Sunday 30 December 2018

More Paper

The rest of my subscribe and save order came - at least I think there's only a few bits left.  It includes a lot of heavy duty bin liners and toilet paper.  The packing paper and boxes are all over because I need to send some to the tip and I'm considering ironing the packing paper.  I may just recycle, as I use Amazon enough or I could get hold of a roll of brown paper if I was desperate.  I like Justjill's idea of using a stamp or something to brighten the paper up. 

Did you know that Steam has a sale on for Lego video games at ridiculously low prices?  Bear has invested some of his Christmas money.  The sale ends 31 Dec 2018, and some of the games are a third of the price, and bear thinks that they will have a lot of play in them.

I'm gearing up to get going in the New Year.  Bear is not happy about the whole idea of re-wiring, and is incredibly stressed at the thought of redecorating.  I'm more stressed about something going 'bang' in a very bad way. 

The house is starting to breathe.  It's still a little constipated and there are massive Amazon boxes all over the living room, but at least I don't have to work around a stash of presents.  It's getting there. 

And today a friend very kindly took me to Batley Park and I had a wander around the pond.  They have some wonderful paintings on the paths which encourage you as some of the paths are really steep.  I took a couple of pics of the better ones, but they have become quite worn. 

I am definitely going there again. 

Saturday 29 December 2018

Looking forward to a New Year

Cherie - to be fair, bear is taking to knitting like a duck to astrophysics.  He is enjoying it, however, and that is what matters. 

And I am glad that we are not the only ones that don't have starters for Christmas dinner, thank you all that have shared that you are the same.  I've been hiding from the lifestyle magazines that have the 'inspirational' menus and I can't be bothered.  We eat a lot of good food that we like and relax. 

I've managed to knock my bedroom door off its hinge. 

A mop handle fell into the door jamb as I was closing it (I had another go at the bathroom walls) and the entire hinge came out.  It's such a dull way to break a door.  I shall have to make something up. 

I spent a few hours last night wrapping up birthday presents for bear.  He has been very clear, he wants lots of little gifts and it's the unwrapping that's the fun bit.  So I have wrapped pencils, lots of books, a science of survival kit that I picked up extremely inexpensively from the supermarket and, as he is now in High School, a Lynx gift set.  I went through swathes of wrapping paper and tape and came a clear second.  I fail at wrapping stuff, especially with the springy, shiny paper.  I've still got a few rolls of the really good stuff I picked up incredibly inexpensively after Christmas some years back.  The pile of fifty rolls I had stashed in 2015 is now a shadow of itself, but I don't really need to pick up more this year.  I had a look a few days ago when I called into Matalan and nothing tempted me.  I'm also considering switching to using the brown packing paper that comes with an Amazon parcel.  It's effectively free, and the brown paper can be recycled and the fancy wrapping paper can't.  However the main pull is that it's less likely to fight back and I may finally be able to make a decent corner.

Then the first instalment of my subscribe and save order from Amazon turned up.  It's ten bottles of Amazon brand washing up liquid at a very reasonable price.  During the last few yards of the journey, however, the lids on two of the bottles came loose.  I only lost around two inches of washing up liquid, but do you know how slippery two inches of dish soap can be?  It took me twenty minutes just to rinse the soap off the bottles, dropping them and splashing water and soap everywhere, so I could actually pick them up safely and then I had to change my top.  I made a bad choice.  It's a loose top and a windy day so now the traumatised Tesco delivery driver can give a description of my bra. 

But it's the New Year soon, and I'm planning on working to make things better.  Also, Liverpool beat Arsenal 5-1, which has cheered me up.  Hugs to all. 

Friday 28 December 2018

EBay Bargains and Awesome Recipes

There is 15% off everything on eBay today, 28 December 2018, up until 8pm GMT.  You have to quote code POWPOW15 when you check out.  This is from Andy Be Clever with Your Cash blog, which is worth a look, especially to someone like me who can't keep numbers straight.

And speaking of blogs, I found this - 80 Recipes to use up Christmas leftovers.  I would find this awesome, if I had any leftovers.  However I'm booking marking it for further reference as some of the recipes look incredibly useful. 

Bear is going stir crazy but can't really go out for a walk/run as his legs are bad again.  He's working through a lot of his stuff, but at the moment he's enjoying practising his knitting.  It's beginner knitting, but there's no shame in that as we all had to start somewhere, and heaven knows I make enough mistakes after forty years.

Just as a note, the yak wool (25% yak, 50% wool, 25% mercerized velvet with a few fragments of what I think are baling twine thrown in) is knitting up lovely, but the Cygnet Boho I was using earlier, while a glorious colour, is an absolute mare as it isn't very tightly spun and it splits like a bugger.  It just goes to show!

Thursday 27 December 2018

A Christmas Almost Fail

It's a sort of fail, but sort of not.  No-one got stressed, DH was awesome and it didn't affect Christmas, but what would my life be without a little drama (wonderful, actually, it would be wonderful without drama).

Bear very much enjoyed his presents.  One of the biggest hits so far has been an inexpensive tub of silly putty.  The books were also a hit and he has played with the Ghost science kit (there is still something with gelatin in my fridge and I'll never get the slime container clean) and the model cyberman thingy that reacts to the tv remote.  I got candles and alcohol as presents.  Perhaps it's not the most sensible combination, but I'm happy with them and consider them perfect.  DH was thrilled with his gifts and all in all, it was a good result.

