Monday, 29 February 2016

Feeling my age

DH laid half of the sub-floor in the front bedroom today, so I could start emptying the box room.

The box room is packed. Not only does it have the stuff that usually resides there (bookcases bursting with books), but it has a load of stuff from the front bedroon is as well.

I'd made a pre-emptive strike yesterday,  taking some large items and putting them in the loft.  I hated doing it, all that space I've made, I don't want to fill it up again.  However, the items weren't going to be donated or sold, and they might as well be stuffing up theloft rather than stuffing up a room downstairs.  At least that's what I kept telling myself.

So today I started to empty the bookcases.  I've now run out of folding crates, bankers boxes,  and bags... and I've only emptied 1 and a half book cases.    I did manage to identify a pile of books to go to the animal charity's next jumble sale (and I've put them in the boot of my car to take them there),  and I've offered some sets of books for free on a local Facebook page.  If they don't go by tomorrow, they will also be in the boot of my car.

I need to pop to Costco to get some more Bankers Boxes.  I was oscillating between getting bankers boxes of getting more folding crates, and in the end decide don the BBs because they are easier to load, carry more, and are easier to pick up than filled crates.  They are also cheaper than crates, and are on offer this week.  Plus I can use them in the loft afterwards.    It was too close to rush hour to go to Costco, so I'm now doing some other bits and pieces and I'll go later this evening.  

I'm feeling my age.  I would usually have been able to get all this done and dusted  (I've done it before when we were doing something with the wiring) without the need for a break,  but I just can't do that now.   The old woman inside me is saying "oh, just leave it until tomorrow", whereas the young woman inside me is shouting "FFS, if you get a move on you can get the first coat of paint on before you go to bed!!!!".

I'm feeling my age because the old woman is winning. I'll see how I feel when I get back from Costco with the boxes.

Saturday, 27 February 2016


I'm buttermaking this morning. 

I forgot to take the cream out o fthe fridge last night, so it's very cold - too cold really. It's taking ages to churn.  I'd also managed to put the dishwasher on containing my main colander, so I was having to improvise a bit with some of the stuff.

 The first 1.5 litres of double cream was fine, although it took a looooooong time.   The second 1.5 litres, also fine but a looong time.   I left it in a plastic sieve, over a funnel,  over a special jusg, collecting some of the buttermilk.  I was pouring the 3rd lot of cream into my Thermy jug when I heard a SPLAT.

One and a half litres of double-cream-turned-into-butter was on the floor.

Friday, 26 February 2016

Ta Da

Got up this morning and straight into my very paint splattered clothes.    Did the "final" round of cutting in and coat of paint, and also painted over the bits DH filled.  That bit will need sanding and another coat, and I'll do that tomorrow, probably.

I had to mentally divide the room into small sections, so I could think You're 3/18ths through, 4/18ths through..... I had to grit my teeth when I got to 18/18ths and decided I would after all paint over the bits DH had filled. I'm glad I did.

I was desperate for my shower and hair wash by the time I'd finished, and I was ravenous.

When I'm in the room, it looks like the colour hasn't really changed - even though I know it's tens of shades paler/lighter than the original.   I took a photo just to reassure myself. However, the colour looks completely washed out in the photo, so no idea what's going on there!

It was very bright in there, so maybe the dazzle was affecting the camera.

I'll take another photo another day, maybe when we've put the floor down, or something.

The radiator is back on, DH is (I think) putting the sockets back on the wall as I type.   I'm keen to get the desk and bed pushed over to the window so that  I can start emptying the small bedroom.  I'd like to get that emptied and painted over the next week or so. 

It's been 18 years since either room was painted.   On that basis, I suspect this will be the last time I shift furniture and paint them myself... next time it'll be a job for a handyman.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

Chicken Kiev

Yesterday's dinner was meant to be Chicken Kiev.

Usually, the ony chicken we eat is the chicken we raise ourselves,  so home-made chicken dishes are something of a rarity in our house.   I'd planned to make Chicken Kiev fir dinner, and defrsted two chicken breasts in preparation.

The decision to do the painting, and the state of me after the painting had occurred, put paid to that idea, and the chicken breasts went back into the fridge. 

I decided to prepare the Kievs this morning,  before I went out to get the paint.

I had seen one of those How It's Made programmes a while ago, where it showed commercial Kievs being made.  Some horrendous number per chicken breast was achieved.   I've made Kiev several times, and every time I realise that one breast each is just too much.  

I knew that when I got the chicken breasts out of the freezer.  But they were quite small.  I defrosted two anyway.

By the time I'd bashed them, stuffed them, rolled them, ad fkour-egg-breadcrumbed them, they were HUGE. 

I left them in the fridge while I got on with my day.

They're cooking now, smell lovely!


Two parakeets visited us today, the first time we've seen them in weeks.
They've been attacking the feeder on and off all day.  If they manage to get in, we'll have the whole swarm of them in the garden.

On a happier note, I saw a blue tit eating from the FlutterButter feeder (hanging down from the main feeder in the photo).   At last!  It's been up for a few months, and the only taker has been the squirrels... and they are really struggling to get in to it.  (ha!)

Back ache

Now that the old "fitted" "wardrobe" has been removed, I decided yesterday to get on with painting the guest bedroom.

The original colour was a vivid aqua, very fashionable in its time.  I wanted to keep the room an aqua colour, but I wanted to tone it down a lot.

The old colour
I wanted to use the same colour as we currently have in our main bedroom; partly because I like the colour, and also because it makes life easier to have fewer paint pots kicking around when it comes to redecorating or touching up. 

I'd already tried to get paint last week. Homebase had a "3 for 2" offer on, which included Dulux specially mixed paint (it wasn't a special mix when I originally bought it,  but colours come and go).   It was a compkete palaver, with the guy at Homebase being unable to do it. 

Anyway. The room needed neutralising before I put the new colour on. Yay.  An extra round of painting.  What fun.

