What is it about crying that makes it so hard to listen to? The sound? The knowledge that someone we love is in pain?

I’ve heard far too much crying this week. One overtired, teething babe who won’t feed because his gums hurt, so he cries because he’s hungry which makes him tired which makes him cry all the more. One overwrought little girl going through a room change at nursery (moving up from toddler room to preschool) who is so bothered by change that her world seems to fall apart; taking out her frustration and worries on the people she can trust are a constant.

I’ve been pretty close to breaking point myself this week. I never thought I would get to the stage where I’d have to put down a crying baby to walk away, but it’s happened twice in the space of a few days. Tall glass of cold water, punch a pillow… something. Then return, cuddle, rock, sing, jiggle, sway, babble… anything to stop the mind wandering into RAGE SHUT THE FUCK UP RAGEEEE territory. That’s not a nice thought.

We’re ok. They’re ok. I’ll probably be ok after another glass of wine.

Cleaning Scraggy Old Carpets

Is scraggy a word? Firefox isn’t flashing me the wiggly red line of doom…

When we moved into this house (the ‘omg mega debt’ house) there were carpets throughout. We made the decision to rip out the carpet in the front room and replace it with cheap vinyl; we did this for two reasons: 1) because the previous owners had a dog and the carpet was thick with dog fluff and 2) because with small children, the idea of scrubbing bodily fluids out of the carpet on a regular basis left me feeling a little nauseous.

Unfortunately we couldn’t afford to replace the carpets house-wide (see above: omg mega debt) so settled for cleaning those upstairs. Except that even borrowing Karl’s mum’s mega expensive Vax didn’t do much for the ancient, crusty carpet in Izzy’s room:

Mega stainage
Ominous stain of unidentified origin

(Clearly I have no shame, sharing these with you…)

So anyway, when I was asked if I wanted some Vanish spray for carpets & upholstery to review I figured I could give it a shot. Worst case scenario I have to do some cleaning (shudder) but best case I get rid of the dodgy stains for free (and free is my favourite price).

Back to the stains… I tried to use the stain removal advice that they’ve got on site (trying to do this properly, right?) but because I am not entirely sure of the origins of the stains I wasn’t sure what to pick (and for the record, I think they’re missing a trick not listing wee / poo / vomit on the guide as that’s what I spend most of my time cleaning up, I swear. ETA: they do! Under ‘body fluids’. Nice.) Enough brackets, where am I? Oh yes, stains.

So I don the rubber gloves and equip myself with the big squirty bottle & at this point I’m feeling all Kim and Aggie but I can’t find any feather boas to stick to my gloves :(

I applied the spray, waited about 1 minute (you’re supposed to wait 5 but I don’t have all day) and gave it a quick scrub:

No more carpet grot, no more ominous stain. Of course now the only problem is that the rest of the carpet is shown up by the clean patch. I’ll just have to make Karl finish it off, and then he can use the coffee stains guide to tackle the old sofa…


I intended on taking part in NaBloPoMo this month. You can see how well that’s turning out for me.

I am writing this whilst rocking side to side, in the hope that my little dude (fastened securely to my chest) will go to bloody sleep. Indeed, Oliver has gone from super easy laid back baby to a super intense ball of woe in the space of a few weeks. Even putting our feeding issues aside, everything seems to be bothering him lately.

— pause to mop up regurgitated milk —

Where was I? Ah yes. Oliver. He appears to be teething, and unlike Isabel who took it in her stride for the most part, he mostly just cries, drools and chews. The extra drool is making his spewing worse (he’s gone from happy-chucker to sicking up viciously acidic curdled milk) which in turn means he won’t sleep lying down. For 3-4 nights last week I only slept for 20 minutes at a time because as soon as I put him down he woke. I’ve managed to get some sleep by propping him up on a pillow half an inch from my face (the proximity is mostly because I’m panicking, probably irrationally, about a young baby being that close to a pillow).

The extra vom is making him resist feeds which makes him grumpy which stops him sleeping which makes him more grumpy which causes crying which makes him windy which makes him grumpy… you can probably see where I’m going with this.

So anyway, as you can imagine this is having a knock on affect on day to day. I’m star … mop up puke #2 … starting to have problems keeping track of my temper which makes me grumpy and naggy with Isabel. Work is slowly slipping behind, and that in itself stresses me which makes the above worse. I’m getting to the top of the work-mountain but it’s taking my evenings up and that’s not ideal for any of us.