DH cooks Christmas dinner.  We don't do starters or anything, it's strictly meat, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, sprouts, pigs in blankets, a selection of stuffing and gravy.  Most of it is frozen and all of it more or less ready to go.  As an aside, I get frozen sprouts because they don't go off so I can stash them before the Christmas rush, they are fresher than buying raw as they are prepared so quickly and take less time to get frozen than the fresh ones take to get to the shops, there is no waste and I don't have to faff with peeling the dratted things.  Bear and DH both love sprouts but I am not a fan. 

Back to the meal.  Tesco didn't deliver the gluten free three bird roast so I got a shop from Iceland and their three bird roast was roughly three times bigger.  I wasn't bothered, as I love left overs, but when we put it in the oven, the cooker blew a fuse and all the lights went off.  We could finish it off in the combi microwave, but I suspect that the microwave is losing power on the conventional part of the cooking, and it just wasn't working.  We ended ditching the roast and just having massively overfilled plates instead of ginormously overfilled plates.  It was all good, especially with the gluten free Christmas pudding afterwards.   

As an aside, we are the only people I know that don't do the whole 'prawn cocktail' or starter for Christmas dinner.  We don't have enough appetite for it.  I hope bear doesn't miss out with this.  I worry that we are sometimes less conventional than is helpful for him, but we don't have room for another mouthful! 

We managed to get the lights on eventually and we had a great time.  For the last few days we have watched films, hung out together, relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.  It's been great.  DH has worked today and tomorrow, but then he has a week off and it's a chance to celebrate bear's birthday, hang out and just enjoy being around each other. 

I've been setting up my goals for 2019, with the help of OWS, the writing people.  I think I need to prioritise the re-wiring. 

Sending hugs, good vibes, good wishes and hugs to all.  I hope you had an awesome holiday. 

Monday 24 December 2018

Christmas Eve

I'm writing just after a snack dinner.  It's been a quiet day, and I'm all for it being quiet.  We are soon off for a last bedtime before Christmas, as we have a long chapter from 'A Hat Full of Sky' and then I come down and start wrapping. 

I've already done the usual as bear and his pal had their pizza upstairs.  I have taken all the different presents and split them into Christmas, birthday and stocking.  This year there are more books than toys, nothing electronic, so no phone (though he needs a new one) and no computer games, but models and quiz books with a few bits of art supplies.  I'm particularly pleased with the shark ruler which, if I remember correctly, was extremely inexpensive, but looks a lot of fun.  It was one of many bits which came from the supermarket.

The big change this year is that most of his presents are new.  I picked up a few second hand books, and a gently used Doctor Who figure, but that was it.  In the past I have found a lot more second hand supplies.  I got a lot at a discount, or used codes, or went to places like The Works or The Book People, so I spent a lot less than it looks like (thank goodness!).  We are in the very fortunate position that we can buy a heap of books and goodies and I am grateful.  Bear will do very well. 

After bear is safely and allegedly asleep, I will be settling down with Carols and wrapping paper to make a start.  I may be in there some time!  If I don't post tomorrow, I sincerely and truly wish everyone reading a wonderful time with lots of hugs, good vibes and cheer.  Merry Christmas!

Sunday 23 December 2018

A Tesco Fail

The Tesco delivery was not good.  First off, it was the only Tesco delivery guy I don't like.  He's difficult to deal with and is particularly weird with substitutions as he makes them as complicated to understand as possible and won't let you see the sheet that has them on.  There were a lot of substitutions and most of them had to go back.  I wasn't impressed.  Tesco rarely let me down, but they did today. 

The main issue was brandy butter.  They substituted Christmas pudding with chocolate cake, and small chocolates for big chocolates, but I could deal with all those.  But I had already re-jigged my order to get brandy butter and they didn't have any.  Fortunately I went out for a coffee later and went past a relatively quiet small branch of Tesco and picked up a tub there, so I don't have to go out tomorrow. 

Iceland were pretty awesome and I think I'll use them again.  They stock mainly frozen food, but they have some great deals on household stuff.  They are short on gluten free stuff, though. 

So now my house is so full of food that it can barely breathe.  I had to do some serious re-arranging in the freezer which barely shuts and the fridge is barely managing.  Freezers do better when they are full, but fridges need air to circulate so tomorrow I'm planning on emptying the fridge and sorting everything out. 

Tomorrow I plan to be busy.  I need room to wrap presents, I need to get the kitchen ready for Christmas dinner and I need to have space for some sanity, which is currently in short supply. 

Sending hugs to everyone!

Saturday 22 December 2018

All is Calm

It's been a good day.  I've pottered gently around and generally hung out with the guys.  We've opened the Christmas snacks and I'm feeling mellow.

Tomorrow is the deliveries, then it's minimal activity until next year.

By the way, I forgot to wish any pagans reading a Good Yule yesterday.  I hope you had a good time.  And from today, in the northern hemisphere, the nights are getting shorter and the days are getting longer.  Hugs to all.  

Friday 21 December 2018


Bear's phone now has a cracked screen.  It also is failing to play the games he wants, and isn't taking or making calls.  We bought it for £27 and I think we have had our money's worth.  It replaced the expensive one bear lost at the beginning of the term, so I'm hoping that if we get him a decent one then he will look after it a little better.

