31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017 - we hardly knew ye! I cannot wrap my head around how quickly 2017 sped by. Still, it was a productive year, all in. We got a lot done this year physically and mentally. Paul and I both stuck to our resolutions for the most part. His health is improving now we've really established his proper diet; his Asperger's is easier to manage as we've worked out what/how/when. My arm-shoulder-collarbone has healed to the point I can actually roll over onto that side and not scream. The cat has settled into being a completely inside cat - finally. Good thing, though, there have been some rather gruesome cat murders in the news and knowing he's safely tucked up inside is nice. We've organised the kitchen and doing a monthly 'Big Shop' means we rarely have to pop down the shops for anything more than salad greens and the once a week lottery ticket. HEY! Can't win if you don't play!

Christmas was lovely (yes, I finally did manage to get the lights on the tree). Paul talked me into a halogen oven I'm not especially keen on but we now have all the accessories and cooking books to make using the damn thing unavoidable. Who knows, I may grow to like it. I doubt it but Paul's over the moon to have the stupid thing. I wanted a wall oven fitted, and a slimline dishwasher - both would have plumped up the resale value of this house - all that halogen oven does is take up valuable kitchen real estate, if you ask me!

Still, our 2017 marital resolution, in case you've not guessed it, was to make the final push to become organised, and to do so in a way accommodating our ageing selves. And we've done that. 

Slowly - but surely - we're preparing to move house. Going through (for him) decades of accumulated 'stuff' with an Aspie is never pleasant so I leave him to get on with it on his own. As recently as two or so years ago, leaving him to get on with it meant procrastination. Oh alright, it meant futility. My un-Baldrick like cunning plan (meaning his were insane and mine actually make sense - and produce results) of relentlessly showing him houses online and in drive-by jaunts is working - he's motivated now and that helps keep him chewing away at what in fairness isn't really any sort of mountain of junque, er, guy stuff.

The main thing now is finishing up some decorating (painting) and calling in an estate agent. To avoid being on a chain, we're hoping to sell the house and if need be (nothing to buy we're happy with) we'll rent for a bit until we find the right house - something level, something in a pleasant villagey feeling neighbourhood where I don't have narrow riser concrete steps to negotiate to get to the umbrella dryer in the back garden. Somewhere I can walk straight out the front door to the shops and bus stands without negotiating yet another set of narrow riser concrete steps and where the streets and pavements are level - ok, our town isn't San Francisco but it's still quite hilly and I haven't been able to manage inclines since a childhood bout with rheumatic fever. I'm ok on level ground but forget all about inclines (hills) - my heart can't cope. Plain and simple.

I got my bus pass - I'm not keen these days on getting out and about on my own but it's lovely I can. Right now the main obstacle to using that free travel card is...we live on a steep(ish) hill. The walk DOWN to the bus stand is fine for me, no worries. It's getting back up from the stand I can't manage. I feel trapped. A house move would solve that if we can find something level on a level villagey setting. Near a bus stand. With a wall oven, and a slimline dishwasher!

15 December 2017

Sigh. Ten days to Christmas. The presents are all bought and awaiting the wrapping session ('DON'T YOU DARE COME IN HERE!!' shouted furiously at the man on the other side of the door rattling the door lever and my cage). The garland is wrapped around the hall mirror with the lights twinkling merrily (ok, not really - Paul's Asperger's is not conducive to twinkling anything. I always set all the lights to steady-on to avoid triggering a bit of a meltdown). The tree...

Sigh. Ten days to Christmas, the tree has been sitting on the hall table since Thanksgiving night (yes, we live in the UK. Yes, technically we're British. But I brought Thanksgiving with me when I came over to marry Paul and part of our tradition is to decorate beginning Thanksgiving night) with the new fairy lights in an organised heap at the base. Because I, the designated lights stringer-wrapper, cannot work out how to get the three foot tree wrapped to best lighting effect. Believe me, I have tried. And tried. And tried.

