Monday 31 July 2023

As Expected

I've done practically no gardening. I dead-headed some of the roses and poured boiling water on some dandelions but that was about it. To be fair, it was raining quite hard and the steps to the kitchen were getting slippery.

I did a quick trip to the shops first thing, leaving the house at 7.30am. This was not optimal. I was looking at the compost at Aldi but decided against it. This was just as well as they only had self checkouts open. I had six bottles of diet cola in my trolley (I have a lot of writing to do). If I get a lot like that, I normally put one on the conveyer belt and tell the cashier how many, leaving the rest in the trolley to save everyone's effort. Because it is the self checkout, I had to scan each individually and put them on the tiny 'bagging area' before I could move on to the next item. I can't imagine how that would work with big bags of compost! At least I remembered the turkey leg from Tesco. I didn't cook it today, but bear is out for the next two or three days so I'll cook it (hopefully) tomorrow and it will do me for a few days. DH has his favourite pasta bake and bear is good with breaded chicken, breaded vegan chicken or baked potatoes with tuna if he is home. I'm not sure to put it in a casserole with plenty of stock and veggies or to roast it. It's not that big, for a turkey drumstick, so poaching/stewing/casseroling may be the better way. I could even try it in the slow cooker, if it will fit into my small pot. 

I've done a lot of little things here and there today, as well as some writing, but nothing particular that stands out. However I got a writing planner today in the post and I'm hoping that it will get me moving more. 

Gladys is doing well. Only the lower branches have flowers at the moment.

But her upper branches look like there could be some more blossoms coming soon, and I know that they last until the first frost.

As a reminder - this is what Gladys looked like on 13th May

And how she looks now

I shouldn't have worried!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 30 July 2023

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that I resisted buying a blanket online. As I can barely move for blankets and I'm rapidly knitting more, I have no idea why it called to me, but it did. It was a sort of bohemian, hippy, folk art type thing and I resisted it with a great deal of effort. The bad news is that I failed to resist the yarn. Meh. This is an encouragement for me to keep knitting. The yarn had been calling to me for a while, though, and I'm surprised that I managed to resist it this long. 

I'm taking a risk here, but I'm sharing plans. I need to get out early to pick up the fruit and salad for DH. I don't think I need much more but I was inspired by a post on The 1940s experiment about Blitz Soup. I used to make a lot of those types of soup, and I'm considering picking up a turkey leg which will roast up nicely covered in bacon and I'll have two or three meals worth of meat for me at least and then the bone for the soup. I have some veggies in the freezer and I can see what's on offer at the supermarket. Bear has no idea when he'll be out, but there are plenty of things in the freezer that he can have if he doesn't fancy turkey. He utterly rejects soup. 

Anyway after the turkey I'm going to try and concentrate on the garden between the showers that are forecast. Yesterday I took a pic of a very pretty weed in the paving stones. 

It looks so lovely and cheerful, but I'm going to be getting rid of it. I feel a little bad depriving the bees, but there are plenty of flowering weeds around. This is what the kerb outside our house looks like.

It's lovely and cheerful. 

So I hope that when I post tomorrow, I'll be barely able to move and will have some pics of a cleared garden - wish me luck!

Now I need to go away and make a shopping list. I need just enough bits and pieces to need a list but I shouldn't need more than one bag. The trick is remembering to look at the list!

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 29 July 2023

I Wish I Understood Myself

I'm nearly sixty and I haven't got a clue about myself. Mind you, at least I get a surprise along with everyone else when I go off at an unexpected tangent.

For some reason I finished the blanket that I abandoned around this time last year. I was re-knitting the blanket I finished before that, but for some reason I got distracted and picked up a blanket that, as far as I can tell, I last touched in February 2022! This is what it looked like then. 

After spending some time today, it looks like this.

The yarn is okay to knit with, but it gets incredibly tangled. But it makes a nice change to be finishing things off instead of starting them. Or, at least, getting them nearer to be finished off. I've thought of some other projects, of course. I seem to ricochet from one idea to the next. I have no idea why I'm suddenly starting to finish things off, but I'm taking it with both hands! I'm not sure why this particular thing called to me, but I was happy to answer and I found two stitch holders and a notebook in the bag, so that was an extra win!

