Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Headache blues

The poor YFG has spent the afternoon suffering from the headache and throwing up so nothing I had planned got done! She and I had to lay on my bed for huge cuddles whilst she was suffering, and when she recovered, we were able to join the others downstairs for some TV, puzzling and a James Bond DVD. She has a longstanding problem with eating pork, which I had thought was limited to roast pork/pork chops which I now never serve, but it seems that I may have been wrong. This morning we were up late and so the FH served a "brunch" of bacon, eggs, beans etc for himself and the girls. Some hours later, the YFG asked if she could have a pepperami, which I usually keep in the fridge for a pizza topping. It seems to me that the combination of the bacon and the pepperami constituted pork overload and her system said, "Whoa!" and threw the lot back. She slept for a while, then ate some toast at about 4pm which was OK, and then they all had chicken sandwiches for tea at 6pm, and she has been fine. Her stomach is sore from the actual vomiting, but she is OK. We had this checked out by the paediatrician a few years ago at the local hospital and she has said that my association with pork cannot be proved but seems to be a probable cause, so I guess we have to be more careful in future - although this is the first such attack she has had for many months.
We are enjoying a beautifully crisp, clear winter day here; the sun is shining and there is still a frost in sheltered parts of the garden. The cat is replete from her breakfast and is sunning herself on top of the wheelie bins, and the two Dutch bantams are pecking around under the rabbit hutches for tidbits which they may have missed earlier! A vegetable seed catalogue came in the post this morning so thoughts have turned to planting the garden in the spring and which plants to put where. Before we can get to that, though, there is the small matter of several heaps of horse manure to be dug into the beds - and that needs to be done sooner rather than later. It will be good exercise, I think - well, that is what I am telling myself!

Yesterday, the EFG's godfather and his daughter arrived at about 10.30am. They came down from Doncaster, where he lives. His daughter lives in Scotland and was visiting for the holidays. She will be flying home at the end of the week ready for school again next week. She is 10 months older than the EFG, and they get on OK. So, we had a coffee and some chatting whilst the kids played on their DSs together, then we had the baked potatoes and various fillings. After that, the girls went outside for some fresh air and a bounce around on the trampoline, but it was quite chilly so they weren't out there very long! It was a good visit and it was lovely to see them again. They left at about 3 as we had to go out.

We had to nip into the town to throw some rubbish at the dump, have a quick scout around Tesco for some fruit and veg, and then a visit to a friend before coming home for tea. In the evening, I had a bath early and then we watched one of our Christmas DVDs, which was good!

Today, I have changed the sheets on my bed and they are in the machine at the moment. I have to hoover up there and clean the bathrooms, and then I am planning a quick tidy round down here as well. There will be some ironing to do later, and I have some serious cleaning to do in the utility room which is really messy at the moment, and I am hoping to encourage the girls to tidy their rooms up too - I like things to be clean for the New Year. The YFG has a headache now so I am not sure that there will be much enthusiasm from her today! The EFG is pleading homework so I doubt I'll get much help there either!!! The FH is still doing his puzzle, although he is making good progress so it should get finished this year.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Festivities continue!

Christmas itself may be over - hope that you have all had a good one - but the visitors still keep coming! We had a quiet Christmas Day at home just the four of us, then my uncle came over on Boxing day for lunch, and following closely behind him was the FH's cousin's wife and son who always come for the afternoon and evening on Boxing Day - we started that tradition when we moved to England and hope to continue it yet awhile. The cousin himself was ill, feeling down with man-flu, so he stayed at home, but we phoned him for a chat so that he didn't feel left out. On Saturday, we again had a day to ourselves, a time for rest and recuperation, and a quick walk to blow out some of the cobwebs, although it was very cold and clear so we didn't walk very far but we did walk fast so hopefully it burned off a few calories! Today we have had my uncle back for Sunday lunch, and my cousin and her husband arrived soon after 2pm and have just left. My uncle is doing a huge jigsaw with the FH but I expect that he will be going home later.

There are more people expected tomorrow - the EFG's godfather and his daughter are coming down from Doncaster for a couple of hours for a visit. They will be here at about 11am, so I am planning baked potatoes for lunch and perhaps then another walk.