Today those *%$&&£"* lights are going on and I am at the point I do not care what the end lighting effect is. (But I really do. Sigh)

In my worst moments ('Dammit I'm NEVER going to get these *%$&&£"* lights on!') I silently congratulate myself that at least I haven't (yet) completely lost it and repeated the utter frustration of Thanksgiving 1998 attempts to light the tree. Oh wow, was that a day - after hours of trying unsuccessfully to get hundreds of fairy lights artfully wrapped around the 7 foot 'deluxe artificial Christmas tree with realistic foiliage' (said the advert and box and salesperson), I gave up and (here's the deeply shameful bit) drop-kicked that poor (and hideously expensive) tree from the dining room through to the living room to the hallway leading to the bedrooms and back through the kitchen to the dining room where I (ahem) repeated the drop-kicking.

I think I did that three times, that circuit of the house we were living at the time. OK, I had something of an excuse - Thanksgiving Day 1998 Crusty came up from his friend's house in Pensacola, ate everything on the dinner table, then loaded a U-Haul van with nearly everything in the house including the fridge-freezer-pantry contents. When I objected (as he and his 'friend' began their dismantling of our home), Crusty opened the front door to admit a sheepish sheriff who informed me Crusty had taken advantage of an old 'durable power of attorney' to transfer EVERYTHING into his name and there was nothing he, the sheriff could do to help Fox and I.

The shock left me paralysed until the Saturday. Fox had a premonition Crusty was going to do something like what Crusty did and had been moving food from the pantry to his room for weeks - he'd managed to almost completely fill his bedroom cupboard with tins of soup and fruit, bags of beans and rice, and other staples we lived on (rationed, and yes, it was that bad) for a fair good bit of time after Crusty did that Thanksgiving raid.

Saturday morning 16 year old Fox asked when/if I was going to decorate the house for Christmas. Crusty had left us the decorations. And after trying all day Saturday and into the afternoon on Sunday to get the lights on the tree and I'd collapsed in a heap next to the now bedraggled tree, I told Fox to remove the lights (now in a furious tangle around the poor tree) while I went to the hardware store.

Where I bought 'the recommended amount' of clip-on candle lights (new out that year and wow-wow-wow do clip-on candle lights make for a stunning Christmas tree lighting effect!). Came home. Finished straightening the tree. Hung the baubles and miniature icicles then clipped on the new lights. That was THE prettiest Christmas tree Fox and I ever had in the years after Crusty's Thanksgiving Decampment.

My struggles with fairy light strands this year (the past several years we've contented ourselves with the pathetically sparse 'pre-lit' lighting effect that came with the tree) are something of a milestone for me - I can FINALLY look back at the horrific years Crusty caused Fox and I to endure with less pain and anger. Telling Paul about it last night, I was able to laugh about it.

We're buying a 'pre-lit' Balsam Hill six foot tree after the New Year. I've collected (and am still collecting) enough baubles that even Paul noticed we need a much bigger tree. I'm going out to the front hall to get those *%$&&£"* lights wrapped and the tree finally decorated but I will be spending 2018 using kitchen roll tubing and mini-clothes peg clips (and paint pots) to fashion miniature fairy light 'candles' - the ones available to buy here are ginormous, far too big to clip onto even a six foot tree. How do I know this?

I know this because I bought two strands (24 candles per) at the local ironmonger a few years ago in hopes of using them on the tree. Uh, no. The weight of the things pulled the tree over. I popped next door and tried them on the neighbours 7 foot tree only to find the weight of the candles caused severe droop of tree branches.

But, wow, do those candles look AMAZING on the two window sills facing the street before our house!

23 November 2017


I love living in the land of my ancestors. Great Britain is, well, great, especially since the Brexit vote won the day and we are seeing off the silly (and infuriating, frankly) and embarrassing insistence on the part of some Britons to call themselves 'European'. I mean, really - how does a Briton even begin to think they're 'European'?!

I remember one delusional fool back in the mid-90s telling me he was 'European'. Gag, he said it as though being European was some sort of achievement. So, my reply came fast and scathing - 'No you're not, you're English!'.

I lost my respect for him that day but on consideration I suppose the embarrassing git couldn't help it - he was born in 1962 and was brought up in an EU controlled Britain - so EU controlled even school curriculum was and is slanted towards the EU 'values' Brussels is now in the process of forming an army to enforce. No, really, Brussels is no longer content with NATO (well, no surprise there as the EU hasn't paid the full monies due in yonks - clearly they think if they form their own armed military force they won't have to pay past or future dues). Meh.