It’s also Isabel’s birthday tea on Saturday and I’ve done absolutely nothing for that yet. Oh, the stress.

There’s not really a point to this post. I just wanted a good moan. As you were…

November Meal Planning

A lot more meat than usual in this month’s. I got an offer on a meat box a while back and it’s all sat in the freezer waiting to be used. Figured I should get it cleared out in time for Christmas (uh oh, the C word)

  • Thu 1st: Creamy chicken and leek pasta
  • Fri 2nd: Bangers & mash w/roast veg
  • Sat 3rd: Sweet potato and butternut squash soup
  • Sun 4th: Slow roast lamb shoulder w/trimmings
  • Mon 5th: Lamb casserole
  • Tue 6th: Lamb curry (how far can I stretch the lamb?!)
  • Wed 7th: Veg soup
  • Thu 8th: Veg + potato pie
  • Fri 9th: Salmon fish cakes
  • Sat 10th: Isabel’s birthday tea! :)
  • Sun 11th: Roast chicken
  • Mon 12th: Chicken noodle soup
  • Tue 13th: Toad in the hole
  • Wed 14th: King prawn curry
  • Thu 15th: Corned beef hash
  • Fri 16th: Macaroni cheese
  • Sat 17th: Meatloaf (didn’t make it yesterday because I forgot to take the mince out of the freezer)
  • Sun 18th: Quiche
  • Mon 19th: Spaghetti bolognese
  • Tue 20th: Sweet potato mash ‘n’ meatballs
  • Wed 21st: Chips w/fried eggs & peas
  • Thu 22nd: Homemade coleslaw & baked spuds
  • Fri 23rd: Quick ‘n’ easy pizza (homemade)
  • Sat 24th: Pork chops
  • Sun 25th: Loaded mash with bacon & cheese
  • Mon 26th: Bubble & squeak
  • Tue 27th: Fish pie
  • Wed 28th: Sausage, Potato & Spinach Bake
  • Thu 29th: Chicken strips & chips
  • Fri 30th: Homemade burgers

B. mentioned on my previous meal plan that she noticed the lack of veg on my meal plans. I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating.. I do eat at least 2 portions of veg with every main meal – either as an ingredient or on the side.

I add ‘hidden’ veg, not just to get it past my fussy consumers (aka Karl and Isabel) but because it boosts the veg content without being visually overwhelming. E.g. with my spag bol I will start by softening 2 onions, loads of mushrooms, and a leek:

That’s what.. 2 portions of veg right there? I often grate in courgette (as seen above) or cabbage too. Tinned tomatoes, that’s more veg. I’ll serve it with spaghetti (pasta) and broccoli = more veg. :) Definitely no lack of veg here!

That time of year…

I know when cold and flu season is approaching for one rather unique reason…

Hits to a rather, er.. “interesting” old post of mine fly through the roof.

I have to say, if men suffer from sore testicles when they get a cold, it’s no wonder they moan so much. I can’t imagine that’s much fun. Oh wait, probably a bit like bleeding from your uterus once a month… I feel my sympathy draining away! :P

Scrap or Save

I have been a little frazzled recently, and in an attempt to get some ‘down time’ away from the screen was planning on doing a bit of crochet again. I say “a bit”, because as it stands I have never actually completed a project. In the cot next to my bed (which is used to store clothes, lest you think I’ve given up co-sleeping) is a project I started for the birth of my nephew. My nephew turned 7 this year.

Anyway, I was going to take my hooks and wool on holiday with me at the weekend but unfortunately couldn’t find them before we were due to leave (note to self: do not ever again try to get all packing done in the space of 2 hours right before you leave whilst juggling a baby and a toddler).

On a hunch, I checked the wardrobe earlier and lo and behold, two boxes of yarn (acrylic) and my hooks, as well as various projects I’ve started from over the years. I am thinking about actually finishing a couple of these, but don’t know which to choose. So I’m handing over the decision to you guys… scrap or save? Pick your favourite two, I will endeavour to finish them at some point in the next millenium and might even photograph my progress.

Still Boycotting Nestlé

As my post on my decision to boycott Nestlé is doing the rounds on Facebook again (and I mentioned it on twitter this week) I thought I’d write an update on where I am with it.