I am miffed at Tesco.  I went online last night to check what my order would look like, and the three bird roast was unavailable!!!  I admit that I panicked.  I'm not a fan of beef, and neither is bear.  DH isn't keen on turkey and neither is bear.  I don't really like lamb and bear has to be in the right mood for it.  I'm not sure I'm up to duck or goose on their own, a ham would be wasted and DH says that we never get value from a whole chicken.  Drink had been taken so I will be getting my first delivery from Iceland on Sunday.  Tomorrow I'm going to sit down with both sites open and balance what I'm getting and from which store. 

DH has finished work now until the 27th, and bear is finally off school.  I'm looking forward to calm, knitting and lots of hanging out together. 

Thursday 20 December 2018

Yak Yarn

I finished the scarf I decided to knit for my awesome Driving Instructor.  It's a poor photo, but I've already given the scarf to him, so I can't take another one.

It's actually around six to eight inches across, around five to six feet long and very cosy.  The yarn is probably chunky, and I knitted it in broken rib on 7mm needles and I think it was about right, though perhaps I could have gone up a size.  I got it from at a very reasonable price (plus shipping) and I suppose I would get it again, if I was feeling generous (especially as the shipping is quite steep), but it did have what looked like fragments of baling twine within it.  I hope my instructor is okay with washing it carefully, because I think it would drop if it was hung up. 

I wish I hadn't checked up on Wish.  They have yarn with mink in it.  They have mohair and cashmere yarns.  They have cotton and some beautifully coloured acrylic yarn.  I need to step away from the buying part. 

My driving lesson went fine today, with no casualties.  We just went for a drive around.  I went on roads I had never used before, and I was fine.  It was a strange day, as I needed my sunglasses at one point, at another point there was heavy rain and it was getting dark by the time I was dropped off at Aldi.  My awesome instructor even talked me through reversing into a parking spot (which I found nerve wracking).

I'm so tired, so I think a few rows of knitting and then I'll be ready for bed.  Hugs to all. 

Wednesday 19 December 2018

I Went Out Again

Actually, I went to the dentist, fell apart for just a check up and slunk home, but it could be a lot worse.

I got into Morley quite early so had a very brief look around.  The market is amazing.  I'm not referring to the stalls, though they look quite good, but the market seems to be laid out as a maze.  You followed a path between stalls that twisted and turned and branched unexpectedly.  I didn't have enough time to look properly, and had strength of will to push past the yarn shop which looked incredibly reasonable.  I'm definitely going to have to have a day out there soon.

I've been finding a lot of places that I should have realised were awesome recently.  I have been to Morley due to the (very nice and patient) dentist, and because of bear's school and my driving lessons I've been through Dewsbury, Batley, Heckmondwike, Cleckheaton and Birstall - all of which look very intriguing with plenty of good charity shops.  They are relatively easy to get to on the bus and hopefully I'll be able drive there soon, perhaps within the next six months.  All I need to do is get out.

Then I came back and picked up some wooden sticks from a craft shop in town for bear as apparently he needs to make a castle over Christmas.  I think DH may be persuaded to oversee it.  I can think of better things to do over the Christmas break than fiddle with glue and cardboard, but I suppose it, like food tech, had to happen. 

Justjill - I think frozen fruit is definitely worth a punt.

Tuesday 18 December 2018

I've Had a Shopping Fail

Actually, I have a lot of shopping fails, but this one is annoying me. 

This is 500g of pizza herbs.  I bought it from Approved Food for £8.50 and I will use it long before the expiry date of March next year.  I use Italian herbs a lot, often instead of mixed herbs.  I did the right thing and checked with Tesco.  Tesco sell Italian herbs, roughly the same thing, at 70p for a little bottle (one of which I will be re-using for everyday use while the rest of the big bag is carefully sealed away).  500g of Tesco Italian herbs would cost £27.  This is definitely a bargain - right?

The same packet - exactly the same - is on sale on Amazon.  It is £4.05 at time of typing.  But it gets better.  If I added it to my subscribe and save order, I could get it at £3.44 for 500g (if you have subscribe and save and have more than 5 items in a month, you get 15% off).

I'm not sure exactly how much I would use of this per month, but I know I pick up a jar of Italian herbs from Tesco most weeks, and I'm getting back to cooking properly.  Bear is also keen and as he will be making pizza at school (heaven help me!) I'm sure he will want to practice a lot at home.  I will wait and see what the quality is like. 

It just goes to show, you need to keep your wits about you.  I don't think I can justify this quantity with any other herb or spice, but if it works out as having a good flavour and keeping quality, it may be worth considering.  If I come to a decision, I'll share. 

Monday 17 December 2018

Bear Survived Food Tech!

The electric settled down over the weekend and we didn't have a lack of power, thank goodness.  Thanks for the good wishes. 

Bear's fruit salad was awesome.  He took in kiwi, apple, raspberries, cherries, grapes, and a banana.  He didn't use the banana or raspberries (they didn't make their way home, though) and it was mainly about cutting and peeling.  We practised on kiwi fruit yesterday so bear could slice and dice with panache.  Not only did he do well, but what he brought home after sampling was a delicious dessert. 

Sarah - thank you for the ideas, which I shall share with bear.  I hadn't thought of dried apricots, which should be fine all snipped up.  You must have been heartbroken losing the medicinal syrup!

