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Monday, 19 October 2015

A Halloween Filofax

Changing from a pocket size into a personal size Filofax this week and making all new dividers for it gave me the bug to want to make more.

I know that it's a bit late in the month and heading fast towards Halloween but I decided to also make some Halloween dividers and move again, only this time into a black Domino Filofax just for the last couple of weeks left in this month before Halloween.

I"m now thinking of making different dividers for each month.  After all each month does have something special about it.

Click the image to see full size.

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I got the images from websites offering free desk top backgrounds.  I then cropped, resized and printed them out on card before laminating.

I was careful how I chose which image to be which divider and did so in a way that made each tab a different colour.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

A Couple of Filofax Days

I have had a very quiet couple of days at the end of this week, so I decided to take the opportunity to transfer from my pocket size Filofax into a larger personal size.  I haven't used the personal size since quiting work several years ago, so I didn't have any inserts for it.  I have made a few changes and additions from the pages I use in my pockets size, and it was great fun thinking about what I wanted, creating the pages and finally creating some new dividers.

I have for a long time thought how nice it would be to use photographs instead of just pretty pictures for dividers.  I think it's a nice way of carrying around a few favourite photos and at the same time making them useful.

I of course just had to use some nice photos of my girls, along with one of Louie.  But I couldn't think what to do for the others.  I rummaged around my very old, physical photos and decided to use.....  No1 (as a dashboard) Myself as at about 2 years old with my Sister Barbara at the age of 14.  No2 (6th photo) is of my 9th birthday.  All 3 of my Sisters are there, along with Mum, and my niece Beverley as a baby.  I am bottom left.  No3 (7th photo) is of Mum on her wedding day at the age of 18.

To create the very old photos, because my printer is so complicated and I haven't quite mastered the scanning process, I simply took a photo of the photos with my iPad, increased the pixels by a factor of 400, then printed them off onto card and laminated them.  I am really pleased with the finished product.

Click on the image to view full size.
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For the inserts I used just the Mac TextEdit to create very simple tables.  Once again because I haven't got the hang of using my new printer, I tried and failed to use double sided paper and it's a nightmare trying to line it all up, so each insert is only one sided even if it's a bit of a waste of paper.

It's surprising how long it takes to design and create various pages, but it's all good fun.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

A New Month Beginneth

I start this month weighing in at 137.5lbs.  I am really hoping by the end of this month to be down to 133lbs (9st 7lbs).

At the beginning of last month I was losing the odd pound or two and then putting it straight back on just as I usually do.  However I have managed to keep the couple of pounds off, for nearly a fortnight now, that I lost at the beginning of last month.  This tends to mean that I really have lost that couple of pounds, and it will stay off.   I can now work towards removing another couple of pounds by the end of this month.

The problem I have losing weight has never been food.  I have no problem keeping to a strict 1200 calories a day.  But I do have a problem finding enough to do to count towards the amount of activity needed to naturally burn off those everyday 1200 calories, and then go on to do enough exercise to burn the extra calories needed to actually lose weight.

If one doesn't go out to work and lives alone in a very small flat, then finding enough activity to keep one moving enough to burn off a normal amount of daily calories is hard enough to do without trying to manage to do enough exercise, on top, to burn off extra calories to start burning off the extra fat.

However, this last couple of weeks my days seem to have naturally become a lot more active.  I have helped my girls with the decorating of their new flat, the weather has been kind and therefore I have been out on my bike a bit more, along with having the opportunity to get out and about visiting, and spending more time, going hither and thither with my Daughter, than I have for a long time.  My days for a change have been very full.   It all adds up to burning up the normal daily calories.  That means that all the actual exercising I have done above and beyond my daily activity has been burning away the fat.

It's also said that it's hard to lose weight the more stressed one is, and I now seem to be a lot less stressed and more content than I have been for several years now.

Monday, 28 September 2015

10 Tips for Sitting Less

It's been said many times that nowadays we sit far too much.  Obviously a lot of this can't be helped because our jobs have changed so much since we entered this technological age.

Much of the working day for many is spent sitting at a desk, and whereas before computers we would get up and walk to someone else's desk or office to deliver a memo or such, it's now all done by email.

People no longer walk or cycle to work but instead jump in their cars, even for the shortest of journeys.

So many are over weight or even obese and often suffer from all the ailments and diseases that go along with that extra fat.

But seemingly, even if one is slim and our correct weight, sitting down too much during the course of a waking day we are still in danger of all sorts of avoidable diseases.

So here are 10 tips that I have discovered for sitting less.
  1. Take a walk break every time you take a coffee break.
  2. Stand up when taking business or home phone calls.
  3. Walk to a co-workers desk instead of emailing them or calling them. 
  4. Take the stairs whenever you can.
  5. After reading six pages of a book get up and move around a little.
  6. Whenever watching TV, stand up and move around with every commercial break.
  7. Get a stand up desk.
  8. Park further away from your destination.
  9. Set up an alarm to remind you every 20 minutes to get up and move around.
  10. Take 15 minutes walk break around the block at work.
And I'd like to add a personal one for a number 11 - If your journey is 4 miles or less get a bike and ride instead of taking the car.