Yesterday was Diamond Club day at B&Q, so we took the opportunity to buy some plywood to put on top of the floorboards (before the flooring goes down), and the white paint. 

It took forever to do all the masking yesterday.  I then got changed into an old pair of summer trousers,  one of DH's old shirts,  an old pair of glasses, and a shower cap.  I was also armed with several pairs of disposable gloves,  and a stack of "j cloth" tyoe cloths which I'd cut into small squares and soaked.  Cutting in began, with a 5litre can of Once Matt .  And then painting.   I could hardly move afterwards.  I was covered in paint.  I had a shower, did some stretches, gave up any hope of cooking dinner and ordered a takeway

I wish I'd taken a picture of the neutralised room.  I took the opportunity to repaint the coving while I was up the ladder. I couldn't face doing the ceiling, a decision which I think I may regret.

Today, I decided I really wanted to get on with it. I hadn't chosen an alternative colour,  so I found a Dulux Decorator Centre which would mix it in Trade paint for me.  Luckily for me they were offering 25% off this week (which I hadn't realised),  so I got 2 x 5 litre cans while I was at it. .  Enough to paint the small room as well, when we get around to it.  While I was out, DH did some filling and sanding.

As soon as I got back, I got changed and got on with it.   The room has now had it's first coat of the new colour.  It's lovely.  But it looks very similar to the old colour.   At least, it did when I was looking at it. It doesn't look so much like it now I'm looking at the photo.   It IS lighter.  It's just the room is North facing and is, presumably, making the colour look darker. Deeper. Stronger.

My shoulders are killing me now. 

There's a little bit of sanding to do, and the bits that were filled today still need their first coat.   Hopefully I can get on and get it all done tomorrow. Or Saturday.   I just want it out of the way. 

I hate painting.   I like it when the room has been done, and I get some self-satisfaction knwoing I've done it myself,  but I really don't enjoy the process.  

The new flooring has been ordered. The sliding doors have been ordered.   I can't wait to get all the stuff out of our bedroom (and everywhere else in the house) and get back to some semblance of normality.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Holding my breath

Wash had a Vet appointment today, a bandage change - the first since he had the pins removed.  He's been confined to his pen mostly, with just being allowed out a couple of times in the last 2 days.  He wasn't putting any weght on his leg on either occasion.

 I found myself holding my breath as the leg was unwrapped,  nervous that it not be well underneath.  It was OK.  Because the Vet had cleaned his foot up after the last op, tit actually looked better than it had done last  time we saw it.  Cats secrete sebum, which usually gets licked into their fur making a glossy coat.  Wash's foot had still be excreting sebum underneath his dressings, but there wasn't anywhere for the sebum to go. so his foot looked a bit ropey all the way along.

I didn't have good light t take a pic, sorry,

He's busy washing his foot now, the kitty equivalent of scratching once a plaster cast has been removed.  We've got to keep an eye on him...if he over-grooms, there will be no alternative: he will have to have a collar of shame.

Cage rest for at least another week.  Poor muffin.

Spemd, spend, spend

I've just bought a second hand steam press.  Not particularly noteworthy, perhaps,  except for the fact that I don't do any ironing. At all.    I had an expensive steam generator iron which sat, unused, in the utility room for years.  I got it out when I was transferring photos onto tablecloths for DH's birthday party,  and I dropped it.  I bought a cordless iron after that, to finish the photo job (and which I had actually forgotten about until this moment. Bugger.).    It went into a drawer after the tablecloths were finished.  And then I bought a small iron to use for my sewing.

I had toyed with the idea of a steam press once before, but common sense prevailed and I resisted.  I ithought about it again recently when I started to reorganise the gues bedroom so that it would also include my sewing area,  and I put in some Ikea Kallax units....the top of which looked perfect for a steam press, and a steam press would be great for sewing.     I decided to keep an eye out for a suitable second hand press.

Today one popped up reasonably locally, at a reasonable price.  Cheap enough for me to buy it, try it, and sell it again if it didn't work out.   I bought it and collected it this afternoon.   

It was 5 years old, used once.

Hmm. Not so sure about that.  I'm guessing it was stored without a box somewhere. Still, it's cleaned up now and I've ordered a new pad and cover (which I had planned to do anyway).  I haven't been able to try it,  the original cover was clean, but smelled heavily of Febreeze.  The foam was a bit ropey.

Hope the blummen thing works!

My biggest sewing project yet

I've committed myself to a sewing project.  Not embroidery, sewing.

I'm sure I can do it.  I managed to do the Poang chair covers,  I'm sure I can manage this. Especially as I'm cheating.

I bought some fabric from Calico Kate in Lampeter. It's lovely, chickeny fabric. I unpacked it from my overnight bag whilst in my bedroom, and I had a sudden idea about making a duvet cover from it. 

I thought about this in some detail over the weeks following my purchase, and I thought about what was good and what was bad about the idea.   The main bad idea was cost.   When I calculated the cost for enough fabric to make a superking sized duvet cover, it made my eyes water.   Plus, the fabric wasn't wide enough so I'd have to pattern match...   

And then I had a brainwave. 

I ordered 2m more of the Farmville fabric (which was on offer at Inspirations Handicrafts, and then I just needed to wait for M&S to have a sale. Which they did yesterday. 

I only bought a metre originally, as I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it.  There wasn't any point in buying just another single metre as I'd have to join them, I might as well buy 2 metres.  And that meant I still  had my original metre to do something else with. Or, more realistically, to look at it and stroke occasionally. 

 It's a common problem.

Not just me.
Anyway,  in the sale I bought a white percale flat king sized flat sheet,  and a teal  Tencel Superking sized flat sheet.  When it arrives, I will have everything I need.  I WILL make this duvet cover.

I need to wash the fabric first in case it shrinks.I'd better do that today, otherwise that'll be an excuse for me not to get on with it.

How big IS your loft?

The chap who came to collect my gorgeous Ikea chandelier asked me.

