I forgot to post again, didn’t I?

I keep doing it. I switch on the computer with every intention of blogging, but by the time I’ve done everything else I have to do online, it’s time for me to switch off and do something else. So yes, I’m rubbish and I know I am! It’s not that I don’t want to, and I can think of plenty of things to say! But I’m here now and that’s what really matters, right?!

First off, I took a picture on Tuesday with the sole purpose of posting it here;

Christmas chocolates. CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATES, on the SEVENTH OF SEPTEMBER!! This is unacceptable, and left me muttering furiously as I made my way around the rest of the supermarket. Thankfully the¬†sweets looked untouched, so I’m fairly certain every other shopper was as disenchanted with the display as I was. What made this even more incongruous was that right next to this budding Christmas section was a still active barbeque and summer garden section! They could at least wait until they’ve packed away the charcoal before wheeling out the selection boxes!!

In other news, I seem to have picked up a lovely pair of ear infections, which is filling my life with boundless joy at the moment. The one ear started off about ten days ago, but was just irritating so my GP prescribed the same drops I’ve had before for a form of exzema¬†in my ears called otitis externa. However, by Saturday and while I was at Roath¬†Market the pain levels had increased exponentially and so I called the doctor and made an appointment to go to the out of hours clinic at the Cardiff Royal Infirmary (which, on a totally unrelevant note, has featured in Doctor Who lots of times¬†including ‘Aliens of London’, ‘The Idiot’s Lantern’ and ‘Turn Left’). There I was prescribed some very strong antibiotics (flucloxacillin, anyone?) which, over the course of a few days made my ear slightly better (much less pain) but had a very detrimental effect on my tummy. So, back I went to the GP on Friday and now I have super-strong eardrops and an invitation to go back again next Wednesday if they haven’t worked. If my ears are still full of yuck then, I will be enjoying a trip to the Ear Nose and Throat people in the hospital. So much fun to look forward to! Oh, and then yesterday I woke up with both¬†ears aching, so I’m now using my superstrong drops in the one ear, and my weaker drops in the one that’s just started aching.

Update on my hands; my rheumatologist has decided he has no ideas (as I already said) and my GP has said I’ll learn to live with it over the next couple of years. I went back to work on Wednesday after my long summer break with the boys. By Thursday lunchtime my hands were aching despite the more accessible hardware my employers have provided. So, this week I should hopefully be trialling a touchscreen monitor with a new on-screen keyboard, and hopefully this will allow me to do my job pain-free. Otherwise I’m not really sure what I’ll do.

Knitting wise, I’m keeping myself busy, especially as it seems to be good physio¬†and pain relief for my hands. I’m knitting a jacket using some Lopi¬†yarn that my parents brought me back from Iceland, a shawl to go with my new winter coat (that I’ve not yet bought) and a short sleeved¬†thin sweater with a fairisle yoke (like this one, in fact). I’m thinking of changing the pattern on the yoke to something rather than paper dolls as the variations that the designer showed looked so cool, but I can’t decide which one I like the best. So I may well do a paper dolls one first, then another one with another design later on. Talk about glutton for punishment! The jumper involves an i-cord cast on, which I’ve never attempted before. Suffice it to say that I can generally cast on the stitches for a jumper in well under one episode of a favourite TV programme. Last night I watched two episodes of ‘Bones’ and I was still only about a third of the way to casting on enough stitches! This is going to be¬†a severe test of my patience!

So now you’re all updated, I’m off to do something else useful. I hope you’re all having a lovely sunny Sunday like us!

No knitting today (but it was a good day despite that!)

I had a lovely day today, spending time in Cardiff with my friend Ellie, visiting bead and button shops and drinking huge amounts of hot chocolate! We went to the museum but unfortunately some of the exhibits were off limits, so we’re hoping to make a return visit at Easter when everything should be open to the public.