I've had a look at the recipe, and it requires 500g of fruit, one of which must be something that can be peeled.  The fruit isn't stewed, either, but chopped and then the crumble placed on and then baked (which, to be fair, is how I do it to save washing a pan).  Bear said that you get extra points for originality.  We are going to have a few practice crumbles over the holidays.  It's one of my standbys, though I've been known to use tinned cherry pie filling at a pinch.  So we need a filling that will take a quick cooking in a medium oven for 20-25 minutes, which includes a fruit that needs peeling.  Bear will need to practice slicing the fruit thinly!

The next lesson will be on 7 January so between then and now there are going to be a lot of crumbles.  As this is one of our favourite desserts, it's not really a hardship and bear and I are talking about the different fruit that is easily available, the combinations and the spices.  School may be teaching bear how to do a rubbed in mixture (which he already knows) but I'm teaching him about 'ways and means'.  This includes the difference between cooking apples and eating apples and which mush down best under crumble, and how to get the best results for the time and space allowed. 

It's going to be fun.  Also, I'm going to be pushing the boat out on ingredients I usually dismiss as too expensive so we may even be looking at fresh blueberries (at this time of year!).  Bear may be the student, but we will both be having a great time!

Saturday 15 December 2018

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night...

Actually, it's a pretty dark and stormy day here, though we aren't affected by snow.  What we are affected by is iffy electrics.  I did wonder if it was just our wiring, but apparently most of Leeds has been affected, including a large Tesco.  The lights keep flickering, and I'm suddenly regretting getting rid of the gas stove, although the new cooker is sooooo much easier.  I thought it might be a good idea to post a little earlier.

We are okay here if there's a power cut.  We drink water, flavoured water, juice and fizzy drinks here.  We have torches, candles and the house stays warm.  I'm more worried about our neighbours.  We'll keep an eye out if there is a power cut.

Today has been a calm and quiet day, apart from the weather.  We've hung out and pootled around and generally been calm.  Bear had an awesome piano lesson and I'm just finishing the last of the online Christmas shopping.  It's been a good day.

Thanks for the good wishes re the food tech.  I'm sure it will be fine.  It's just another challenge and it's good that at least some cookery is being taught.  Mind you, my cooking lessons were a complete disaster and what I didn't learn from my mother, I taught myself.  I'm sure bear will manage just fine. 

Friday 14 December 2018

Food Tech

It's finally happened.  Bear has food tech, starting next Monday.

I've been dreading it.  I just wish that the school would have the policy some others follow of having the ingredients ready and the pupil just pays a fixed amount to cover the costs.  Unfortunately the school are trying to do things right, and are giving the pupils some discretion in the first few recipes so that they actually have to think about it.  On Monday, bear makes a fruit salad.  He has been asked to bring in some fruit to prepare plus 250ml of apple juice.  Did you know that apple juice is only sold in 200ml and litre sizes?  I'm going to have to dig out a screw top bottle. 

Regardless, bear has chosen the fruit that he plans to take in, and we have a box that probably won't leak, but the timing is dreadful.  Bear has food tech on the same day as he has sports, so he will be carting in the apple/grape/kiwi/juice box on top of a sports kit that has to include trainers, football boots, jogging bottoms, warm shirt, cool shirt, shorts, shin guards, gum shield and special socks.  This is added to his usual backpack with all the exercise books that he normally carts around every day.  I need to pass my driving test.

The fruit salad won't be too bad, especially if it doesn't leak, but the next lesson (the first after Christmas) is a fruit crumble, student to choose the fruit.  Bear said that they are encouraged to be inventive.  They would have to be - there's no spices.  When I make a fruit crumble, there is usually something like cinnamon or ginger or mixed spice in either crumble topping or the fruit.  This looks very bland.  There is also a typo.  Bear has given me a booklet which gives ingredients and method.  The crumble mix is fat and flour mixed in, quantities given (I can't share the quantities as the booklet is hidden in bear's backpack and I'm not going there), then oats and a small amount of sugar is stirred in (I think it's around 50g of oats and 75g of sugar, which would make it nice and crunchy) with the sultanas.  The sultanas are not mentioned in the ingredients list.  I am going to have to hope bear remembers to ask and just send in 'some'.

And then, once he's baked the dratted thing, he has to bring it home, spending an hour on the bus with it.  There are a lot of opportunities for disaster, especially as he will be bringing home his sports kit at the same time.  I looked on eBay and bought a thingy which is like a casserole dish, but with a silicon lid that is allegedly leak proof that can be put on the cooled dish.  I have no faith.  Bear will be 12 at this point and accidents happen in creative ways at that age.  I really need to pass my driving test.

It's not a long course.  They also have to make pizza, again with some choice in ingredients, a plain sponge and a chocolate sponge, and I think there's something else but I couldn't tell you what.  Bear sometimes supervises me in the kitchen, and is a fan of the Sorted Boys.  This is a YouTube channel with some young lads (two chefs, three others), trying out lots of different recipes.  They're quite ambitious, so bear has a lot of ideas about cooking, and I'm sure I will get the benefit of this at some point.  The really useful stuff, like knowing when you can substitute ingredients, extending food to feed more, how to plan a cooking session, getting the most nutrition for the price and when to give up and order pizza, he can learn from me. 