Firstly, it’s important to note that I’m not just sitting on my computer moaning about unfair marketing. I support Baby Milk Action with paid membership, and by buying their anti-Nestlé / pro-breastfeeding products. BMA are responsible for keeping Nestlé on their toes by campaigning against their unfair labelling of artificial milks in developing countries, as well as leading the way on campaigning against companies targeting health workers with misleading advertising, etc.

Anyway… the actual boycott. I have completely cut Nestlé purchases out of my life, having not knowingly bought a Nestlé (or Rowntrees, L’Oreal, Body Shop, etc) branded product in over 2 years. I accidentally bought some Buitoni pasta not knowing it was a subsidiary of Nestlé but that, I think, is my only slip up. Considering that — prior to the boycott — I would purchase several Kit Kats a week, drank Nescafé coffees almost exclusively, regularly bought Nestlé cereals, ice cream, etc I am quite pleased with how easy to cut the company out of my shopping basket when I put my mind to it.

Of course, even if we assume that I spent £1000 a year on Nestlé products, that’s little more than a pebble in the ocean for this huge multinational monster. But… my post has been seen by over 30,000 different people in 2 years. Who knows how many of those people have removed even just one product from their lives, or talked about the boycott with someone else. I know of several people who now boycott Nestlé because of my post.

Every time someone thinks twice about buying a Kit Kat, I feel like I’ve achieved a small victory.

The Nestlé boycott is the longest running boycotts worldwide and Nestlé are one of the most boycotted brands in the UK. It continues to be necessary because they continue to use underhand techniques to market their artificial milks (not translating safety information on labels in foreign countries, trying to weaken baby milk legislation in a country where thousands of babies die because of inappropriate artificial milk feeding etc).

As well as the baby milk issues, they are also boycotted because of their testing on animals, use of child slave labour to harvest cocoa, rainforest destruction etc

Why aren’t you boycotting them yet?

Update: Wikipedia has a full Nestlé product list including country-specific brands.

Comfort Shopping

I realised yesterday that I’ve been comfort spending over the past few weeks.

It’s somewhat ironic that a shopping hater would reach out to shopping to fill a gap where my sanity once was, but I guess it’s easy to click your mouse button a few times when you compare it packing a toddler and baby into the car, driving to the shops, herding the toddler and baby into a shop, try and find what you want whilst preventing the toddler from getting sticky fingerprints on the shop goods, pick out the item and get it to the checkout to pay before the inevitable boredom tantrum sets in (toddler, not me ;D)

Except that it’s not all been online purchases anyway. Silly extra purchases at Tesco are adding up again; going in to buy a loaf of bread and spending just shy of £20, buying a box of chocolates “just because”, splurging on pizza because I can’t be bothered to cook. The budget is slipping.

I blame stress (saves me having to take responsibility, you see). Trying to juggle a little girl who’s suddenly realised that Oliver is here to stay and is regressing to babyhood: extra cuddles, wanting to sit in the highchair (we fished it out so that the novelty of it being there would wear off before it’s actually needed), wanting bottles and dummies despite never having had either (thanks, nursery); then there’s the increasing pressure to work & earn whilst juggling housework and a teething, grumpy baby; fast-approaching holiday requiring organisation and £££; lack of sleep… the list of excuses is endless.

I’ve mostly bought things that will actually be used, like more clothes for fat baby Oliver and a kettle that works and doesn’t take an hour or so to boil. But there’s also the extra nappies that weren’t really necessary, the ring sling that will get used but I could have lived without, the cute sleepsuits that were twice the price of a second hand bundle from ebay… you get the picture.

Still, Karl’s mum has paid for us all to go to Wales this weekend so it’ll be a good opportunity to have a break and get away from my screen. When I get back I need to sort through the various purchases and clutter, sell stuff off to get money coming back in, then it’s back to budgeting big time!

3 ways I’ve saved money in September

Part of my ongoing mission to save money this year, these things have saved me money this month (unfortunately I could only come up with 3 things)

1. Moved hosting

I moved away from Site5 in 2009 after they botched a routine server upgrade. Clook, my host of choice have been fantastic since then but are pricier than most. In an effort to save money long term I’ve moved my less important sites back to Site5 so that I can downgrade my Clook account but keep any “vital” bits as-is. When cashflow increases I’ll probably reverse this unless Site5 gives me reason not to (not looking good so far, had 2 lots of downtime in a month).