Friday, 25 September 2015

About this Blog

My active blog up until now has been on http://sandy.u.yuku.com.  Sadly Yuku blogs at this point in time are pretty basic and not open for non-yuku members to view.

I have spent many years waiting and hoping, with all their many different owners and many different updates on Yuku in the last 10 years, that one of those updates would be the creation of a decent blog.  Unfortunately this has never happened.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

A Brand New Trike

Today I took delivery of my brand new tricycle.  Not only a new trike but this one is an E-Trike.

In anticipation of it's arrival I sold my old manual trike (Tess) to my local bike shop for £200.  It was a very fair price for her considering she was 6 years old, spotted with rust and had done a lot of miles for me.  She had only cost me brand new £450.

I did love old Tess and was sorry to see her go, but unfortunately the hills were becoming a little too hard for me to plod on up with her and after over a year of thinking about going electric I finally made the decision to do so.

The new trike is not like the normal type of trike, electric or otherwise as she does in fact ride like a 2 wheeler.

She/he (I haven't quite decided which gender it is) has what is called a tilting action.  By the twist of a lever one can release the rigid frame from the back which allows the the front of the bike to tilt and thereby lean around corners just as a 2 wheeler does.

This allows the back of the trike to be a lot narrower than the usual style of delta trike which needs the width for stability to enable it to go around corners without toppling over.

Another feature is that one can either choose to manually ride with no power assist, 3 levels of electric pedal assist or use the throttle to ride completely with power.

Unfortunately due to having to be out and about both today and tomorrow I wont get a chance for a decent ride out on it until Monday.

The photo below is of the official sales photo because I haven't yet had a chance to take a photo of my own.

I now need to think of a name for her/him, as I do like to name all of my bikes.

Monday, 31 August 2015

An August Update

I had started August weighing in at 137lbs but it only takes one cake or such to put the pounds back on and the problems I had with my hip and carpal tunnel this month really slowed me down regarding exercising.  Walking with the hip and riding with the carpal tunnel was a no no.

I went up from those few days of inactivity to 140lbs again and this last week or so have managed to bring it down again to 138lbs.

I am so upset and peed off ending the month 1lb heavier than I started it with.

In order to cheer myself along I have now started a hidden forum on my zandranna.yuku.com where I am recording hour by hour my activity and my food consumption.

What with smart phones and ipads this is so easy to do on the move, but then at the end of each day I can see if I am actually doing less moving around than I think I am and eating more food than I think I am.  I spend far too much time on the web so I might as well use some of that time constructively.

I think it's too easy to kid oneself that one is doing loads of exercise and eating right when in actual fact there is room for improvement.

I simply have to be going wrong somewhere that I can't lose this bloody weight.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Early Morning Ride to the Castle

We woke up to a nice day so after Louie had done his business in the gardens we jumped on the trike and took a short ride to the castle.  For the ride out the camera (iPhone) was in the wrong place on the handle bars so the video didn't turn out too well so below is the journey part of the way home after I had moved the phone.

We only stayed for about 15 mins in the grounds.  Long enough for Louie to have a little sniff around and me to sit and enjoy the scenery puffing on my e-ciggy.

The traffic on the main A-road is pretty heavy and noisy so I stayed a lot on the pavement as I didn't want to scare Louie.  You will also notice how slow I ride with him up front.

Unfortunately the video clicked itself off about 2/3 along.  I don't know if that was because of a jogging of the road or because I ran out of memory.   Next time we go I will try to take a better vid and replace this one with that maybe.


Saturday, 18 July 2015

Louie's Transport

I took Louie downstairs with me today while I checked to see if my trike tyres needed more air.  I hate putting air in just before I am ready to actually set out on a journey.  After checking the tyres I thought I would test to see if Louie would sit nicely and safely in the front basket of my trike instead of him continue to have to be closed in a dog basket in the rear of the trike.

We started off really slowly with me intending just to cycle around our complex, but he was being so good I ventured out onto the road.  He was still not only sitting really good but he was thoroughly enjoying it, so I decided to go a little further and up into the large car park on the seafront.

The car park was more or less empty so a few minutes of cycling around that and I risked coming back out on to the road again.  We then did another mile of road biking with me risking going a little faster.  Even when we got back home he didn't attempt to want to get out as you can see by the image below.

He does actually have his lead tied onto the handle bars as however good he was I wouldn't risk him being able to jump out if he got nervous at a sudden sound.  But it does look as if he can be trusted to ride up front and not shut away in a basket on the back.

I will in future make sure he has a comfy blanket to sit on though.  No blanket today as I had no idea that when I went down to check the tyres I would be trying this little experiment.

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Click image to see larger.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Literal Translations

Literal translations of Chinese names for European countries.  Click image to enlarge.

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Monday, 29 June 2015

Bikeability Level 1

Just learned to ride a 2 wheeled bicycle after 67 years. So proud and excited to have just passed my level 1 bikeability.