Any road, it is 23rd November 2017 and the USA is celebrating Thanksgiving. Macy's staffers are finishing up the last chores to be done before the balloons can be sent down NYC streets. In Alabama my son and grandson are STILL working out where they'll roast the turkey (sigh). In California my daughter is still in bed but will be up in an hour or so to bake another pie before putting her turkey in the oven.

I'll be telephoning over at pre-arranged times. Part of me wishes I had Sky telly so I could watch the parade. Part of me wishes the 'turkey' going in my oven this afternoon was a real turkey instead of a premium fat hen from the local butcher. Turkey isn't sold here until the first week of December - and sometimes not until the second week. Oh yes, I could buy LAST YEAR frozen turkey 'crown' (breast, sometimes with giblets but usually not, and no wishbone, either!). Ick. The fat hen combined with stuffing and a generous dollop of cranberry sauce serves (pun intended).

As Libby's Pumpkin Pack is not on the supermarket shelves here, pumpkin pie is a bit harder to manage. Apple pie is ok but I REALLY MISS PUMPKIN PIE AND EXTRA CREAMY COOL WHIP TOPPING. Really, really, really miss that.

I miss all the real trimmings of an American Thanksgiving - family, and food preparation chaos ('Wht do you mean you haven't ironed the table cloth yet??!!'), and the parade on the telly, and yes, today I do miss college football (American gridiron, thanks). 

And while I'm on it, I am bloody sick and tired of hearing all the Yank bashing here about how 'Americanisms' are taking over Britain (although, erm, Black Friday sales, here, wth? We don't have Thanksgiving, why do we have 'Black Friday' sales??!!). Really, really, really sick of it.

Today I miss America. Warts and all. It's not perfect. But neither is GB - honestly if I have to hear one more Trump bash combined with one more moan about how horrifying the Brexit win was/is/always will be, I'll be hard pressed to remain polite, smile, nod, and drift away from anyone so bloody pig ignorant as to think having Brussels overlords is desirable.

Meh. Meh. And triple meh!

10 October 2017

One door closes and another opens...I've never much liked that saying, really, and yesterday I added another reason why I don't to the list.

19 months ago I took what my consultants called 'a car wreck' fall over a scatter rug in our front hall. Even as I went down that horrid morning I knew - was consciously thinking it - this was going to be very, very bad and I would be in recovery for years. And I was correct. 19 months equals one year and seven months and I am still in recovery. Based on my recovery so far, I will still be in recovery the next 19 months.

Yesterday afternoon I had to give up and admit it will be another 19 or so months before I can comfortably crochet with any yarn thicker than thread or knit with any yarn of any thickness. Yes, I know, comparatively speaking this is no big deal but it bl--dy well is to me! There are only so many garments one can crochet with thread and I knew this even as I was falling heavily and awkwardly to the hard floor in my front hall. Truly, as I went down my only thought was 'This is going to be really really really bad and I won't be able to knit or crochet for months if ever again - WAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!'. I was furious especially as I'd only just learned to knit well enough to plan my first pair of hand knit socks and knew I now might never knit that holy grail of knitting, ever...WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I think hearing the pops and snaps (as I tried desperately to catch myself mid-fall) of elbow and ulna breaking and biceps dislocating might have been my clue as to just how bad this was going to be. Well, that and as I lay on the floor screaming from the utter agony of the dislocated shoulder and broken collarbone, the combination of sounds and pain told me I was in for an extremely unpleasant long haul.

And of course I was correct. There is a bit of a danger in understanding anatomy, trauma, and recovery (an understanding acquired in my growing up years thanks to my father owning a boxing gym, our family's close association with numerous medics including orthopaedic surgeons, and my own unfortunate tendency towards clumsiness necessitating a deeper understanding as well). So I knew even before I hit the floor just how very bad things were going to be.

I have been conscientious about physio. Diligent. Faithful to the regimen. And that has helped, I have regained far more function than even the most optimistic of my consultants thought I might. I've found ways to compensate - new ways to accomplish daily tasks, to occupy my creative drive other than knitting and crochet. I decided to try surface embroidery - way hey! No pain! I now have so many embroidered table runners and other linens my husband has suggested I might like to open an online shop to shift some of the pieces out of our small bungalow. (Not. Gonna. Happen!)