The FGs have had some lovely gifts that they have really been pleased to receive. They were given some money which has already been allocated - they are allowed to spend half and half has to go into the bank. Amazon has already had an order for DS games with the spending money, and there will soon have to be a trip to the bank to put the cheques away. The YFG has had a couple of board games too, which means that all the visitors have been playing the Game of Life or Monopoly with her - Game of Life looks vaguely familiar to me, so I have been wondering whether I had it as a child, but I am not a huge fan of board games so I don't think it would have been my favourite!

New Year is approaching fast - there are only 3 more "sleeps" left in the year as we will be awake on Wednesday with friends here for the evening to welcome in 2009. It always starts me thinking about fresh starts for a new year - I have been thinking more about budgeting this time than losing weight! Weight loss has always been on the list before, and I suppose that it is still there but not at the forefront of the ambitions for the year. I have still got a couple of days to think about them so will keep you up to date when I have clarified things in my own head.

Just to recommend an author - Alexander McCall Smith has written some excellent books about the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency, set in Botswana - and I bought myself a set of 10 of his books for Christmas. I had already read the first two in the series, but I have quickly made my way through the third and fourth in the past couple of days and they are excellent! They seem set in a past era of manners, politeness and respectability which is sadly lacking in this country today, but it heartens one to be able to read about it in such elegant prose. There are 6 books in that series in my set, and the other four are set in Edinburgh, I believe, around a different set of characters; I have yet to start on them so can't say what they are like, but if they are anything like the Botswana stories, they will be wonderful.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Merry Christmas!

It's Christmas Eve and I am just taking five minutes out to wish you a Merry Christmas!

I have just marzipaned the Christmas cakes, one for us and one for my uncle, so they will have to be iced later. We had a lovely neighbour when we were children who always seemed to be icing her Christmas cake just before she came out to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, so I always think of Jo when I am doing mine, and my mum muttering about last minute things! The FGs have gone to the Christingle Service at the church with our neighbours, and I will be taking them to our church for the 10am service tomorrow morning.

The ironing got done last night, but the DVD player didn't get sorted so the FH has just taken it to a mate's house to see if he can get it working for him! We are off out at 7pm to a neighbour's house for a Christmas visit, and we have my sister coming with gifts for the girls at some point today as well. The girls have been and finished their secrets - Fimo jewellery - it looks good!

Love to everyone across the seas, and wishing you all a very peaceful 2009.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A Christmas baby

Yes, a Christmas baby has been born to one of the families on the street in the past few days, so welcome to the world, baby Hannah!

Apart from that excitement, the FGs have been off to a neighbour's house making secrets, which they have to go back tomorrow to finish, and the baskets of ironing have been finished between the FH and myself. We made a dash into one of the smaller local towns today to deliver a couple of Christmas cards, a gift to another family, to get some more plasters for my sore finger from the supermarket, and to borrow a stack of DVDs from a friend; the FH has decided that the tv selection over the holiday was going to be pretty dire so he has his own selection now and it includes several Bond films, the Alamo starring John Wayne, a historical account of Oliver Cromwell, which the FH says we should all watch as we live in Cromwell country, and a few other of his favourite detective, Inspector Frost. The only trouble is that the DVD player is only playing in black and white, so there may have to be some rearrangements of tvs and players in order to watch these in colour. I wish he would just learn to love reading as the rest of us do and we wouldn't have all this bother...

This afternoon, the FGs made cupcakes in the kitchen, and then I was supposed to be doing some Christmas baking but that didn't quite happen as it took them so long to clear up! I also wanted to watch Ruth Watson's programme called "Country House Rescue" about people who own piles in the countryside but have no money for their upkeep and repair - she is remarkably blunt but an astute businesswoman, so if ever I inherit a stately heap, I'll know where to go for advice!

Monday, 22 December 2008


The dippy chickens put themselves to bed tonight - hurray!!!!!!!

The tree is up at last!

