a shop selling fabric and yarn on George Street, next to the market (not Great George Street next to the hospital, easily confused).  I recommend it.  They are very tolerant of amateurs such as myself, are very competitively priced and even have some Doctor Who fabric that I haven't seen anywhere else, not even on eBay.  I didn't have anything in my stash to make a table cloth for the little chest of drawers that are now next to my chair.  I think it needs it as I keep splashing it with my drink, and I love fabric everywhere anyway.  I managed to take this photo of the fabric.

I haven't seen this on eBay either.

Tomorrow I plan to concentrate on knitting.  I wonder what I'll actually end up doing.

Friday 24 March 2017

Where do I Start?

Do you remember a while back when I mentioned that I had bought a fleece king sized sheet set that was not only very red but absolutely enormous?  I was planning to use it for craft projects.  Bear had different ideas.

Bear has issues with his bed.  He cannot keep his blankets on at night.  He has been the same since he was a newborn in a cot - blankets don't stay on!  At the moment he has layers of duvets, blankets, throws and the huge, massive, ginormous red fleece flat sheet that bear claimed.  I try to tuck it into the back of the bed but only have limited success.  I am considering nails.

I had hopes for the fitted sheet, but bear has also claimed that.  I trimmed the elastic off and he coccoons himself in it when he comes down in the morning (being all cold from having kicked all his bedclothes off).  I am going to use the pillowcases to have bed sized pillows on the big chair in the study.

I may also get a bedsized pillow for the shrug I knitted.  I finally sewed it up last night and now it looks lovely - and too small.  It's about the right size for bear but in girlie colours that he utterly rejects, preferring to curl up in a hacked up piece of red fleece fitted sheet.  I may sew it up further and try stuffing it with a pillow.  Also, speaking of sewing, and having decided to concentrate on knitting, I sewed a small pouch to hang off the toilet roll holder and hold a small essential oil bottle.  The scent holder I had hung in the bathroom was looking very second hand and now that bear and his pals are older I feel much safer having a few drops off the oil on the cardboard inner tube of the toilet roll (nowhere that can touch skin - most essential oils should not be put neat onto any skin!).

It's about four inches (10cm) high and took me a few goes as I couldn't get the top neat enough.  In the end I just pressed the edges over and left it.  I'll be sick of it before it frays too much.  The background is my laptop screen.  Did you know that you can get university lectures on YouTube?  I rummaged around and was watching dinosaur stuff from the University of Utah like this, which is a little too advanced for me but I'm enjoying.  I found some courses from Yale as well, here, and while I'm not saying I understand all of it, the historical stuff is fascinating.

Today the man came about the new service agreement for the boiler.  Apparently I signed up to the premier version which includes radiators.  This means that he has to fully and thoroughly check over all the radiators in the house.  There is stuff in front of every radiator.  In the study it's a small plastic tower and in the living room has a small table that is easily moved, but in front of the radiators in the kitchen, dining room and my bedroom there are large, heavy tables covered with stuff, bear's room has a storage unit and in front of the radiator in DH's room therea is a computer, two screens, a set top box and eleventy ten wires.  The junk room is the worst.  There's just a huge heap of stuff.  You can get to within a yard - just!

Air circulates around all the radiators, but they are not engineer friendly or easily accessed.  I'm going to have to do some serious sorting out before they come back.  It's a great opportunity to have a sort out, or that's what I'm telling myself, and I've booked them to come back in a month.  I should be able to manage in a month.  Probably.  I just have no idea where to start.

Thursday 23 March 2017

Still Normal for Sybil!

I've been feeling blocked, so I took a break to see if it would rekindle the spark.  So far so ineffective, but I'm living in hope.  While I was sworn off writing anything I decided that I would catch up with all my half started knitting projects and I could sew up the lucet rug.  The rug is being a challenge as I can't seem to keep it flat.  It keeps working up so I am having to repeatedly undo what becomes a large, shallow, floppy bowl.