He had been before to pick up a couple of other items, and had seen my numerous local "free" and "for sale" posts.

I was up in the loft again this morning to finish off a few bits.   Today's offerings include a brand new, unused, superking sized hungarian goose down duvet,  some carpet,   electric fencing unit which we think is broken,  and a bit for the fireplace grate that I sold earlier in the week. The lady was very understanding about that,

The last two days of excavating has released a huge amount of space.  I've now been able to do some organising as well as clearing.   I'm still after the quick wins,  so the boxes of memorabilia are just piled up in one place, none of them has been sorted. 

I also left the box of photos, marked "scanned photos", up there.  I scanned these many years ago,  I hadn't  realised I'd kept them.   I'm glad I did, because scanning technology has moved on considerably, and I could rescan them now and get much better results.   I haven't opened the box and I can tell, without doing so, that if I do decide to do some rescanning, I'm going to be very selective about which photos I bother with.   That's a job for next winter, maybe.

I am coming to the end of my enthusiasm for this particular bout of decluttering.  I've got one "aisle" left to excavate, and I'll try and get that done before I give up.  It would be a sense of achievement to have had one complete pass through of all the stuff I feel able to evaluate. 

DH can have a turn next. Yep, like that's going to happen.   He's got far more pressing things to do, like prepping and laying the floor in the spare bedroom, and then fitting wardrobes.

The loft isn't going any where.

Monday, 22 February 2016


More collections of previously excavated stuff, and I was back up in the loft to continue clearing.  I managed to excavate a huge amount of stuff today. I was going to offer it free locally, but I've decided to take everything to my chosen charity.    I don't care that some of it might come in handy. I don't care that I could probably sell  some of it.  Right now, my need for space and to be a bit free-er of clutter  is greater than anything.

Many trips down the ladder, then downstairs, to pile up the haul.   Back in the loft, suddenly I have a bit of space.  Not just space to work in, where I have to play that intricate game of draughts to move in an area,, no!  Real space!

Several empty shelves!  Floor space! 

I was flagging, but I wanted to try and "finish" on a proper "finishing point".  I remembered that in my search for some china the other day, I'd realised that several boxes of our wedding present bone china was sitting in an area of the loft which I would say, on the whole, houses my DH's stuff.  I decided I'd share my retrieved space, and I moved the china on to my empty shelves, freeing up some space for him.   I did put a couple of boxes of "manly stuff" in "his" area as well.

There is still more areas for me to excavate,  plus coming back to the previously excavated areas and going through some of the boxes. We've got quite a few "memorabilia" boxes,  and several "future antiques" boxes. However, going through those is unlikely to end up in any real space saving, at best I'll chuck out some stuff and combine a couple of boxes.  

I need to continue with the big wins.  Well, "big" in the scale of loft clearing, anyway.

Little things....


Washy has been very patient.

He's been on cage rest since Friday afternoon.  We had him out for cuddles on Saturday evening, and again on Sunday evening, but other than that he's been confined.

This morning we decided to let him out to have a bit of a leg stretch.  He hobbled out a couple of feet, then lay down on the rug in front of the stove (which wasn't on).  Later, he went for a three-legged walk round the kitchen, hoovering up Izzy's leftover dry food.  He had an explore of the Utility room, and then came back to lie on the rug.

He can stay out for a bit longer, then we'll put him away again.

I'm keen to get the first bandage change done so we can see what's happening.

Friday, 19 February 2016

So much for sitting on my hands

I couldn't wait, so I ended up cleaning.  The hall, stiars, landing, bathroom, all look really lovely.

It won't last.

I've been in the loft again and done a bit more excavating.  I retrieved the china that I'd misplaced, and was shocked by just how many plates I have in that design.  I might sell some on Ebay. But I probably won't.
I've brought down some other stuff - some lovely stainless steel frying pans, some saucepans, more Ikea stuff (some still in packaging).    It's all packed into boxes to go to a local charity.

I also brought down the matt white emulsion - not sure it's still liquid, I'll find out tomorrow,  plus my painstick, the paintstick spares,  some special clingfilm type stuff for protecting skirtings, and some brushes. 

I will be neutralising the walls over the weekend.


It was 13.50.

We'd cleaned and vacuumed the room where the work had been done; I'd done a swish and swipe on the landing; I'd finished cleaning the bathroom - including washing all the tiles; I'd vacuumed the stairs and cleaned the wooden bits; I'd washed the hall floor, and I was vacuuming the kitchen ready to wash that floor.

DH came downstairs and I turned the vac off.  "The Vet has just rung.  We can go and collect Wash".

We ran round doing all the stuff that has to be done before we can leave the house, including shutting the Girls away (and noticing that the bl**dy rat had been back already!).   We arrived at the Vet, anxious to see Washy.

The Op went ahead.  Part of the foot has healed well, part of is has healed but not as much as the Vet would like.   The foot is bandaged up (good job we didn't promise Wash a bandage-free foot!),  and Wash is to be on complete cage rest for a week or two.

He's back home now, in his cage, looking very sorry for himself.  He keeps trying to get out.  When pulling at the locks with his curled paw doesn't work, he puts his head down and pushes, hard.   He's used that tactic on catflaps in the past, and has always managed to smash through any cat flap lock (That's why we block the hole, we don't trust any cat flap lock).  He's doing it now as I'm sitting here typing.

Poor little man, he just doesn't understand.

It's not forever though.  The Vet said "a couple of weeks".  It'll be at least 5 days, until his next dressing change and Vet appointment.  We can see what the Vet says then.

Let the dust settle

The builders are finishing off today.  They've been really careful - despite this, and our dust sheets, door blocks and other precautions, there is of course a film of building dust everywhere.   

I'm getting very twitchyand I need to sit on my hands until it has all settled, and then start the cleaning process.

I'm also desperate to paint the walls, but I know I can't until the new plaster has dried out.   Although I could do a coat of white paint to tone donwn the bright colour on the old walls. 