I've more or less sorted out my computer issues with the shrinking fonts. I ended up restoring the original default settings on my browser. This meant that I lost loads of bits and pieces and for a while I lost my Google account. You see, I have my real name, my Sybil name and my Lyssa name all tangled up and I couldn't remember any of the dratted things! I'm left with something of a dilemma, though. I suspect that the main culprit was the TopCashBack extension to Chrome. I could forget about it, but I had added a few pennies over the last few months and it all helps these days. I'll have to think about it.

Hugs and good health to all.

Friday 28 July 2023

Keeping up with Bear

This morning I was out of the house at 7.30am to call at the supermarket for some bits that I needed before dashing back. Bear was supposed to be going out but I didn't expect him to be gone when I got home at 8.30am. As DH had gone out for a walk, we were both a little surprised. Now I've had a text asking me to pick him up at 10pm. At least it's from the same spot as Wednesday. I'm studying the maps carefully, but I'm still having weird computer trouble that's leaving me sea-sick. 

I watched the England v Denmark game this morning. England won, and I very much enjoyed it - I got quite a bit of knitting done - but it didn't fill me with confidence. I'm no expert, but the England defence looked more erratic than my writing. 

I took a pic of the plants opposite. This is what it looked like on 29th June 2021

And this is what it looks like now.

It's mainly elder, but I think it's now a great place for wildlife. I think that it's wonderful how things recover.

Writing stuff - I'm trying to get back into reviewing (which I keep saying, but I mean it each time) and I reviewed a book. I sorted by 'cosy' and 'newly published' and found a sort of murder mystery. I felt bad, because I couldn't give it an 'amazing' rating, but it wasn't bad and I tried to be honest. Perhaps I need to concentrate on only reviewing books that I adore so I don't worry. Having a bad review can be so upsetting. The review is here

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 27 July 2023

It Was Fine

I'm having all sorts of problems with my computer at the moment. Something is happening to the font size, but I'm only getting it on some places and not others. I can't read my writing blog, for example. My posting may get even more erratic. I feel seasick. 

Bear was fine. They didn't get a prize but he had a good time and someone's mum was there. I had a nightmare waiting for him and picking him up as the sat nav took me through all the awkward back roads. I nearly turned into three separate home drives as I was trying to pick him up. I need to get used to it - he's going again next week.

All is normal here. It's been lovely and quiet and I've revelled in it. I watched the Sewing Bee final, which was amazing. The final made to measure was stunning, but I thought it was an incredibly hard ask. I would think that many professional tailors and dressmakers would find it a challenge. 

Now I am going to back away from the computer until my stomach settles down. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 26 July 2023

I'm Nervous

Tonight I'm going to drive to an unfamiliar place and park somewhere unknown while waiting until at least 10pm to pick up bear. He's been invited to take part in a pub quiz. He's only sixteen. I'm fairly certain that he won't try to drink (I don't think he has enough money on him) but... 

It's hard because I remember him as a little kid. And really he's too young to be going in pubs. He's possibly the least streetwise kid going. But... I was in pubs at his age. And I've a fair idea of the crowd that he's going with and they're nice, and I have checked out all the online references to the pub in question... 

I'm sure that he'll be fine. It's just a little hard. And at least I've extracted a load of rubbish from the car in case I end up giving lifts. 

I meant to take a pic of the honeysuckle near the gate as it's flourishing as well. The berries look almost festive.

I should pick them off to encourage more blossoms, but I'm still getting a few blossoms and I like to leave the berries for the birds. I'm going to have to get back to putting out food as I haven't seen any rats for a while. I used to see them crossing the street all the time, but at the moment they're not visible at all.

Writing stuff - I've published another instalment of 'Research and the Author - Clothes Maketh Man' and I had far too much fun writing it. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 24 July 2023

I'm Calling it Gladys

Today has been the usual mix of wins and fails. Bear wanted me to make sure he got up in good time. I gave him a few reminders, but he wasn't up when I had to leave to make sure that I could get DH's fruit in time. He was out and about again today and I left it to him to make the timings work. It won't be long before he's out of the home and managing for himself, so now is a good time to get the practice in. He was fine and rolled in around 8pm.