Thursday, 11 June 2015

10 Days and Still Going

It's now been 10 days since starting this 1200 calorie diet.  Although during the first 7 days I lost 2lbs, I find today on weighing myself I have actually put almost all of that back on.

I am not cheating and all of my food/meals are being marked down honestly in my Myfitnesspal diary.  I am also doing more exercise than I was previously.

Last night I printed out my first 9 days Myfitnesspal food diary to see where I might have been going wrong.  On careful examination I note that I am eating and drinking a heck of a lot of dairy produce as part of my allocated calories.

From today for the next 7 days I am going to cut out all cheese and cream cheese - Cut the 7 - 9 cups of tea a day that I drink down to 3 a day along with cutting out my one cup of coffee and one cup of Cocoa.  Both the coffee and the cocoa I make with double the amount of milk that I would use in a cup of tea.  So simply by cutting out my hot drinks I can cut down tremendously on the amount of dairy that I consume.

I am not sure yet what I will make up the calories and protein with.  I will figure that out each day as I plan my meals.

Monday, 8 June 2015

7 Days into Diet

7 days into my new start and I am very pleased with the results having lost 2lbs.

I have no idea if taking XLS Fat Buster is working because I have kept strictly to 1200 cals or less and I have upped my exercise very slightly.  So would I have lost this 2lbs without the "Fat Buster"?  I honestly haven't a clue.  I am going to continue taking it for another week though.

I have not only lost the 2lbs, but I have also lost 2 inches around my waist.  Today for the first time I also recorded my belly size on "Myfitnesspal" - so this time next week I will be able to see if I am losing from there as well.

My BMI has gone from 27 down to 26.4

All is looking good so far.


Click for full size view


Check your BMI - HERE

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Aimee and Jess Amusing Themselves

I found this on Sarah's iPad the other day and just had to upload it to share.  I imagine it was taken last summer.


Monday, 1 June 2015

A New Month, A New Start

For the last year after losing an initial 5lbs I have not lost a single pound.  Well, I have lost a pound or two but I have also put back on a pound or two.  So on this first day of June I have reset my starting weight and my goals and am now starting completely afresh.

Not only am I going to use the apps Footsteps and Couch to 5K again but I have also added two more slimming and fitness aids.

Wii Fit - Yesterday I set up my wii fit again and went out and bought fresh batteries.

XLS Medical Fat Binder - Up until this last few weeks I have been on statins and have been unable to take XLS at the same time.  With my Doctors guidence I have now stopped taking statins and so am taking the oportunity to try out XLS.

Footsteps - Although however hard I try I can't make the daily 10.000 steps recommended, but I have been using the app to make sure that I at least do half of that

Couch to 5K - Due to osteoarthritis in my right foot I am at this point in time unable to pound the streets but I am able to do this bare footed indoors.  Obviously this isn't as good as walking/running the streets, but it is better than nothing.

My weight is 142lbs - My goal weight is 120lbs

My waist size is 36 inches - My goal waist size is 30 inches

My BMI is 27 - My goal BMI = 22

Footnote:  It is recommended that our waist size should be a maximum of half our height.  This is now deemed to be a far better way to measure extra fat that we are carrying than using the more normal BMI.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Quaxing

I shopped by trike this morning. It's so very rewarding getting shopping in this way and so much less hassle. 




What is Quaxing? Quaxing is shopping without a car. It can be by walking, bicycling, bus, or train.

An Auckland politician Dick Quax stated that "no one in the entire western world uses the train for their shopping trips" - This quickly started the quaxing hashtag (#quaxing) on Twitter by bicyclists from all over the world. It was followed by others that also shopped by walking and public transport. Usually the #quaxing is accompanied by a photograph.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Banging on about Health, Food, Exercise and Fitness

- simply puts so much pressure and worry on us that it actually makes us ill.   Too much of our lives are now spent worrying about whether we are getting the right amount of food, the right amount of exercise and the right amount of sleep that it has taken all the fun out of actually living life.  I'm truly sick to death with it.

Trying Out Using a Standing Desk

I have decided to test out using a standing up desk - Well, for me it's one of my kitchen surfaces that I have completely cleared off for the use thereof.  I'm hoping that by forcing myself to stand up and type it might stop me being on the computer so much.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Aiming for Just a 1lb a Week

I've decided that trying to get back down to the weight of 8st (112lbs) again at my age is beyond stupid, so now going to try for 8½st or 120lbs - From today's starting weight of  144lbs, I need to lose another 24lbs



Friday, 1 May 2015

I Might Take Up Knitting Again

 I might take up knitting again.  Just to keep my hands busy while watching tv in the evenings. Nothing complicated.  Rather something I can knit without looking at it so that I don't have to take my eyes off the screen.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

TV Ads Nowadays Are So Depressing

It's no wonder that the British public feel that life is all doom and gloom when we are bombarded in our living rooms with adverts so depressing that our only option is to mute the television, leave the room or fast forward to avoid them.

