dear diary :: cleaning, baking and shopping

Back to grey and dismal and plenty of rain yesterday. How glad am I that I decided to go in the garden on Sunday whilst it was dry and sunny and get my planters sorted. It was far too dark to sew the jumper or do anything that required plenty of concentration and light, even with my daylight anglepoise switched on.

So I cleaned instead – both bathrooms and our bedroom. Not a thorough clean but not a quick flick of the duster either, just enough to bring a shine and that lovely smell of clean freshness into each room. I like to fling the windows open in the mornings even if it is raining – I do end up with wet window sills sometimes.

Lunch was a simple affair; we had more of the mushroom soup (the recipe is now in the recipe tab) with the remains of the previous night’s salad and a few slices of bread and butter.

Then I set to and baked the four victoria sandwich cakes that will make up the birthday cake. They are so simple to make – I only have two sandwich tins of the same size though – I used the smaller 8″ ones as we don’t want a huge cake to eat. What a shame I couldn’t bake all four at once to save on electricity. I might just invest in two more tins as I can see that there are going to be many children’s birthdays coming up in the future.

The cakes are now layered between greaseproof paper and in the freezer. I will be taking them up with us to my daughter’s house on Saturday so that Little L can help decorate it once I have assembled the layers with a little jam and cream. I am planning on plain vanilla buttercream around the outside covered with these colourful sprinkles I found in Sainsbury’s. I think Little L will manage the sprinkles quite well!

I planned a few meals to take us up to Friday evening and went down to Sainsbury’s for the shopping. We were later setting off than I would have liked by the time the cakes were cooked and cooled and we met with the after school traffic and the queues. It made me feel quite glad that I no longer have to battle this traffic every night after work.

I bought a dress in Sainsbury’s that was half price – reduced to £9 – it needs a good press and I hope it fits. It is made of a warm stretchy jersey and I can wear it with fine wool tights and my boots so I will probably wear it on Sunday for the birthday get together.

DH has a second coat on the walls now but is going for a third to make sure it will not need redecorating for a long time. Sorry for the poor photo quality the light is really so bad again today. The ceiling is All White and the walls Ammonite – a soft grey that we are using throughout the house as we decorate each room. We also have lights.

Tomorrow might see the end of the painting and then the part I have been waiting for – assembling and fitting the units. Once these are in I will be able to see what space I have and start planning what might go where.

We have never had a microwave other than at the cottage as I enjoy cooking and make most of our meals from scratch each day. The only reason we had one at the cottage was because we had to manage for a week without a cooker or fridge when we first bought the place. When we do our kitchen (planned for next year) we will be in the same position again, without cooker and fridge for a while, so we thought a small microwave might be useful and we can keep it and use it in the pantry.

On a different note altogether I thought I might mention the book I am reading – borrowed from the library – The Christmas Reader by Godfrey Smith. It is a collection of Christmas stories and poems. Some of them are quite interesting because they are reminiscences and diary entries from famous people such as Harold Macmillan and young Queen Victoria.

Harold Macmillan and his family spent their Christmas at Chatsworth – his account of this exuberant Christmas period is fascinating. Many of the Devonshire family and their additional friends and guests arrived with their own staff and ponies so the numbers ultimately reached to 150 people spending Christmas at Chatsworth – that is some party and a lot of catering! Many of the women and children stayed on after the Christmas festivities for another 2-3 weeks (imagine that!).

The excerpt I read last night was about as opposite as you can get – a piece written by Winifred Foley from A Child in the Forest and part of a trilogy about the hardships of a very poor family. Their Christmas breakfast was half a tin of Nestlé milk to share on their toast. I would like to read more so will be tracking her books down in the library – maybe some readers have already read them?

Today is dismal again I am not sure I should attempt sewing up the jumper but I do have plenty of paperwork to be doing – the receipts are mounting up and I haven’t done an October tally yet to see what shape our finances are in. Interestingly, Lucinda mentioned in her recent post about ‘feeling’ when her finances were OK even when she had no hard figures to view and I can very much relate to that. I think we all know when we might have overspent.

I also have the November birthday cards to write and get ready for delivery or posting. I hope I made enough. If I have any time left over I will probably look at the Christmas card design again.