I had decided that I would definitely stick to knitting.  I had a couple of projects that just needed sewing up and some nice, easy projects half started.  YouTube has all sorts of interesting stuff on, like videos about dinosaurs by university lecturers and, while I can't keep up with everything, it's a lot better than watching videos about crafts which would start new projects.  So, I could watch these and knit, right?

I swear there's something seriously wrong with me.  Forget knitting, I started making the bag shown in this YouTube video.  I recommend it for anyone needing a stash buster.  I used around half a dozen ties - at least I was losing some of the ties!  I started off making a lucet cord from strips of one of the ties.

 Then I took a selection of ties

 I got a remarkable amount of fabric.  Then I threaded up a piece of card as it said in the video.  The threads go both sides, but the other side of the card has my address on so probably best not to show it.

 In the video they used strong thread.  I used dark invisible thread as I had that handy and I only had the invisible thread or cheap polycotton.  I chose the invisible thread.  Invisible thread is from Satan's armpit, but it is strong.  I used it with a lot of bad language.

I cut the ties into sort of around probably half inch wide strips and wove them in and out of the invisible thread on both sides and occasionally through the lucet handle.  I kept missing the threads because invisible thread is from Satan's own armpit and I got distracted as I was watching Shop Well for Less and the episode had someone who had impulse bought at £26k car.  To be fair, the only difference between them and me on eBay is scale, but I was hooked.  As the video said, I kept pushing the strips down and keeping fabric packed tight.  I wish I had remembered to take pictures.  Eventually I came to the end and had this...

 I didn't even need to sew in the handle as it was woven into the bag fabric and I'm remarkably proud of that idea.  I honestly didn't think it would work out, but it did.  Here's a pic with a normal paperback book in for a size guide...

 I'm sure those who are really crafty will be able to do all sorts with this, especially if they stay away from invisible thread because it is so evil that even evil cat would have rejected it.  I have also knitted a scarf.

Tomorrow I am definitely, absolutely, 100% going to start on the knitting projects.  Or possibly the rug.  Definitely nothing else.  Absolutely guaranteed nothing else.

Wednesday 15 March 2017

Unlimited Screen Time

I am a bad mother.  Bear gets sort of unlimited screen time.  I mean, he doesn't get screen time after around 6.30pm and he often chooses to play football outside and he sometimes reads anyway but he doesn't get the time limited (before 6:30).  He also knows that if I catch him with something not age appropriate then he will be in big trouble and I'm usually in the room with him.  So YouTube videos are football, funny cats, gameplay, odd bits here and there and lots of documentaries.  Some of them are interesting and I watch over his shoulder.

Yesterday bear was doing Art.  Bear takes after me when it comes to art.  He's not quite as inept (I can't draw stick figures) but it isn't his thing.  He is also colour blind which doesn't help.  So he was distracted and picked up the booster science papers that were lying around.  Bear is Year Five, the papers were for Year Six.  Bear explained to the teacher that there was a mistake on the papers.  The paper said that while the moon orbited the Earth and the Earth orbited the Sun, the Sun didn't orbit anything.  Bear pointed out that the Sun does orbit something.  Apparently the Sun and Solar System orbit some sort of cloud which is part of the Milky Way.  He learned this from YouTube.  Apparently he is correct.  I have no idea.  A few years ago he was able to correctly explain to a teacher how to do a mathematical process that had not been covered by the school because he had seen it on YouTube, understood it correctly and remembered it.  He's going to be one of those kids in high school.

And that is what unlimited screen time has done for bear.

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Today I Learned...

There is a sub reddit on Reddit called, 'Today I Learned...' I dip into it now and then.  Sometimes I am bewildered because the heading is something that I seem to have known forever, sometimes it is something mindblowing.  Apparently there is also a YouTube channel but I haven't checked that out.

Today I learned that you can indeed use a small spritz bottle (bought for around 50p to £1 from Wilko) with vinegar and a microfibre cloth to clean windows and mirrors.  If your windows are as dirty as mine then you will have to run up and down stairs repeatedly to get clean cloths and you really will have to open a window, even if it isn't warm.

