Monday, 30 December 2013

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Happy Humdrum Christmas

I'm happy. I'm about to spend another sleepless night coughing, but I'm grateful my cold and cough appears in the evenings only.

It was a shame we had to drive down in that awful weather on Monday, but I'm happy we had the chance to see our niece and meet her toddler son for the first time.

I'm bemused our son was underwhelmed by his BMX bike, but I'm pleased he was delighted with his tablet from his grandparents.

I'm slightly worried that he spent a long time playing a coin game on it, but happy he sent me his first email (aged 7). Scary.

Tomorrow we get to spend the day with my parents and I can't wait.

And at this very moment, I'm extremely happy that I get to read the new Rebus book. My bestest present so far!

Hope you had a good one.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Meal Planning Monday - always late!

Wrote my week's planning on Saturday. Posted it Wednesday! Here goes ...

Saturday - cheat lasagne (fresh sheets of pasta, cheese sauce tub, Look What We Found bolognese) and garlic bread from the freezer YES

Sunday - roast chicken with veg gratin using up rest of cheese sauce from yesterday YES

Lunches at work - soup made today

Monday - meatballs n pasta (all meat bought on 3 for £10 at Waitrose) HAD TUESDAY

Tuesday - beef casserole and dumplings HAD JACKET POTS

Wednesday - jacket pots with tuna OOPS PIZZA COMING...

Thursday - pizza wraps

Friday - outlaws staying so hopefully they will buy a takeaway!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Thursday, 14 November 2013

His name's Edna. Edna Book.

For every time I worry that my son spends too much time in front of the telly or on my laptop, please let me look at this photo to remind me of the time he spends with his nose in a book. I'm not that worried really; he lives for football and spends hours playing with his mates in the park. But on Tuesday at the school book fair, he wangled an early "Good Parents' Evening" gift out of me in the form of the latest Diary of a Wimpy Kid book. I'd planned on buying it anyway, and there was £4 off at the fair! I told him he would have it taken away if we didn't get a good report.

Yesterday was Parents' Evening but we only got to see his Maths teacher as his class teacher was off sick. Thankfully he got a good report for Maths.

But I couldn't really take the book off him in any case, should he get a bad report from his class teacher. He's already finished the book! Within one day, he'd finished it! That was because he read on the way home from school, walking from the car to the house, whilst he was eating. You get the picture.

So if Miss M tells me he's a nightmare, what am I going to do? Help!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Monday, 4 November 2013

How to get humdrum but happy

December's issue of Psychologies has this as a strapline. Coach Jessica Chivers suggests ways of finding even dull (necessary) housework activities more appealing. She talks of reframing the chore - I find that phoning my mum makes emptying the dishwasher much more enjoyable.

She also talks of exchanging the bucket list of "things to do before you die". Okay I don't think many of us would sniff at seeing the Northern Lights, but how about standing on Southsea beach, facing the Isle of Wight, during Cowes Week. Try and beat that contrast of white sails against the blue sea.

I'm thinking of creating my own list; not a bucket, rather a suitcase filled daily with "things" that have made my life happier, made me more content. Maybe this is where my blog is heading...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Saturday, 2 November 2013

A new desk!

I've moved my desk area. It's still situated under the stairs in our open plan front room/stairway area. It's no biggie really. I just turned it 90 degrees and tidied it up. BUT it's made a huge difference. We can now sit and type at the desk, or write, while still looking at half the room. I'm hoping this will make a difference to the frequency with which I blog... you never know!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Meal Plan Monday

Well last week didn't go to plan as I was ill. Clearly Mr Humdrum can't cope so I had to muddle on. I managed to resist the Dominos helpline but we did have fish n chips Thursday night. I also made butternut squash soup and veggie soup - the former for my lunch and the latter to have in a cup as a starter to get more veg down us.

This week we will mostly be eating OOTF (Out of the Freezer) as I am loath to spend more money on food when I have a whole dead farmyard in there.

Roasted turkey breast with some trimmings
Gammon steaks for the boys and jacket potato n tuna for me
Home made steak burgers and home made wedges (pic below)
Omelette with soup as a starter
Chicken curry, not sure which flavour yet

In other news I did a tiny shop in Aldi tonight. Last time I stuffed my basket down in a huff about the long queues but today I persevered. Will report on quality!

I am also trying to "eat clean" for some of the day.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Meal Planning Monday - a bit late

I keep seeing the meal planning linky by At Home With Mrs M and not joining. Well today, albeit a bit late, I am. Even if just admit that I'm winging it this week. I'd been to a spa last weekend with my girlfriends (oh did I mention it on my last blog post?) and hadn't got round to my weekly shop. However tonight Elf has a friend over to play, and they're currently eating pasta with ham and tomato sauce, with garlic bread. They will be having chocolate muffins in a minute if they don't mess around too much. Gawd knows what we're having tonight... jacket potatoes? Omelette?

I have posted a picture of my latest chicken pie which was my best, if I say so myself. I don't make my own pastry, I'm sad to say. I can, but I don't often. But the pie was lovely - 6 chicken thighs, leeks and creme fraiche. Mashed potato and carrots n broccoli on the side. Oh and yummy gravy. Perhaps I'll do that again this weekend.

I promise I'll do better next week. I usually do!

PS I hope the link works at the top of this page, fingers crossed...

