Wednesday 30 August 2017

Have I been pwned?

I am not technologically able.  However I have found that my email address has been found on lists of spam bots, which explains why my spam has gone from around 60-70 to over 200.

I'm off to change my email passwords.  I may be some time.

If you have concerns, please check on the website that checks for this - link here or you can check for a site called 'have I been pwned?'  As far as I can tell with my meagre skills, it's safe.

It's about time I changed my passwords, and I'm thinking of setting up a reminder to change them on a regular basis.  You really cannot be too careful.

Baked Bean Delivery System

Bear has Views on Baked Beans.

If baked beans and cheese are supported by a baked potato bear will eat the baked beans and cheese and ignore the potato.  If the baked beans and cheese are not supported by a baked potato then bear will utterly reject them and condemn me as a cruel, uncaring mother forcing bear to eat dreadful and unwholesome things.

And don't get me started on the whole omelette fiasco.

There are five days of the summer holiday left but I'm not sure I'm going to make it.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

Planning for school

Bear starts back at school on the 5th September, next Tuesday.  I don't know about him but I'm looking forward to it.

I already had the shirts and sweaters.  I have the trousers ordered.  His school shoes fit still fit him and I carefully put them somewhere where I will be able to find them next Tuesday.  I washed his sports kit today and that's all sorted.

I've also washed his book bag.  It looks very well worn and still dingy around the edges, which is reasonable as it's a few years old and has been well used.  There is also a hole in the bottom which, while not big enough to be a problem, is too big to be repaired so I have reluctantly paid out another £4 and ordered a new one.  I'd hoped that this bag would see out the last year in primary school.  I treated him to a new backpack, as Angry Birds aren't cool anymore and I splashed out on a Harry Potter one.  I'm not sure that Harry Potter is cool, but bear is getting really into Harry Potter so he's happy.  He read through all the books this summer and enjoyed them.  I am really grateful for this as the books are so well written.

It's been an interesting holiday for bear.  We haven't gone out much, but he's indulged in Harry Potter, been in a car crash and watched Taming of the Shrew.  It could be worse, I suppose.

Monday 28 August 2017

Bank Holiday

I was woken up this morning by the sound of one of the teenagers at the back smashing up their kitchen.  They seemed a bit stressed, I have no idea how they got into that state by 8am.  So far, however, it's been better than last year when someone had to call the police.

Other than that it has been a lovely, calm day.  We have just been hanging out and relaxing.  It's been good.

Witch Hazel asked about the tea towel.  I have never got on with cotton tea towels.  Even the good quality 100% cotton tea towels don't seem to dry up properly.  I am using the ones I bought before we moved here in 1994.  I took some pictures.

They are awesome, though now somewhat battlescarred.  They dry up so much better than anything else, they have been washed and washed and washed and washed - and on hot washes too.  They have been amazing.  They weren't inexpensive, but they were absolutely worth it.  They are getting to the end of their life now.  I bought them originally from Lakeland and hadn't seen them anywhere for years but thanks to Witch Hazel's question I spotted the website and had a look.

I may invest in some new tea towels.  To be honest, I'm nervous.  I can't get a close up and I can't believe that they will be as good as my old veterans.  They are not inexpensive either.  If I succumb, I'll share the results.

Edited to Add I found the teatowels!  My favourite tea towels!  I can't recommend them enough.  I am off to purchase them immediately - link here  Witch Hazel - thank you!

Sunday 27 August 2017

Washing Up

I fail at washing up in a regular manner.  I put it off, miss cups and glasses and don't always round up all the plates.  I really, really, really want a dishwasher.  Washing up hurts my back.

I have tried the re-usable sponges, but I don't like keeping them.  I know you should microwave them every day, but I have a bad track record with microwaves.  I can still remember the flowers I was trying to dry in the microwave bursting into flames.  It left an impression.

I tried reusable sponges, which I washed in the washing machine.  This was something of a fail as the sponge bit sandwiched between the microfibre and the scrubby stuff disintegrated and the sponge ended up looking very sad and slimy.

I considered knitting myself a scrubby to wash up with, but I couldn't imagine any of the yarn I had working, the official scrubby yarn is prohibitively expensive and my experiment with voile was unsuccessful.  If I ever see net fabric on a very good deal I may have a go, but until then I am abandoning the attempt.

I've started using something like these, except with a flower pattern and a sort of silver mesh.  It's a type of microfibre (not brilliant, but okay for rubbing a dish) on one side, a mesh on the other and they wash and tumble dry.  I use a different one each day and they get thrown in the washer whenever I have enough for a smallish load.  So far it's been working out well, as they get into awkward corners and they are doing fine in the washing machine.