I also learned that if you don't clear the mantelpiece next to the mirror you are cleaning then you will knock over a vase that has sentimental attachments, almost catch it, almost catch it with the other hand, knock it with your elbow so that it's aimed towards a soft chair and watch it bounce off and break on the marble fire surround.

And I also learned that if you clean the inside of the windows then youu really ought to clean the outside except the outside is not so straightforward as it's around five or six feet minimum off the ground to the bottom of the window and I'd have to fight across lavender bushes that may be rat infested.

Today I learned that there are worse things than dirty windows.  

Monday 13 March 2017

It May be Spring

I fail with epic proportions when it comes to being a housewife.  I am not proud of this.  I could actually write a 'how to' housekeeping book because I really know the theory.  I have read shelf upon shelf of housekeeping books from the reprinted seventeenth century collections to the ultra modern.  I still fail.

Today, however, despite a lack of sleep and general feeling of sloth, I've done housework.  I haven't done great deeds, but I've done quite a lot of moderately minor deeds.  I've done things like wiping down the bathroom windowsill, sorting out a shelf, opening windows, that sort of thing.  The washing machine hasn't stopped all day and I've been hanging things on an airer.  I have an awful feeling that spring cleaning is sneaking up on me and taking me unawares.   I've even changed my bedding.  DH and bear get their beds regularly tended but I don't usually bother with my pit.

I'm now going to settle down to watch a fire on YouTube (here, if you're interested) as I really enjoy listening to a fire crackle but I don't have to sweep up these ashes.  I would really love an open fire, but I suspect that it's going to have to wait.  While I'm watching I'm going to knit (and plan the next few installments of 'At the Sign of the White Hart').  I have set myself a target to finish one of bear's blankets by the end of Wednesday which is very plausible and the bag weaving is on hold until I work out what to do with my nails.  The raging eczema that I get on my hands has affected the nail beds which means my nails are always splitting and chipping and they are catching on everything.  I am desperate to finish the project but have been driven distracted.  I am determined that I'll finish it after the blanket, so watch this space.

Friday 10 March 2017


Bear had a pal to visit and for dinner.  I fed them something completely inappropriate - chicken dippers, hash browns and baked beans.  The lads loved it.

Since bear watched Supershoppers and their piece on ice cream, he has become extremely particular.  The Supershoppers demonstrated that four different ice creams looked quite similar when frozen, but if you checked their ingredients there was a difference and if you let them melt there was a difference again.  The cheapest ice cream looked like something in a used tissue once it was melted and was a quarter of the volume.  The most expensive that they showed, Haagen Dazs, hardly shrank at all and still looked like it was food rather than some sort of secretion.  Bear and his pal got Ben and Jerry's today.  Bear graciously accepted it as adequate.

Last time he was here the pal fell and hurt his arm.  This time it was bear on the sick list - he fell downstairs.  He wasn't particularly hurt, though he wasn't happy at the time, but I'm beginning to wonder how safe a visit is!  Bear is limping when he remembers, but I don't expect to see a bruise tomorrow.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Training Day

Bear had a Training Day today.  I think the school organise it pretty well - the training days are always after parents' evenings so that the teachers have a chance to recover.  As the new headteacher is spreading parents' evenings over two days, the training day is after the second.  I'd forgotten all about it so my plans have been put out of kilter.  Bear loved it.  He spent the day in his onesie waiting for Amazon to deliver his book.

This is not the book that was promised for a good report that he didn't get.  This is the sequel to 'How to Catch an Invisible Cat' which is awesome!  If you have kids around 8 to 12 years old then I cannot recommend this book highly enough.  We read it through, a chapter a night, as bear's bedtime reading but he read it through by himself a few times as well.  When DH was reading it I thought we would have to get an ambulance I was laughing so much.  It is the story of, well, two children trying to catch an invisible cat.  It is also suitable for adults.  The sequel is 'How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees' and the first chapter we read together tonight is looking good.