Monday, 7 October 2013

Norton Hotel spa break - bliss

Last weekend, four girlfriends and I went to a spa weekend near Winchester. Every year we try to do something; the last two have been at Centerparcs. This year I'm working in a school and can't take time off. This suited us fine, Saturday night costing £129 pp including two 25 minute treatments, lunch, dinner and breakfast.

We arrived on Saturday morning in time for our treatments - I had my nails done and a mini facial. The others had massages or the same as me. The spa was quite a big one for a hotel, and at no point did we feel we were "on a deal". My therapist was very nice and my treatments were wonderful. My nails are still fine now two days later, no chips at all! My facial was just what I needed going into Autumn. I feel like very refreshed now.

Sun loungers around the large pool made relaxing rather easy. The pool was large enough to do lengths. We had a large sauna and steam room, heated tiled beds by the side of the pool, curved to soothe those leg muscles. There was also a relaxation room with nearly ten beds in - oh these were lovely! I left one of my friends slightly snoring as there was no one else in there. Free herbal teas added to the healthiness.

Lunch was a buffet, and while the salad wasn't that great, the hot meals were delicious. I had chicken stroganoff, rice, bean cassoulet and smoked haddock fish cakes. There was soup and jacket potatoes. The best thing was being allowed to eat in your robes! Dinner was from a full menu; I had a mushroom on brioche starter, with rib eye steak and chips. There was an allowance of £26 pp and anything not spent was used on your pals' meals, including coffee/desert. Very fair we thought. You could pay if you went over, but that was only necessary if you chose the steak AND wanted a pudding. We had a bottle of fizzy rose.

After dinner we retired to one of our two rooms. We'd set up a bar (we'd each brought a bottle - Pimms, gin, wine, bacardi) and there was a communal cheese board. We'd each brought a cheese, crackers and chutney. (We always find at parties that nibbles are nice, but cheese goes down so well every time.) Add in the two ipods with the playlists, and you've got your own party from 9pm until 2am! We weren't that noisy, but certainly did enjoy ourselves.

Breakfast the next day soaked up some of the alcohol and the sauna sweated out the rest. Some of our party had extra treatments; the rest of us lounged around again. One put us to shame and went for a run in the stunning grounds. She discovered a walled garden. At 3pm we decided to call it a day and changed out of our robes, into civvies and back to reality.

The prices are normal hotel spa prices, not deals or offers, and we were certainly treated as if we were guests in a 5 star Bali spa! The staff couldn't have been more helpful; the spa manager got our second room keys for us, saving us having to get dressed and traipse back to Reception. The waiting staff were very attentive, with just the right amount of humour. Breakfast we had to queue for, but the staff brought us takeaway coffees to help. (Or could they smell the hangovers?)

I would certainly recommend this to anyone. The standard of the hotel, food, spa and staff was top. They do a day spa for £70 but it's worth the extra to stay overnight. I'm going again with my best friend in January, and the group I went with this time are already trying to book up again in Spring. The best thing? I didn't spend an extra penny!

(This wasn't a sponsored post, but I'd be happy to try out any other treatments on my next stay!!!)

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Souper Sunday - roasted butternut squash (New Covent Garden)

Today Elf went to football training (scored two goals, one left-footed again) and then went conkering (as opposed to conquering) with his mate up the road. Left with all of this free time, I entertained my old friend who was staying, along with her 19 year old neice, who we were trying to help make a life plan. Greasy haired, we sat in our PJs, ate a brunch and gossiped. My friend used the make-up I bought yesterday to give me smokey eyes. I wondered if Mr Humdrum would notice; he did but didn't say anything as he thinks I look weird with anything other than nude eyeshadow on. Anyway, after this I decided to do some baking and made the oaty cookies from my previous post, but swapped the apricots for chocolate drops, and I made soup which I would take to work this week.

Roasted butternut squash from the New Covent Garden Soup for Every Day book. Yummy! We had a cupful with our cheese on toast dinner; Mr Humdrum approved and even Elf said it was yum! The cookies were nice too. I made some large ones and smaller ones for Elf's lunchbox this week.

I wondered on the phone later with my mum why I was feeling all organised and calm and whelmed (rather than overwhelmed). My blood pressure continues to be low (for me) and that's good. My mum wondered if my blood pressure and my calmness were linked. But which came first? Did the lower blood pressure make me feel better, more organised and able to cope? Or did my newly-found inner domestic goddess lower my blood pressure? Who knows?

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Selfie Saturday - I need a makeover

I'm sure I've seen a linky for selfie Saturday but I can't locate it. Here's my first pic using the new iOS 7 camera edit feature. Trying to make myself look like a 60s model! I need a makeover ...

Next week I'm going for a spa weekend as a real treat (I don't do this very often) with four friends. No kids and no blokes. Bliss! I'm having a mini facial and mini mani. In preparation I have bought some new make up - purple eye liner, silver/blue shadow and a pink gloss called Turkish Delight. I feel like I need a teenage bedroom night in where I shut myself in, armed with make up and hair stuff to experiment!

Do any of you ever feel like you need a new look? How do you go about it?

Monday, 23 September 2013

The search for new food and Oaty Energy Cookies recipe

Last week's article by Polly Williams in the Guardian's Family section, entitled The Munch Bunch, explained the reason for the £12,000 extra that a boy costs to raise than a girl - appetite. Polly states "a magic porridge pot would be the perfect solution" and she lists two omelettes, Weetabix and toast as her teenage son's breakfast.