I am talking about the ads that are begging for money.  We are begged for money to build wells in which we see children drinking out of muddy pools fouled by animal urine.  We see images of young girls sitting miserable whilst waiting for their 12th birthday when they will be forced into a paedophilic marriage, and only our £3 a month can save them.  We are watching graphic images of cats, dogs, donkeys all being so cruelly used that it enrages us.  Children in our own country being so abused that it makes us feel sick and want to simply shoot the bastards that do it.  We see and hear from those that have suffered and survive Cancer, but only if we give up a regular monthly donation.  The list goes on and on with no let up through every hour of television watching.

It doesn't help when we hear how much of the money that we have donated never actually reaches the people and projects for which we are donating.

We hear of tools, equipment, and materials being delivered to various 3rd world villages in order to build schools only to have it all sit there rotting for many years because of lack of organisation on the charity's part to actually send people to do the building work.

We hear of some of those helping to fight the ebola virus being paid £1000 a day.  We now know that much charity money is actually being filtered off by soldiers, government officials and even rulers of countries.  And just how much or our donations goes toward creating these adverts along with the amount of money it must cost for viewing time.

We live in a very cruel world and as individuals simply can't fix it.  To be continually forced to see and hear of all this torment destroys the very soul.  It drags us down spiritually and mentally.  It brings out feelings of anger, impotence and I believe it goes a long way to causing a general depression and glass half empty attitude to life itself.

It may sound harsh but I am finding that being absolutely flooded with charity adverts is actually having an adverse effect.  It has started to desensitise me.   Whereas I once gave freely, both of my time and money to charity, I no longer feel it is my responsibility.

Perhaps it's about time some sort of restriction should be put on the amount of time each charity is allowed to show adverts on television in the space of a 24 hour period.  There are many restrictions put on the smaller charities that collect via tins, including actually not being allowed to verbally ask for money or even shake a tin.  Yet other charities are allowed to invade our down time, in our own homes, several times an hour with no restrictions.

In the meantime I will just keep muting, leaving the room, or fast forwarding as many others do. 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Nowadays My Brain is a Notebook

65a6e6f212ae444786b8890a8a39039c_r.jpg?1I should have done this years ago as I have never had a really great memory for the incidental.  Such as remembering the date, or even the month that my Daughter might be going off on holiday.  I don't bother to remember because I know she will tell me again nearer the time.   One of my Granddaughters might mention in passing that she has an A level exam in a month that to me is way too far in the future to bother remembering.  One of them might say, "Shall we all go out for a meal at the end of the month" - Well, that is such a vague date that I don't bother to store that information away, as I know they will come back shortly and give me an absolute time and date.

I was forever being accused of not listening, because to them if I don't remember then I wasn't listening in the beginning.  It's not that I don't remember, it's simply that I don't bother to store it away in the first place.  Einstein once said how he never bothers to remember anything he can't write down and then refer to it when needed.  He didn't believe in cluttering up the brain with little details.

Fed up, and also understanding my family's frustration with me, I decided that at all times I would carry a small notebook and write everything down that might seem of importance at a later date.

My notebook is a totally separate entity to my appointments diary.  My diary is for keeping definite dates in as soon as I am informed of them, but my notebook is my brain's personal assistant.

One of my worst problems these last few years is what I tend to call "word slip".  That means that I could be chatting away or merrily typing and a specific word will be totally unreachable.  Try as hard as I can the word has gone.  At some point, which could be a few minutes or a few hours, the word will suddenly pop into my head.  I will then write that in my "brain" knowing that from then on that word will never slip me again.

If a neighbour says I'm thinking of going away in, lets say, June, will you look after my fish, I will write, "Fish in June".

Looking back on some of the pages of my notebook, even I haven't a clue now what half of the information is there for or what use it was at the time, but if it's ticked off then I have dealt with it and once again my real brain can forget it.  But until it's been ticked off and because it's been written down, my real brain remembers it until it's unnecessary to continue doing so.

Sometimes is a single word.  Sometimes it's a very short sentence.  All probably necessary at the time, but life is far too short and my real brain only has so much capacity, that it's all not worth remembering forever.

To me now, my notebook is as important as my diary and my mobile.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Why Do People Blog?

I was asked this question a few weeks ago.  "Why do people blog - blogs are boring" she wrote.  I am talking about someone that frequents message boards daily.  We had crossed paths by accident in a thread on the help board of yuku.com.

Those that I call message boarders and bloggers seem to be two separate types of animal, and it's hard to get a cross over between the two.

Now I'm not trying to promote the particular message board system of yuku.com but it is very relevant in as much as Yuku not only hosts great message boards, but also interactive profiles and incorporated within the interactive profile comes a reasonable blog.  The blog wouldn't do for a true, blue, blogger, but they do make a good addition to interacting and making friends on the Yuku system.

I have spent a lot of time and effort trying to promote blogging on Yuku and getting barely any takers.  Those that post on message boards, I have discovered, truly believe that they wouldn't know how to blog.  Trying to explain to them that many of their board posts would make fantastic blog posts and thereby attract more people, and consequently more friends to their profile, has been a useless exercise.

The person that stated to me, that "Blogs are boring" I believe had probably never read a blog post in her life.