My mother only used to let us put the tree up on the Saturday before Christmas, and I have one dear friend who puts all her decorations up on Christmas Eve. We finally got around to putting ours up on Saturday, as tradition decreed. I'll be honest, and say that in the recent past, we have put it up earlier due to the FGs' demands, but the room just wasn't ready this year! I keep moving things around, and the room has been in turmoil for a week or so. Even with the tree in place, there are still some baskets of laundry sitting patiently by the ironing board, hoping to get ironed tonight - they can hope - they may get done tomorrow. I don't do laundry on Christmas Eve, the big day or on Boxing Day, so at least I get a couple of days off!

The YFG has just got her face into this shot! It was meant to be showing some of our tree hangings, which I love. We seem to have a red theme going on, which is accidental. We do pick up additions to the collection most years, and the pointsettia lights were last year's. This year we have the red and green stars which we made earlier in the month.

Today I have made the orange and coconut cake from Rhonda Jean's blog - and it smells great. The FH and FGs have eaten some and declared it delicious, but as usual I deviated from the recipe somewhat: coconut milk instead of coconut cream, then I doubled the whole thing, and cooked it in two loaf pans instead of round ones. I sent one loaf to a dear friend who has recently had her tonsils out and is still suffering - sent with love, so hopefully she will be able to have a taste or two. I think that recipe will definitely have to go in the book as a "do again"!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Holidays are here at last!

End of term for the FGs has seen me baking mince pies for teacher-gifts, as well as looking forward to spending more time with them at home. The EFG came home on the bus and arrived at about 2.30 pm so she was able to come with me to fetch the YFG from her school in the village. That was lovely, as some of the staff were able to talk with her and ask her how she is getting on. The FH took the YFG to town for a check up with the optician, so the EFG and I snuggled down to watch "Miss Potter" on DVD. The landscapes in that film are beautiful and I found Beatrix Potter quite inspirational in that she used the money she earned from her writing to save so much of the Lake District from development and to preserve a way of life for so many people there. Too many people who make a lot of money don't seem to share the benefits of their wealth in that way. My small donation to the Salvation Army seems rather insignificant compared with her purchases of many farms and huge acreages in Cumbria which made such a valuable difference to so many people.

This evening, we have watched some Doctor Who, and I have sorted through some old magazines with a view to throwing some of them out - not something I like to do as I am a hoarder. I also had to go and put the little chickens to bed - they are not used to going into a house at night, and all stood in a huddle near the gate, so we had to go and pick them up one by one and thrust them head-first through the pop hole. The FH is disgusted with their seeming stupidity, but I think that they will get the idea soon - I certainly hope so anyway! The wind is getting stronger here tonight, so I think that they are probably better off inside the house than outside.

We are planning to put the Christmas tree up tomorrow so I will get the camera ready to take some photos!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

The chickens have moved house!

Today the FH and I have moved the batch of young chicks outside. They are about 12 weeks old now and fully feathered, so we thought it was time that they had some fresh air. It necessitated some moving around of the older girls from their house to a different one but all are happily installed tonight, and we will wait and see what they make of it all tomorrow. The FH is out there now, in the dark, making sure that they have all put themselves to bed in the right places.

The weather today has been strangely mild and blowy so I have got some more washing dry. Whilst that is good news, it has left me with Mount of Ironing to get done! Tomorrow is the last day of term and the YFG is allowed a non-uniform day, so along with her school Christmas Lunch, that will round off the day for her nicely. The EFG's school closes at 1.45pm so she will get home earlier than normal, making her a happy bunny too!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wow - 100 posts already

Can't believe I made it that far!

Today I am unashamedly plugging two websites which represent the businesses of a friend of mine from way back when! We both lived in Cupar in Fife at one time, then I came to the Fens and she went to Denmark for a while. She is now back (and has been for a good few years) in Scotland, but a lot further north in Forres, in Moray. Susan has two businesses herself, running a B&B and a website selling gorgeous bridal wraps and other items brides might need! So, if you are ever in that area and need a place to stay, http://www.forres-bed-and-breakfast.co.uk/ will give you all the information you need. You just need to check out her guestbook and read all the wonderful comments to know that it will be a great place to stay! Her other venture is at http://www.ukbridalstore.co.uk/ and I just know that the items will be of the utmost quality, because I know Susan and her attention to detail.