This was exactly what I'd been thinking. Well not exactly, as my boy is 7, but man, can he eat? Polly's friend states a boy needs 4 meals a day. That's my boy too. Breakfast - 3 Weetabix. Either a packed lunch (with 6-7 items) plus snack bar, or a cooked lunch and a snack bar, snacks after school, dinner, topped off with Weetabix for supper. And he can eat in between this too. My mother-in-law told me that there will come a time when you can't get enough bread or cereals down them. And there's nothing to him, not one ounce of fat. It all gets burnt off.

I'm always on the look-out for home-made solutions. I tried flapjacks. Many, many times. They always break up. I know you probably have the fool-proof recipe for me, but I've probably already tried it. Brownies - now mine are fab - but they are quite expensive to cook and do you really expect us to keep loads leftover for your packed lunches and snacks? No. Buns go down, well they just go down the hatch. They're not favourites.

So today I looked through my recipe file under Baking (here I just put absolute favourites that I know work) and found Oaty Energy Cookies. I think they came from a BBC Good Food magazine, and they are definitely in the Cooking With Kids section. Great, easy for me, can whip them out in no time.

Well I was right, it was a very easy recipe, with all but one being store cupboard staples. The condensed milk in a squeezy bottle is the only thing you might not have. It honestly took about 5 mins to prep, 10 mins to put together and 20-25 minutes in the oven.

Here goes!

Oaty energy cookies

50g apricots snipped small with scissors
50g soft butter
50g light brown sugar
2tbsp condensed milk (I buy it in squeezy bottles and it keeps for ages in the fridge)
50g rolled oats
85g self-raising flour

1. Preheat oven to 150 degrees C.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add condensed milk, beat well, then add oats and apricots.
4. Add flour and mix until it starts to disappear (you can use your hands too).
5. Bring the dough together and break into 6 equal lumps.
6. Make 6 balls, then squash each one slightly onto a baking tray covered with baking parchment.
7. Cook for 20-25 minutes until golden on the edges. Leave to cool on the tray.

You can make 9 smaller ones, or double up the recipe and make 12. I'm going to add chocolate chips next time instead of apricots. Racy! I'm also going to see how to cut down on the sugar. I have lots of that agave stuff in the cupboard - I'll investigate.

Best thing? My son liked them and he is fussy. I liked them. I gave one to a friend for her birthday tonight... haven't heard if she's still alive! I could knock these out once a week, have enough for packed lunches and one each for a treat. Go me!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Football frenzy

Up until now, it's just been sports day and 10-length time trials at swimming that have moved my heart into my mouth and rendered it painful to watch. You desperately want them to do as well as they can, you don't want them to be upset with their performance, you wish you could take their place etc etc. 

Well now I can add competitive football matches to this list. Elf has just started in his under 8s team. Two friends play, and we are getting to know the others in the 7-strong team. We know some other parents very well, and it's a good opportunity to catch up over the dodgy bar coffee.

Last Sunday they played for the first time as a team. They'd not even trained together before as a unit. One mum's other son had started the week before in the under 9s and had endured an excruciating 15-1 loss. It's not that they're bad players; they just haven't had the chance to gel, nor to receive the specialised team training yet. So this week we fully expected the same. It has been explained to us that our teams are not about winning at any cost; they know they're going to lose quite a few before the training begins to show. They lost a good player last year as his parents were concerned the team weren't winning enough. It's more important to develop the individual, success will come. 

Will it today, we asked last Sunday? Not quite, they lost 4-0 but they held their own and played (in everyone's opinion) very well. For that mum, she could watch without hiding her eyes! Her other son's match was lost 2-1 but with her son as the scorer! For this mum, I had the added potential pain as Elf was in goal for the second half. Yes he did let in two goals, but he saved many, many more and did his team proud. I am proud of him. Roll on the next match this Sunday!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A Humdrum A-Z of summer holidays A-D

A is for Are we there yet?
One and a quarter hours into our four hour trip I hear it. It's not actually Are we there yet, more How long? I was driving and Elf was in the front seat, so we were able to converse in between bouts of DS, PSP, reading and listening to his iPod (he kept asking me to turn my music down!). I did take the opportunity to explain miles per hour and distance covered. He's seven, but he understood that if I'm going at 70mph, then it's going to take just under and hour to go 60 miles.

B is for beaches, hence the photo.
We are not a theme park family, I tell people. Don't get me wrong, they have their place. We use Paulton's Park as a meeting place with my best friend's family once a year, and the boys have been known to go to Legoland on an inset day. But not at the expense of the countryside and certainly not the beach! I spoke to a boy at school the other day who said he'd been to a seaside town very near where I grew up in Cornwall. I asked him about the town and what he'd done there. Turns out he'd been to all of Cornwall's theme park places, but had not been to the beach in the town! What???

C is for caravan.
Yes I know. We normally camp. We are campers. Glampers if we can get electricity. But this year we borrowed my in laws' caravan in Cornwall. Wow! It was certainly a nice change to be warm at night. I think we are about to book up next year too...

D is for dirty.
I don't know how many days I wore the same sundress for. Or Elf wore the same tshirts. We lived in swimming costumes and wet suits!

E is for everyone happy - to be published in a few days.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Road rage and blood pressure checks ...

I promised more on this from my Facebook teaser earlier.

Can I firstly just say I'm not proud of myself. I know I wasn't wrong, but I'm not proud of what I did.