I was looking at the fuchsia, which is growing splendidly, and I'm sure that the flowers are bigger now than they used to be. Here's a pic from today.

And here is one from 2021

I don't really have good photos to make a comparison. There are a lot less blossoms at the moment, but that's reasonable after it nearly died and was cut back to the level of the wall. Perhaps I'm wrong, but bear also thinks that the flowers are bigger now. I suppose it could be because it was a hybrid of sorts and one strain is now more dominant. It doesn't seem to have got in the way of its vigour. 

As the fuchsia is one of the most interesting things in my life, I've decided that I'm finally going to give the darned thing a name and call it Gladys. I have plans for the garden, and if I ever get any of them done, I'll share. I shall not be getting rid of Gladys.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 23 July 2023

Quiet Sunday

I need to work on bear's eating habits. I was somewhat surprised that he demolished a huge plate of beef casserole with an ample helping of mashed potato and still felt hungry, but then I remembered that he hadn't bothered with lunch. I'm trying to encourage him to make more meals for himself, especially as he drives me scatty with his preferences, and as DH is out at the time, I asked him to get something for himself as I was just having toast. I need to work on this. Bear needs to eat, but I suspect he won't be bothered. I need him to not put all the thinking onto me, as he's had me on my knees with working out what he'll eat, but I can see that I'll be doing a lot of reminding. As it was, I've reminded him about things like laundry, transferring it from washer to dryer and taking it upstairs. It's a work in progress. 

I was quite proud of the casserole - cook from frozen beef, pickled onions, chopped onion from freezer, chopped mushrooms from freezer, chopped celery from freezer, carrots (rest of bag put in freezer) with a bouquet garni in a teabag, worcester sauce and a generous helping of gravy granules. I'm putting bargains in the freezer and I'm also using them up. The men very much enjoyed it and hoped fervently that it would turn up again next Sunday. I'm running a little low on celery so I'll keep an eye out for celery that's marked down. 

I remembered to take pics of me re-knitting the blanket that I finished a little while ago.

DH says that it looks a little cannabalistic. This is the old blanket which I don't think works

And this is the new pattern - knit three rows, purl one row, knit three rows, twisted drop stitch one row. 

I think it will make the yarn go a little further. I'm also using much bigger needles - 7.5mm instead of 5mm. It's hard to tell with the way that the yarn is dyed, but it's a lot more open and squidgy and I think it will still be warm but a lot more flexible. btw I decided not to unravel the blanket but just knit and pull the yarn out as I went along. It was fairly straightforward knitting and the yarn isn't the stuff that splits, and so far it's been fine. It feels a little odd, though and I'm not sure that I'd do it that way again. 

I'm determined to get the yarn stash a little lower, and I plan to watch Sweden v South Africa on catch up while I crack on with the new blanket. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

I Finished A Project!

There was this much yarn left, plus a full ball. I'm going to save the 200g ball as there are some interesting stich patterns being shared on YouTube here (although their idea of easy and my idea of easy are very different) and I'm planning scarves.

I had a go at measuring and gave up. It's at least as tall as me, so 67 inches, and easily as wide as a single bed. It also feels squidgy and warm.

 A while back I finished a blanket but decided almost straight away that I didn't like it. I'm now knitting it up again to a different pattern and I'll try and remember pics tomorrow. I'm still stunned that I finished something. Mind you, I was watching England just about win over Haiti and the excitement kept my knitting speed up. I'll settle down to a few more matches on catch up later. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Friday 21 July 2023


I managed to take some stuff to the charity shop. It was all in excellent condition, clean and looking good. I'm really not keen on the car park as I like to reverse into a space. This is because I fail at reversing out and the car park is not only small but busy. Fortunately I was early enough so I had a spot, but the walls are too low to be seen through the rear view window.

To be honest, I'm not sure that they're high enough to be seen easily out of the front window once you're close. 

