I am absolutely delighted to report that I have finally found some plant-based “cheese” that is just delicious. It’s made by Cathedral City, and is a very creditable substitute for mature cheddar. It’s wonderful. It’s been 20 odd years since I have eaten anything like it. For many years I managed with goat or sheep cheese, but had to give that up too a few years ago, so for a while now I have had no dairy at all. I’ve tried various vegan “cheeses” but they were all disgusting. Until now!
I made a fruit cake today. It’s very dry. I have put a piece of frozen bread in with it to see if that will help. If not, it’s going in the bin. I baked it for 20 minutes less than the recipe said too. Ho hum.
And here is a photo of a granny square blanket. I could either crochet lots of little squares and then sew them all together, do stripes, or just one huge granny square. So I’m doing one huge granny square. It’s going well. I had decided I’d use up some stash yarn which is not really any good for anything else. Blue, cream, lilac/purple, and I’m doing whole rounds before changing colour. Also waiting to see how the mood takes me before I actually choose which colour to do next.
It’s on hold for the moment (27/2/23) while I do some coasters for a birthday present, but handy to have next to me in the lounge when I feel the need of a bit of crafting without too much brain power involved.
The latest on the “getting the tv to play sound through the hi-fi”: I need to switch the TV and the hi-fi off. Then switch the TV on and make sure it’s in Netflix. Then switch the hi-fi on and make sure that is on the correct source. And it has worked ever since! what a faff though. Quel bazar.
I’ve been getting on with my Duolingo Spanish, and that seems to be going ok. I learn well like that, and am able to pick up on vocabulary, grammar, conjugation of verbs and declension of nouns ok. I do make mistakes, but learn from them. When I’m happy enough with the Spanish, I’ll brush up on my Italian too.
Picking up my new specs tomorrow. Bespoke lenses, FFS, because the double vision has worsened. Quietly excited but also a bit worried, because they were expensive, and there was a problem a few years ago which involved six visits to the opticians before they sorted my new specs out. Hmm. Fingers crossed.
We don’t do religion at all, so for us it’s a sort of mid-winter beanfeast. We do gifts for our loved ones, phone those we don’t get to see, and make contact one way or another via technology. We have roast turkey on Christmas Day, and open our presents, and generally have a very jolly time. Just us this year which is wonderful. All those fraught difficult years with my difficult mother are gone. Nothing to worry about. Except cooking the turkey, which hubby does. I do everything else. Gifts, wrapping, posting, tree, decorating, baking. I made some mince pies which I finished off today – will make some more next week. Frozen dairy free pastry, shop-bought filling, but somehow the process makes them look and taste home-made. Result.
Today I made an apple cake (Nadiya Hussein recipe) and got into such a mess with it. The whole kitchen seemed to be covered in sticky stuff. But it’s all cleaned up now, the dishwasher (thank goodness for dishwashers) is running, and it’ll all be fine.
Yesterday I did my ironing. Wednesday ES came to stay with his youngest son, and that was lovely. Wednesday I sorted our landline and made a trifle (premade, dairy-free frozen sponge base, frozen mixed fruit, shop-bought soya milk custard).
Sorting out the landline was slightly fraught. We are in the process of leaving Virgin Media and have signed up with Vodafone, for half the price. We wanted to keep the same phone number, and on Monday we had no phone line. This does happen from time to time with Virgin, so I left it a couple of days, then phoned up and managed to speak to an actual person, who was very helpful. Turns out that Vodafone now have the number. So I plugged the phone into the Vodafone router and hey presto! it worked. Maybe, just maybe, Virgin or Vodafone could have let us know they were doing that two weeks before the contract with Virgin finished . . . just saying.
Next Monday (26th) we’re off to Malvern for a walk with YS, his wife and their Spanador puppy. Can’t wait to meet him!
Then later in the week ED plus hubby and son are coming to visit for a couple of days. They stay in an apartment in the middle of Birmingham which works well for them. Very excited.
So I wish you all a very happy holiday and a much, much better new year. Mazel Tov, and l’chaim (good luck and to life!).
No other way to describe our current PM & Chancellor. What on earth do they think they are doing? apart from making very rich people even richer, of course. They refused to publish a fiscal forecast – hmm, wonder why? and now they’ve been severely scolded by the IMF and summoned to a meeting of the Budget watchdog (whoever they may be). Unprecedented. For goodness’ sake. Grrrr.