One of my favourite crochet bloggers (Cherry Heart, she is AMAZING!) blogged about her foray into tatting...now, I've loved tatted pieces since receiving a tatted cross bookmark as a 6 year old avid reader and have always wanted to learn. I did a little research and discovered while shuttle tatting would require motions I am currently unable to make, needle tatting might be just down my street and a quick try using a milliner's needle (well, yes, I do live in the UK where ladies still wear hats and if I say so myself, I've a fair hat-making hand) told me I could needle tat for hours. Needle tatting is a skill surprisingly simple to learn. WOOT - tatted edgings are exquisite on linens and clothing, and those cross bookmarks are quick to make! 

Learning tatting led me to think I might try thread crochet edgings as the hooks for thread crochet are only a bit thicker than tatting needles. I hauled out one of my vintage thread crochet edgings pattern books and gave it a go - hey, no searing pain, not even a lasting ache, I can do this, I thought to myself!

So we now have more thread crochet angels than are wafting about Heaven; more thread crochet coasters and table mats than Debenhams stocks in their homewares department. I can manage thread crochet comfortably and so thought perhaps now I could FINALLY try those knit socks or one of the delicious crochet gilet, cardi, or jumper patterns I have. All I can say is thank goodness I'm smart enough to buy classic styles as I know now none of those patterns will be usable for months more!

What happened was, I dug through the stash this past Sunday afternoon and put together the DK/3W yarn, pattern, hooks and tool bag for crocheting the Annie's Signature Designs Tolosa 'vest' - I have an apple green yarn perfect for a cosy body warmer and I was SO excited to believe I would be able to knock that body warmer out over a week or so...

(***US TERMS***) Gauge/tension: 12 dc = 4 inches; 7 dc rows = 4 inches. Yup, got that gauge swatch done (I went 24 dc and 14 rows...hmmm, a bit of ache forming in the upper arm...)

Row One: chain 81; dc into 4th chain from hook and across...

ARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH - by the 50th chain the ache had descended into full-on frankly searing pain extending from elbow to shoulder along the path of my healing dislocated biceps. I soldiered on in hope it was just a wee bit (HA!) of soreness and would ease off as I went along...I managed the 81st ch, ch'd3 and turned to begin the foundation row.

And by the 20th dc across I had to admit defeat. I am not ready to crochet anything more than thread weights. Down went the hook, rippit came the stitching, rewound went the yarn cake and it all went back into the bottom of the china cabinet I use for my yarns and supplies. Sniffle. I have to avoid looking at that cabinet for months more to come.

Here's a snap of the last finished embroidery piece (shown in progress) - done in neo-Georgian autumnal colours using satin, overcast on split, and my newest embroidery stitch skill - lattice fill (wow is that a simple yet scary stitch, and it's gorgeous when finished!):

16 August 2017

It all really does change when you have children. My oldest grandson is 13 now and his parents have had a sort of a too-close-for-comfort encounter with reality the past month.

Fox had a first serious girlfriend - lovely girl with a large family; she was Mormon, he is not and the relationship ended after three years of his failing to find it within himself to convert.

He then had a second really serious girlfriend - another lovely young woman with a large family spread across the world. Not particularly religious, entertainingly eccentric types with great heaps of generosity, warmth, and erm, well, something of an unconventional outlook on life. Wonderful young woman, wonderful family. But that relationship also ended after a couple of tumultuous years (and would go on, off, on, off again for several more years until she married someone else and pretty much lived happily ever after).

And he fell in love with the second serious girlfriend's best friend (with 2cnd girlfriend's hearty approval. I think). And one day they telephoned (I was still living in SE AL) to announce she was pregnant and they were probably getting married. Some day. Ahem. We're still awaiting that 'some day' but it does look closer now than it has the past 13 years. She's grown, he's grown, and their son is AMAZING. They're cautiously exploring the idea of getting back together and if they do I'll be over the moon happy for them.

Fast forward through the painful years (during which my son and I had an acutely painful on-off-on-off relationship, beginning really from the time he was 16). I think those painful years are well and truly over now, and the past month brought it home in an especially frightening yet in the end incredibly happy way.

My son's second girlfriend's youngest sister, now 25 years old, was kidnapped five weeks ago, got away from her abductors, escaped into the woods and managed for 28 days to survive on her own in the swampy-woody-'gator-snake-bat infested SE AL woods until she found her way to a highway and got herself rescued by a passing motorist.