If you have any suggestions about which fruit would work for the crumble, please let me know.  I was considering peach, but they are a faff to blanch, which I guess he would have to, and my usual apple with lots of sultanas and cinnamon doesn't look appropriate.  I wonder if he could get away with pear and crystalised ginger?  There's a stall on Leeds Market that sells 'crystalised ginger scraps' which are small flakes of lovely hot and very sugary ginger and perfect for baking.  Bear will have the final say, of course, but it's only right that I give him some suggestions. 

Thursday 13 December 2018


Today was an epic fail.  Back tomorrow.

Sharon - subscribed to Kate McCabe

Wednesday 12 December 2018

A Proper Post

No writing stuff here. 

Actually, I need to get writing.  About 1000 words a day and I can do anything.  For one reason or another, I haven't written for weeks except for the blog posts.  So while this is a 'buy my stuff' free zone, it's got a little about writing and why I need to.  If I don't get writing soon, the house will fall down.  Everything is just all over and in heaps.  I'm getting very close to 'scream and throw things at walls' as I am so overwhelmed, so 1000 words would really help.  It's like a fuel.  Also, I have PMT sooooo bad that I'm not sure I'm safe to be around real people.

I had a driving lesson today.  Not only were there no casualties but I managed to call in at a charity shop.  My awesome instructor had to call into the bank, and I managed to pick up what I think is a genuine Hugo Boss shirt, practically unworn, for £4.50.  Fakes happen, but it's really good quality, with great stitching and lovely material, so I think it's good.  It's perfect for DH, he looks so awesome in it.  If I can manage to get out more, I need to do more charity shops.  Many are over priced and have underwhelming stock, but I've scored some great stuff recently.  DH now wears the wool and cashmere great coat I picked up every day.  I also have no problem buying presents for bear from charity shops.  I have a beautiful, practically unread copy of the first of the Lemony Snickett books, which I got at a very reasonable price, I think 99p. 

I'm now entering the stage where I have no idea what I have got for bear and panic buy loads of bits.  I don't buy expensive bits (one present which will end up in his stocking is a ruler with a straight edge and the rest shaped like a shark) but I get giddy with the little stuff.  I get a lot added to the grocery order and Tesco currently have deals on toys, which may be worth a look.  Every year I go through the same stages.  I buy stuff, think that he's getting too much, feel guilty that he only gets presents effectively once a year with a birthday so close to Christmas, panic buy shedloads of 'bits' and we are drowning in wrapping paper by New Year's Eve.  It's also hard as bear doesn't want a 'big' present.  If he wanted, for example, a new Xbox One then we could negotiate, do deals, and just get a few things to go with it.  Bear is not into that.  He wants lots of little stuff but he's getting too old for a lot of the bits that I used in the past.  I can see Lynx Gift Sets lurking on the horizon. 

I hope this post made sense.  Until I can get 1000 words out, all bets are off.  Anything could happen.  Also, I have a dentist appointment tomorrow that takes me near a very good shopping centre with a reputation for good charity shops.  I'm looking forward to a good rummage and will share what I come up with!

A Quick Note

Today is the last day of the 12 Days of Indie and the books that are on sale at low or reduced prices.  I thought I would give a quick reminder, a brief link and a promise to post again later.

Tuesday 11 December 2018


I really do not do well with dentists and today has been incredibly traumatic because I had to speak to one.  I am mortified at myself, but it is what it is. 

I rang the dentist and they said I actually had to turn up to register.  It's in Morley, and I've never been to Morley so I thought I would take a taxi there, find out where it was and get buses back as a lot of buses go through Morley.  The registration was lovely with a very tolerant receptionist, but then I had to find a bus stop. 

I wandered around for a while, turned a corner and found myself facing a Morrisons supermarket and a charity shop.  I called into the charity shop, bought a very inexpensive book for bear and asked for directions to a bus stop.  The gentleman was very kind, but he knew where he was going and I didn't so I just had to hope that I understood the direction he had been pointing.  I left the charity shop and suddenly the mist had come down!  It was genuinely that quick.  It had been clear when I went in, but a few minutes later it was like a scene out of The Fog and was not happy.  I couldn't even see where the Town Hall was supposed to be, but I wandered vaguely downhill and found the bus stop.  The little I saw through the mist looked very promising and I shall have to have a proper look later - possibly on Thursday as that's when they put me in for an actual encounter with an actual dentist. 

I came back through Leeds centre, and I can't work out why or how I managed to walk past a stall in the market that sells knitting yarn.  I really need to get out more.  I picked up 600g of yarn, a pattern and two pairs of unnecessary needles for less than £10 and while the yarn was completely 100% polyester and nothing fancy, it's a lovely shade of a silvery sage green and will wash a lot easier than wool. 

I was glad to get the bus home as the mist was quite thick.  I would have definitely considered it fog light weather if I had been driving and didn't envy the learner who was in charge of the bus under supervision.  Unfortunately bear got a lift home, so not only was he before me, but he also managed to forget his keys so he was locked out until I got in.  I made it up to him by showing him loads of videos of Queen and David Bowie. 

Writing stuff - Today is Day 11 of the 12 Days of Indie, and tomorrow I am going to go back, check out the books and buy a shedload, because tomorrow is the last day the sale prices are guaranteed.  Today there are crime stories, paranormal and time travel stories and a box set of 20 stories for $1.99 (may vary by region). 