Now all I need to do is find a place that sells the awesome teatowels that I bought back in the early 1990s.  They were the original microfibre and dry plates and glasses like nothing else I have ever used.  They wash and wash and wash and are actually holding up quite well.  However one was lost when a plumber used it to mop up a radiator bleed and a few have had been affected by colour run accidents and I suspect that in the next ten years I will need to replace them.  They were quite expensive, but they were bought before we moved here in 1994 and while they are looking their age, they are still drying well.  It was definitely a case of money well spent.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Uneven Sunburn

We went to see a performance of 'Taming of the Shrew' in the open air at Roundhay Park today by heartbreak productions.  They were awesome.  However one arm is now a pale pink and the other is the normal washed out colour.

Bear was meh about it.  We took him just in case.  He schmoozed with one of the ladies before hand who was encouraging him to play quoits, enjoyed the first half but was lost during the second half.  We are definitely going to see them next year!  It was nice to be in the fresh air and it was a great performance.

We have a new-to-us car.  It's the same make, model and year as the last one but with a lot less mileage.  I drove in a car for the first time since the accident on the way home and I admit to getting a little nervous.  I still think DH is an awesome driver, but we passed a few idiots and one bump on our way home.  It looked like no-one was hurt which was a relief but three cars were all lined up with battered parts and people taking details.

Also, and this is shocking, there are already Christmas cards in the shops.  It is August.  I needed a sit down after seeing that.

Friday 25 August 2017

Taking a Step

I actually went for a very short walk this evening.  It's a step for me, because at the moment it's hard to get out if I'm on my own.  I managed to have a long chat with a neighbour before I started the long walk and apparently there are foxes around.  I shall have to keep an eye out.

As I have said before, I live in a mixed up area.  If I stand at the top window I can see very expensive houses, inexpensive social houses, warehouses, small shops (plus Matalan, a large clothing shop), units where things are built and farms, so I suppose all sorts of wildlife are possible.  I've seen herons and finches, but I've not yet seen a fox.  I daresay it's getting fat on the local rats.

I saw an article on the BBC that said that autumn was early this year (which I can't now find).  Apparently it's due to the very dry spring.  I took these pictures tonight, August 25 2017.

I would normally expect to see the blackberries, hawthorn berries and crab apples in mid to late September.  Some of the leaves are definitely showing signs of changing.  There's quite a heavy crop of berries as well.

I'll have to get some more photos tomorrow, especially of the blackberries as they seem to be cropping very heavily this year.  Lots of berries are supposed to mean a hard winter.  I shall wait and see.

Thursday 24 August 2017

Meal Planning

I fail at meal planning on a regular and spectacular level.  We are planning a meal for a special occasion on Sunday, however, so I'm working out what we're having.  DH will have steak, I will have chicken breast and bear has requested that he has a lamb chop instead of a steak.

I have never successfully cooked a lamb chop.

I can do all sorts of wonderful things, but a lamb chop has always beaten me.  The last time I attempted to I ended up with a dark, greasy object that could be used to hammer in a nail.  Father looked disappointed but unsurprised (it is father's birthday today.  He would have been 86).  I told DH that we would be having beef, chicken and lamb and he said it sounded like the first few verses of 'Old Macdonald had a Farm'.  As far as I'm concerned bear can 'baa baa' here there and everywhere, but I can't guarantee success.  Sunday is going to be a challenge.

Also bear and I have set off some seeds.  They're supposed to sprout quickly and become microgreens in a few weeks.  We planted rocket and basil.  They look like this.

There are this fancy trays designed for microgreens (they saw me coming) and you put seeds on top of kitchen roll on the top and then fill with water in the tank underneath.  You have to spray them regularly until the roots get to the water.  I'm saving any takeaway cartons to use for this in future.

I am a little concerned.  The basil seeds looked like this when we got them out to plant.

Which is normal seed shape to my uneducated eye.  However after just an hour or two the basil looks like this

They have fur!  I am watching with caution.  However I hope to add microgreens to dinners on a regular basis.  It won't save money but it hopefully will add nutrition and bear might eat something he has grown himself.

Also, bear sowed the seeds (sprinkled them on the kitchen towel) and I have a suspicion that they should have been sown slightly thicker.  We shall have to find out how it goes.

Thank you for the advice about the boxes - very welcome!  I had already thrown the empty boxes, but I shall definitely keep them in the freezer and allow bear to be disappointed in future.  However I suspect this is just Round One of the teenage food years.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Wonderful and Dull

It's been lovely and quiet.  One of bear's pals came round and a large amount of food was consumed.  I hung out with bear and got some knitting done.