But I can't do any of that until the dust has settled. And been cleaned.

Oh, and don't get me started about bl**dy Dulux paint and Homebase yesterday!!

Rats, fits and Freegle frustrations

A frew weeks ago, I discovered evidence of rats in the chicken run.  One had tunnelled into the run, leaving a lot of freshly excavated earth.  

We suspect that the rats are living in or under the compost heap,  or under one of the sheds.   We had discussed what to do and, in the end, decided to put rat poison down.  I hate rat poison, it's a horrible way for rats to die.... but we didn't have an alternative now that they are coming into the chicken run.

All was quiet, for a long  time.  And then yesterday,  unexpectdedly, more excavated earth.   More poison went down.


Izzy had another fit on Wednesday morning.  We don't expect her to be fit free, and the medication for her heart won't have kicked in yet, so we carried on as before.     She had another fit this morning,  so we're going to increase her dose slightly.  Poor girly.

I've done three washes of the floor and walls around the fit area so far.  Washy has just gone to the Vet for his Big Op,  so at least I can have the doors and windows open to air the house. 


Why do people respond to Freegle posts, and then fail to turn up? It's such bad manners.


Wednesday, 17 February 2016

I mean business

I've been up in the loft again, while DH was out as that usually leads to fewer arguments.   It was like managing one of those hand held move-one-square puzzles, but I meant business.

The first little bit was jiggling space so I could get to the back of the loft, to find that Ikea Komplement stuff I saw earlier in the week.  It was like being at a barn dance,  moving things round behind me so I could move forward a step.  Anyway, once I'd got that stacked by the loft hatch, I had a clear shelf.  From there I was able to move stuff around, open boxes, and  Make Decisions. 
I was exhausted by the time DH returned.  I was really pleased to see him, I was still in the loft, as it meant I could pass things down to him instead of having to go up and down the ladder.

I've just finished posting a whole load of items on our local Facebook group.  Almost everything is offered free... I just want to get shot of it, and it seems a shame to take it to landfill.  However, to landfill it WILL go if I can't get any takers.  A lovely Ikea chandelier,  an electric steamer,  Ikea Komplement bits,  an almost new cast iron grate set,  I'm amazed at myself.    There is also a pile of stuff to go to the recycling part of our local Tip  - another electric steamer which doesn't work,  some ancient Christmas tree lights,  various boxes. 

There is still loads to go through in the loft, but I need to have the energy and inclination to do it. 

I'd bought a set of 6 dinner plates and side plates from Ebay the other day. The seller lived only a few miles away, and they went for not a lot of money.  I bought them to top up the set that I knew was in the loft, but I just couldn't find.

I found my missing china, and I chuckled to myself.

I must have 18 dinner plates and at least 12 side plates already.   No idea why I thought I needed a top up set!

Sounds from below

I sat on the bedroom floor looking at the carpet, and tried to decide what to do.

If the carpet goes, I won't replace it with more carpet.  So the question was, do we keep it?  It's an important question, because if we keep it, we need to remove it completely to ensure it's free from rubble dust and plaster dust.

It's worn really well.  It's 18 years old, but doesn't look it.   It has a few marks - I could see a patch where one of the cats had once been sick.  I expect professional cleaning would get that out.

The downside was that, since I'd moved the bed,  there were large visible patches where it was possible to see what had once been under-bed and was, therefore, pristine,  and what had been in the main trackway.

I vacuumed it really well.  If it was going, we'd still be rolling back and using it to protect the bed (which was now on its side, by the window).    DH started to roll it back.

Underneath the carpet told a different story. It was bizarre.  The underneath of the carpet, and the underlay,  were not in very good condition at all. Something had got spilled on there (or worse!) at some point.  I don't really understand how the top could be one thing, and underneath could be so different.  Neither of us knew anything about it.

Anyway, that decided it.   It's going.  After the clearing work has been done.  We rolled it back and protected the bed, and then I left DH to roll up and remove the underlay, and to remove the edging strips - the exposed nails were asking for trouble. I popped stuff for the Tip in the car.

I checked my mail.  IWith no carpet upstairs I  heard through the floorboards: "Wa-ash". "Waaaa--ash".  "Wash" "Wash!"  "Wash NO!"   "WASH! DON'T YOU DARE!!"  "YOU LITTLE  B***ER"  "COME OUT OF THERE!!".

I guess Wash had found a way round the edge of the rolled up carper, and into the tent made by the rolled up bed.

He's a cheeky boy.

Standby for Action!

The Builder should be coming on Thursday to remove the "built in" "wardrobe" from the spare room!

I've been on standby for many months, and had actually previously been through and decluttered the room, getting rid of stuff we didn't want or need, and organising the stuff that needed to remain.  I got rid of my lovely pine wardrobes and matching furniture (ah, the days when I had money to spend on that sort of thing). I was sorry to see them all go, but they just weren't practical for the next incarnation of the room.

We've spent a few hours this morning emptying the room - into our room, and into every other room - in an organised manner so that I can find things again.  It's very tempting towards the end of such an activity to start shoving stuff anywhere; to end up just popping this in that drawer;  but I remained disciplined. With my sewing stuff, anyway.  I did kind of end up with ten tons of spare pillows, cushions, bedding for the spare bed all precariously piled on top of piles of stuff in one room.... I looked at it,  bit my lip for a moment, and then took the only sensible course of action.

I shut the door.

To find that the door doesn't stay shut.   Poor DH has now had to change the plate thing,  and there was a lot of cussing because the head sheared of a screw somewhere.

Meanwhile, curtains are down,  door from the old "wardrobe" have been removed, pics are down.   We've still got to move the enormous mattress.  The bed  is an iron bed, and that's staying put.  The carpet needs to come up, but I'm having a bit of a break now.  The electric desk is going to stay in the room too, although I am a little worried about the electrics and the plaster dust.