Unfortunately there were no pancakes in my Shrove Tuesday. Instead there was birthday cake – it was my sister in law’s birthday today, and I’m pleased to report that she loved her presents. From Handsome she had jelly babies and chocolate toffee eclairs, and from Cheeky she received this;

A bracelet and earrings set that he designed himself and partially made – I just helped with bending the pins into loops at the ends, but other than that it was all his work! Well done Cheeky!

Rain and berry picking

This morning, while the skies looked a little dubious it was still (just about) dry, so Handsome, Cheeky and I went out for a walk to look for blackberries. We were very successful, and I was delighted to come home with a goodly sized amount – I’m hoping for a cood couple of jars of jam out of this little lot! Later on today then, Cheeky and I went out to the trees at the front of our house, where I noticed yesterday that a lot of the elderberries are ripening. We managed to pick quite a lot which are already ripe, whilst leaving loads which are still green or pinky purple rather than black. So lots to look forward to in a couple of weeks!

I plan to make the obligatory jam with these berries, with the addition of apples for the setting properties, but now I’m thinking that I really should make something else with the blackberries too. Maybe a pie. Mmmm, blackberry and apple pie! I’m going to have to give this some serious thought!

In other news, we went to Clarks in order to buy the kids some school shoes, and I’m now ¬£66 poorer. I can’t remember the last time I spent ¬£33 on a pair of shoes for myself! I did look at the Mothercare own-brand shoes, but they didn’t have Handsome’s size, and while the ones I found did seem to fit Cheeky, they both have very wide feet and so my imagination went into overdrive, thinking of the permanent harm I could do to their growing feet for the sake of the extra ¬£17 I might save by not buying Cheeky the more expensive shoes. So I gave in. Luckily (for me), GG’s Uncle very kindly paid for one of the pairs, so I can pretend (in my head) that the shoes really only cost ¬£16 a pair now. Oh, the little deceptions we play on ourselves! Today really was an expensive day for us, as I also filled the petrol tank in our car, which was another ¬£40. We plan on trying to limit ourselves to ¬£10 per week on petrol this month, in an effort to see whether it is possible to just fill the tank once a month. It would make it much easier to budget for the petrol if we could fill it up on payday for it to last the whole month. We don’t do many journeys longer than the twelve mile round trip to my mother-in-law’s house, so I’m really hoping it’s possible.

I really feel like baking something, so I think I’ll head into the kitchen now and see what I can rustle up. Oh, and remember you only have a day and a quarter left to enter my giveaway! So far, I really have had entries from right round the world, which is making it really exciting for me!

More Ebay magic/pain!

Last night I listed more stuff on Ebay. Eleven items, including eight bundles of boys clothes and it took me MORE THAN TWO HOURS! That’s right, it took longer than the birth of either one of my sons! And I had bad back and stomach pain from the stupid way I was sitting (on the edge of my bed, so I’d have space to spread the items out round me, while having the scales within reach by the bed to weigh each item for postage charge calculations). In a funny way, it was a little like childbirth, what with the pain, and the fact that if I’d remembered how long it took and how much I disliked doing it, I probably wouldn’t have put myself through it again! (DISCLAIMER: I’m NOT saying I’d give my second son back (or the first, for that matter) and of course labour was TOTALLY worth it to get my gorgeous children – listing on Ebay may not have been, unless the stupid stuff actually sells!)

Of course I want the items to sell, although I do have to face the fact that I’ll have to package it all up if it sells. I’d better get good prices for it all, is all I can say, to make it worth the effort! I have the greatest admiration for those who run Ebay businesses from home – you’re all obviously far more organised than me!

Diary/notebook – what a good idea!

I spotted this Moleskine diary/notebook on Frugal + Urban today, a website that I found via the Simple Green Frugal Co-op. And what a good idea it is. On each double page, one side has the diary for the week, and the other side is lined note paper. For me, as someone who makes lists regularly, but then forgets or loses said lists almost instantly, this would be a really useful memory aid to make sure that I do things in the right week!

I’m definitely going to try to remember to ask for one for Christmas!

How many things can I hold in my brain at once?