I also put together a grocery order to be delivered tomorrow, but what with one thing and another I can't remember what's coming.  It was a rush job and I was negotiating exactly why bear and pal had helped themselves to ice lollies and left the empty boxes in the freezer  How am I supposed to know what to re-stock?

But if finding empty ice lolly boxes in the freezer (again) was the emotional flashpoint of the day then I'm happy.  I threatened bear with a disciplinary tickle, sighed and went back to my knitting.  I'm happy with that at the moment.

As a note - has anyone ever managed to convince teens/pre-teens to not put the empty box back on the shelf but to throw it out and let the main shopper know that something had run out?  Any tips gratefully received.

Tuesday 22 August 2017

Getting Better

Thank you for all the kind words and good wishes.  It really has made a positive difference.  I am incredibly grateful.

Things are picking up a little.  Bear and I have agreed that we have killed the cress we were trying to grow on the window sill.  I'm going to make bear look up 'How to Grow Cress' on the internet.  Bear seems to think that soil is involved but I thought it was kitchen roll.  Tomorrow we are having the first go at growing microgreens.  I'm warily optimistic.  Bear has to learn that food is grown.  He will probably learn that food is best grown by someone else other than his mother who isn't that skilled.  It's a learning process.  I have some trays and some seeds and a hopeful attitude.  I'll update as things happen.

I was browsing through Reddit and I found this  I don't want to put the picture, because I'm not sure of copyright, but it really made my day.  It's uncanny - the cat in the picture is the living image of malevolent cat.  The markings are exactly the same, as is the expression of dimwitted malice.  She would happily destroy any seedlings available.  I miss being able to tell stories about that cat, though not having to guard yarn, stuffed toys and tomato soup is a small comfort.

Monday 21 August 2017

Picking Myself Up

So far this month I have been late to a funeral, been in a car crash, had traumatic encounters with plumbing, found unpleasant cracks in the fridge, my freezer looks like a film prop for a bad freezer and my washing machine is whistling.  There are ten days of August left.

On the bright side, please find the most recent installment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart'.  It has been so long since I published the last installment that you may find it worth skimming the story from the beginning here.

I am now going away to write some more.  Please wish me luck.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Technological Triumph

It was a triumph for me, run of the mill for anyone else.

I actually managed to end my old phone contract and get the code to carry my number over to the new one.  I feel like I've completed one of the labours of Hercules.  It took some fancy typing.  I went on live chat as I knew it would be far harder voice-to-voice.   But now I have a decent deal with Tesco Mobile and get clubcard points with it.

Also bear is still watching the Edwardian Farm series.  I am concerned about what we will end up doing in the garden.

Thank you for the suggestions for champagne.  The school don't have a school fair or tombola.  They ask for donations for the hamper to raffle to the Reception class, but they are quite clear that there should be no alcohol.  I could try the idea of champagne jellies.  I've made coffee jellies before now.  It's a recipe from Mrs Beeton.  You take some strong coffee, spike generously with rum, set with gelatine and top with whipped cream.  It turned out quite well apart from teh coffee.  I don't drink coffee, but I used to make it for my late mother who liked it STRONG.  She used to joke about sucking instant coffee granules from a spoon.  DH likes his coffee strong and black.  I saw the coffee my late mother drank as normal (I've been educated since) and when Mrs Beeton's recipe stressed that the coffee should be strong I went all out.  The jellies were so caffeinated that we were practically vibrating afterwards.

I'm not sure the stuff is fit to drink after all these years.  If it was the vintage stuff then I'm sure it would be fine, but I'm not sure about the cheap stuff that is on offer at Christmas.  I suppose I could try drinking some with orange juice and if it wasn't fit I could use it as drain cleaner with baking soda.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Nothing much to see

As the title said.  Today has been very quiet and I am exhausted.  Bear has been around ninety percent leg, like only young lads can be, sprawled out watching YouTube and dvds.  He's been watching the Edwardian Farm.  I can tell I will be getting expectant looks at me and then the desolation that is our garden.  I'm going to fill the damn thing with lavender as so far it's the only thing that seems to have survived the feral slugs.

We have some bottles of champagne in the cupboard.  I'm not sure how fit some of them are - I suspect most of them are older than bear and they were all gifts.  Father never drank the stuff, DH is on tablets and I have never liked champagne any time I've had it - though I'm not a sophisticated palate.  The only thing I like with bubbles is diet cola.