Having had a lazy morning this morning, I am now getting into gear, so I had better get moving so that I can start to cross some items off the chores list for the day. We are enjoying some beautiful winter sunshine here today, and I am about to hang some washing under the verandah in the hope that it will get a bit drier in the sun, even if it doesn't dry completely. The YFG has gone off on her panto trip with the school this morning and was terribly excited, so I hope that it is going well for them. I am looking forward to hearing all about it this afternoon.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Savvy shopping

I had thought, I had hoped, I had prayed that I had done the food shopping! I vowed not to enter the portals of a supermarket until 2009 - but I had an opportunity too good to miss today. My cousin's husband works for a huge food processor in Lincolnshire and she takes me with her very occasionally to their staff sales shop - where things are unlabelled, cheap and occasionally out of date. I spent £32 and got a whole trolleyful of goodies - pickles, Fray Bentos pies (45p!!), spaghetti, jam, lemon curd, pasta sauces, Turkish Delight, tinned biscuits (which I have to confess I bought for the decorative tin and not the biscuits!), Christmas puddings, all sorts of stuff...and now I have it all stashed away in my stores. I do truly believe that all I need to buy before the end of the year will be the fresh fruit and veg. Thank goodness!

This afternoon when we returned home, I spent a little while curled up on the sofa enjoying watching a film, content in the knowledge that no-one was expecting me to be anywhere for a change! That slot in the week on a Tuesday afternoon is usually spent at gymnastics, but that finished for the holidays with the party on Sunday, so I have a little more free time, and since I am not feeling 100%, I thought I deserved a rest!

These past two evenings, the FH and I have enjoyed watching Nigella's Christmas Kitchen programme, and although the FH loves to watch her, he doesn't ask for many of her recipes as he is always exclaiming about the amounts of butter and cream with which she has such a generous hand. He fears for his cholesterol just watching. I love Nigella's use of language - she has such a wonderful command of English and her vocabulary is a lot more extensive than some TV chefs. Not sure that she wants to be known as a "chef" in that sense as I feel that she is more of a home cook who loves to share what she makes for her family and friends with the rest of us. I did treat myself to her new book, Nigella Christmas, with some WHSmith Privilege Club (Sign up on their website) vouchers - the book was £12.50 but I paid £7.50 with the voucher! It makes good reading, and I will be trying out some of the recipes next week, I think! I have been offered the use of my neighbour's empty-ish freezer for some of my home baking, so I can afford to make more now, as the freezers chez nous are full!

I have found the ultimate mince pie recipe - and I am not sharing - yet! I sent some mince pies to church on Sunday morning and one of the ladies caught me in the school playground yesterday to tell me that her husband hadn't stopped talking about them all Sunday afternoon saying that they were the best he had ever had.......I was very pleased to hear that! It is a real struggle for me as a cook because I am wheat and dairy intolerant, and eating any of either makes me really ill, so I don't, but that means that I rely completely on people's opinions of what I make. The FH is not a good critic as he loves his food, and was in the RAF where he was told not to criticise food or the cook would "sort you out" so he tells me that most things are lovely, never offering any helpful criticisms. The FGs are OK, except that the EFG will almost eat anything, whereas the YFG can love something one week and "hate" it the next, which usually means that she has got bored of it. Kids!

The last of the gifts I had ordered online arrived through the post this morning and are wrapped and hidden away. I just need a gift for my uncle and my sister now, as I had planned to get them gifts from Lakeland and just left the ordering too late! I may be able to dash to their shop in Peterborough or I may just look elsewhere this week. I have a tradition of giving the FGs a Christmas Eve book, which they are allowed to open in the evening and then are hopefully interested enough to spend some quiet time reading. Each year, I hope that this will give them a calm space in the midst of the sea of anticipation which threatens to overcome most children on Christmas Eve! Some years it works, others are not so successful. I have yet to choose the books this year, and I am looking forward to a quiet half-hour in my favourite bookshop in town to search out the perfect gifts for them. That may well happen on Friday.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Christmas parties