I dropped off the donation and had a look around. I'm still not entirely happy with my handbag, so I had a look at the bags. They didn't have anything I would use as a handbag, but I picked up these for knitting projects.

This is how 'not' to take a picture as it's cluttered and confused, but hopefully you can work out what's what.

They cost £1.50 each. Currently all my projects apart from the Lent sweater (which hasn't been touched in months - it will still be going next Lent if I'm not careful!) are in 'bags for life' and I want to get some of them in bags that zip. I want to finish at least some of them as well before I start on the sweater that's calling me. 

I made mince and mash for the men tonight and they were very happy. It's kind of nice that all the veggies are in the freezer. I may have to do some carrots for the freezer as well - chopped small like for a casserole or shepherd's pie. 

For some reason I'm feeling weary, so I'm going to settle down, watch Spain v Costa Rica on catch up and hopefully get a little further with the knitting. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Thursday 20 July 2023

Still Just About Moving

I was feeling that I hadn't done much, but I managed a whole ten minutes of weeding, watched New Zealand beat Norway in the Women's World Cup, did a load of washing and I've made a start on some lists. I also chopped some onions that I'd got on a good deal and filled 32 13.4cm x 11.5cm ziploc bags (around five and a quarter inches by four and a half inches). That's thirty two bags. That should last me a little while, though I get through a surprising amount. I need to keep my eye out for mushrooms now, as I'm running a little low on those. However I don't mind bunging those all in one big bag, due to the different way they freeze. 

When I was weeding, I took this pic of some sweet peas. I need to train them up the trellis, but every time I try, they seem to break. Any suggestions?

I've made some lists. If I share them, they never happen, but I'll let you know how they turn out. At the moment, the biggest problem that I have is that I feel a new pattern calling me. I feel the call to make a warm woolly sweater and I could knit while I'm watching the world cup. I couldn't really bring myself to watch the Qatar World cup because, well, Qatar, but I'm all for watching as much of the Women's World Cup as I can.

Bear was out again today. He dragged himself back in around 6pm and he was well and truly sunburned. Sigh. Sun cream has been added to the shopping list. I'm considering getting him a bus pass - he's been out three times this week which is impressive for him. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 19 July 2023

Elderly Soap

I've just thrown out some soap that is older than bear. It would probably be okay - it was in a knotted sandwich bag - but the cupboard that I've been emptying is in a poor state. It's in a really awkward corner, and my knees really don't like getting there, but I need to give it a good wash out, or possibly use a flame thrower. There were packets in the back which once were cleaning boosters but now have fossilised in the damp, and they landed in the bin bag with a crunch. I'm also getting rid of a candle that isn't completely burned down as I really don't like the smell. I feel incredibly extravagant, and a little guilty. I think I would have to suffer the smell if it had cost more than £2.99.

I didn't take a pic and couldn't find any suitable pics online, so I thought that I'd share a pic of pretty bubbles.

I haven't made lists (yet) and I haven't got to the charity shop. I slept very badly last night so today I only drove as far as it took to get some halfway decent salad for DH. I made a real mess of parking. Next time I'll walk it, even though it would easily be an hour instead of ten minutes. The Co-op mini supermarket's car park is snug and on a vicious slope, with some awful tight turns to say that there are only eight spaces. But I was careful and managed to get parked after a thirty two point turn. 

I think I'll plan for the Charity shop run on Friday, as I've got a few bags ready to go already, and I hope to fill up a few more. I'm also repurposing a few things, and I'm feeling quite good about it all. I don't know if I'll manage to stay awake long enough for the Sewing Bee tonight. To be honest, I'm not feeling it for this season. I still haven't got over them cutting up the crocheted blankets. 

Writing stuff - I've published another in my series of 'Research and the Author' about researching fantasy backgrounds here. I'm having a lot of fun with these. I'm considering writing the next one on flowers. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Monday 17 July 2023

Feeling Guilty

Nothing much is happening here. I feel guilty because I can't think of anything to say. I've sort of pottered. I've also got caught up in some writing stuff, which may have used up my words. I haven't even got a decent pic to share. 