We don't know anyone to give them to (I'm not entirely sure that all of them are fit to drink after all this time, none of them are the proper vintage, they're the £9.99 New Year's Eve type) and I can't donate it to the Methodist Church as alcohol isn't allowed on the premises.  Mrs Beeton recommended using gin and old silk handkerchiefs to clean mirrors but I can't think of any sort of housewifery that uses champagne unless it's how to cheat and get asti instead.

Monday 14 August 2017

Being Quiet

We are all a little quieter than normal and quite shaky.  Otherwise entirely fine.  I need to pull myself together.

I got distracted by this story - crop circles in Wiltshire.  A part of me really wishes that they were real, but they aren't and they do a lot of financial damage to farmers.  With the weather this year, I'm sure that it's the last thing the poor farmer needs.

If you follow the link you will see the pictures, but I think they're copyright.  Here is a non copyright pic of a crop circle.

Sunday 13 August 2017

No One Hurt

Of course, it may be too soon to say.  You see all sorts of strange things on TV but as far as I can tell we are all okay.

The car in front of the car in front of us slammed the brakes on.  The car in front of us managed to avoid going into the back of them but we went into the car in front.  Poor DH is all shocked, bear and I are okay.  We were only about half a mile from home so bear and I walked back.  I'm sort of writing this straight away as I feel like I have to tell someone.

When we left the poor car, it had a buckled bonnet and I think the radiator was a mess as liquid was all over the place.  I hope it can be fixed, but it is an older car, so there is a chance that the repairs will be worth more than the car.

It's such a lot of naff raff.  No matter what happens to the poor car, there's going to be paperwork in stacks.  DH is going to have to do a lot of sorting out to make sure he can get to and from work.

I also hope the car in front of us's driver is okay.  He was really nice, we were all shocked and he was being incredibly sensible and calm about things.  He seemed fine.

Bear seems unaffected now, though he was shocked at the time, but I'll keep an eye on him.

Friday 11 August 2017

Sorry I've been Absent

I'm naff raffing around a bit.  I suppose the death of uncle has hit me harder than I thought - I hadn't expected it to shake me so much as it was so expected.

However things are much as normal here.  I decided it was definitely the Zoflora that was making me feel poorly.  I decided that after I had splashed some around in the bathroom to hide the smell while I unblocked the toilet.  Eventually it cleared after I squirted a large dose of washing up liquid down and walked away, but it was complicated at times.  I scratched the bowl while I was trying to prod it free with a toilet unblocker as well.  I suppose we are going to have to really concentrate on saving up for a new bathroom sooner rather than later.  Also, bear's pal couldn't come for a long booked play date because, well, we had a blocked toilet.

Of course, this is added to the extremely encrusted freezer which is barely fit for purpose and now we find the top of the fridge is all cracked and broken.  We think it may be because of the Halogen cooker we have on there, but in our defence, the cooker never damaged the last fridge.  Neither of those are 'must replace tomorrow' standard but are pretty much 'must replace next month'.

Bear is currently into Lego, which is great except he likes to keep his masterpieces on display and we don't have that many flat spaces.  I have also needed to sit down after seeing the cost of some of the kits bear is looking at.  Negotiations are ongoing.

On the bright side, I got some coupons from Sainsburys.  If I spend a minimum of £60 per shop for the next three weeks I get £9 off which is a good deal.  If I spend a minimum of £60 for the three weeks after that I get £12 off which is even better.

Sunday 6 August 2017


I am reading all the comments and I'm very grateful for them.  I feel hugged by them all.  I'm skating along the surface at the moment, so I haven't replied to them individually.  I sincerely apologise.  I don't want you to think that I'm not appreciative.

I was reading up on Zoflora online.  It looks quite interesting, the site is here.  I've used one of their photos and as it is sort of promoting their product, I'm sure they won't mind.

I'm currently using Spring Bouquet but when my stock runs out I'm definitely going for the citrus.  

I saw it recommended as an air freshener so thought I would try it.  I should have paid more attention to instructions.  I didn't realise just how concentrated it is.  You need 4 capfuls, and the cap is very small, to one and a half litres of water for general cleaning.  I put a large slosh into around a tenth of a litre in a jug on the windowsill in the study and around the same in an old candle jar on the kitchen windowsill.  It's a little too strong.  I feel like I've been punched in the nose from the inside, but in a good way.  The scent is lovely.  

I have a stock in, a combination of father asking for some and there being an awesome offer on.  I'm sure that if I combine it with a microfibre cloth I will be able to refresh the house a great deal.  