Today I have been more or less useless.  I've fed and watered bear, of course, who has now decided that actually he likes omelettes.  I've added pictures from WikiCommons to the stories 'At the Sign of the White Hart' (latest installment here).  I'll have to have a trip to York and get some pictures of my own.  I have also started a craft project with ties.  I don't know if anyone remembers that a few years ago I sort of accidentally bought 90 ties...

This is what 90 ties look like, I took this picture 12 March 2015 so it's about time I did something with them.

... and I wanted to do a quilt with suffolk puffs like the one I had seen on tv around 1993 but I sort of knew that I would never get round to it, so I started getting myself set up to make a bag.  I found this on YouTube, which is a project by Marilyn Pipe, and it looks amazing.  I'm not sure exactly how it's going to work, and there's a lot that can go wrong if I'm involved, but I should be able to start tomorrow.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

I Feel a Fool - a matter of perspective.

Our house is indecently close to bear's school.  We can't get decent exercise walking to school as even the long way round takes less than five minutes.  It's a funny area.  We are in private housing but at the back and across the road is social housing and in front of us is a large retail space, currently Matalan but previously a DIY store, and next to us is a bathroom place and behind them all sorts of shops with flats and then there's the expensive houses and industrial units we can see from our window as well as the farms, all on steep slopes with us near the bottom.  It's a mix.

I am not good in the morning.  I may be up and moving but don't expect me to think until at least 10am.  That's my excuse for what happened today.  Bear did his usual trick of forgetting I existed as soon as we got near the school gate and I went to wait until the doors opened, looked over, and there were men climbing on my roof.  I couldn't believe it.  I ran past one of the school mums and asked her to keep an eye on bear (her daughter is in the same class) and belted out of the playground with absolutely no dignity.

It was a trick of perspective.  There were men on a cherry picker climbing on a roof but it was Matalan's roof.  Because of the way that the hill slopes and the angle from the school yard, it was perfect.  It had been the perfect illusion and it looked almost as if they were going to hitch their harness to my chimney.  I had to go back and explain to the school mum.  I was mortified.

For those interested, the latest chapter in 'Tales from the White Hart' is here and the tale from the beginning is here.  Now I can finally catch up with all the wonderful blogs I've been missing.  I'm starting on the next part tomorrow.

eBay Fail

I bid on and won a remarkably inexpensive bedset that would be perfect for curtains for my bedroom.  They were exactly what I had been looking for - in the photo.  In reality they are yellow.  I do not like yellow.  It grates on me.  I definitely could not manage in a bedroom with mainly yellow curtains.

I'll use the flannel sheets that came with them (though I'll consider dyeing them as I can't cope with yellow sheets) to keep the beds warm in winter.  I am not sure whether to donate, re-sell or use the duvets for practice as the previous stash of scrap fabric that is only fit for practice is a lot less than it used to be.

Also, bear only got a mildly awesome report at parents' evening so we have had Words and he is having to earn his treat for a good report.  He is doing well, really, though, so I am actually very proud.

On the bright side, my writer's block seems to have faded so if you are interested then I should be able to share something soon.  If you feel like writing yourself you can have a look at the latest Light and Shade Challenge and see if it inspires.


Monday 6 March 2017

Not Bad for Monday

Today wasn't bad for a Monday.  I got quite a few loads of washing done, had a very small tidy round, sorted out some doctors' appointments and still had writer's block.  There was also the Postman issue.

We have several different posties, and this one is isn't a star.  I've had issues before.  He is the one who forced a parcel through the letterbox and broke the draught excluder thingy on it.  He is the one who ignored the open kitchen door to fail to deliver to the porch door.  I have tried giving him lessons on how to use the doorbell, though to be fair our door bell doesn't stand out.  He's a few stamps short of the correct postage.

Today I had a few windows open and there was a light on, it was obvious I was home.  Instead of knocking he forced the parcel of Dr Who collection books (for bear) through the letterbox and it landed with half the cardboard packaging missing.  The books were undamaged and there was no harm done, but I am starting to wonder if I should complain.  The other posties are wonderful, I'm always in and they all know me.