Yesterday evening we held the Christmas parties for the children at the gymnastics club. The younger children attended between 6 and 7 and then the older ones from 7.15 to 8.45pm. Having them in two batches was supposed to be a means of spreading the work out, and not having too many there at once but the best laid plans and all that - we had 20 kids at the first party and 60 at the second - whoops! All in all, it went well and the children enjoyed themselves. The little ones played pass the parcel, had a lot of dancing and then ate a little, then we judged their fancy dress and they danced some more - their hour flew past. The winner of the fancy dress was Mrs Christmas....she was just so cute. At the second gathering, the children were more boisterous but in good spirits, and had a great time doing all the dances. The winner of their fancy dress was a girl dressed up as Zebedee from the Magic Roundabout, complete with an enormous papier-mache head, and a spring for bouncing, of course. We took some lovely photos, and the kids all went home exhausted...

Today has been a day when I have been trying to get things done before Friday when the children break up from school. Traditionally, I have had to barricade myself in to a room late on Christmas Eve so that I could wrap the gifts, but I have done it ALREADY and I am SO pleased. It took me all afternoon, but it is such a relief to have finished. I also wrapped a couple of gifts that had to be posted, and duly sent them off to Scotland, slightly worried about this proposed postal strike on Friday as I don't know exactly which sorting offices are going to be affected and whether my parcels might need to go via any of them.

I am desperately trying to get the laundry baskets emptied but I am hampered (no pun intended there, sorry!) by the weather, so it is draped around on the airers again, and only two loads done so far - more tomorrow. Had a lovely hour sorting a storage cupboard out and cleaning the shelves, including making an inventory of what I have got in there - and boy, did I need to!?! Five big boxes of icing sugar, five jars of raspberry jam - I think I need to keep better tabs on what I have got in stock!

I hope that I don't offend anyone, but I am going to say what I think about Christmas lights now. They have a place - in town centres, lighting up the communal space for everyone to enjoy. I can live with that, and I sort of see why the powers that be do that. I am not so happy about the untidy slew of lights that adorn various houses in the vicinity.....some of them look OK, but some look awful, and there seems to be some kind of competition between people to have the most which degenerates into who has the tackiest show. There are some tasteful displays but they are few and far between. Light pollution, excess use of electricity, I sound like a terrible old fogey (well, I am practising for when I AM one!) but hey, the only light Jesus had was a star over that stable, and He managed OK.......

Got to go as the YFG has been practising the Nativity story with some cardboard cut outs and wants me to watch her acting it out.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Christmas tree decorations

Here they are - little stars of red or green felt with contrasting circles attached with a sewn-on button, with a piece of hanging ribbon attached. The YFG and I made these last night, and I am pleased with them. I want to make a few more, but I ran out of red ribbon (because the YFG wanted some for her hair...mmm!) and red buttons, so I shall have to pick up some more on Saturday afternoon.

They are not exactly an original idea - they are based on an idea from the Usborne Christmas Things to Stitch and Sew book although we did not follow the instructions there completely. There is a bit of Fen license there too. The EFG is making a snowman from some very pale lilac cotton, and is waiting for me to thread the bobbin and machine with some suitable coloured thread for her, so I hope to do that tonight. She has gone with the FH and YFG to the town where she is playing Christmas carols with her cornet in the band and the FH and YFG are supposed to be supporting them by handing round the collection bucket, so I hope that they are not too cold. I am doing my part by cooking the supper for them when they get home!

Do you "get" it?

There are so many people out there who just don't! What am I talking about? Well, I am continuing yesterday's thoughts about debt, I suppose. There are families who don't have the same priorities as mine, and I don't understand how they are so blase about the levels of debt which they are accruing. I don't "get" how they just continue to spend, spend, spend on things which are unnecessary luxuries, whilst they are not paying their dues in the mortgage and council tax, for example. They obviously don't "get" my ideas, either, so I guess that we are even, but I am convinced that mine is the right path.

Let's be clear - there are some kinds of debt which are OK. Mortgages are reasonable, but I would still urge people to overpay as much as possible so that they are clearing the debt as fast as possible. Student debt is also understandable, in some cases, as long as it is not extreme; some students seem to have an incredibly responsible attitude and work jobs as well as studying to minimise their debts, but others just seem to believe that a student loan is there to be spent and hey, it has a long pay-back period, so let's spend it! This is also a kind of debt which I would advocate getting paid off as quickly as possible. Why have millstones hanging around your neck if you can possibly be free?