Bear is doing okay. He did his washing today, and will apparently be out for the next few days. I have no idea.

DH is also doing okay. He had a day off and is looking much better for it. 

I've actually been pottering around in the kitchen. I've been looking at cupboards and considering whether I actually need stuff or whether I can get rid. I plan to go out on Wednesday which leaves me tomorrow to find all the stuff I can to take to a charity shop. I can load up the car during tomorrow and get out early. One of the things that I'm getting rid of is our salad spinner. It has never, ever been used. I'm looking at unused jars and containers that I bought but aren't using. They may as well go to someone that will appreciate them, if they're fit, or get thrown out. I also plan to ransack my cupboards. If I'm unlikely to use it soon then I'm donating it to the food bank. I feel the need to get rid of stuff and I've been poking into cupboards that haven't been sorted for a while.

This a pic from this time last year. It was 42C. The rest of Europe is suffering right now, but I'm wearing a sweater. What a topsy turvey world.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Did You Know...

I've done some washing, gone to Tesco for some bits, done some writing, a little housewifery, gone to Tesco again because I forgot to take the dry cleaning this morning and have written an article for the writing blog.

I'm writing stuff about research and I get sucked in ridiculously sometimes. For example, did you know that on nineteenth century maps there are a range of mountains known as Mountains of Kong around the area of Senegal and Niger. I inherited my great-great-aunt's atlas which she dated 1898 and it shows the map.

They don't exist. They were a figment of the mapmaker's imagination. That's a whole range of mountains, hundreds of miles long, just dumped randomly on a map. 

Things haven't changed much, to be honest. I may not encounter random missing mountain ranges but trying to get directions from Google Maps makes me understand the frustration of the traveller in search of mythical mountains stuffed with gold. 'Take the next left' it says, and I trustingly take it and end up in a back alley surrounded by garages and the satnav giving the electronic equivalent of a 'tut' as it wasn't the next left that I should take but the next next left...

The article is here, if you're interested, but shows that research can take you down a blind alley - very much like Google Maps when I need directions.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 11 July 2023

Could be Worse

Bear has a virus. He's definitely under the weather but fortunately seems to be keeping his strength up with Pringles. 

A short story I submitted to a magazine was rejected, but I'm not too surprised. It wasn't a perfect fit. 

But I got a lot of odd bits of housewifery done today, and the flowers in the garden are still blooming.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Monday 10 July 2023

I Can Just...

The trouble with me is that I think of something like, I have a new chest of drawers. It should have a cloth over it to protect the surface. I can pick up some scrap fabric and I can just hem it...

When I start something with 'I can just...' it never ends well. I've started with this piece of fabric, which looks awesome, and I'm having an awful time. It frays with malice, it's relatively thin, and if I have decent sized double hems, it cuts the width down to barely enough. And if I don't have decent sized double hems, the damned things going to fray to pieces. I've started sewing, by hand. 

But it's giving me eye strain. I thought it would be quicker to just sew along the seams instead of setting up the sewing machine and working out what I'm doing, and I'm going to have a devil of a job to mitre the corners, but I'm regretting it right now.

All is otherwise normal. I had a delivery from Morrisons and I seem to accidentally be taking part in their 'spend x for four out of five weeks to get x points'. It's just that bear likes their snacky stuff. He's not eating that much of it. The lad has been out of his room on an average of three hours a day (not counting prom) which is normal for teenager. I'm working on it. 

And I called in at Tesco. The men like Pringles, and they are currently £1.85 Clubcard price (for now) and I have a coupon for double points. I bought twenty tubes. I can't remember the last time I bought Pringles, but it was a similar offer and they've run out now. 

And I've washed out one of the the towers of plastic drawers that were in the place of the new chest of drawers and I hope to start getting it set up tomorrow. I've not done much, but I've done something. I'll take that. I've still not started planning.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 9 July 2023

I'm Going to Have to Make Plans

Bear had an awesome time at the Prom. He said that he really enjoyed himself and the pics I've been allowed to see look great. The girls looked so classy and elegant and bear just seemed so assured. 

I got the car washed on Thursday. I took this pic.