DH has been awesome and changed the position of the study clock and also changed the battery so I can see the clock and it is working for the first time in years.  Unfortunately it is right next to a large cobweb that is probably old enough to be listed.  Rather, it was next to the cobweb.  I got irritated, and when I couldn't find the proper long-handled duster I took the soft broom and went around the entire room literally brushing the cobwebs down.  I'm quite worried about how much difference it has made.  The ceilings are quite high and for years the light has been poor in here so it was regrettably easy for me to ignore them.  New lights and a change of the clock's position and I had to act.  What is most wonderful is that I didn't knock anything down!  I think I shall be taking the broom around the house.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Mrs Beeton was Right!

I read cookbooks.  I rarely use them, but I read them.  I have even tackled Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.  For those who are not familiar with her work, she wrote a cookbook in the mid nineteenth century which was around three inches thick and very stern about the failings of servants, the wasteful nature of cooks and the importance of the lady of the house Running Things Properly.  There's a whole section of pictures on Wiki Commons.  Here's one of them.


There is, of course, a chapter on How Best to Purchase Food.  There was in all nineteenth century cookbooks and that sort of chapter still turns up in many cookbooks today.  I don't think it's a bad idea.  Of course, she includes the importance of checking for bone meal and alum in bread which isn't as important today, but there is a lot of sensible advice, because humans have not changed their nature much in the last 150 years, and people will be people.

One of the pieces of advice I remember is her stern warning to test the local tradesmen by ordering the meat as usual for a month or so and then carefully comparing the tickets.  She said that it wasn't unusual for the price of meat to creep up by pennies and halfpennies when the butcher was sure of the custom.  I was checking my Amazon 'Subscribe and Save' account.  I was tepid about it anyway as I thought I could end up buying for buying's sake, but they had the Nairn gluten free oatcakes on it.  I love the oatcakes, they are a real staple for me but they are not inexpensive and practically never on sale.  If I got them on subscribe and sale then it would work out at a little less expensive.  In every store and supermarket I've seen they are £1.50 a pack.  I knew I was only saving pennies, but because I have them so often I thought it worth while over a period of time.  About six months ago I decided to subscribe and save for the Nairns oatcakes.  Today I checked and even with the discount they had gone up to £1.65 a pack and the packs at the supermarkets were still at £1.50!

Mrs Beeton was right.  You cannot relax your vigilance for a moment!

Friday 3 March 2017

Frame Myself

I first came upon the expression 'frame yourself' when I moved to Yorkshire.  I'd never heard it before, but it's a very useful expression.  To 'frame yourself' means to pull yourself together, get your truck in gear, get moving with purpose, to stop naffraffing around, etc etc.  It's what I really need to do.

I was coming back from the hospital yesterday (nothing serious) and I wanted to call in at PC World (who didn't have what I wanted) but on the very short walk between the bus stop and PC World I passed MegaValue.  I went in.  It was a mistake.

It wasn't a mistake as such because it is an interesting store with lots of cut price bits and pieces.  I bought a reasonably sized picture frame to make into a type of white board thingy.  If it happens I will share, but it was remarkably inexpensive.  I bought a small jar to keep the extremely inexpensive cloves I have ordered from eBay to simmer as an air freshener, which was again a very good deal.  However I picked up something that was on sale, and isn't on their website.  It is a king sized, polar fleece bed set.  That is, it is a fitted sheet, a flat sheet and two pillowcases made from polar fleece.  I can't imagine that, I think it would get very sweaty unless the room was very cold indeed.  I may keep the fitted sheet for under the proper sheet in winter, and I could get some nice pillows and use the pillowcases and have them on the chairs and sofa.  However the flat sheet is purely for fabric.  On my friend eBay, most polar fleece is around £4.99 a metre at 60 inches (150cm) wide.  This set was originally £25.  I got it for £11.25.  If I used it all for fabric I would have the fitted sheet which is 60 x 79 inches or 152 x 200cm, the two pillowcases that are two layers of 20 inches x 30 inches or 51 x 76 cm and the flat sheet which is 98 x 110 inches or 249 x 279cm.  It currently looks like this...