Meanwhile, back on Planet Mandy, I did my ironing yesterday. Also, today, dismantled and cleaned out the bathroom cupboard above the basin. Last week I reorganised and cleaned out the cupboard above the loo, which has made it much easier for me to reach the things I need to reach. Then, today, I finished changing my wardrobe from summer to winter. It doesn’t involve much, to be honest, just moving all the summer clothes into the spare room and putting plastic clothes protector thingies on them all. I’ve decided which autumn/winter clothes I hate, and are therefore going to the charity shop.
So domestically I am a goddess. Bit sweaty, mind, and need a shower, but that’ll have to wait until hubby has been through his stuff and put it all back in his side of the cupboard. He’s currently doing something technical with the car and its tyres.
Also working up to making an apple cake (a Nadiya recipe). I have all the ingredients, just need to wait until hubby has finished his chocolate cake from the Co-op, and for the energy to manifest itself. Yeah.
Ordered some plants – white bergenia, aconite bulbs, ajuga (bugle plant) and some white cyclamen. Can’t wait. The gardener has pulled back loads of ivy so now there’s room for such things.
Ok. Off to sort out the on-line grocery shopping list.
Well, Queen Liz died. I thought she was actually a good woman, just very lucky to be born into the privileges she enjoyed. I also think it’s pretty damned impressive that she was working right up until the day before she died. How many of us could do that at 96? Mm. And she will leave a big hole in the British consciousness.
She was reputed to have an excellent sense of humour, even though she could be snappy at times. And who isn’t? Huh? some lovely stories now circulating on line.
However I am really, really not a monarchist and am hoping that at some point it will either be abolished or reduced dramatically. All these castles they have up and down the country tend to be cold, draughty, and uncomfortable. Unless, of course, you have underpaid staff to build your fires and so on. Sigh.
And of course the media is absolutely full of it, every day. How much more is there to be said?
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So we are currently watching Breaking Bad. It’s not exactly light viewing but so exciting! and there are laugh out loud moments, even though it’s very black humour.
I’ve stopped putting days/dates on the to-do lists I make. It just puts pressure on me. So I have a list of things to do, but no deadlines. Much better. Yesterday I did a bit in the garden, today I’ve made the sponge base for a trifle for upcoming guests. I have 15 hyacinth bulbs to plant and several pots to wash, but that’s for another day. Also planning a crumble (frozen apples and blackberries, ready made topping) so that’s not too onerous. Other admin stuff too but boring for everybody but me.
I’m also reading Robert Galbraith’s The Ink Black Heart (the latest Cormoran Strike book). It’s so complicated I’ve just started re-reading it, having only just finished it. I’m less confused this time! but god I love these books.
Loving the garden. Just loving it. I got the table and chairs out of the shed yesterday so I could actually sit outside (when it’s not raining . . .)
Just finished a marathon John Sandford binge. Lucas Davenport, Virgil Flowers, love them both. I also like that the characters are connected, and mentioned in books about the other one. Yeah. Then I tried to download some library books, and the Solihull library account is fine, but the Birmingham (UK) one isn’t. I have one last thing I will try and then if that doesn’t work just give up on Birmingham. It just widens the range of books I can download.
Also – Netflix. Heavily into Ozark – oh my god it’s so dark. And the plot twists always catch me by surprise. Nobody is very happy though. Everybody is either furious or terrified.Or dead. Nearly at the end of season 3 now . . .
And Parks and Recreation – late to the party as usual but oh we love this! we watch an episode or two of this after one episode of Ozark. I love all the characters, but I think my absolute favourite is April. And I worked for local government in the UK for the last 15 years or so of my working life, so it’s really interesting to see how it works in the US. The style reminds me of The Office, and the looks straight to camera crack me up every time.
Today I made some (dairy free) chocolate chip cookies. Yum. Thank goodness for the Thermomix (Bimbi). Makes cooking so damned easy.
I have just finished the second tension sample for the cardigan. Yes. Just. Normally it takes me an evening to knit up a sample square. Hey ho. Well, that one is too big too. I’m going to have to do another one on slightly smaller needles. Ho hum.
Went to Brighton the weekend before Christmas to see family. We stay in a lovely hotel in Bramber, which is right next to an old castle and church. It’s really nice and there is parking! which is an issue in Brighton. It’s about 15 minutes away in the car from ES. The only fraught thing about the whole weekend was charging the electric car. The infrastructure is simply appalling. Even when you find a charging point, you’re lucky if a) it’s working and b) there’s no queue. And it was cold!Christmas Day was wonderful. Just hubby and me. No worrying about the Appalling Mother any more. Just lovely food, gifts (of which more in a moment), siesta and relaxation generally.