I replied back with all the various reasons why I felt that blogs had an important role to play, not least of all for all the expert and experienced information out there, but also how if it wasn't for some blogs, ordinary people simply wouldn't know the truth of what was going on in some countries, and how some people are risking their lives to get information out to the world.

After running through all the reasons what the more serious type of blogging offers to readers, I then explained how the ordinary person's blog is such fun to read.  How by reading the blogs of the housewife, the police inspector, the cyclist, the teen, the crafter, and many more, can be so interesting.  Not least for seeing the world through others eyes and lives, but also for the information they share, the knitting patterns, the recipes, and so on.

The message boarder decided to pop over and read the ramblings that I have posted in my Yuku blog and now is a daily poster on not only my message board but also actively comments in my blog.  She has become an Internet friend.

But why do I blog?

My very first blog was simply a daily online journal for my family and friends to read, which I kept up for 4 years and then allowed it to peter out.   In the present I have a cycling blog on Blogspot where I post of my experiences using a tricycle for my only form of personal transport and the crap cycling facilities we have in this country, and I use my Yuku blog to share bits and pieces that I think my Yuku friends might be interested in.

But I personally blog mostly to sound off.  One can't rant and rave about neighbours to neighbours, one can't allow close friends and family to read some of one's personal thoughts and feelings.  Unless you point someone you know in the real world to your blog, blogging is virtually anonymous.  This means you don't have to be tactful, you don't have to be careful how you word things for fear of upsetting a specific person, you can be as honest and as open as you wish to be.

I find blogging theraputic.  A bit like I would imagine an AA meeting would be.  You can share your thoughts and feelings with no judgement.

The majority of people, I would imagine, would say I blog crap, and I know I do as far as true blogging goes.  I have nothing to offer a blog reader but my thoughts and opinions.  But my blogging crap helps me express myself as I wouldn't otherwise be able to do.  If I can sound off in a blog post, then I can remain sane.  I blog for me.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

I am in the process of following the instructions in this book. - It really is a must read.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

Transform your home into a permanently clear and clutter-free space with the incredible KonMari Method. Japan's expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy your rooms once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method.

The key to successful tidying is to tackle your home in the correct order, to keep only the things you really love and to do it all at once – and quickly. After that for the rest of your life you only need to choose what to keep and what to discard.

The KonMari Method will not just transform your space. Once you have your house in order you will find that your whole life will change. You can feel more confident, you can become more successful, and you can have the energy and motivation to create the life you want. You will also have the courage to move on from the negative aspects of your life: you can recognise and finish a bad relationship; you can stop feeling anxious; you can finally lose weight.

Marie Kondo's method is based on a 'once-cleaned, never-messy-again' approach. If you think that such a thing is impossible then you should definitely read this compelling book.

Friday, 27 March 2015

A Family Birthday Meal for Jess

We all had a great evening out last night to celebrate Jessie's 18th birthday.  The day before on the 25th was her actual birthday but she had spent that evening out on the town with her friends, which was only to be expected on the first birthday she has been legally allowed to drink.

So tonight we, as a family celebration, went to a really nice restaurant on the river which none of us had ever visited before.  Not that we could see the view because it was dark, but it was very popular there. 

The staff were amazing.  Which being that I used to train staff I am always aware of bad training, but these I really couldn't fault.  You could tell they loved working there by their friendly chatter, sunny personalities, and the emotional energy they put into their work along with the fact that the restaurant wasn't skimping on staff either.

The food was beautifully cooked and presented, except for Jessies which was a bit over cooked.  On collecting the empty plates the server asked if we had enjoyed the meal and Sarah said how lovely it was except that Jessies burger was over cook.  The server asked if Jess would like something else cooked for her, which Jess declined because she had been able to eat enough of it.  The girl came back a short while later and said that there would be no charge for Jessie's meal and her sweet she would also get for free.  All that and we hadn't even actually complained.  They obviously value their good name and their customers which is very rare nowadays.

I wish I had taken photos of the food because it was all so nice.  I particularly loved my starter which was a haddock and prawn cake topped with spinach and a poached egg.  I have no idea what the drizzle of sauce was that was on it, but the whole thing was more than delicious.  And the bowl of muscles in some sort of garlic sauce that Aimee had was huge.  She simple couldn't eat them all.

I am sure we are definitely going to visit this place again for a special occasion.

http://www.boathouse.co.uk/

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Surviving the Invasion

We are now halfway through the 33 days that my girls have to stay with me while waiting for their new bungalow to become free for them to move in.

It's been hard work all of us sharing such a small space, but we have managed and not even had any frayed tempers lost, which I am surprised at, along with being very grateful.   There has been a lot of give and take and basically all of us having to have a couldn't care less attitude to living in a mess.  It is after all only 33 days, and we can see an end to it.

My only worry has been watching the mould start to grow in the bathroom due to so many of us all having to take baths and drying clothes in such a small area.  I think from now until the end it's going to have to be a continual fight to keep the mould down to a minimum when it can then be fully treated and totally removed.