Let me explain.

I was driving home from a Waitrose shopping trip, I'd ambled around the precinct, talking to some old lady who I didn't know, chatting to a shop assistant in John Lewis who I only knew from popping in there since Elf was born. (We have a 7 year relationship and discuss quite personal things, but we only ever see each other in the shop.) The free Waitrose cup of tea had mellowed me and as I drove home, I admit I was driving nearer 25 mph than 30 through the city, but that was my only crime. So far...

A black Audi was driving right up my backside all the way home. Admittedly I could have sped up, but tailgaiting me was not going to get that kind of response. I continued, singing along to The Charlatans, Can't Get Out Of Bed.

I wanted to pop into the local shops to get my blood pressure checked at the chemist. I found a space, indicated and stopped to reverse park. The Audi-hole beeped me. I lost it. I turned round as I swung in (my windows were open) and shouted an obscenity and if he hadn't quite heard it, I gestured the same meaning with my hands and fingers. 

Then I clocked the old lady in the passenger seat! Oops. The old guy had his mum with him! I would never have sworn like that if I'd known his mum was there. Honest. 

He shouted at me "I only beeped you to say I couldn't back up." 

Here's the response I should have come up with: "I can park a bloody car you know, I don't need your help to park my car. Just because I have two appendages on the front of my body, it doesn't mean I need help!" It really rattled me because, when parallel parking, if you have the length of your car, your don't need any more space to park do you?

What I did shout back in reply was: "You've been driving right up my arse all the way from the shops!" to which he replied "Yes because you were driving so bloody slow." To which my perfect response would have been "And tailgating does not get one to slow down" but I didn't say that, I just shouted that I wasn't driving that slow. I wound up my windows and got out.

Some young lads on the pavement low whistled me as I got out. How embarrassing! I phoned my Mum and she laughed and said that was probably the old lady's highlight of the day. I felt a bit better about it then.

But the REALLY annoying thing was that I had to then have my blood pressure checked. Great, I really need a low reading and what do I do? Go and have a flipping road rage row with someone in the street. Fantastic. Luckily the pharmacist laughed and by the time we had completed the necessary admin, my bp was low enough to please me.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Blogger comment question - help please!

I have reached the end of my tether with Blogger - I cannot get my comments to work on either my private or my public blog. They are just f-ed up! I have tried everything and I mean everything, uninstallling, reinstalling IntenseDebate, uninstalling again, then reverting back to Blogger comments and messing with the html. I now have to set the Reader Comments manually to Allow for each post, which takes away the ability to post on the go (as it has to be done on a pc not my iphone or ipad).

I am so grumpy about this and am wondering whether to Wordpress it.... Can anyone help or let me know if it is just me?!

- Grumpy not Humdrum Mum

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Peace is shattered

The boy Elf is back after holidays with both sets of grandparents in the West Country. My week of peace and quiet is over.

But my social life is back!

Friday, 2 August 2013

There is nothing like a free ice cream

It didn't come completely cost-free though. It cost some of my pride.

I was waiting in a cafe for a friend on an outside bench when the bench collapsed. I fell in and I ended up with my legs and head sticking out the top! I managed to extricate myself from it but had to ask my friend who was queuing for help! I'm sure loads of people in cars saw me. The staff came over and checked I was ok and removed the whole broken bench.

They said Would you like a drink?

I replied Well I was thinking about having an ice cream - and promptly got one.

I recommend The Garage's Eton Mess ice cream but I don't recommend the way I got it.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Magazines, eating clean and blogging

Mags - I thought I'd grown out of magazines. At 42 (ahem), the only Cosmopolitan I'm interested in is the liquid variety. A look online gives me these headlines: official 50 Shades of Grey lingerie launched (I have one style of pants, the same as my mum!); the new fringe style (made that mistake too many times to repeat; have these people got shares in fringes?); careers masterclass (having swapped the rat race of marketing for a teaching assistant role, this is irrelevant); and Fearne Cotton models some clothes or other. I don't mean to be rude, but she holds no relevance for me. Strangely I'm interested in reading how Gwynneth admits how a liquid diet left her hallucinating ... but let's get on.

Other magazines like Red, Living, Glamour etc don't hit the mark. I do like Woman and Home, and She - this just shows my age!

However today I've discovered Psychologies. When it first came out, I pooh-poohed it - I have a degree in psychology, I told myself, I don't need to read this. But the passage of time plus a stronger pull of spirituality made me pick it up again yesterday. It's fab! I've got the titles of a few books I want to read. There's an interesting interview with Anna Chancellor and loads of other articles that have made me stop and think about things. I may subscribe!

Eating clean - well I've been doing the 5:2 intermittent fasting way of eating for a few months and have been very successful in losing just over a stone. With the summer holidays and having 6 weeks off, I've been pausing for a little while as while fasting at work is easy, I don't think it's fun to fast when I'm supposed to be having my own personal holiday! So instead I've decided to challenge myself to eat clean. Does this include the cheese scones I made yesterday? Or the swiss roll I made today? Well yes I suppose it does because there were no processed foods that went into them! Along with the lamb tagine in the oven at the moment, this is clean eating at its best! The only trouble is how do I avoid the sweets at the cinema tonight? As I go so infrequently, it's always my treat.

Blogging - I've created a little space in my week/head/schedule for blogging again. I just have to get the flipping comments thing sorted out... And catch up with reading all my favourite blogs.