The way to live on a small income is to be positive and to see everything as a challenge, and to try to beat the system! I have been properly diagnosed with depression in the past on two occasions, but then I changed the way I thought. Instead of dwelling on my problems and concentrating on how miserable life felt (and I say "felt" rather than "was" as it was only my interpretation of how my life was panning out at the time) I read an excellent book by a doctor called Richard Carson, and it told me to stop thinking, basically! Stop thinking about the things that are making one miserable and act, do something, keep busy, keep your mind occupied and achieve! I now refuse to let miserable thoughts enter my head, find something positive in all situations, and keep smiling! Hey, I lose it sometimes, but the essential underlying attitude that I hold is a Positive one.

This means that when I go shopping and buy things that are cheaper versions, I am positively glowing at the thought of having cheated the supermarket out of the premiums I would have paid on more expensive items - I love buying things from charity shops because I am benefitting the environment by recycling, and the charities are getting revenue as well - growing my own veggies is brilliant because it saves us money, gives us exercise and gets us out in the fresh air, and we spend time together doing the garden - and baking is very satisfying when I consider the cost of the same items in the supermarket, and that I am eliminating so many additives from the family's diet by being on top of the ingredients, so to speak, by knowing what is in the food. Establishing a budget and making changes to accomodate it is empowering, and staying within my own imposed budgetary limits is very satisfying. See frugality as a challenge, work out how to achieve your aims and feel the buzz when you get there - and if you don't, there is always next month!

Set aims as well, so that you can see that you are making inroads into the debt, if you have it, or perhaps a chart to show how much you are saving - and save FOR something. We always have a little holiday fund that I make payments into each year for a few days away and days out in the holidays - and it gives me enormous pleasure to see that increasing.

Getting pleasure from something or avoiding pain are the greatest motivators in life, apparently, and I work well with both. Being in debt would cause me enormous pain, in terms of stress and worry, so I avoid it like the plague. Avoiding it by taking the measures I have outlined as well as others, means that I get pleasure (and relief, and peace of mind) from not being in debt. The people that I mentioned in the opening paragraph who are in debt and still spending unwisely are, to me, getting too much pleasure from the spending that they are enjoying, and the debt is not yet causing them enough pain. Unfortunately, the times we have ahead of us mean that when that pain comes, it may well be very great. Now is the time to stop, think and reassess life, and one's priorities........

I think that I will go back to normal life tomorrow and share a couple of recipes!

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Sewing and Christmas trees

Yes - I have finally got the sewing machine that I bought at the beginning of November out of its box and working! The FGs were very keen to get started but we found that three of us trying to make stuff together got a bit fraught, and some of us got a bit tearful (no names, but we are only 9) and others of us lost our temper completely when the machine didn't do what she thought it should be doing (coughs discreetly - yep, that was me!). However, I have just finished making some little felt stars which will either hang on the Christmas tree or from the mantlepiece on a ribbon. I'll post a picture tomorrow...

Christmas trees are a source of debate amongst our friends and neighbours. One neighbour has told me that she thinks her husband is mean for wanting to use an old fake Christmas tree that they have had for quite a few years, whilst she preferred to buy a real tree for £30. I have to say that I felt for her husband, as she has said lately that she wants to cut back on their expenses....We use a fake tree, for several reasons.

First and foremost, frugality. We have had our tree for about 15 years (gosh, that long!) since we had our first house together as a couple. It came from Argos, and is about 5 feet tall, so we always stand it on a small table, and decorate it to look festive. It is still in good shape after all these years and will last a good few more, I hope. I recollect that it cost us about £20, so it has cost us £1.33 a year so far, and the longer we keep it, the less it will have cost on an annual basis. We have added to our collection of decorations over the years, and had a couple of sets of lights (I think that I had to buy our third set last year) but we don't go mad with decorations.