I was originally going to put sliding warrobe doors all along an alcove, to conceal my sewing stuff.   The feet of the electric desk are too deep for me to sensibly do that,   so now I need to wait until the building work is done to see what the area looks like, and to then make my plans.##

In my mind, it was only going to be a couple of days... but of course the room will need repainting before we do anything.  Some of the skirting and coving will need re-doing.  And if we're going to all this trouble and the room is empty(almost empty), now is the time to decide about the flooring.   I do have money saved to replace the flooring in some of the upstairs rooms,  but my plans hadn't included the spare room. 

I guess we'll see.


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Goodbye Guitar

My guitar has gone to a new home. 

A lovely lady collected it just now.

Come in handy

My grandfather was a hoarder, the sort you see on TV, and his favourite excuse for why he had to keep all his empty, washed and dried,  Pedigree Chum tins (and the lids) was that they might "come in handy"

It's been one of our favouritefamily  phrases for almost as long as I can remember.  Usually when I find myself keeping something because it might come in handy it triggers me to get rid of the item.

I decided to get rid of some stuff from the loft.  It's - mostly - kitchen fittings.  I don't need them, but they are just too good to give away.  It's the sort of stuff that costs you a lot of money when you want to buy it,  but no one wants to buy when you're selling.

I decided I'd give them away.   I went into the loft,  was amazed at how butterly cold it is up there (I guess that's a good sign, it must mean the ceilings of the rooms below are well insulated) andfound where I'd stored them.   I confess there were a couple of items where I thought "Hmm, maybe I can use those when my sewing area is ready....",  so they have a stay of execution until the room is done.

I also picked up two other large items. One was a helium cannister.  If I didn't use if for DH's special birthday, I'm clearly not going to use it.  The other was much more of a wrench,  it was my guitar.  My parents bought me the guitar some 44 years ago. It's a child's size, and I was amazed at how good the condition was. It's always been kept in its case.  The strings need replacing.    I'd tried to give it to DSS2 when he was about 8,  but his mum sent it back.   

As I'm typing this, I'm thinking "surely you've enough space to keep your guitar?  You might play it again.". Funny how I only think of that when I think of getting rid of the guitar. 

It was painful to get everything down the ladder,  one item at a time (I'm getting old now), and photographed them.  And today I posted them.

Most of the items have gone now, just a couple more cluttering up the landing. If they don't go, I'll offer them on Freecycle/Freegle,  and if that fails, well, they're going to the tip. I've got to go anyway as I also found yet another box of VHS tapes, with Thunderbirds and Star Trek recorded from the TV on them.   Dozens of them.  I found a use for some of the sleeves, but the tapes themselves are in carrier bags and I'll take them to the tip.  One of the Tips has a VHS tape disposal point, so I'll make use of that.

Actually, that reminds me.  I've got some paint in the loft that I won't need anymore. I'm changing the colour of the room it's for, so I don't need to keep the spare.  I think the Tip has a paint tin collection point too, so I might as well do that as well.

And while I'm up there, I'll see whether there are any other quick wins.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Herb Infusion Confusion

We cook most of our food from scratch.  I do, sometimes, use Knorr Stock Pots (not the cubes, they are too salty).

Some time ago I had bought some of the Knorr "Herb" pots.  It was a long time before I actually used one,  I popped it into a bolognese.  It looked like chopped herbs in something a bit glutenous.  The taste of the bolognese was fine,  somewhat sweeter than normal, I assume that was something to do with the Knorr Herb pot.

Move forward a few months.  Last night I decided to have a simple pasta and tomato sauce supper.   I used some of our own passata and, because I was hungry and in a hurry, I added some cornflour to thicken it up a bit to a suitable pasta sauce consistency.    I thought I'd pop in half a Knorr Herb pot for a bit of herby flavouring.

I opened (what I thought was) the box containing Knorr Herbs.  I opened one of the little pots, noticed that it didn't look quite the same as I remembered, and attempted to put half in my sauce.  The whole lot fell in.

As I stirred, I noticed that it was taking a while to dissolve.  In fact, quite a long time. I realised that something was amiss, so I checked the cupboard to find I'd used something called "Knorr Herb Infusion Stock Pot".

That must be the same sort of thing, surely?  The original item, just rebranded a bit?
Our Knorr Herb Infusion Pot delivers a balanced blend of thyme, bay leaf and parsley – all in a little pot of stock that has been reduced down to capture the intensity of the herbs. Its excellent fresh-herb character will complement and enhance whatever you’re cooking – from casseroles and risottos to sauces and stews. Buy Knorr Stock Pots in a 4-pot pack or 8-pot pack.
  • No artificial preservatives
  • No artificial colours
  • Suitable for vegetarians
  • No artificial flavour enhancers
  • No added MSG

That sounded OK. How bad could it be?

It was....not good.  I was very hungry so I still ate it all, but it wasn't very enjoyable.

What I had used before, and what probably would have worked, is this one
With its combination of thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil, this versatile pot is a store cupboard essential and will help ensure your herby flavours are perfectly balanced. Use to complement your cottage pie and perfect your pasta. 
  • No artificial flavour enhancers
  • Not artificial colours
  • No artificial preservatives
  • Suitable for vegetarians

There you go.

I imagine the stock pot would have worked if I was making a herby stew, or a herby gravy.

I'll be more careful next time.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Putting my foot in it

I had my first reflexology treatment today.

I'd been thinking about trying it for some time. A long time in fact.

I'd got as far as getting some local recommendations, but found it difficult to choose. I guess I was also hesitant -  I'm not a people person, and for some reason I can't just jump in and try someone.

Anyway, I picked a lady who's only just set up in our village, and she was getting lots of recommendations.  DH was away, so it was a good time to organise something like this.

It was......really good.  A little different to what I was expecting, I think I was expecting more of a foot massage. She brought her own chair, a Lafuma recliner, which was so amazingly comfortable.

As I lay there, eyes closed,  I was going to ask whether there was any science behind it, or was it more like phrenology.  I didn't ask the question,  it was only a passing thought.  I  was having the treatment mainly to relax rather than to try and treat anything in particular.