I do sometimes get quietly frustrated at the Granddaughters not even attempting to put away their bathroom products and make up after finishing with them, along with not putting clothes that need to be washed in the laundry baskets and claim and put away clean clothes as I put a pile of newly dried washing out.  But I am gritting my teeth and keeping quiet about that.

It is hard for them after all to live in such close quarters when they are used to having their own bathroom and bedrooms and can spread themselves as they like in those as no one else has to share with the pair of them.

Although I am actually being a bit unfair grouping the two of them together because the eldest is barely making a mess whereas the youngest is treating the whole place as she treats her own bedroom and bathroom, which have always been disaster areas.

17 days in and my place seems to be more of a mess than it has been up until now, so today I am having a good clean up.  I intend to do the 2nd stage of removing the mould from the bathroom which is all the tiling etc, behind the loo.  I haven't been looking forward to contorting myself to get behind there.

First of all though I have to sort out and clear up the girls bathroom products and make up that it littered in there.  Why they need so much is beyond me.  But soon the bathroom products will be in the bathroom and the make up in the bedroom area instead of it all spilling out and mixed up together.  I have no doubt that within two days it will all once again be all lumped together and spilling off the shelves in the bathroom.

The kitchen is mostly staying orderly as both Sarah and I wash up as we see any crocks, and for now a bleaching of the surfaces and a quick washing of the floor is enough to keep it all hygienic enough to cook and prepare food in.

In the sitting room all bedding is folded up and put on top of the bed for daylight hours and possessions are simply moved from one area to another and kept as tidy as best as we all can.

No one seems to lose anything, but that is mostly because I make sure I remember exactly where I put their bits when having a tidy up, and as soon as they ask where anything is I can tell them.  Generally I have found a place for everything and once they have all left for school and work everything will be put back in it's place.  So they actually do know where to look for anything that may not be in the place they left it, which has usually been on the table or on the floor.

Each day we discuss who is not going to be at home for sleeping and where those that are left are going to sleep.

The choices we have for when all of us are home is…  A single bed, a futon on the floor, a sofa, and an armchair that lays back to form a very small, very short bed.

When only three of us are all at home, the bed, futon and sofa only are needed.  The chair/bed being the very last choice as it's pretty uncomfortable.    It's probably worked out that only twice a week are all four of us home for sleeping.

My Son-in-Law, Mark, spent the first couple of days staying at his Mothers, and the following few nights working away, so he was comfortably set up in a hotel.  After the first week the odd nights that he isn't away working he has been able to stay in the next apartment block in one of these studio flats that belongs to my friend who then left for a seven week cruise. Barry very kindly offered us use of his flat for whoever wished to use it.  So when Mark is home he spends his days and evenings here with us and then just nips over the way to Barry's flat when it's bedtime.

I am sure having survived this 17 days we can all survive another 16.

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10:30pm and all organised ready for bed.  Sarah's turn to have the bed and she is already tucked up and sound asleep.   Aimee's turn for the sofa having a read before we all settle down.  Louie keeping her company.  Jess will soon be crawling into the futon which is all ready for her made up on the floor, but in the meantime doing a bit of homework on the chair that will soon be laid well back to give me my sleeping bunk for the night.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Chicken Casserole

This is basically the same as the minced lamb casserole but with tender pieces of chicken breast, and with a slight change in the variety of vegetables.

Crock Pot all day cooking

Served 5 and served with French Bread

Ingredients:


Decent sized piece of boneless chicken breast per person
Large onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - crushed or chopped
14oz (400g) tin chopped plum tomatoes
Tablespoon (15ml) tomato puree
Beef Oxo/Stock cube dissolved in half pint of hot water
Tablespoon (15ml) Worchestershire Sauce
A few mushrooms - chopped
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
3 stems of celery chopped into small cubes
3 large carrots - cubed
4 large potatoes - cubed to about half inch

Preparation:


Lay the chicken breast in the bottom of the crock pot
Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft.
Add the chopped tomatoes, Tomato puree, Stock and Worchester Sauce.
Heat until starting to boil.
Pour it in the Crock Pot over the chicken
Add all the rest of the ingredients and stir until well mixed being careful not to disturb the chicken at the bottom.
Cook on low for 8 hours.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Minced Lamb Casserole

This was my first meal ever I cooked in the crock pot and basically I just got some minced lamb and threw everything in I had by way of vegetables.

Crock Pot all day cooking

Served 5 and served with French Bread

Ingredients:


Minced Lamb 1lb (50g)
Large onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic - crushed or chopped
14oz (400g) tin chopped plum tomatoes
Tablespoon (15ml) tomato puree
Beef Oxo/Stock cube dissolved in half pint of hot water
Tablespoon (15ml) Worchestershire Sauce
Mushrooms - chopped
2 decent size courgettes (Regular Zucchini) chopped into small cubes
2 large carrots - cubed
3 very large potatoes (Jacket potato size) - cubed to about half inch

Preparation:

Fry the onion and garlic in a little oil until soft.
Add the mince and seer until brown.
Drain off the grease and oil.
Add the chopped tomatoes, Tomato puree, Stock and Worchester Sauce.
Heat until starting to boil.
Pour it in the Crock Pot.
Add all the rest of the ingredients and stir until well mixed.
Cook on low for 8 hours.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

If It Aint Broke Don't Fix It

When these blocks of flats that I live in were built back in the early 60s they installed the lovely old style lifts.  The type where only three sides are closed in and the front has two doors both of which have to manually be opened and shut.  The inner door being a concertina metal affair which one can see out of at all times, and the outer door being almost solid but with a small window at eye level.