It was the inside of the car windscreen when it was being washed, but I think it looked sort of cool.

Yesterday I was looking for red thread at The Range (they didn't have any) and they have stands with 'Getting Ready for Fall' all around.

I suppose if you're crafting stuff for that time between September and December then you need to get ready now, but really. Besides, in the UK it's Autumn and for heaven's sake at least they could wait until the end of August. Though thinking about it, that's when they start stocking Christmas cards!

I'm getting off to make plans now. If they work out, I'll share. 

Hugs and good health to all.

Wednesday 5 July 2023

I Refuse to Make Plans

Every time I make plans, it goes wrong. I've been pottering around on the internet and thinking, and I'm trying to work out the best way to go on. The trouble is, I've been here so many times that I'm giving up.

There are exceptions to that, of course. I'm planning on watching the Great British Sewing Bee tonight while knitting. 

I've abandoned bear to make his own dinner (the kitchen is stuffed with food). He's doing okay. He tried on his outfit for the prom on Friday and he looks very smart - black trousers and jacket, black shirt, black tie and extra sarcasm. I asked him if him dressing all in black meant that he had any problems. He just gave me a Look and said that it meant that all his clothes matched. I couldn't argue with it. I suspect that colour blindness has something to do with it. On Monday there was a quantum thing online class (still no idea) and he was talking about there being red and green boxes. Bear is red and green colourblind. Apparently he managed.

I have no idea what I'm doing tomorrow. I'm not planning for it. I wonder if I should just make a list of all the tasks I could do? It would run to three volumes! But I could try picking something out at random, and that may get it further. I may not do much as I'm still feeling a little flattened, but I'm sure that I'll be better soon. 

And I wasn't too grumpy. I'm trying to keep to the 'publish Mon, Wed and Fri' and while I didn't manage Monday, I pulled together the article on research I was planning (here, if you're interested, it's just researching writing though). The trouble is, I get carried away. Did you know that a cable sent from London to New York in 1875 would cost three shillings a word? You would not believe the things I was finding out - that didn't make the article. I feel quite refreshed by that. 

I don't have any pics from today, so I had a look at last year. Ironically I was planning some writing stuff 

Which turned out to have eventually happened as I published Whisper in the Shadows (a collection of short stories, some previously published and some new ones) but it took nearly a year. 

Whatever happens tomorrow, I'm determined to find some fun in it. I'm bored of feeling sorry for myself. 

Hugs and good health to all. 

Tuesday 4 July 2023

I Wish I Could Stick At Things

I got to the doctor and it's apparently a virus of some sort. I have to go back if there is any change. This means I am feeling poorly, low and extremely tired. 

Bear is being awesome, as is DH. I just wish that I could stick at things like health eating or organising things. That would probably do me a great deal of good. I picked gooseberries.

But they've gone very squishy. It feels like a complete waste. I think I'll put them out for the birds/rats/squirrels so that at least some creature gets the benefit. I haven't planted out some mint I got either. I need to so something in the garden, but I barely have the energy to move. My head isn't at its clearest either. 

I think I can hear the knitting calling to me.

Hugs and good health to all. 

Sunday 2 July 2023

A Quiet Weekend

It's been a 'hanging out with the men' type of weekend. I'm still feeling a little under the weather and will perhapsp try for a doctor's appointment next week.

I'm still working on the blanket that I started last year and forgot about until recently.

I went out yesterday, but it was quite windy and it felt that the car was shaking when I drove, so I was glad to get home. The blanket is around four foot long, or about a metre at the moment. I may be able to manage perhaps another twelve inches before I run out of yarn. 

Bear wants some stuff for school and I was going to pick up some t-shirts from Nutmeg, the online Morrisons clothing store, but they aren't doing online shopping for clothes anymore. Aldi have shut their online shopping as well. I haven't had a full look around, but I suspect that it's no longer as profitable to have the online shopping. Tesco closed down their clothes and homeware side ages ago. Regardless, bear is planning to live in black t-shirts, black jeans and possibly hoodies. I'm leaving him to it. 

Hugs and good health to all.