I mentioned each time I found the area she was treating to be sensitive. The first time, it was related to my adrenal gland.   A little later she found a reallysensitive point. I commented on it and asked her what it was to do with "Sacral Iliac joint".  I was really, really surprised, as that is one of the two areas where I really suffer.   Much later, on the other foot, another really sensitive bit.  Again the sacral iliac joint!

At the end of the treatment, I didn't want to get out of that chair (and I'm going to buy one).  After she'd gone, I found that I really was feeling quite peaceful and relaxed.  All that pent up stress from the last few days... gone.   (The problems remain - apart from the car - but the weight of the stress has literally gone from my shoulders).

I'm really glad I decided to have the treatment at home.  I shall be booking a session for DH,  and I'll be getting a voucher for a friend's upcoming birthday. And another session for me.

I deliberately hadn't looked at a reflexology diagram beforehand, I've just been looking at one now'
image from

Being a Dollop

I've had a bit of a dollopy day.

Out reatively early to go and see to the allotment chooks; there was a chance their water might have frozen lightly overnight, so I wanted to see to them before I had my own breakfast. And my own cup of coffee.
I had defrosted some home grown corn on the cob to take with me to cheer them up.  I realised, as I got in the car, that I didn't have my phone.   I hesitated.  Nope, I'd better get it. If I didn't take it, today would be the day I needed it.

I went back into the house, remembering to disable the alarm, found said phone, and popped it in my bag.  Re-locked the house, and tried again.

My car wouldn't start. Not at all.  Not even an attempt at a turnover.

I waited for a moment - in case I'd done some over-rapid combination of key/pedal/steering wheel/putting it in Drive combination.  I tried again.  Nothing. Just a faint cclick click click

I swore a little, mainly because DH wasn't here and I wasn't sure what to do next.  I went in the house and tried texting DB2 (couldn't remember if he was working today).   I made a coffee.   I googled.

Lots of results on the brand forum.  Starter motor, solenoid,  someone even suggested it might be a problem when the battery is going in the remote.   No reply from DB2, so nothing else for it, let's start with the easiest.

Sure enough, the remote wasn't working.  I couldn't use it (remotely anyway) to lock the car.   Right, new battery. Googled again,  watched someone open their key and put in a battery, noted the type of battery required. As luck would have it, I had some of those in a drawer.   Yay me.

I couldn't open the fob.  I tried two screwdrivers, and it just wasn't happening.  I could see that I was going to trash the head, I couldn't find any other screwdrivers (I think DH hides them from me, actually).    Feeling a right girly, I knocked at next door to see if the chap there could help me out.    No answer.

Right.  There is a local service place at the other end of our village, and they have a good reputation for being helpful.   I locked up the house again, and walked over there.    The chap was really kind and helpful.  He expressed doubt (which I already had) that my key fob was at fault, he changed the fob battery anyway.  He suggested it was most likely a dead car battery, and recommended I try charging it for  a reasonable length of time. If I could get the car to start, I could bring it in and he would take a look for me.   I asked what a reasonable length of time was and, armed with this info, I went home.

I texted Other Chap (OC) to ask if he would do the chickens for me.   I dug out the battery charger and an extension lead.  I started by feeding the extension lead out of a window, and then realised it would just be easier to shut Wash in a bedroom.

I then tried to find the bonnet release catch.

First, I had to climb in the back of the car to get in the boot to retrieve the manual.  I found the info on the bonnet release catch. Drivers side, under instrument panel by door.  The diagram was rubbish.  It showed the release lever, but it didn't show any context (like where it was). I felt about under the instrument panel.  I knelt outside on the driveway, and used a torch.  I cou;dn't find it.  I looked at the edge of the door (knowing it wasn't there, but it had mentioned the door so I looked).  I sat in the car and drew a deep breath,.

I'd done this before.  Where was it?  I remembered that it was in a really stupid place.  I looked at the foot pedals  And then I glanced over at the passenger side, and saw it.

Bonnet uncatched.

The manual was not very helpful when it came to explaining how the bonnet catch worked.  Again, kneeling on the floor and feeling rather dollopy, I worked it out.    Good. Bonnet open.  Right.  No way on earth I was getting the battery out, I'd have to do it in situ.  Back indoors.

Googled charging a car battery in situ. Lots of heated debate about whether to remove the earth lead.  OK, I'd remove it just in case.  Back outside, earth lead removed,   cap thing on the positive thing removed.  The jaws on the crocodile clips wouldn't fit.   Back inside, more googling.  I tried again.  Both terminals connected,  Battery appeared to be charrging (we've got quite a sophisticated charger).   I really wasn't at all happy that I'd connected it properly, so back inside, googled the charger,  back outside, made some adjustments,  charger now said FULL.

It was 11.30. I tried phoning DB1 on his mobile.   I was thinking he might be able to pop over at lunchtime and look at it for me so at least I would know what to do. No answer. It was a long shot anyway, not even sure he has his mobile on him at work.

I messaged DB2 via Facebook.  No luck, he must be at work.

At this point I decided I'd better give up and call the RAC (I hadn't done this initially because I didn't want to lose my no-claims discount). . Can you call them out for this sort of thing?   I checked that our membership would cover home call out, it did.  I called.  I had a discussion with the lady about whether I was actually on the policy.  We agreed that I was, and she gave me a call out time of about an hour.

I went in, and decided to try and sort out my sewing machine (I'll explain about thats saga separately.  Suffice to say that it's not been a good few days for me in respect of electronics).  

Richard phoned me to say he was on his way,  and he arrived about 20 minutes? after my initial call.  I explained what had happened, and he said he'd start by testing the battery. I went off to make coffee. Shortly afterwards,  he told me the battery was dead (I have the Dead Parrot sketch playing in my head now). I was a little embarrassed, as I'd been sure the battery had said full.  I told him of my embarrassement.