Monday, 29 July 2013

A hot home-made scone or housework?

Today is the start of my holiday. Elf is away with the grandparents, Mr Humdrum is working. I have one whole week to myself. As I work in school, when people go on at me for having loads of holidays, I remind them that, lovely as it is, I don't get time off sans enfant!

I have a few plans: I must clean the house, tidy a few hot spot mess areas, clear out infant school paperwork ready for junior, get school uniform ... But I also have nice things to do: see World's End in the cinema, write some letters, experiment with some recipes (hence the scones), meet a few friends for coffee, read a few books, give myself a manicure ...

Recently I decided to take up a new mini-hobby - Mr Hundrum gave me a sketch book for my birthday so I might use it. I also want to get back to learning something and have decided to pick up my Teach Yourself Latin book again.

So those are my plans. Let's see by Friday how I've done!

Off with the baking apron and on with the rubber gloves.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Our first family (beer) festival

Last weekend we went for The Longest Day Beer Festival at a village near us. It was a group effort, five families with eight kids - boys 3-8 and girls 6-9. It was our first family festival and our first beer festival - usually the dads just go on them! The weather wasn't being kind to us, it was raining and blowing a hoolie but hey. We were trampers this weekend if not glampers!

We arrived at 2pm ish and once the camp was up, the boys went off to play footie and I set about making Pimms for the ladies (compete with lemons, limes, grapes and cucumber but I forgot the mint!) while the men went off to suss out the beer tent and list.

A first for us - we allowed the older boys to roam freely between the camping field and the beer tents and pub garden. There were security all around, and it was only a two minute walk from the tent to the beer tent. At different points, the oldest boy was found reading to himself in the gazebo and at another, two other boys were sat at the side of the stage watching the main band playing!

Thankfully a football, some interesting tall bushes and a pond with reeds (for the older kids) kept them amused on their own. Hot dogs and hog roasts from local farmers kept us all fed.

The kids decided that at 10ish they were tired; mine even asked to go to bed! Most of them went off fine, no problem. Us ladies were drinking the gin I'd brought along, and the blokes came back from the main tent.

Situated in the Quiet Field, it was anything but! When the band stopped, a disco started but it was kinda cool. We turned in just before 1am.

Breakfast baps were sold the morning after to the survivors and after a few cuppas, we were ready to pack up. Home just after lunch. A very successful festival!

Some tips:

* don't forget your bloody ear plugs; toilet tissue fashioned in the same shape does NOT do the same job!
* take wellies as you may be camping in VERY LONG grass
* take sandals even if it's raining (for the kids)
* don't bother with taking your own food to cook - even if it is expensive, it's much easier to eat on site
* set up some sort of rota so they ladies get to boogie on down too - not just the lads
* take more than two books for an avid child reader!
* get a small sleeper tent plus gazebo for festival camping - instead of your normal holiday tent
* take more wind breaks!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Worry box - just for kids?

Recently I heard of a child who was given a Worry Box. He was to write little notes, his worries, and place them into the box. I'm sure we can all work out why - we put the box away, and the we can then get a good night's sleep.

On and off, I've been waking up in the night, unable to get back to sleep, and have started having what I call "Busy head". I can't get thoughts out of my head, thoughts that would not worry me much in daylight, but at 4am, they do.

For a variety of reasons, I went to the doctor last week and I think amongst other things, I might be anaemic. A fasting blood test last Friday will show those results soon. I complained to the doc that I'd lost my "vim and vigour" since Easter. (There are other reasons for my possible anaemia - I am 42 and think things are 'changing' - but I'm not discussing that here!)

For most of the time since Easter, it's been a mammoth effort to get anything done around the house. I've taken on some extra teaching duties, which have been great even if I was a bit anxious at first. I enjoy being challenged. I haven't been out running (read shuffling) since then; after a cold I stopped and never got back on it. Some may call me a sluttern, I'm not that bad, but I am not known to be much of a housewife! But even by my standards, it's been a real effort to clear up the kitchen and empty the dishwasher.

What has also been worrying me is not posting three cards. Yes, I know it sounds weird, but at 4am it's my big problem. I have in my kitchen launch pad three unposted cards: one for a friend who was 50 in April; one for a new mum and the baby is now about three months old; and one for a mum-to-be/newly engaged person who now has a big bump and has organised her wedding already. Why haven't I posted them? I don't know why! I can't explain. Why do I keep forgetting?

A phone call to my best friend Sarah was in order, I knew she would be able to sort it out. I admitted the unposted cards worry. I admitted that I thought that these three friends, only two of whom are known to each other, would meet up and give me three big crosses in a list that I imagine exists of All The Things I Should Do. The fact that one is pregnant, planning her wedding and one is a new mum escapes me, why would they have the time or energy to even contemplate this?

Of Sarah, I asked What do these unposted cards represent? She asked of me What would you worry about if you didn't worry about them? I didn't know.

Luckily, the right answer is never far away with your best friend. I've got it, she said. Send the bloody cards to me! We roared with laughter, I knew she'd sort it out.