I am not going to start yet another project, honest.  Instead I am going to collapse into bed!  I am shattered. 

Monday 10 December 2018

Reverse Advent Box

I've got some stuff I'm donating tomorrow for the food bank in the run up to Christmas, like a lot of people are planning.  Tonight bear got into the act.  I started by asking him if there were any letters for me or if he had broken or lost anything.  I got an eye roll but he can get used to that sort of question after the performance last Friday.  Then he said, 'but there's something about a reverse advent?  I'm not sure.' 
'Is it for a food bank?' I asked
'Yeah, that's it.' Bear was paying more attention to the computer.
'Do you have to bring something in every day?' I asked.
'No, just a tin of tomatoes or something.' 
'When do you need it for?' I had a delivery which included a load of foodbank items coming tomorrow.
'Before the Carol Concert.'
'When's that?'
'Not sure.'
'And how much do you need to bring?'
'It's just a box.'
'What? Do I need to carry a box of stuff in with you?' I really didn't want to carry a box of tinned tomatoes on the bus, surrounded by school kids.
'No, the box is for the class?'
At this point I felt like one of those confused Labradors that keep tilting their heads when faced with strange information or a cat.  'So what is this box?'
Bear explained very slowly and patiently that they had a box in the classroom and everyone had to put something in it, like a tin of tomatoes.  I was getting the feeling that bear really wanted to get those tinned tomatoes out of the door.  He doesn't like pasta sauces that I make with those tomatoes.  Tomorrow he will be taking in a dratted tin of dratted tomatoes.  Bear was baffled that I was confused by this, but I still don't know when the Carol Concert is.  Later on bear is going to doing cookery classes under whatever label they use these days.  I was devastated to find that they don't do a scheme where the kids pay in so much a month and all the ingredients are provided.  I just know that bear will be complaining bitterly that there's no powdered mandrake with unicorn horn shavings in the house and he needs them tomorrow and what sort of housewife am I to run out of such a basic. 

Writing stuff - it's getting near to the end of the 12 Days of Indie at Day 10, so getting close to the end of some of these awesome prices.  There is sci fi, fantasy and horror and an anthology of fairy tales.  Check it out if you're interested. 

Sunday 9 December 2018

Random is as Random Does

It's been one of those days.  I sort of wandered around the research on YouTube about Norse and Anglo Saxon beliefs.  There's some excellent, hardcore academic stuff there, if you look and avoid some of the more fringe ideas.  I dip into the videos from Yale, University College London, Harvard, and a dozen more and I also enjoy the YouTube channel The Study of Antiquity and the Middle Ages and I'm working my way through the Celtic playlist.  YouTube being YouTube, you can get excellent suggestions as well as some oddities thrown up which is why I found myself wandering from the legend of Weyland Smith, to a very Catholic YouTube channel's take on the superstition of the Wild Hunt to this excellent Johnny Cash version of Ghost Riders in the Sky which I had never heard before. 

I've also been knitting up some of the Yak yarn (okay, 25% Yak, 50% wool, 25% mercerised velvet, whatever that is) and it's very chunky.  I'm knitting it up on 7mm needles (US 2) and that's about right.  I promised my awesome driving instructor a scarf from it.  I'm just using broken rib, and it's working up quickly, if a little itchy on my fingers. 

Bear has an issue where his adult teeth aren't coming through as quickly as they should, which means that a wobbly tooth has been a full on issue for around a month, with it much worse this last week.  It is finally out, which is a huge relief for everyone, especially bear who has been quite genuinely suffering.  This means I can cancel the dental appointment that I had lined up to have it taken out.  Unfortunately one of my teeth broke.  I needed an emergency dental appointment and, as I have dental phobia, had hysterics in the dentist chair before they even touched me and now am falling apart.  I think I will watch a film and knit a little more before an early night. 

Writing stuff - It's Day 9 of the 12 Days of Indie and I even get a mention.  It's a selection of ebooks that are on sale until the 12th December, and today there are some awesome offerings including Steampunk, modern supernatural and thriller.  I am definitely planning on dipping into the Clear Angel book. 

Saturday 8 December 2018

Some People are Strange!

I believe that everyone has their little ways.  Some ways are smaller than others, but everyone has their own preferences and beliefs.  For example, my late great-grandfather used to taste every medicine that came into the house.  If it didn't taste disgusting, he would pour it away as only medicines that tasted foul worked, or so he said.  I've mentioned the late great-uncle who insisted on V-necked sweaters but wore them backwards, and father always insisted he got a particular paper and he did the crossword in it.  Everyone has their own quirks and it makes the world go round.

Then there are those people on Facebook who worry me.  I have a Facebook profile as an author (it's as Lyssa Medana, if you are interested), and mostly it's sharing things about cats or sometimes jokes, comments on driving lessons and chatting.  I don't refuse Facebook requests as it may be that they have read a book of mine and are under the impression that my Facebook ought to be interesting.  I have just under 2,300 'friends' on there, and I've met four of them in real life.  It isn't my real life friends and family, but I try to be pleasant to the people I meet on there (many of whom are utterly awesome, and I consider absolutely genuinely good friends even if we have never been in the same room or even the same continent).