Better go and get on with the day now – have a good one. x

20 Replies to “dear diary :: cleaning, baking and shopping”

  1. Imagine your cake is going to be quite lovely, especially with the magic decorating touch of Little L.

    When I read about what you accomplish in a day–and how hard you are on yourself about not doing enough–it truly makes me feel like a slug. Spent the morning yesterday with my littlest grandchildren (all under 4) and by the time I came home in the afternoon, I was shattered. 🙂


    1. Hi Mary and thanks for your comments and observations – you are my voice of reason at times.
      I suppose I am comparing my efforts at home with what I accomplished at work – my employer would never have paid me to get so little done in a day! I have spent more than an hour chatting with my younger daughter this morning so am already late making the soup – I can see where my time gets eaten away but I wouldn’t want my daughters not to phone me.
      I would love to spend more time with my grandchildren and it is exhausting – no energy afterwards to do anything else and I can vouch for that so please don’t feel ‘sluggish’.
      I apologise if I make anyone feel they are not doing enough -if readers out there have more time to do something for themselves or just do nothing then I for one am so envious and want some of that. I keep thinking if I try harder to get the things done I need to do then there will be time for me, but somehow that never happens.
      I definitely need to sort myself out somehow to get off my treadmill and start living a slower life – leaving work certainly didn’t do it for me!! x


      1. I know just how you feel about talking with your daughter(s). My daughter calls me almost every afternoon on her way home from work. She has an hour commute and most days we talk her whole way home. Or should I say, I let her talk. She has a big job–one where she supervises many people in addition to working in another whole area of expertise–so her stress factor is high. She also has a 5 year old who just started school this year, so lots on her mind and heart. Nothing I could do in a day is more important than being there for her or others in my family–all other tasks can simply wait. Even dinner. And lord knows the dust won’t care. 🙂


        1. You are so right Mary – I feel the same way – I could never talk my problems over with my mum so always want to be there for my daughters without interfering. Sometimes though I would like an early night when we talk late the problems go around in my mind. x


  2. That is a lovely dress from Sainsbury’s. I do like their clothes – they are usually made from more robust quality fabric than you find elsewhere at those prices, and their sale prices are worthwhile. Our nearest store is 30 miles away, so only for an occasional ‘treat’. I got a lovely white top with colourful peasant style embroidery in their sale this summer. Only problem was that the weather wasn’t warm enough for me to wear it! I’m hopeful for next year.
    We are pretty much microwave refuseniks as well. My husband likes it for re-heating stuff, but I can never find the sweet spot and end up with food either frazzled or cold. And it has a weird way of mutating certain foods into alien substances. When we do our house renovation it’s going to be banished to the utility room.


    1. How lovely to hear that you do not use the microwave – I thought I was the only one! If it wasn’t for thinking ahead and knowing we will need something when we do the kitchen I would not be bothered for one. We had to decide because we needed to put electric sockets in the pantry for future use. It does warm my wheatbag up well though I must admit – that is all I use it for at the caravan and an occassional baked potato.


  3. What a smart dress you found. It should like nice with boots.
    I always open up my windows for ten minutes in the morning, even when it is wet and windy and rain comes smattering inside. The family all complain but I feel it freshens the air in the house.
    The above comments about the microwave are interesting. We put ours in the garage for twelve months to see if we would miss it. We only used it once, so got rid of it.


  4. How lovely that you’ve baked the birthday cake and are going to decorate it with your grandchild. I would love to see where all those sprinkles end up 🙂

    I’ve never cooked in my microwave but I do use it for re-heating bits and bobs and our one microwave ping meal we have which is curry.

    I could just pull a chair up to your lunch table. It looks delicious. xx


  5. I use my microwave several times a day and also my toaster oven. How do you warm up your cup of coffee when it has sat for half an hour while you do something else? Also it’s great for leftovers.


  6. What a lot you have accomplished in a day. All important jobs to keep a house running smoothly, even if we are not keen housework needs to be done. It might sound a tad weird but I do find that if I embrace a job, even one that I don’t really want to do, then it makes it so much easier to complete and I feel like I have done it quicker even if that is not the case. I realised that I was wasting energy on resentment and wishing I could be doing something else.

    When my children were really little I resented the loss of me time, I found that I could do things for myself they just had to fitted in around everything else so I worked out ways that I could do those things in small chunks of time, breaking each thing into smaller segments and by being organised I could fit them in when I suddenly found that I had some time to myself.


    1. I actually like cleaning and tidying it gives me a great sense of satisfaction – if I ever put anything off doing it is not usually the cleaning!
      My time issues have arisen more since I left work and I haven’t as yet found a good way to have me time and not feel too guilty. When I worked and had some money I would have a massage or refexology at least twice a month and go out to lunch with friends. I haven’t done any of this since leaving.


  7. Your lunch table looks delicious yet comforting. I love those sort of lunches, especially when hubby is working at home and can join me. Your sponges look lovely and light. I too, wonder where all the hundreds and thousands will end up. I used them last week on a traybake and hundreds rolled off under my toaster! You had a good bargain with dress. I’m actually wearing last years version of it today, it’s so comfy with thick tights and boots.


    1. I may have the same last years version and certainly have the year before that – I love this styl so easy to wear – I used to wear them at work and everyone asked where did you get that dress.
      The hundreds and thousands might end up more like tens and hundreds on the cake and the rest inside Little L or on the floor.


  8. The dress is lovely. I’ve purchased some items from Sainsbury’s myself recently and found them to be very good quality.
    I’m looking forward to seeing the decorated cake. X


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