I can’t sleep. One o’clock in the morning and I’m still awake. This is a very rare event for me, and leads me into a sombre, introspective mood where I ponder upon how tired I will be tomorrow, how I will regret not sleeping (as if I have a choice) and how much chocolate and caffeine it will take to get me through until a reasonable early bedtime of 9pm.

And so, seeing as I can’t sleep, I decided to distract myself from¬†thoughts of great doom by telling you all about how I’m losing my mind. Bless me.

Prime example no.1 – it just occurred to me that, although I¬†blogged¬†earlier on¬†about the yarn I received from Annat2 (including taking the time to photograph the yarn and upload the picture) I’d completely forgotten all about e-mailing her to let her know that the parcel arrived safely. Numpty.

But the actual example I planned to use to illustrate my point was this: Earlier today, when I took my Ebay parcels to post, I decided that as it was raining, I might as well chuck the kids in the car and head up to Asda, as we needed more toilet rolls (down to the last one again so it was practically an emergency, given that Cheeky can use almost a whole roll when he goes for a number 2) and Asda also have a post office in store. So, off we went, at 11.30am, which meant that we should have ample time to get there and back before lunchtime (generally 12.30-1pm). So, imagine my dismay on standing in the Post Office queue to notice the clock on the wall of the shop which displayed the time to be 12.46. Now, either we had managed to drive through a space-time wormhole somewhere in the country lanes between St Mellons and Asda (my preferred explanation), I became unconscious for an hour before leaving home (I’d like to think that my children might have noticed that and made me aware of it on my regaining consciousness) or I had, temporarily, become unable to tell the time. Sadly, I think the last one is probably the nearest the truth. However, moving on…

After standing in the queue for some time, during which the lady behind me told me that I have wonderful sons (isn’t it nice when random people do that? Even if¬†said sons¬†were plotting in whispers and then beaming angelically innocent smiles up at me in between times) I finally reached the counter. As I wanted proof of posting certificates¬†and as each parcel had to be separately weighed, the process took some time. I chatted with the lady behind the counter, she complimented me on how close my guesses as to the price of postage had been, and the time passed pleasantly. As she stuck the last parcel sticker on and turned to place the parcel in the post bag, I called a cheery goodbye and left, feeling happy at this pleasant interlude with the nice Post Office lady. As I turned to walk away, she called after me, “Uh, that’ll be ¬£19.56 please!”. Yup, I had indeed forgotten all about the necessity of paying for postage. Oops! Of course, I made light of it, chatted some more while the machine thingy processed my debit card, and then made a dignified but hasty exit from the area.

Ten minutes more saw me out of Asda, heading back to the car with my few bits and pieces of grocery shopping. Fifteen minutes after that saw me home, unpacking bags, making lunch and then realising, with a jolt, that I’d managed to go all the way there, suffer humiliation in the post office, walk all round the shop¬†and then drive all the way back without my main raison d’etre for the journey.

We were still without toilet roll.

Ebay: selling=addictive; packing=not so much

Selling stuff on Ebay may well be addictive, and might even have remained so¬†had I been able to avoid¬†the inevitable truth: How on earth am I going to pack this very weirdly shaped yet slightly delicate object, given that I discarded the original packaging several years ago when the items were first bought? I’m not kidding, it takes a very creative mind to try to work out how to pack a toy vet’s surgery together with figures and, the killer, a base plate to stand the whole thing on. My first thought was to get a really big box, put Cheeky in it to hold the playset and just stick a ‘Please Return’ label on him and hope for the best. A couple of holes in the lid, a sandwich or two and some crisps and he would have been happy as a sunbeam!

After half an hour spent wandering round the house, cursing that I’d not sorted out packing materials before I’d listed the items, I was inches away from either 1. driving the damned things to their new (and scattered) homes at various points around the British Isles, or 2. taking apart my kitchen cabinets to make sturdy boxes which would be a challenge even for the Royal Mail to break (I’m joking – to Posties everywhere, I think you’re all fab! Please don’t punish me for my sad attempt at humour by jumping up and down on my parcels!).