My profile picture is of a book cover and my bio talks about being a wife and mother.  It therefore worries me how many times I get 'Hey, sexy' messages.  I can't ignore Messenger, because I get useful messages of real friends and about work, but I also get obscene pics and some disturbing suggestions.  I enjoy getting the scam messages, though.  I can have a lot of fun with them, and I really ought to start taking screen shots as I get as creative as I can leading the scammers as daft a dance as I can manage.  Some of the ones in the last few days have been very unpleasant, though, and I've had to block them after feeling quite shaken.  So if you message me and I reply cautiously, I apologise, but it's bitter experience. 

Writing stuff - It's Day 8 of the 12 Days of Indie, where great books are on sale.  There are some great choices today, from romances and thrillers to real life murder mysteries. 

Friday 7 December 2018

I Failed My Driving Test

I had a stressful morning, a stressful start to the test and a tough end.  But while I can quibble about whether or not I should have failed, I am taking comfort in the bits I got right.  I was (apart from the bits I failed on) awesome.  I dealt with some really tricky corners, some awful junctions that had practically no visibility, and some really difficult moments when I had to navigate with tough situations involving double parked cars and oncoming lorries, and there were no casualties.  And apart from the fails, I had seven minors.  The number that you are allowed is up to 17 and he was picky.

It is a driving test examiner's job to be picky, and he was right to be strict.  It's important that drivers are safe to drive however many tons of steel at high speed around the roads.  I honestly feel that if I am just running bear and his pal to and from school, then I would be fine right now.  I've done the run a gazillion times, I know all the pitfalls, all the bottlenecks and all the right turns of doom.  My instructor eats a sandwich as I drive back from a lesson.  However it's important that I'm competent enough to drive outside my comfort zone.  I plan to be an awesome driver.  Also, today there were no squirrels but one junction had interesting visibility as there was a fire engine on the corner trying to rescue a cat.  Anything can happen, even on a familiar route.

As for anything can happen, anyone can end up needing help and most people who claim from a food bank are people in work who have had a mix up with their benefits.  I thought I would share this YouTube video about how much you can donate for just £10.  It is so sad that these places are needed.

Writing stuff - Today is Day 7 of the 12 Days of Indie, and they are looking pretty awesome. These are books that have been reduced in price during this sale, so it's a good time to get hold of that holiday read.

Thursday 6 December 2018


Today the highlight of the driving lesson was not hitting a squirrel.  It was dithering about in the road like it couldn't remember whether it had locked the door.  Fortunately no-one was behind me, so I could stop without risk.  I would hate to have to chose between an accident and fur walled tyres.

Today was a good day.  If I had taken my test today there would have been a very good chance of me passing.  Yesterday I was abysmal (but without casualties), but today was good. 

I was hit by the O2 outage so it was a nightmare trying to pick up bear from his climbing.  Then we had horrific French homework where he told me that he didn't know what some words were because they had never been told and he had been instructed to use an online translation programme.  I didn't say what I thought about that, and I'm very proud of myself.  It also appears that he hasn't learned about French verbs, irregular or otherwise and the whole thing was extremely traumatic for both of us as I struggled to remember the French I last used in 1984.  Okay, I've read a very very little since, and I keep meaning to take a refresher so that I can dip into some of the French Medieval scholarship, but I think I may need it for my sanity. 

Writing stuff - today is Day Six of the 12 Days of Indie and there are some truly beautiful selections of poetry, all at reduced prices.  I'm planning on indulging but at the moment all I can think of is gear changes and junctions. 

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Home Made Soup

It isn't very home made.  It's slightly better than opening a can, which is something, but it was all about convenience.  Morrisons sell a pack of pre-chopped veg for £1, which to me means no waste and no worry about half a bag of carrots shrivelling in the fridge, and it's labelled as a 'veg soup kit'.  It isn't brilliant.  It's a mix of winter vegetables and the instructions to boil them with a stock cube until squishy and then blitz them with a hand blender.  Instead I softened them in oil with a good dollop of garlic, added plenty of stock powder, some lentils and simmered until the veggies were soft.  I blitzed it and it easily served three of us.  We served it with wholemeal bread and it worked out.  I suppose that it served three of us well for around £1.50.  My driving test is on Friday.  I'm determined that I'm going to get a little more creative and sensible with cooking after then. 

Today's lesson was long and traumatic.  I got soooo much wrong.  As I said at the end of the lesson, I'm a better driver than I showed today.  I feel somewhat down about it all. 

Writing stuff - I think part of what is going wrong is that I haven't actually been writing.  Writing is like a fuel, so after I finish this I'm going to settle down and get cracking.  Who knows, I may start living up to those on 12 Days of Indie, which today has some awesome books at very good prices!  There is a Dark Fantasy, a Young Adult story, a Romance, a modern day tale of discovery and even a tale of eldritch horror!  When I get two brain cells lined up, I'm going to go back and start buying! 

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Bad Driving Lesson

It was not a good driving lesson.  I kept forgetting my mirrors (I'm normally very good about that), I stalled in the middle of a junction when someone let me out and, on the theme of junctions, I showed 'undue hesitation' and didn't go when I could have when exiting a junction.  There was one exception.  I came to the junction to turn left, everything was clear, I was in the right gear, there were no problems, no oncoming traffic and I swept out like a boss without hesitation.  Unfortunately it was a 'Stop Junction' and I completely failed to fully stop.  Darn it to heck.  I even got into the wrong lane of the roundabout coming back and ended up going around and around.