Talking to my son (regular telephone calls back to America) two days ago he told me she'd been found and was in hospital recovering. HALLELUJAH!

And he told me about the sheer horror he'd felt when during the last week 2cnd girlfriend's sister was missing (and beginning to be presumed dead by just about everyone) he couldn't reach his son's mother OR his son - they both weren't answering their mobiles at the arranged phone times and he told me he'd become utterly and completely panicked. He said during the time he couldn't reach them he knew exactly what 2cnd girlfriend's family was experiencing, particularly her parents, and he finally completely understood what he'd put me through over the last 20 years.

It all really does change when you have children.

Thank-you God, all the saints and angels, and the Wood Folk (or faerie or Wee Folk, or whatever you prefer to call them) for watching over 2cnd girlfriend's youngest sister during her 28 days lost in the woods. Calling her survival a miracle doesn't begin to cover it.

Welcome home, Lisa!

17 July 2017

Gutted. The 13th Doctor will be a Pathetically Correct female. The 'actress' is a casting choice by the only TV director who ever casts her - go figure that one, eh?

Worse, she's not a very good actress to begin with. Her biggest 'claim to fame' is the character she portrayed (badly by viewer reports including mine - she was so wretched I and many others deliberately blocked out her whiney screeching every time she hove into view). Oh, and her stripping off for full frontal nudity on screen and stage.

Well, BBC has killed off the Doctor Who franchise - the last real Dr Who episode will be shown at Christmas during which the amazing and badly done-by Peter Capaldi 'regenerates' into this PC female. I'll be wearing a black armband embroidered with 'RIP DR WHO' that day and the day the first Jodie Whittaker episode is broadcast.

11 July 2017


Yes, I'm still on the 'back-up' laptop. Grrrrrrr!

On the up side, however, the ever-increasing frustrations at being stuck with this situation for the foreseeable future is I'm getting quite a lot of offline things done now I'm not enjoying the wonders of fast-frustration free 'Net surfing on my MacBook. I'm virtually un-plugged and while it's been a somewhat painful process I do find I'm more productive. (But really, how many embroidered doilies-placemats-table runners-Christmas tree skirts - blouse collars and cuffs does one really need?)

My right side continues to improve  - I can almost reach behind my back now. Very little pain nowadays unless I hold my shoulder in the wrong position or try to lean forward and lift more than 8oz. (IE: I still can't lean down into the back of the pot cupboard to retrieve my stockpots without screaming. Sigh. One day. Perhaps...)

Paul's conditions (Asperger's AND coeliac AND idiopathic hypoglycaemia) have been challenging but we bumble along and 2017 so far appears to be the year we've essentially cracked it. Organising his diet correctly makes a considerable difference; his Asperger's is being so neatly managed now we rarely even notice it (no melt-downs in the supermarket or other high-stress public places, for example, now we know when to shop and when to leave a venue). I keep the fridge and pantry well stocked with gluten-free foods he can snack on at will (yeah, so, I am spending A LOT more time in the kitchen making all this stuff from scratch), and have found good-tasting protein rich foods he can grab when he feels his blood sugar dropping.

About the only food I haven't worked out how to make reliably is bread - and our Paulie loves his bread. So much so he sneaks out to the shops for a baguette to chew down on the walk home, or to the High Street Greggs for a forbidden sausage roll. Which does lead to set-backs in not only his food related conditions but also his Asperger's (that's right, you try holding your temper when months of hard work regulating someone's diet is blown to hell by a Greggs sausage roll cheat and he's sick  - it's nigh well impossible not to point out to him if he'd not cheated his diet, he'd feel well. An Aspie doesn't take well to being reminded of certain things when those certain things are his own fault. He then sulks for a few hours (or days, depending) until we get his diet sorted again.

Autumn is now so close I'm going through all the winter things (clothes, blankets, food stores) - hope to have that done soon so I can get back to the embroidery frame. I tried crocheting and knitting a few things this past 16 months since wreaking my right side and apparently (according to my ex-DIL and physiotherapist) the needed wrist-forearm twist to make stitches is the problem. I think I am creatively satisfied with embroidery but the blanket box and woolly caps hooks by the door could use topping up - not being able to hold a crochet hook or knitting pins is beyond annoying!