Eventually, though, they are packed. And sitting in a pile waiting for me to load them into bags, strap them to Handsome and Cheeky’s backs so that they can carry them to the Post Office for me. Seriously, why have a dog and bark yourself? Or rather, why have children and then let them sit idly by when there are heavy parcels to transport? I need to think of my carbon footprint, and it’s far better for the environment if I get the kids to carry everything, rather than cranking up the car.

parcels

And in future, I might not curse so much about the boxes that toys come in. No, actually, I still will curse, because I’ll never, NEVER have the room to store all the empty boxes for easy disposal of the toys in the long term.

Oh well, out into the drizzle I go. It’s just as well I took that picture of the sky yesterday, given that it has today returned to its normal British summer colour of dirty white. I’m going to get soooo cross though, if¬† my parcels get rained on. I spent HOURS packing them. Each one is now a little work of art (even if you can’t tell that by looking at the photo). They’d better be appreciated, is all I’m saying! I shredded anentire IKEA catalogue to fill in gaps, and also an entire Sainsburys magazine. The amount of sellotape I used, before we even mention the brown paper wrapping, would be enough to wrap all of my Christmas presents, and then move on to help with the rest of the street. I’m a firm believer in wrapping parcels securely in paper, then re-wrapping them in sellotape. OK, so it makes opening them a little hard, but the thrill is in the anticipation, isn’t it? Which means I’m just increasing the thrill.

What a lovely person I am! Although this all does go to show that I’ll never become an online toy retailer. Perhaps I could handle clothes, or books or something which is a regular shape. But it would be highly inefficient of me to specialise in toys, given that it has taken me two hours (give or take) to parcel up FOUR sets of toys. Hmph. I wish I’d charged more for postage and packing now!

Ebay and bootsales

I’m selling a few things on Ebay at the moment, in order to make a bit more room in the house for the four of us, and in an attempt to fit all of our possessions fit under one roof.

No family of four needs the amount of stuff we own right now!

It’s quite nervewracking though; the auction for my first items ends in less than an hour, and I’m finding myself hitting the ‘refresh’ button continuously in order to see whether any new bids have appeared. It’s compelling!

In other news, my friends Maria, Angela and I went to Caerleon today in order to check out their fortnightly car boot sale. After the disappointment I experienced at Splott Market on Thursday, I had very low expectations, but I was wrong. It was a proper, old fashioned, car boot sale where people were genuinely trying to get rid of excess stuff, rather than the sort of car boot sale where small traders go in an attempt to get cheap retail premises and low overheads! So, in conclusion, I intend to take a boot full down to Caerleon in a fortnight and see whether my junk really is someone else’s treasure!

That’s a long enough post for today. I’ve not pressed the ‘refresh’ button on my Ebay homepage for at least five minutes – I could have missed something vital!

Edited to add: I’ve been and pressed refresh now, and need to¬†get a¬†grip¬†so I’ve come back to add this photo I took today;

blue sky

I wanted a pictorial record of the colour of the sky so that I can look back on this in a month and, if we’ve had a miserable drizzly month, remember my sunny Sunday! I’d almost forgotten how vibrant a blue the sky can be!

A good day!

I forgot to tell you about my work ‘team building’ day out, or as my friend Maria puts it, “Group Hug Day”. Mine was on Tuesday, and fell some way short of the regular stereotypical team building day one generally hears about where colleagues struggle up hills together, or solve daft problems in a conference suite. Ours was¬†a day at our local Bingo hall!

We had a budget of £20 per head, which meant that even after buying our bingo books, lunch and two drinks each, we had still fallen woefully short of spending all the money. So, we had a couple more drinks but, having reached the end of the afternoon session, we still had money left. So, six of us decided that we should return in the evening to try to increase the winnings (which had to be divided between twelve of us, just to make it fair!).