It is seriously red and I have no idea whatsoever of what project I could use it for.  I have curtains to make, a stash to bust and a heap of things to get sorted.  I really do not need swathes of utterly scarlet polar fleece!  Besides, I have writing, and trying to earn some money, and housework...

I need to frame myself.

Thursday 2 March 2017

Decisions, Decisions

We have a junk room.  It's a huge bedroom on the top floor.  The window is small and doesn't get much light.  The geography and surrounding buildings means that it gets about half an hour of natural light a day at this year, not much more in summer.  It does mean, however, that if you sleep in the room and need to get dressed, unless the curtain is carefully dealt with or you stand in a very precise location, anyone at the bus stop over the road can see everything.

There are issues with the curtain.  There is a swish track that is smaller than any of the standard hook thingies so every time you draw or open the curtains the dratted thing leaps off the track and once again you are on a ladder, muttering, to hang the thing back up.

The window is also quite narrow.  It seems even more narrow as it is in a corner and is tiny compared with the size of the room, 76 inches (around 193cm) long and 46 inches (around 116cm) wide, but it looks smaller.

I have two choices.  I have a curtain pole, there are YouTube videos with instructions on how to put up a curtain pole and I need to pull myself together and try new things so I could have a go at that.  It would take hardly any time to once again stitch heading tape on a couple of inexpensive duvet covers (the window is the same as the others - non standard drop).  I could even get longer ready made curtains as the window isn't above a radiator.  This would be the sensible solution.

Or I could run two of the wire thingies - the ones that net curtains hang from - across the top of the window.  I have 20m of incredibly inexpensive, very dark purple, sort of shimmery polyester that I have always regretted getting from eBay.  It wouldn't take long to run up two curtains, one in front of the other, and have them held by tie backs made from necklaces - like these...

I could use ornate doorknobs or fancy hooks to hold the tie backs, reinforced with tape if necessary and even sew a fancy ruffle for the top of the curtains - and it would use up around six metres of the stuff.  

It would be ridiculously dramatic and over the top for two very mature adults and an indifferent bear in a room that is hardly used, but it does call to the Drama Queen in me.

I am considering it...

Wednesday 1 March 2017

Still Shopping

I didn't do too bad in Wilkos.  I went in there for white thread and generic black poster paint and walked very briskly past other things.  It almost worked.  I also picked up one of those small spray bottles used for stuff like perfume.  I want to put a vinegar mix in there and use it for mirrors and windows.

One of the things I walked briskly past was the display of decorating supplies, and I didn't walk quickly enough.  I am determined that bear's room is going to be done by the end of March, and there is only thirty days to go!  Last year we watched the programme 'Shop Well for Less' which showed that Wilkos budget brand paint was just as good as most expensive brands and better than some.  I brought home a colour chart thingy.

Bear was entirely indifferent.  As long as it is a sort of light grey he doesn't care.  I think it will be depressing but bear doesn't see colour the same way - literally.  I had to ring the school up yesterday to remind them that the optician had diagnosed him colourblind and when he had a maths question that involved him sorting out greens and browns, purples and blues and yellows and oranges he didn't have a chance.  They were very nice about it.

I've decided we will go with Wilkos.  Not only are they good enough for a bedroom that will need re-doing sooner that I would like, but they deliver and I can get cashback.  They do a lot of fun stuff on their website.

I am suffering badly from writer's block so I apologise for anyone who is waiting for the next installment from the White Hart.  However if anyone would like to try some creative writing themselves please dip into the Light and Shade Challenge.  It's a Welsh theme this week, with it starting on St David's Day, and the picture is of Conwy Castle.

I also saw this video.  It's how to weave a smallish bag out of scrap fabric.  I am desperately intrigued by it.   I have a massive stash of fabric and it looks a perfect way to use stuff up, so I thought I would share.