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The association company that own the flats, in their wisdom and I should imagine at great expense, decided to upgrade our lifts to more modern ones.

We have had to put up with a lot of mess, a lot of noise, and the inconvenience of having a temporary chair lift for use for those that simply can't make the stairs, for many weeks.

Four days ago the new lift was finally operational and in working order.  The chair lift at this time still remains.  This is because the company that supplies the chair lift is not the same company that installs the lifts.

Four days ago I used the new lift for the first time to carry down a large heavy bag of rubbish to take to the bins.

The new lift is far smaller than the old. Only 3 persons allowed instead of the usual 4 and hardly any room to turn around.  The whole thing is completely closed in once the door is shut and being hardly bigger than a coffin standing on it's head makes for a very claustrophobic feeling, even for those of us that don't feel uncomfortable in small spaces.

It moves so slowly that one could virtually make a cup of tea while waiting for it to arrive from the ground floor and when actually inside it because of the snails pace at which it moves one feels as if it's not actually working.  I stood there wondering if it was moving or if it had broken down.

On top of this those of us on the top floor also have to have this monstrosity of a piece of equipment stuck to the side that works the lift itself. When the lift is in operation the noise from this thing can be heard from inside our apartments.  I really pity the woman that lives dead opposite it and the woman who's rooms it backs on to.

But hey ho, one has to move with the times.  So I just thanked my lucky stars that I only have to use the thing on rare occasions as I am one for walking up and down the stairs at all times unless I have something heavy to carry.  And at least we had a lift once again and the nuisance of a chair lift will soon be no more.

That is until three evenings ago when I came home after visiting my Daughter at 9.30pm with 5 bags of shopping, a bag full of items that my dog needs when I go visiting, and of course the dog himself.

On driving up to my block there was no parking spaces for my Daughter to park.  So I said no worries, double park and I will make two journeys to get the shopping etc, to the lift and once there I can make it upstairs by myself.  She waited while I made the two journeys and then got back to the car to get the dog from where he had been sitting on her lap.  I then waved her goodbye.

Getting back inside I pushed the button for the lift, and to my horror it didn't come.  It was broken.  Less than 24 hours after being tried and tested, it was buggered. 

I now have 6 heavy bags and a dog, along with carpal tunnel in both arms, to drag up 2 flights of stairs.  Plus adding insult to injury I have to struggle passed a chair lift that is taking up a good 50% of the stairway space.  But, not to worry too much, perhaps I can use the chair lift to carry myself with bags piled on top of me, up the stairs.

I released Louie from his lead so that he could freely walk up by himself, not caring a jot at that point if he came face to face with the other dog that lives on my floor and started trouble.  In my state of mind at that point I was too peed off to worry about my Louie and Max coming face to face.  Although I was conscious of it not being Max's time for going out for a pee.

I sat on the chair lift, and pushed, pulled and struggled to get all the bags onto my lap, and with a spare finger pushed the lever to get the chair lift working.  Nothing!  the chair lift didn't move.  By now I wanted to cry, or at least hit someone.  I was not happy.

I then had to struggle off the chair lift, putting the bags once more on the floor, so that I could push the stair lift arms, seat, and foot stall into the upright position in order to be able to get passed it.

Louie was waiting for me and watching all this struggling going on from the top of the first run of stairs.  I picked up the bags, and hauled my way to the top with arms feeling as if they were being pulled out of my sockets and legs giving way beneath me.  If I had had breath I would have been screaming with fury.  By the time I arrived at the top my heart was bursting with the strain and I thought I was about to have a heart attack.

We are now on day four and still the lift isn't working.  Seemingly it was reported before I even discovered it out of order and yet no one has been to fix it.  The mood in this block is not good.  No one is happy about being enclosed in such a small space without being able to view out.  No one is happy about the snails pace the lift moves, and certainly everyone is angered that after all the noise and the mess we still don't have a working lift.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Part of Jessie's Art Project

Click Image to Enlarge

Unbelievably Jess painted this crow on Aimee's back using nothing but face paints.

How clever is she.  Not only with the painting but actually getting Aimee to lay still for a couple of hours.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Minimalising My Life

They say that irritability, lethargy, depression, sleeplessness, and all the other negative feelings that we might possibly suffer from on and off, can mostly be put down to a cluttered home.  Cutter is not only not aesthetically pleasing but it also harbours dust.  So no matter how much we clean there can very seldom be the feeling of complete cleanliness and brightness that comes with an uncluttered home.