I am not working on zoflora tomorrow.  Tomorrow is all filled up.  We start with a walk to Makro which isn't far.  It is ostensibly for bread but really we're going there for the walk.  School have suggested that bear bake in the holidays so we will be making something incredibly simple, for my sake.  Then I'm tackling the dining room which is barely functional and will probably occupy a lot of this week.  I'm also trying to set myself a small task every day, those little jobs that I keep thinking I'll get around to and never do.  Tomorrow I intend to replace and sort the cutlery drawer.  I'll check in and let you know if any of that happens!

Saturday 5 August 2017

Always a Silver Lining

I tried one of those 'Life Tips' today.  The kitchen sink hadn't been draining well so I poured a large amount of baking soda into the plug, followed it with vinegar and stepped back smartly as it foamed all over the place.  I thought it wouldn't work as all the froth seemed to come upwards, but it seems to have dislodged whatever was blocking, so that's a win.  I should do it weekly I suppose.

I had a fail with a sweater.  It's the second time I tried to knit the pattern, and this time instead of miscounting and having to unpick the whole dratted lot to work out the neck and not being able to face it, I used some alternative yarn and the armholes haven't worked out.  I have only myself to blame.  If I had knitted a tension square I would have known that it needed adjusting.  I've just unravelled the almost-finished back.

However there is an extremely bright silver lining.  I really, really really want to try this shawl pattern.  I had promised myself I wouldn't start it until I had finished the sweater.  It seems a shame to put it off now that I've given up on the pattern.  And fortunately the yarn was only delivered yesterday, so it's like it's meant to be.

I did play fair with the sweater.  I don't think I can carry on with that yarn.  However I have some ideas that may look awesome - but I'm not trying them out until I've finished the shawl and another project outstanding.  I'm promising myself that!

Friday 4 August 2017

Shopping Was Useful

DH and bear kept busy while I was at the funeral.  As bear is enjoying Harry Potter, they made wands.  The night before I looked out my glue gun.  I've never used it.  I kept meaning to use it, but it seemed such a big deal so I never got around to it.

They had a run out to pick up the chopsticks (comparatively hard to find) and they made grips with the glue gun and painted them up.  I came home and admired them.  DH decided to go out again on Thursday for dowling to make sturdier wands.  I asked if he would like some sandpaper and the use of a multi function rotary tool (similar to this).  DH was surprised I had stuff handy but said he would find it very useful.  So he went off to get the dowling and mentioned he could also get some varnish as the chop sticks, I mean, wands were already getting chipped.  I told him it was okay because I already had the matt spray varnish that was perfect but I insisted that he spray it outside.

All in all, he found things a lot easier because of all the shopping I had done for the craft I had meant to do.  The next craft project is going to be a new lamp shade for bear's bedroom light.  The current one was a piece of brilliance on the part of DH.  It must be at least five or six years ago and I was keeping bear occupied downstairs while DH sneakily changed the shade to a new Ben10 one on Christmas Eve.  Then when DH came down I grumbled about hearing noises on the roof/upstairs and when bear went up he could see that Santa had sneaked in earlier and changed the lampshade.  He was stunned and it was awesome.  Bear has decided he wants a new one which would be, in his words, more manly.  I have noticed the existence of lampshade kits and I have Doctor Who fabric so, on the strict understanding that there are only low voltage bulbs used, we can go with that.  I may even be able to dig out an old lampshade to re-cover.  I can't do that with the Ben10 as it is just a plastic sheet with no frame.

Today we went to Roundhay Park again.  Justjill - there's no farm there now, but there is still plenty to see which is free.  We just had a great walk and met a lot of friendly, happy, well trained dogs.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

I was Late for the Funeral

I can't believe I was late for the funeral.  A train broke down which meant the train I was supposed to get to make a connection wasn't running and the train after, which should still have made the connection, had to go on a diversion which meant that I couldn't make the connection I needed and they held the funeral back fifteen minutes for me.  They couldn't have done this for a cremation, but it was a burial, so I flew out of the train, into a very expensive taxi and sat on the edge of my seat for the next six miles.  When he slowed to 20 miles an hour (the local speed limit) I nearly cried.

The funeral itself went well, as did the gathering afterwards.  Then I picked the wrong train to get home as it stopped at every hedge corner.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed seeing the beautiful countryside, but I thought I would never make it home before midnight.  I trundled past Delamere Forest, pic below.  They shot, 'Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves' there and when I was young I got the entire family lost by mis-reading the trail signs.

I managed to get home in time to say goodnight to bear.  Now I am making typos and losing the thread of what I'm supposed to be saying, so I'll catch up tomorrow.