2. Been flexible with my meal plan

I am fairly good at sticking to my monthly meal plan, but last month whilst in Tesco I spotted 2.5kg of lamb shoulder on a half price offer (£20 down to £10) but, because it was short-dated, was also reduced again down to £5. That’s a crazy amount of meat for a fiver! Slow roasted til it fell off the bone, I was able to do several main meals with it and have a weeks worth of sandwiches (and picking at it every time I opened the fridge door, ha).

As I’d have spent £5 on a chicken the weekend I went in, it saved me the cost of the ‘missed’ main meals for no extra money.

3. Bought frozen desserts

Last month was CAKE-FEST, a yearly(ish) event in which my bestest friends from t’interwebs invade my house and eat cheesecake, cake, crisps etc. I’d normally buy premade cheesecakes for the event from the fridges in Tesco/Co-op which are a few quid each. This time I was a cheapskate and bought frozen desserts for £1-£2 instead. Nobody complained!

Did you see the 5 ways I saved money in August? You’re going to need to give me tips for saving money this month, as I’m running out of ideas!


Today I’m just going to ramble on about the ‘stuff’ that is going on here. First, though, thank you if you answered my question yesterday. Context: I had it in my head that my long-time readers had all but buggered off after I had the kids. It’s nice to see how many of you are floating about despite the talk of boobs and poo etc ;) I’m especially impressed that some of you have been ‘here’ since the beginning. Wow. Anyway…

  • I launched WAHMweb this week, for mums like me working from home. It’s as much to get help as to give it… there’s a distinct lack of info out there on tax, benefits, entitlements etc for mums (and dads) working from home and lots of misinformation too. I hope to be adding some posts to Jem On WordPress re: technical side of things when I get 15 mins spare.
  • I am now pretty much fully booked with projects until the end of November at least, which I’m finding a little daunting. Not the time aspect — I’ve left plenty of ‘spare’ time to account for unforeseen problems, illness etc — but because people are paying me to do stuff. Despite having done this for 8 or so years, now that I’m fully accountable for myself it’s bloody scary.
  • Isabel is withholding again after 6 or so months doing brilliantly, and Oliver appears to be teething, so two grumpy kids means I’m a little on edge. Doesn’t help that I’ve dramatically reduced my coffee intake over the past few days to see if it was coincidence that Oliver slept better the night after the day I didn’t have chance to drink any.
  • I’ve got a bunch of product reviews in progress. Nobody has complained about these yet, are they bugging people? I’m not being paid for reviews but do get sent the stuff for free.
  • I need a bigger margin on these list items…

Random Question

To lurkers and non-lurkers alike… how long have you been reading my blog, roughly? Just being extraordinarily nosy :)

October Meal Planning

I was really struggling to fill the plan this month. I don’t know whether tiredness (Oliver is unwell) is killing my inspiration or just because it’s a long month, but I’ve had to repeat several meals from earlier months. Nothing necessarily wrong with that, just boring long term. Anyway, without further do…

  • Mon 1st: Roast chicken
  • Tue 2nd: Chicken soup
  • Wed 3rd: Bangers & mash
  • Thu 4th: Spaghetti bolognese
  • Fri 5th: Pizza baguettes (because they worked so well last week
  • Sat 6th: Fish fingers & chips
  • Sun 7th: Mince ‘n’ tatties
  • Mon 8th: Beef burgers & sweet potato chips
  • Tue 9th: Fish pie
  • Wed 10th: Slow roasted belly pork
  • Thu 11th: Vegetable stir fry
  • Fri 12th: Bean curry
  • Sat 13th: Cottage pie
  • Sun 14th: Bacon & broccoli pasta
  • Mon 15th: Toad in the hole
  • Tue 16th: Chilli pasta bake
  • Wed 17th: Butternut squash soup
  • Thu 18th: Sausage casserole
  • Fri 19th: Leftovers
  • Sat 20th: Poached fish & mash
  • Sun 21st: Roast chicken
  • Mon 22nd: Chicken stir fry
  • Tue 23rd: Lamb & sweet potato pie
  • Wed 24th: Cheese toasties & beans
  • Thu 25th: Baked spuds
  • Fri 26th: Omelettes
  • Sat 27th: Creamy salmon pasta
  • Sun 28th: Gammon steaks & mash
  • Mon 29th: Corned beef hash
  • Tue 30th: Chicken chow mein
  • Wed 31st: Meatloaf (never made this before?!)

Ps. if any of you want any recipes for the stuff I make, you only have to ask :) I’m writing up my fish pie recipe as a post for some point this week (hopefully)