When I owned a very large house, I owned over a thousand books.  To move into a smaller property when moving down here to Dorset, I cut that down dramatically.  I am living in a small studio flat, which barely has enough room to swing a cat, but I have still managed to keep and add to a book collection which today totals just over 200 books.

I own just over 150 videos that I never watch anymore.  26 Filofax's.  6 boxes under my bed filled with handbags, shoes (that I never wear), knitting that I will never pick up again, packed away ornaments which I have no idea why I keep.  And let's not even go into my wardrobe and bedroom chest of drawers.

I have sideboard chock a block with what I call stationery, thousands of photos of views of places visited that I never get out and look at, kitchen cupboards full of dishes that living on my own I simply have absolutely no use for whatsoever and will never ever use.  I have a bathroom head height cupboard and shelving unit full to the brim with bottles, jars, makeup, hair decorations, and goodness knows what else that I simply keep but never use.  I have 2 boxes filled with jewellery, the junk mixed with the good.  The list could go on and on.

No wonder that how ever much I clean, sort out, and move things around, that I always feel claustrophobic and squeezed into a small space.

I am not a hoarder, but I do collect things that really should only be temporary and then passed on to someone else that could make use of them.

So I have decided to take the bull by the horns, and however much it hurts, I am going to totally minimalise (is that a real word?) my environment.

Today I have reduced my books down to approximately 100 - the rest are being picked up to go to the charity shop.  With that 100, there are approximately 50 that I haven't read yet, but as I read them I will be putting them downstairs in a little area we have for leaving things that we think another resident might like to take if they want.

The remaining 50 I simply can't part with.  Those are several bibles, several spiritual books,  educational type books including a dictionary, and a couple of large history books.

I did find it quite hard because about 30 of the books that I am giving away are leather bound classics.  But I told myself that nowadays I can always download any book onto either my Kindle or my iPad.  I will never be without a book to read.  And of course if I want the feel of a real book there is always the library.

As I make room in my glass fronted cabinets, this of course will leave shelving space to bring out some of the ornaments that I have packed away under my bed, reducing the clutter from that space as well.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take one part of my chaotic life and reduce it down to the barest minimum.  Once that is done, I am not only going to totally give my home a complete new look by decorating and changing soft furnishings, but I am also going to take a look at the furniture that I own.  The questions I will be asking myself are, do I need it?  Is it really of use, or could it be replaced by something smaller - less bulky?

When first moving to this home I had been living in a caravan so I had to buy all new furniture to move in here with.  When doing that I not only stuck to the conventional but I also chose my furniture in the way I had when living as part of a family.  I did not take into consideration that I could in fact choose a different way to live once totally living on my own.  In the words of Julia Roberts, "Huge mistake - Huge".

Now I am quite excited at the thought of what I might be able to achieve.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Skimping and Scraping

I have decided that 2015 will be a year that I will not waste money.

Throughout these last few years it's been far too easy to spend money on things that I could quite easily have done without. 

Before the web there was a gap between thinking we wanted something and making our way into town to find it and buy it.  We would browse the shops and if we saw something we fancied it was only bought if we could really afford it.  If not we waited, and nine times out of ten by the time we had the money we realised we didn't really want it anyway.

Now, however, it's far too easy to visit shops whilst in our own sitting room and impulse buy.  Not that I have ever regretted buying anything I have, but there is a lot I have bought that I really didn't need.  Nowadays I don't even look at my bank balance before I click to buy.  I dread to think of the money I have spent on line these last few years that I simply wouldn't have spent if online shopping didn't exist.

I have therefore decided that 2015 is going to be different.

Before I spend any money I am going to give myself a period of time to think about whether it is necessary.  Is this just a treat for myself or do I actually need it.  I am also going to think whether I could make do and mend, as we did in the old days, rather than buy new.

What has given me the idea to skimp and scrape and make do and mend is that yesterday I had been scouring Amazon.co.uk looking for some lounging trousers to wear indoors.  This is to save on outdoor clothing and also washing.  It's so much easier to wash and wear lounging indoor clothes than washing and drying good quality outdoor clothing.  Wearing an outfit simply to pop to the shop if one changes out of it on arriving home, then that same outfit can be worn two or three times before needing washing again.

The trouble with buying clothes via Amazon one can never be certain of the quality of the clothing, or the sizing.  Many shops on Amazon will use the S. M. and L. for sizing and one can order an M or L. only to discover that the size turns out to be smaller than even an S. 

I then began to think how I would be better off making my own lounging pyjamas or trousers.  I decided that instead of hunting Amazon for trousers I would order a dressmaking pattern.  This I did and I'm now waiting for it to arrive.

I then thought how I could save even more money if, instead of buying new material I went and bought sheets and duvets from the second hand shops and use that material.  When I volunteered for the Samaritans we had stacks of really good quality, and in good condition bedding.  Sheets and duvets give plenty of material to make a pair of lounging pyjamas/trousers.

I am lucky in as much as there is a lot of money in and around this area, which means that our second hand shops have really nice quality stuff donated.  I am looking forward to visiting those shops and finding a bargain ready to make a start on my first pair of loungers.