Anyway, I arranged for him to get and fit a new battery.  I wasn't really too fussed about whether I was paying a premium for this service - the alternative was that I would have to arrange transport somewhere to get a battery,  bring it back, remove the old one, fit the new one... and, given that I couldn't even get a proper reading on a battery charger (and other stuff), it just wasn't worth facing the hassle.

He went off,  I went back to trying to fix my sewing/embroidery machine.

Some time later he returned, fitted the battery, and then did various tests.   All was well.    I like to be self sufficient, so I asked him to show me where I had gone wrong with the battery charger.   I'd done OK with the positive thingummy.  I'd removed the earth thingummy, he said not to.  But the thing I'd got wrong was that I should NOT have connected the negative lead to the negatie post thing, because this battery has...what did it have? Can't remember? Management system? Something like that. Anyway,  I should have put the negative clip on to a suitable point elsewhere in the car (he showed me where to clip it).

I felt a bit better, not quite so stupid. I was relieved that the car was working, I've got quite a few things to do over the next few days,

It was 2.30.  I sat down at my PC and started this blog entry and out of the corner of my eye I spotted a calendar entry. Reflexologist, 3.30.  I'd forgotten all about it,  the house was a mess,  I was stressed.... probably a good thing she was coming.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Unfair imprisonment

Poor Washy.

DH has been away for a few days, and I've sneakily let Wash sleep on the bed upstairs overnight.  This means he hasn't actually been confined to his pen for about a week.

This morning I had an appointment about half an hour's drive away.  In good time, I went out and shut the chooks in.  Izzy came out with me, her second time that morning.  Because the cat flap is blocked up to prevent Wash going outside, she's stuck in too.

Normally by the time I've done the Girls, Izzy has had her sniff around and is ready to come in (and use the litter tray - rolls eyes).  Not today.  I called her.  Nothing.  I pursed my lips Blooming cat must know I have to go out.

I went inside, went to the loo, put my shoes on, got my bits and pieces sorted out. Still no Izzy.  I opened the back door and called her, and waited. Nothing.

I was now running late.

In the end I had to unblock the catflap so she could get back in,  and then I had to go and find wash to lock him up.   He was curled up, fast asleep and full of contentment, on a cat bed on the landing.  He burbled when I scooped him up, he wasn't unduly worried.

When we started walking towards the Pen, he tried to escape my arms.  I had to manoeuvre and twist so that his front paws landed inside the Pen, followed by the rest of him.  He looked really shocked (well, that's what he looked like to me) and stood by the door.

I felt so mean.

I was as quick as I could be, but I was still out for a couple of hours.

When I got home Izzy was lolling by the door waiting to be let in. (Seriously?!)

Wash wooshed out of the Pen on 3 legs, straight upstairs on to the bed.  Wonder what he'll do tonight?

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Pork Chop Phobia

Since we discovered slow cooked pork shoulder, I've been working to overcome my pork phobia.  I've come a long way.

It started when I was about 13, when a teacher at school told us about worms in pork.  I didn't really like pork that much before this pronouncement,  so it didn't take much to put me over the edge.   My experience of pork was pork chops, and roast loin of pork.  Both gave dryish squeaky meat, which was the sort that would stay in my mouth long after the flavour had been chewed out.  That's not a reflection of my Mum's cooking, she's a really good cook, it was just a reflection of the reality of loin of pork.

I couldn't bear the taste or smell or pork cooking,  I couldn't even cook it for my husband.    When I was 40, I started a long journey of revisiting foods I'd hated since childhood. I had a lot of successes (spinach,  watercress soup, kale, Brussels sprouts, for example),  and I had some resounding failures (liver still makes me throw up, for example).   I tried making Jamie Oliver's slow roasted shoulder of pork, and the result was amazing.   Love that, really love it.   I moved on to belly pork,  crackling... but I still couldn't stomach even the smell of loin of pork roasting, or pork chops.

We started having a half pig from our friend Shirley, which meant my journey continued.   DH would cut chops for himself,  but the rest of the loin was always diced.  I could cope with loin of pork as long as it was cooked until very soft in some sort of sauce.   We eat a lot of curried pork,  chilli pork, and so on.

The other day, DH wanted to cook some loin steaks in the sous vide, and I agreed to try them - as long as there was an accompanying sauce.   He beavered away, and all was well until he had to flash fry the steaks to colour them at the end.  That smell.... oh god, that awful smell.

What if this put my years of effort  - learning to eat pork without heaving  - in jeopardy?

He'd worked really hard on it all.  I cut a teeny tiny piece of pork, and stared at it.  I pushed it off my fork and ate a chip. Then another chip.  I couldn't avoid it any more, so I smothered the tiny piece of meat in a large dollop of mustard and mushroom sauce, and put it in my mouth.

It was OK! (Read that in a surprised voice).

I cur another tiny piece. I had some chips.  I had some peas.  More pork.

The sous vide method had really, really worked on this.  It was cooked and very tender.   I was struggling a little with the smell, but the taste was OK.

I don't think I'll ever try and eat a fried pork chop, as I think the moment I get a bit of squeaky meat between my teeth, I'll barf.   I don't think I'll ever try ordinary loin roast.

But I would try a chop sous vide again.

As long as it's accompanied by a rich sauce.

And I think the sous vide needs to stop being packed away each time we use it. It has earned a place on the worktop. I just need to find a place for her now.

Have a heart

Busy day at the Vet for us today.  Wash had his dressing changed, all still looking good underneath (although very greasy - cats secrete a lot of oil which they usually lick into their fur.).  He's now booked in for 10 days time to have his pins removed, and this time they will definitely be coming out.

Izzy had her ultrasound and she does have signs of early heart disease.  She behaved really well, and they didn't need to sedate her (bless her!).

I'm weriting this all here so that I have a record of it that I can easily find later.

The heart beat is good, there's not much leakage yet. There is thickening of the left ventricle (over and above the normal additional thickness vs the right ventricle). The papillary muscles are thickening.