The other main reason for a fake tree is that I don't agree with buying a tree, keeping it indoors for a couple of weeks and then either it ends up at the dump to get shredded, or one tries to plant it in the garden...sometimes it takes and sometimes it doesn't. People usually try to justify it by saying that they will dig it up again for next year - but the tree's roots won't stand that kind of disturbance and it usually doesn't look so good the next year and they decide to go and get another one anyway. Trees deserve a better, more respectful ending than that - we love wood and love things made from wood, and have a great deal of respect for it. They should not be used and discarded in that way, and I actually believe that it does the environment more good to use a fake tree and let foresters grow trees for better purposes. I'm not going to be pursuaded from that argument, and will always have a fake tree....

So, Woolworths is starting a Closing Down sale tomorrow, there is doom and gloom in the financial markets, redundancies galore, savings rates are plummeting, credit is hard to get, and there is talk of all this turmoil taking years to subside. I'm going to be controversial here and say that I am coming to believe that this is not such a bad thing in general. I am truly sorry for those who have lost their jobs and are facing a tough time, but I think that the world needs to look to itself for some of the reasons behind all of this - and I am a novice at commenting on such stuff so I am just saying what I am seeing. Credit has allowed people to live far beyond their means for more than a generation, and people are not used to going without, saving and working at housekeeping to make ends meet. The time of "have now, pay later" has gone, and it is only those who have the cash now who will be able to buy things easily. It's a big reality check, and not before time. I am very conservative and not at all a risk-taker: I have never had a great deal of debt at all as I have always been too scared of what I might lose if I wasn't able to repay it. I have always waited to buy things until I had the money available, which is a bit of a "goody two shoes" attitude perhaps, but it is the way I have learned to live, and it has stood me in good stead now. I know that The Mom who has been to my house knows that we don't "decorate" our house, and that we make do a lot, and we prefer serviceable items to ornamental things, so we "look" poor, but hey, I don't care! What I have is paid for, and that lets me sleep at night.

Christmas is a time of celebration - a time of coming together and sharing the joy of Jesus' birth with our friends and relatives. Christmas is about fellowship, emotion and sharing, not about consumerism, acquisition and increasing debt. I am looking forward to a day of worship, time with the family together, just the four of us, celebrating and having a good time - watching some TV maybe, playing games, and sharing our Christmas meal. I would wish for that kind of Christmas for everyone, but perhaps that is not for you - so whatever you are planning, I hope you have a great time.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Washing on a Monday

Once upon a time, the housewife of old would do all her chores on a regular day of the week, and Monday was washday. However, at the moment, I am washing as and when I think I can get the items dry. I have two airers in the house, and as soon as the load on one of them is dry enough to iron, another load goes into the machine to get washed. So, yesterday, I made bread. I am not sure which day was traditionally baking day way back then, but I was in the mood yesterday, so I made two batches of dough in the Kenwood mixer. Each batch was enough for three loaves, and they rose slowly over the course of lunchtime and went in to the oven at about 2pm. By the time the YFG came out of school, there was fresh bread to be spread with butter and enjoyed whilst having a drink and a chat. The loaves have been sliced and stored in the freezer, so I am hoping that there will be enough there for a week, or maybe longer! I know I will do it all again sometime soon...

Sunday was actually a lovely day as we went to the Carol Service at the chapel. It was a traditional service of Nine Lessons and Carols. There was a visiting choir from another branch of the church in a nearby town, which sang some of the carols, and we sang the rest. It was great, and I was asked to do one of the readings, which brought back memories from my childhood: whenever it was my mother's turn to do a reading at church, she would get me or my sister to do it, so that eventually we were put on the rota instead of her. The last time I had done a reading in church was at my mother's funeral service in 1998, so it was quite moving to do it again after all this time.

There was also a Christmas fair at the Village Hall on Sunday afternoon, which was very well attended by people from all parts of the village. We had a book stall there, and there were probably about 18 stalls, as well as entertainment, Santa's Grotto, refreshments and a raffle, so the organisers should have raised a good amount for the Summer Gala.