Right. The elephant in the room...

Donald Trump is POTUS, Theresa May is (for now, apparently there is some real doubt as to her staying power) PM, and that little nutter in NK can now shoot an nuke-tipped ICBM as far as Alaska. Freedom of speech (and most other civil liberties here in the UK and over in the US, btw) is under attack in so many varied, insidious ways I'm genuinely frightened by what I'm seeing and having to not say to avoid having the very real Thought Polis to the door.

Brussels continues to shoot itself in the foot, Brexit is what the people voted for but the push to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union is quite strong from the cowardly who refuse to understand staying in the Single Market and Customs Union is not leaving the EU...things don't look good and I'm trying to prepare without earning the label 'hoarder'.

Scary times. No wonder I try to focus on what colours embroidery threads to use for another table runner.

11 March 2017

Eight days on a Microsoft Windows machine. Oh God, someone save me!

Worse, that nice young man at the Apple store telephoned yesterday to tell me it's going to take longer than expected to retrieve my files from the hard drive. And that the MacBook is so wrecked I'd actually be better off praying they can retrieve my files for transfer to a new MacBook.

And I'm ready to spend the money for a new MacBook. More than ready - I was ready the morning of Day three on this wretched piece of Microsoft rubbish.

I. Hate. Microsoft.

03 March 2017


Yesterday afternoon my Apple MacBook, a mere 9 years old with the original OS running on and so many 'temp files' that I always somehow forgot to back up, DIED. I shut it down to do the dishes and when I came back hours later (no, not that many dishes, just got distracted by real life:) and tried to boot up - IT WOULDN'T!!!

We took it down to the Apple repair place this morning and they are going to try to fix it, update it, and (to me) most importantly - retrieve all my files. The very nice young tech told me (as soon as my husband was out of earshot) they get this sort of thing all the time. He said he sees this all the time and the problem was more than likely owing to 9 years of accumulated dust, toast crumbs, and the occasional teeny-tiny splash of fizzy drink. He's not going to say that part about toast crumbs and fizzy drink anywhere my husband can hear, he's been sworn to secrecy (also a routine occurance, he said) and will simply say the problem was caused by accumulated dust. I should have it back in a month with upgraded guts and running like/better than new.

OH. MY. STARS. A month! I'm going to go stark raving mad having to endure using the back-up laptop!! It's an Advent running MS Win7 Premium. Which means it r u n s  v e r y   s   l   o   w. Insanely slow. Unacceptably slow.

I find myself wishing that nice young man had tried to sell me the latest MacBook Pro - something he said he wouldn't do as my 9 year old MacBook was in such good condition and could be easily upgraded to run the latest Apple OS and I'd be over the moon with the results of his tender attention to what he called an absolute classic MacBook.

On a plus side, he's going in after the files first which he will transfer to a stick and call me as soon as that is done - should be a week, tops, he said. So my photos, crafts, etc, files will be on the back-up laptop soon.

Ok, ok, ok - at least with this back-up laptop I'm online and owing to the more current OS and browser I can actually get to sites the outdated OS and browser refused to access. That's very nice. But not nice enough to end the bl__dy frustration of the unacceptably slow boot-up, the unacceptably slow page loads, the constant work stoppages when Microsoft issues yet another in an unacceptably long line of 'absolutely must have required updates'...that of course slow the fecking machine EVEN MORE!

OH GOD IN HEAVEN I MISS MY MACBOOK - Apple, you can be as arrogant as you care to be - your computers are AMAZING and being without mine is TORTURE!!

I gave up Internet shopping for Lent. And now I find myself wishing I could give up laptop use for Lent. But I can't - when the adult children and their children are 5 and 8 thousand miles across The Pond I have NO choice - I MUST BE ABLE TO CHECK MY INBOX.

God help me, it's going to be a VERY long month until my MacBook is back in my fevered little hands!

18 February 2017

Lent is fast approaching. I've got the gluten-free pancake mix stacked in the store cupboard and the maple syrup ordered. I've got the freezer fish drawer stocked with frozen fish fingers (for me as they come breaded and Paul can't eat them) and various fish fillets (no breading so I can dredge them with gluten-free cornmeal). And I'm in a serious scurry to get all my online shopping done...