I was so so tired after a second session of bingo, and I’m sure that I ‘dabbed’ many numbers that hadn’t been called. However, at the evening session we managed to win a further ¬£1 each, taking our total winnings up to a princely ¬£5 each! I spent my winnings on lunch whilst at work yesterday, and still have a little left – no point in being too extravagant! Anyway, today, I had a phone call from my Senior at work, telling me that I’ve won ¬£200 in shopping vouchers of my choice! I was out at Splott market when I got the call, and after jumping up and down shouting “I won, I won!” (as per instructions from my colleagues at the other end of the phone) I decided that maybe I should buy a lottery ticket this weekend. Maybe Lady Luck is giving me a nudge!

One strange thing though; not one person took the slightest bit of notice of me jumping and shouting. Isn’t that strange? If I had been passing by, I think I might have at least turned and looked at the mad woman cavorting and shrieking!

Splott market was…interesting. Mum and I had gone to size up the car boot possibilities, from a selling point of view, and decided that it wouldn’t be worth it. There were lots of trade stalls there, selling all the cheap household goods, cheap kids stuff, cheap sweets and biscuits – you get the idea. The people who had just gone there with stuff to sell from their houses didn’t really get a look in. However, I bought a treble recorder (something I’ve wanted for a few years now) for only ¬£5, and a gorgeous pristine Royal Albert crystal bowl for ¬£6. I’ve got Royal Doulton crystal water glasses, a jug and a vase which were wedding presents which are almost an exact match with this bowl, so when I have a proper dining room, it will be very elegant!

There’s another car boot sale in a different place which I plan to visit on Sunday for a recce, and I’ve got some stuff listed on Ebay at the moment, so I’ve not given up hope of finding a happy home for some of our excess stuff! It’s all the videos that are bugging me. I’ve got an aversion to putting stuff in the skips in the tip unless it is actually beyond redemption, but as VHS tapes are pretty much obsolete now, no-one will really want them. I’ve tried thinking of crafting ideas, but the tape is fairly hard to work with so I’ve given up on that for now. Any ideas?

Actually, I have a cute story to tell about when I was preparing my stuff for listing on Ebay. I took all the Happyland toys outside to photograph, unceremoniously dumped the cabinet door I was using as a base on the floor and plopped the tray of toys next to it. Next thing I knew, this little chap had hopped up to appraise the goods!

baby frog

Bless him! He didn’t stay very long; only long enough for a glance at the toys to establish that they weren’t to his taste and then he hopped off into the grass. But just look at the clover leaves beside the tray. That shows just how tiny he was! Sooo cute! And he came about an inch from being squashed by my cupboard door – God looks after fools, small children and baby frogs, so it seems!

Easter Weekend, part three – was I supposed to resist the wool?

On our way to our holiday house in Dolau, I saw this sign;Wool Emporium sign

Of course, my yarn-shop starved brain screamed to GG to make an emergency stop as soon as I saw the sign, and of course he refused! However, my brilliant best friend Maria took pity on me and we called in there on our way back from a trip to Llandrindod Wells to buy milk.

wool shop

¬†This was the view of the back of the shop, and the entrance (sort of in between the ex-tree trunk pillars, bottom left-ish of the photo). The shop itself seemed to focus a little more on made up goods rather than materials, but there was a decent selection of specialist yarns in a corner upstairs, as well as some wool for felting which was very tempting but I managed to resist! However, Maria is a bad influence on me, and on finding some skeins of hand dyed laceweight¬†kid mohair, neither of us could resist. We’re planning a weekend away later in the year, and we both have visions of wearing light and pretty shawls while wandering around our chosen destination! So, to our choice of yarn.

Maria's wool

¬†As I’ve said, the yarn is a laceweight kid mohair (and soooooo gorgeous to handle), and we spent ages agonising over the different shades available. In the end, Maria chose this pale green with hints of peach, and I chose the marbled blues below. Neither picture (taken in the evening in our farmhouse) really does credit to the glory of the colours, but I was determined to have these wound into balls before coming home, and so this was the last chance I had to photograph them before they looked like colourful tennis balls! I’ll be sure to photograph the finished articles one I get through them (definitely a May or June project!), and hopefully in the right light you will be able to see how lovely the yarn is.

My wool