Bear didn't help.  I paid out for a rather nice, relatively expensive, 3D smartie advent calendar.  I am old enough to remember when it was just pics behind the little doors, not chocolates.  Bear is disdainful because it's 'just smarties'.  I am not terribly impressed by him. 

Writing stuff - I'm having a fail at the editing, but I'm keeping going.  However, the 12 Days of Indie continues, link here, with a thriller, a murder mystery and some awesome sci fi as well as a nod to the Glass and Ashes anthology. 

While I am at it, I thought I would link again to the awesome YouTube trailer for 'The Dark Archer' by Robert Cano.  I just think it's beautiful.  

Monday 3 December 2018

I Survived Monday

I feel so tired that it hurts.  I'm not sure where it's come from, but it's there all right.  I've managed to get a little ironing and a little washing with a few other bits, but I'm not fit for rags.  I fed bear and his pal who fell on the sandwiches and pizza like locusts, and managed some soup for me while DH was out, and thank goodness I didn't have to do a proper dinner.  I have to have a good night's sleep tonight somehow and pull myself together.  I have long driving lessons tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, followed by my next driving test on Friday.  I'm not confident.  I don't think I'm a hazard, though I need to get more confident at speed, and I'm certainly not as bad as some I've seen in the few months I've been driving, but I just feel so flat and stressed.  It's the test at Heckmondwike, which has a 37% pass rate.  I just want to get past this week.

I need to find some time to sort out baking some snacks for the lads.  Teenagers eat, and if I can stash some savoury muffins and mini frittatas then it will be better for them than crisps or sweeties.  In fact, I could really do with another freezer, just to keep stuff like the home made soup and bargains in (got a great deal in gluten free breaded fish in the delivery today).  I'm running the freezer down ready for Christmas, so I suppose now is a great time to work out what I actually need to keep in there and what I can just not bother re-stocking.

wherethejourneytakesme - I am totally up for a hobble after Christmas

Writing stuff - I am totally picking up some more books and going to enjoy them!  Check out these wonderful options, all at sale prices.  There are romances, fantasy and sci fi novels, and I must get back to reading more than academic stuff.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Making Space

I went with bear's pal's mum for a coffee and she kindly took a few more bags of old clothes to the charity shop in her car.  I think I have a lot further to go.  Still, at least there is a small start.  We had found that there was a local PDSA shop open on Sunday, but today we spotted that the Mind shop was also potentially open on a Sunday.  That has to be worth a look.  I feel quite smug as I managed to avoid buying anything, despite temptation, except a hot chocolate from Costa. 

To be honest, I need to be buying.  I have completely lost track of what I have and have not got for bear, but I know I'd like to pick up a few more bits.  Traditionally he has got a new bag for Christmas, but this year he doesn't need one, so I'm not sure what to do. 

For those who don't remember, when bear was coming up to three or so, I forgot to get a stocking for him.  DH didn't believe that bear would miss having a Christmas stocking so we didn't panic until around 4pm on Christmas Eve when bear asked where his stocking was.  I gave him a pillowcase and then used a lot of the littler presents to fill an inexpensive small drawstring bag with a Ben10 logo that I had got as part of bear's Christmas presents.  The pillowcase was swapped with the stuffed bag, I complained about Santa nicking my pillowcase, and the tradition started.  Bear got a new school bag filled with stocking stuffers at the foot of his bed on every Christmas morning. 

Bear does not need any sort of bag this year.  Actually, he doesn't need much at all!  Last year I think I used a Harry Potter cushion cover, but that wasn't successful, and a pillowcase is far too big.  There are usually things like fancy pencil sharpeners wrapped up in Christmas paper, a selection of sweeties, a puzzle book and some coloured pencils or similar.  I want to get him stuff that's fun, but we're going to have to pack up the house when I finally get the re-wiring sorted out, which I need to do SOON. The less junk we have to store the better while that is going on!  It's going to be interesting! 

Writing Stuff - Today is Day Two of the 12 Days of Indie.  There are some awesome books at a great price, so if you are looking for great reads to stash over Christmas, do go over and have a look! 

Saturday 1 December 2018

Slow Saturday

It's been a very quiet Saturday and I have been grateful.  I have also been doing ironing as I can.  DH has lost a lot of weight, and doesn't fit into most of his clothes.  He took eight very full bin bags down to the charity shop today.  I'm following his example, working my way through the massive heap of ironing and I'm getting rid of bear's old clothes.  I haven't had a good sort out for a while and he has shot up recently so now has a lot he doesn't fit into.  I've a lot still to do (the ironing pile is down to the size of the Himalayan foothills, which is an improvement), but I'm going to be getting there.

Writing stuff - I put stuff here about writing, but please don't ever feel that you have to read what I have written.  I hope that anyone who dips in can enjoy it, but I'd rather people just stopped by without feeling any pressure. 

Having said that, OWS are having a promotion with a vast swathe of books at $2.99 or less.  Today is Day One and you can read all about it here.  There are books and a raffle for goodies, and all sorts of stuff going on.  Today there is a pre-order for a sci fi thriller, a modern fantasy, a romance and a book for young adults.  If you enjoy a good read, it's a great opportunity to grab a bargain.