Because this Lent, like the last one, I'm giving up online ordering and brick&mortar shopping. Just for Lent, and the Amazon gluten-free Subscribe and Save cat food and gluten-free supplies will not be given up - honestly couldn't make it without my monthly S&S order!

Online shopping, and in particular Amazon, has become my lifesaver. My shopping go-to. Since falling last March, getting out and about to browse the High Street shops is next to impossible - I'm always worried I'm going to fall or someone is going to jostle me, and riding in the motor for more than a half-hour is quite uncomfortable still. But Paul is finally onboard with the need to buy things to stock our home - when I came over he was the quintessential 'camping in a house' bachelor, he had NOTHING but three knives and a rather nice set (complete, I mean this set has EVERYTHING) of professional stainless steel cookware.

It's taken me nearly seven years but our house is finally just about properly stocked with bed linens, blankets (hand-knit/crocheted by me, blimey are decent blankets expensive here!), dishcloths (hand crocheted) and tea towels, crockery for dining and serving, kitchen utensils from knives and mini-food processor to cheese graters and cutlery. Slow cooker, ginormous electric frying pan (honestly, even Fox the chef says frying chicken in a skillet is next to impossible!), and the ultimate...BAKEWARE including three different types rolling pins. Thanks to online yarn and embroidery shops, and of course Amazon, we're really just about there.

And I admit, I buy nearly all mine and Paul's clothing off Amazon now although I do buy from Cotton Traders at least twice a year as well. And sewing-knitting-crocheting supplies. And embroidery supplies, and my latest crafting craze - purse frame bags. Yes, I know, but those vintage coin, clutch, and cross body ball clasp bags have become something of an obsession with me lately. If I couldn't shop online my crafting cupboard would be bare - we don't have good craft shops close enough to walk to, and the one 'craft supply' store (I won't mention the name but they just are too expensive for yarn and embroidery threads, and their sewing supplies section is dismal!).

Too, without Amazon, Paul would probably either starve or go off his coeliac diet. The supermarkets close enough to us to shop don't regularly stock the gluten-free products (ingredients mostly but also some of the baked goods mixes are so good I can't make them at home near as well) I need to cook and bake for him but Amazon does, and wow is the selection amazing!

I'm browsing-noting-wish listing on Amazon everyday. This morning I made one of the last pre-Lent housewares purchases (pie crust shields and a set of 21cm Duralex glass pasta bowls to go with the rest of the set I've slowly been building...). I just checked my vacuum cleaner bag supply and will need to order another box in the next few days. Last week I ordered three Lauscha (Germany) handblown clip on birds for the 2018 Christmas tree and I'm sniffling at the thought of not being able to order again from Germany for the full forty days of Lent - they list a GORGEOUS catalogue on Amazon and their post&packing cost is far less through Amazon than directly from their site. I'm really hoping Fox, and perhaps his sister and her children, will be here for Christmas 2018 (it's looking iffy but hope floats!) and I want the trees to be real stunners!

Giving up any online shopping, especially Amazon, for Lent is a serious sacrifice! We're so close to having enough housewares that not being able to hit the Amazon site regularly is going to be a genuine struggle for me. I keep busy crafting and not being able to shop for supplies during Lent is also a sacrifice - I make all our table linens and blankets myself and buy ALL my supplies online. And of course we need clothes...

January and February are two months 'scrurry-days' for me - I try to stock in everything I even think I may need so the temptation to go online and click 'add to basket' is lessened during Lent. I have to say - giving up online shopping last year worked SO well it was mid-May last year before I shopped online again!

Fox and his sister used to act as though they thought my online shopping was a sure sign I'm too old. Now both think I'm a genius. Which feels REALLY good:) The postie loves me, he says I and the other online shoppers on his route keep him in work:)

Once a month Paul and I force ourselves to go to the two best supermarkets locally and do a 'Big Shop'. I keep a running list  - yeah, on a spreadsheet - I print it out the morning we do the Big Shop and wowsa does that list keep us stocked for another month! The Big Shop is the only brick&mortar shopping I do nowadays. Once I can travel again, I'll do destination shopping, of course - so many craft shops-so little time!