We've caught it very early,  it's just outside the normal range, and that, coupled with the newly discovered murmur, is enough to give a diagnosis.  It's a progressive disease, and the biggest risk for Izzy is that, untreated, the blood flow becomes more restricted, less blood to the brain, more fits, and the problems they bring.

The good news is that we can slow that progression down by giving her medication in the form of Fortakur (sp.?).   This is an ACE inhibitor, which has an effect on the small arterial muscles, reducing the rate of "remodelling".   It isn't fixable, but it is manageable.

She's at the Vet once a month for a B12 injection anyway, so it'll be easy enough to keep her monitored.

I asked how we can tell if things are getting worse, and the Vet said to monitor her respiritory rate.  When she's asleep her breathing should be almost impercebtible (I should have mentioned her snoring), and should be at the rate of abot 20-30 per minute   If it gets to 40 a minute then that's a serious problem and we should call the Vet immediately, even if it's out of hours.

Monday, 8 February 2016


I mentioned that Izzy had an unexpected fit on Friday night.  

I think I also mentioned the - ahem - poo on the bath mat?

Well, she'd also been drinking a lot, and lolling about in the middle of the floor a lot. Usually these are symptoms that she has a urimary infection, but that didn't seem very likely as she's on antibiotics .  We made an appointment for today.

The good news is that it isn't a urinary infection. Yay!

The other news is that she has a heart murmur.  She hasn't had one before - definitely. She's at the Vet once a month for a once over, a B12 injection, and so I can get a prescription for her phenobarb', and the Vet examines her and weighs her each time.     This might indicate heart disease, and that might account for the seizure.

She's going to have an Ultrasound so we can find out for sure.  The Vet will do it at the same time as Wash is having his dressing changed.

I'll let you know what we discover.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Amazing Ammarylis

My other BFF gave me an about-to-bloom Ammarylis bulb.

We potted it up and have been watching it develop. Little shoots. Long leaves. Flower buds. And then **BOOM**

I love you more than wine..

It was the birthday of one of my 2 BFFs this week.  I saw this saying, and thought it very apt, so I made a card for her.

It needed to be quite large, so I ordered some A3 card (which I could fold into A4).   The card didn't arrive in time (my fault for leaving it to the last minute), so I had rustle something up using 2 sheets of A4 card and some magic tape.

Egg Dance

After all these years of keeping hens, I still find myself doing the Egg Dance when a youngster lays her first egg.

One morning earlier in the week, Fay (the loopy Fayoumi) wasn't anywhere to be seen when I let the girls out.  I quietly checked the nest boxes, and I could see her settled down in one.   I rushed back to the house to tell DH that I thought Fay might be about to lay her first egg,

Later in the day I went out to check, and there it was. A snall, white(ish) egg. Not bone china white like my hybrid leghorn Lily used to lay,  a pinky white like Lotti the purebred leghorn used to lay.  Fay, being a very small breed, laid a small egg.

Small, perfect.  I danced the Egg Dance all the way back to the house.
Fay's 1st egg below one of Fleur's brown beauties

Out of the blue

Izzy had a fit during the night. 

Not only that, I discovered she did a poo on the bath mat... she's never ever done anything like that before.

Her last fit was back in October, so this was a complete surprise.    The cameras didn't pick it up (we've discovered that one of them has been unplugged since mid January). 

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Setbacks and progress

Wash's Xrays on Friday showed that the bones had not all healed enough for the apparatus to be removed.

Our Vet, Paul, toyed with the idea of removing one of the pins, but in the end decided to leave everything as it was.   While he was out, they did various blood tests on Wash, and we had an assortment of news.

The jaundice had gone.   The scores for the diabetes had gone right down, so we have now lowered his dose of insulin.   One of the metatarsals was healing really well.    We could try having the dressing changed once a week now, assuming that the dressing survived Wash's not-so-surreptitious gnawing.

Wash came home on Friday, and was very stressed.  We gave him some chicken, as suggested by the Vet.  Some time later he seemed much happier, and very hungry, so I gave him a little bit of the raw food diet. He devoured it.  We didn't bother with chicken after that.

He's very very bored.  We've tried taking him upstairs with us when one of us is up there.  I've taken him outside in my arms so he can sniff the air.  The excitement gets too much for him.   I briefly toyed with the idea of getting a cat harness, but I've been down that route once before (with another cat) and it didn't end well.... I was left with a harness and no cat.  I might be tempted to risk it when he's actually properly able to go outside again, but I don't fancy him escaping with a bandaged leg.


In other news, Musical Coops continues.   We've had Sasha, Sasha, Poppy, Poppy, Sasha and Fay,  (not checked),(not checked), Poppy and Gloria. 


It was my mother's birthday at the weekend. My brothers and I went to stay nearby so we could take our parents out to lunch, spend the day with them, spend the next day with them.  It was a lovely weekend,  the B&B was good,  lunch was good,  the fabric shop was, as always,  excellent.....

We'd bought her a practical present, and I wasn't really sure it would go down well. She'd asked my about pressure cookers some time ago, before I owned an Ipot, but hadn't got round to buying one.    Years ago, she was the pressure cooker queen.  These days I think she'd struggle to lift a pressure cooker,  even one like my (ex) Kuhn Rikon which had handles on both sides.  

I'd been using my InstantPot a lot and getting on with it really well.   Not just the pressure cooker, but I'd used the slow cooker functionality,  I'd made lots of yoghurt in it,  and I thought it might suit my parents.  We decided to buy one for her and see what she thought.

Both parents were really pleased with it.  I was really surprised, actually.  I mean, I thought it might be useful, but they were very keen.  They currently have a slow cooker, so this will replace that (with lots of extra benefis - being able to saute in the pot,  having a delayed timer functionality, having the keep warm facility) as well.   My mum also uses an electric steamer, so hopefully the Ipot will replace that too.

Bit of a result really!