Much of my emotional bandwidth focus (my new phrase) has, since March, been taken up by the 5:2 diet. Yes it has worked; I've lost a stone so far but am on a mini break for half-term. I have trouble around food in any case - but not how you think! I always feel I need to cook better meals for us and for my seven year old son. It's the subject of one of my guilt-fests. So I have been using up a lot of energy in focusing on us doing 5:2 (yes Mr Humdrum is doing it too - quite well I may so) and then eating healthily for the remainder of the week. Maybe I haven't got enough bandwidth to focus on other things? I certainly don't think that 5:2 is bad for me, and I don't think that it is related at all to my loss of vim and vigour. In fact, the opposite. I have felt worse the last couple of weeks and haven't even had the energy to do 5:2.

Last Friday, the last day before half-term, I came home from school and felt like a switch had been flicked on. I suddenly started sorting out some of the mess in the kitchen (my launch pad area where I keep "stuff"). I think I even cooked a meal and tidied the kitchen.

Sarah has some experience of anaemia and she said it can make you feel down and slightly paranoid. I think that might answer some of my issues then!

To sum up, I think I am feeling better for two reasons - the doctor is taking me seriously instead of fobbing me off with "Come back in six months" and also it's half-term, and I needed a rest. In any case, I've managed to park my health issues with the doctor, like putting a note in his worry box. That's good enough for now. Regarding the unposted cards, I think they represent me not being able to achieve as much as I used to. What to do? I've parked it in Sarah's worry box, but I might also try to accept that I'm not as good, or indeed timely, at sending cards to people as I used to be. I shouldn't feel guilty. And if these people are friends, they are hardly going to be giving me crosses on that long list! A posted card does not a good friend make!

This Saturday Mr Humdrum and I are having a joint 42nd birthday party at our house. Compared to our 40th party, this one will be a little quieter and more sedate. Well what I mean is the numbers are lower, I bet we will still be as noisy! As well as my lovely local mates, some of my uni group are coming too - two of whom I haven't seen for possibly seven years! I know I will be buzzing off this for weeks to come. Roll on Saturday!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

One infection

I just phoned my best mate for a chat. I've been feeling a bit crappy the last couple of weeks and needed some advice and cheering up. I listed my symptoms; she listened, made me laugh and promise to book a doctor's appointment on Monday.

She then told me her husband has tonsillitis. He's on 4 different types of antibiotics.

The conversation then turned to her daughter's 6th birthday last Wednesday. Guess what she bought, she asked me. Both One Direction albums. This is after having heard my son's copy of the second album last Sunday. The same album I heard for the whole of the Easter bloody holidays. My mate said "We've been infected too by them."

It was then the realisation dawned. One Direction had been the cause of both mine and her husband's maladies. We'd been Infected!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Last minute homework

Why does it always happen to us?!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Get rid of the baby stuff!

This is not a post about symbolically getting rid of all the baby paraphernalia associated with having a new baby. I haven't actually done that in the years since I realised I would not be having another baby. Never say never eh?

No, this is a post about un-babyfying Elf's bedroom. It started with Mr Humdrum asking me to tidy his room. I must add that I wasn't told in a controlling You Must Do This Housewench kind of way. More of a You Two Are Off On Holiday Still And I'm At Work So Can You Both Tidy Elf's Room.

I decided while Elf was playing computer games (a relatively new thing in the Humdrum Household, which serves to make me realise he is 7), I would tackle the room. It was only covered in dirty clothes that he hadn't put in the washing basket (yes he's 7 not 17) and some bits'n'bobs that were put upstairs when we had a party downstairs.

Elf has an odd room, it's quite small with a cabin bed, book shelves and two chests for clothes, with an inset cupboard at waist-height in the wall. Filled with all sorts, is this Scary Cupboard. Open it, and who knows what might fall out. Indeed I did. Out fell dressing up clothes that I thought we'd lost, baby baths, pram cosies, a Postman Pat train set. A Scary Cupboard indeed.

It was then that I realised I had to totally change his room around. I started on the cupboard. Out came the baby stuff - either car boot or give to a friend who's just had a baby. The Postman Pat train set - I could eBay as it's complete with all figures, yes including Pat, Mrs Goggins, little suitcases and parcels and letters even. And a postvan. Or it could go to the friend who's just had a baby. In went folded up blankets that used to lay on the bed. PE and swimming kits are there now instead of hanging off the bed.

Toys - I took two boxes of "stuff" from the downstairs IKEA toy box storage system upstairs to put under his bed, as the only things he plays with downstairs are Lego and Heroes and Lightsabers/guns!

I cleared enough room to put a little table and stool in the corner, onto which we're going to put our old laptop. He's very chuffed with this!

I cleared some space for those two Star Wars Clone Trooper helmets that seem to take over his den area downstairs. It's also for all of the Star Wars ships that he's made. Some of the kits cost up to £100 and there's no way that Mr Humdrum, I mean Elf, will allow them to be touched or played with, let alone broken up. They need space away.

Books - I moved the books that we used to read to him up to a higher shelf, and put his own books (Beast Quest, Dinosaur Cove, Roald Dahl, Diary of a Wimpy Kid etc) on a lower shelf.

And this was the bit that got me. I realised the top shelf was full of the baby gifts that we'd been generously given upon his birth. A beautiful acrostic poem, a coin presentation set, photos of when we'd brought him home (although I think that photo was staged - we'd already gone inside and then had to go out again for the photo of us in the doorway!).

I moved these things into the spare room "for sorting". Finally at 7 years old, he was to have a boy's room. It's already covered with pictures of Messi and Star Wars. No longer does that have to compete with photos of that gorgeous little bundle of gurgles and soft skin. My baby is indeed much more grown up than I realised.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Humdrums in London

Us Humdrums took a cheeky trip to The Big Smoke for a couple of days. Our main plan was to visit the Science Museum. And not spend too much money!