Yesterday the FH killed four of the cockerels, three of which went in to the freezer and the other went straight into the slow cooker to be roasted slowly overnight. I stripped the meat off the bones this morning and the meat will be eaten cold tonight with buttery mash and pickles. We have nearly finished the first batch of table birds, but the second lot are not yet ready to come outside yet and it will be another couple of months before they are big enough to eat.

Bright and sunny but very cold is the weather today, and it is forecast to remain like this for a couple of days, I think, although there might be some of the white stuff in a day or two - the FGs would be very excited if it settled enough to make a snowman....

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Haven't been here for nearly a week - apologies as I know how frustrating it can be to read someone's blog when they aren't posting and one gets so fed up of checking back and not finding anything different to read!

This week has been a hard one to get through as I have been struggling with the FH still being ill and the YFG being off school since Tuesday with the same chesty cough that has given her little rest. Running around behind the two of them has been relentless, with requests for drinks, hot-water bottles, snacks, etc - but we do it because we love them and we know that they would do the same for us. I did get a break from nursing duties when I went to gymnastics on Tuesday and Friday evenings, and there was a school meeting on Wednesday evening that got me out of the house! I also went to Peterborough on Thursday for a meeting with someone who I think that I will start working with next year - and he has offices in the same building as Merry who runs www.beadmerrily.co.uk who I know from home-education circles, so I had to stop in and have a chat with her for a few minutes. That was a nice "catch-up" moment, and I hope that I might see more of her if I do work with the chap I went to meet.

The house looks like a laundry this week as there is washing hanging everywhere, as the weather is so cold that nothing is drying outside. The FGs school clothes have been hanging from the curtain poles above the radiator but thank goodness they got dry and are now ironed and ready to wear tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Another day as head nurse

I have had a busy time today with two patients to look after. The FH had another day in bed with his chest infection - the antibiotics are not really kicking in yet so he will have to rest and take his time to recover. The other patient was the YFG who has developed a cough which is so painful for her and to listen to as well - it sounds like a bark and must be making her throat very sore. She rested, played on her DS, watched TV, had a bath, and made these cute Christmas figures from marzipan - there is a snowman and a present, and then some words. She gave them to her little friend next door when he got home from school, so I hope he liked them!

I have been coaching at gym tonight, although it doesn't feel like I was there very much; I helped to set up, then coached in the first class. After that, I had to go to a venue in town where we are going to hold a Christmas party: I needed to pay for the hire of the room, so I dashed off to do that, took another coach home on the way and then the Head Coach asked me to pick up a bag of chips for him for his dinner on the way back to the gym! All that took ages and so I was back at the gym with only half an hour left before the end of the second class.

Since getting home, I have made a bacon pie and garlic bread for their tea, and put one load of washing on the airer to dry. I am now filling time until the second load of washing is done so that I can hang that before I go to bed. I am also going to finish writing my Christmas cards so that they can all be posted second class. Christmas gifts are a trial to me this year as I still don't really know what to buy a couple of people - including the FH's grandson...he will probably get a good book from my stock as there are some beautiful ones there that I know that he would love and his mum really appreciates books, which is good to see.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Doctors and dietary disasters!

The FH was feeling so bad over the weekend that I determined that he should get to the doctor's this morning and get some antibiotics for his chest. When I eventually got through and made an appointment for later in the morning, the FH had a disagreement and said that he was not going to travel to town to go to the doctor's, and that they should talk to him on the phone. Unfortunately, they will not prescribe medication over the phone, and I told him so, with the result that he has left the doctor in town and joined the village practice. In the village, we have a doctor and a nurse practitioner, in a small surgery which is open every day. The FH went, registered with them, gave blood and saw the doctor, and was duly prescribed the required antibiotics, which he is now taking.

The dietary disaster is me! I have been doing very well with my eating lately and lost a good few pounds but then I noticed that the loss had slowed down and was even stopping - and that got me disheartened! I suppose that is why I have fallen "off the wagon" and have been eating too much of the wrong things again - too many sweet things! However, on thinking about it, it may be that that is not such a bad thing (I am convincing myself, maybe not you, though!?!) as perhaps the loss had slowed because my body felt that I was starving it, and so eating a little more for a week or so may mean that a return to the eating plan next week will kick-start the loss again.....I can hope!