Ftr, I do observe Lent 'properly' - the Lenten period is a time of reflection and self-examination, and I use the time to make needed spiritual changes to keep myself on the right path. This year I plan to get back into the habit of saying a daily rosary - the full five decades. I'm hoping saying it daily during Lent will lead to my saying it everyday of the year again.

Lent is a very important part of my life spiritually and materially, without Lenten observations I'm not really sure I would like myself.

08 January 2017

7th and 8th January are the saddest days of the year for me - I take down ALL the Christmas and New Year decorations. The lot - the trees (ok, yes, I'm a serial Christmas Tree decorator, one in every room but the powder and bathrooms where I content myself with a lovely fake poinsettia), the garlands (again, serial garland and Christmas card displayed as 'bunting' zig-zagging the front hall just above door height), the door wreath, the candle bridges (if you've never seen one, Google candle bridges - they're GORGEOUS), the fake poinsettias strewn about the house...sigh.

The house ALWAYS looks so bare, so forlorn when everything is down and being cleaned then packed away for next year. This year I'm consoling myself with an embroidery project (a 'mantle cloth' to drape on the front hall shelf - a snowman motif, big woo) and a crocheted then stuffed 'snow family' (Mum, Dad, baby snowmen) to set on the shelf in the front hall next to the cordless phone handset and the 'page a day' desktop diary. The bowl of festive and fragrant potpourri that's been on that shelf for the last two years finally 'expired' (ok, read moulded, nasty really, I binned it and don't think I'll be doing 'festive and fragrant bowls of potpourri again. Ever)

I've even gone through all the Christmas cards received this year and wordDOTdoc'd the signatures (and addresses where people have been thoughtful enough to include them inside or on the back of the actual card) - very helpful when making out the next season greetings list!

On a much happier note, I FINALLY found a replacement 'finial' tree topper for our main Christmas tree to replace the one Fox accidentally broke when he was about four. That thing had been in the family since 1926, I'm not sure how Fox got ahold of it but he did and of course it broke into a thousand VERY sharp and dangerous bits and of course I bit my tongue and cheek until blood trickled down my chin - and of course I hid the copious tears from Fox. I did my crying in the cupboard. And now I've found a reproduction of the EXACT one that was on my father's childhood Christmas trees, my childhood and several of my adult years (well, you know, until Fox...) Christmas trees.

I've finally got Mr Curmudgeon completely sold on Christmas decorating. He hid in the study as I de-decked the halls, and went a bit red-eyed when I came for his study Christmas tree. He came into the bedroom where I have the decorations ready for packing away, looked for a long minute, sighed, then fled for the sanctuary of his study again.

I've also got him hooked on classic Christmas movies. He now says 'It's Christmas!' the first time Polar Express is broadcast - no matter, apparently, that we own a DVD of that and other classics like It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street (we both blub a little when Father Christmas speaks Dutch to the young refugee), White Christmas, and of course Santa Claus the Movie (which is naff beyond belief but now when my Paul sees garish Christmas decor he says 'Oh no, more 'Patch Christmas!' in reference to, well, you have to see the movie to know what I mean).

AND - I AM FINALLY CHRISTMAS STORAGE ORGANISED!! Yes, Paul is so into Christmas (finally!) he was perfectly happy (ok, mostly perfectly happy, he did grump about the horrific traffic) to drive me down to Dundee to Dunelm Mill for the plastic storage box sale so we won't lose any decorations again. (sigh. There is still a cardboard box missing (tree skirts, lights sets, hand-glittered pinecones) but almost everything is here.) I now have the fake evergreens in one long box, and three more boxes of baubles, new skirts, mantle displays, etc - everything sorted according to type and I really couldn't be happier about that organisation!

Bonus, I've finally managed to sell Paul on the gorgeousity of vintage-look reproduction glass baubles, so much so we've 'wish-listed' several sets on AmazonUK to buy one set per month. Best? Best is he's finally agreed fake evergreens are completely fab and we're buying a 6 foot Balsam Hill PE 'most realistic' tree for next year. He's also decided he rather likes the look of icicle lights along the roofline, and the topiary boxwoods flanking the front door are going to have their own set of lights as well...

OMGosh - it's going to take me a week to decorate, and four days to take it all down January 2018! YAY!!!! (No, really, I'm really looking forward to Christmas 2017 - God willing we'' still be here and enjoying a lovely Christmas:)