We did fork out for the London Eye and it was worth it, especially the 4D experience.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Leftovers = soup!

I know this looks a bit weird but I've been whizzing up the leftovers of casseroles that I've made. If there's not enough for a freezer dinner, or even if there is and there's still more, this is where it goes.

I find Elf avoids the veg in my casseroles but obviously loves the meat and the taste. I tend to give him a small bowl if he's having a freezer/orange shelf dinner it a pizza etc. Not that I am that fussy about whet he has, but this way it's the best of both worlds.

This is leftover lamb casserole with red currant sauce, sweet potato and butternut squash.

Come to think about it, it's why I make my own soups! Duh.

Monday, 25 March 2013


Mr Hundrum and I had words this weekend. About me feeling crap all last week and having to cope, before I stamped my feet in Sunday and spent the afternoon in bed.

I asked him: "Are you not interested in me being ill, not sympathetic or do you think I'm putting it on?"

He replied "I'm not a very thoughtful person." Now this isn't entirely true. Who bought me a new Touche Éclat when mine was running out?

But I can see what he means. It's easier not to be thoughtful when that would mean taking control of the Boy and the household. Let's just pretend she's alright really. Or that she will be better in the morning.

So instead of mumming-up and making myself even more ill, I shall spell it out for Mr Humdrum.

I. A. M. I. L. L.

I. N. E. E. D. T. O. G. O. T. O. B. E. D.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Did I mention I'd been ill?

Having been ill for one week now (not that I have mentioned it much, or moaned about it, or been sent home from work because of it, or been sighing every 10 minutes - something I inherited from my dad), I just hope I'm at the end of the cold-morphing-into-sinusitis.

Mr Humdrum returned from an overnighter in Brighton on Saturday, and threw this at me: "I suppose you'll be going to do our weekly shopping?"

I threw this back. NO. Last Sunday I managed, whilst feeling awful (did I say I had been ill?) to cater for and throw an afternoon party for 20 adults in my house for Mr H's mum's 60th birthday, then during my two days off in bed, I managed to cook for all of us, and pick the Boy up from school, take him to Beavers and swimming, then when I returned to work for two days, only to be sent home early each day, I still picked the Boy up and cooked, oh and looked after him on the aforementioned overnighter when the sinusitis was really kicking in.


So he went shopping. He cooked me a delicious steak in peppercorn sauce. He cleared up. He put the Boy to bed whilst I bathed. He brought me a cup of tea in the bath. I got a lie in, albeit woken up already by the Boy but at 8.30 (not bad), and I have just finished my breakfast in bed, which was two warm croissants with slithers of butter and blueberry jam, oh and with a cup of tea.

Thank you Mr Humdrum. It's just what I needed.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Testing my Blogger app 123

You can tell how long it's been since I blogged properly. I didn't know there was a proper app! This will be fun ...

To test the photo upload, here's me as a baby and my recent Mothering Sunday card. Wow I can upload more than one?!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Liberty, illness and mini Love Bombing

I think I've had a few revelations this week. Firstly this isn't a new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book excerpt, it's a unique JH. He was referencing an artist he'd learned about at school that day; for the life of me, I can't remember the artist's name. His mum and dad will be proud one day, and you saw it first here.

Liberty - Having been off work ill for two days this week and sent home early for the consecutive two, I either didn't feel like looking at Facebook, or when I did, I didn't want to be posting rubbish as I was really at home ill. So I lurked. I read, I commented in my head, and didn't actually comment on anything. There is one post I must go back and comment on - a friend's OH has added his Blackadder quote on the Blackadder Status Day Update last week. But it was liberating to realise that actually, I didn't miss out on anything by not commenting. I didn't feel the pressure to "like" or comment on something. These are the questions I asked myself:

1. What happens if you don't comment within 2 days, do I look rude if I comment on something else and not that?
2. How about those people (you don't know who you are for precisely this reason) who you comment on their posts, because you have something you thought interesting to say, or you asked them a question - but they never reply?
3. Do I feel that my lack of motivation for blogging coincided with my increase in FBing? Yes.

What am I going to do about it?
1. Comment if I really want to, but not if I just feel I ought to.
2. If I need to communicate with someone about something important, I will do it by text or phone. In any case privately.
3. Blog more!

Illness - This is just a rant at myself. I've already said I've been ill this week and I feel a right doughnut saying "It's a cold". I do really suffer with colds, I can't take decongestants and so can't clear my nose. I get sinus infections and they just wipe me out. I am lucky as I don't ever get S&D or anything like that, I just have a weakness for colds. I returned to work too early this week, and got sent home. Next time, I promise myself I will only return to work the day after I feel ok!

Mini Love Bombing - a la Oliver James. Mr Hudmrum is on a boys' night out tonight, and so the boy and I have had a lovely evening on our own. I told a little white lie that no one was going to Beer O'Clock tonight, because I couldn't face going out in the rain and, oh did I say I'd been ill? Well I just wanted to rest. I thought we could watch a film, he chose Finding Nemo. I'm sorry to say I've never seen it but thoroughly enjoyed it, snuggled up under the blanket on the sofa together. He is now asleep next to me, bless him.

I was grumpy earlier. I've since had a chat with my bestie on the phone, and am now feeling happier, except the sore sinuses! And I'm slightly disturbed by the descriptions of the Burlesque show that Mr Humdrum is at...

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Beaver Patrol

Mr and Mrs Humdrum and The Messengers are in the pub. The boys at a Beaver sleepover and we are out on the town. We have played pool and darts and are currently annoying a group of lads headed up by Mr Jason Statham the scaffolder. Well a lookalike. The pub is empty. Mrs Messenger may get twitted in a minute.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Hairy korma

Mrs Humdrum is obsessed with Hairy cooking at the moment. We've had in the last week and a half: chicken korma, cassoulet, spag bol and today lamb tagine is in the oven for tonight, with rice pud to follow. I bought the Hairy Dieters' cook book during half term after I saw a couple of the recipes at a friend's house. It was reduced and I think I paid about a fiver for it. I was tempted not for the diet reasons, but it had what I call "proper" meals in it - casseroles, pies etc; food I would want to cook regardless of being "healthy".

Admittedly I haven't been following the dieting part of the book (have you seen how much pasta 50g actually is?) but I have justified this by feeling inspired again about cooking, and have been enjoying cooking from scratch with healthier ingredients. Maybe I'll start the diet thing later...

The only downside is that the recipes are quite time-consuming (two hours approx each), but then you would expect that if you wanted "proper" food wouldn't you? I made the cassoulet with half the meat, and froze the remainder of the sauce. Next week I only have to cook some sausages and add the defrosted sauce. Next time I will make double and freeze the korma sauce, and may try it with vegetables. The spag bol I might bulk out with a few more beans and vegetables. 

But my verdict so far - fabulous! I will update with a review of the lamb tagine and rice pud later.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Family 5-a-day challenge

I just had a random idea to draw up a 5-a-day fruit n veg challenge wall chart for us. This should work in tandem with my Shuffle not Sniffle pledge (previous post - running and eating soup to stop me getting the kids' germs at school). (Not at the same time.)

It then struck me - I'd only had one apple to register today. Elf had nothing despite having school dinners! He quickly asked for an apple, laughing. I will ask Mr Humdrum but I suspect he will have one item and that'll be the garnish in his bought sandwich.


Must try harder tomorrow!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Please can you help the teaching assisant Miss!

Today I supported a few children in Year 5 in their Science lesson. They were doing a test on light, shadow and the solar system. I realised I need to gen up a bit on the terminology used; I haven't studied this since I was at school... 30 years ago?!

This evening I "redesigned" my two blogs - this one and my personal, private one. Do you like the new layout?

Friday, 18 January 2013

Elf is 7!

Last week Elf turned 7. My little boy. I'm not allowed to call him little anymore. I'm also not allowed to kiss him, or hug him, or well, do anything with him. It's all daddy at the moment. Do 7 year old boys cut their apron strings and velcro themselves to dad?

We had a lovely family meal at Pizza Hut, very civilised, on his actual birthday. The next day we had his local friends to come over for cake n juice. Then tomorrow his exuberant celebrations will be topped off by a football party. This is the cake made by my friend - it's a football match, Man U -v- Real Madrid in 4 4 2 formation. Cool!

Except it's snowing and the football ground is outdoors. Why was he born in January?

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Soup two

Today's effort was good old leek and potato. I amended the recipe slightly (blended it all rather than keeping the waxy potatoes more solid, using all floury potatoes and keeping skins on - more from the point of laziness!). Even Ben ate some, not bad.

I'm also currently chilling sweet potato and sweetcorn burgers that I made earlier. I've made 2 beef ones as I'm sure the boys will turn up their noses at veggie dishes - especially as Ben doesn't like sweetcorn!

I went for my New Year run yesterday and I'm going out again with Ally tomorrow as I finish at 1pm.

Ben's holiday work is done, decs away, shopping done, new trousers bought for work ... Almost ready for the new term tomorrow. I just need to do my nails tonight and get my own school bag ready.

Six weeks til half-term! Yay!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Operation Shuffle not Sniffle starts

New Covent Garden Soup for January 17th "Cream of turnip with smoked ham". Being Cornish I used a swede instead of turnip. It was a lovely consistency but I'm disappointed with the lime taste. It says to add a thick lime slice, and to make sure it's properly blended. Unfortunately for me it's overpowering. But Mr Humdrum and I consumed our bowlfuls for our starter. Fish course later.

The next soup? Leek and potato (January 27th). I may swap cream for crème fraîche though.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013 Day One!

A rare pic of me as Warden at our New Year at the Cells New Year's Eve party.

I wish you all health and happiness for 2013. And to myself too.

2012 was a year that started off in the first month with the shattering news of my redundancy. Four months, s lot of soul searching and hard work later, I started a new job in a role I'd always wanted, and I've never looked back. That's the happiness bit sorted out. It also covers wealth, which I don't like to include if it means financial wealth. I have enough, less than before but I am richer in other ways that I couldn't have dreamt of.

My 41st birthday in June heralded the start of health issues with high blood pressure. I thought I'd been lucky but it's up again.

Resolutions? To look after myself. I've shelled out £25 on the New Coventry Garden Soup book, so I can ensure I put the right stuff in. I'm fed up getting the school kids' sniffles!

And I need to get out onto that common again with my "shuffle running", and I'm also going to start swimming again.

There - only a few little resolutions to keep up. I call it Operation Shuffle not Sniffle!