One of the things hubby gave me was a paraffin wax bath for my wonky hands. Sometimes used by beauty salons, they are good for arthritic and painful hands. I had a go with it yesterday – takes some setting up the first time, as you have to wait for 3 x 1 lb blocks of paraffin wax to melt, but it was worth it. It’s very hot – 50-55o C – so you just dip the painful part in and take it straight out again, wait for the paraffin to set, and dip again. About 6 – 10 times is recommended. It is so soothing. The paraffin wax just peels off, and you can discard it, but as I’m the only person using it, I’m reusing the wax.
Both the physio and the surgeon have discharged me from the hospital – 5 months after the operation.
It should continue to improve hopefully. Still a little swollen and quite stiff but I can manage most things.
Watching some excellent tv – Succession series 3, The Great series 2, the films Spencer, and The Power of the Dog. Wonderful drama. Spencer is about Diana (of course) and takes place one Christmas. The stuffiness and insistence on adherence to tradition, however dreadful, is claustrophobic. Some characters are invented, but make a strong point. Charles is portrayed as completely hidebound by the rules, but not a bad chap overall. Diana is portrayed as being very unhappy, resentful of Camilla Parker-Bowles (the mistress), unsurprisingly having mental health problems, and a wonderful mother. The Power of the Dog is a Western of a very different type from usual. Shot in New Zealand, directed by Jane Campion, it’s very very good. Dark and powerful.
Also last night watched Billy Connolly’s “My Absolute Pleasure”. He’s nearly 80 now, has Parkinson’s, and is such a lovely, lovely man. His sense of humour is delightful. I just love him to bits.
Hubby has gone into Solihull to spend some Christmas vouchers. Also he doesn’t feel comfortable being in the house when the cleaners are here. So I’m doing this, he’s in Solihull, and the cleaners are cleaning.
I’ve ordered myself a “monocular”. I can’t see through binoculars because of the stupid double vision, but I can see through a monocular. The plan is that when I see an interesting looking bird through the window I can grab it and actually see what’s going on. Mm. We shall see.
Made an apple and almond cake for Christmas. Hubby doesn’t actually like fruit cake. This is a recipe from Nadiya Hussain, who is just wonderful. I didn’t use olive oil for the icing though, just dairy free butter cream. And for Christmas I did white glace icing so it looks a bit more Christmassy. It’s absolutely delicious. Quite rich though. Even I can only manage one slice per day. But Oh. My. Days. it’s yummy.
I had to get a new computer in the end. The motherboard was clearly in distress. Strange random beeping noises and kept falling off the internet, when everything else in the house was fine. Hm. And managed to work out it is 3 years old. Not old for a personal/domestic computer, but the industry standard when I was working in tech (20 years ago now I know!) was to replace workstations every three years. So I’m on Windows 11 now. Had to tweak it a bit because it was quite slow, and took me a whole day to install it – which is usual, I will say, for Windows. But I’d backed everything up, so haven’t lost any data, so am fairly smug about it. I just need to nuke the old hard drive and Freecycle it – with clear warnings about the dodgy motherboard.
Hubby uses his Virgin email address and it wouldn’t work the other day. Eventually after much faffing about I discovered that it was locked for some unfathomable reason. So I ran a virus check (clear) and managed finally to change his password. After an hour it magically unlocked itself. FFS. What is that about? Damned blasted technology. But I think I won, even if I don’t know what happened. Mm.
Well, you’ll be delighted to know that the “empire” biscuits are absolutely delicious. A bit substantial, but delicious. Even I can only manage one at a time. I will be making those again!
The next day I made a Raspberry Bakewell Slice, which is something I do regularly. The last one wasn’t so great, but this time I made a special effort and actually read the recipe, and checked before/after I did anything. It’s for family at Christmas.
And as I’ve been feeling quite low and pathetic, weak and wobbly, I decided I’d have a go at some exercise for “seniors”. The exercise videos on YouTube for “the elderly” are mostly sitting down ones, and I can actually stand up . . . so I had a go this morning at Joe Wicks’ 10 minute exercise routine. I managed 5 minutes and that was fine. The next 5 minutes are a repeat of the first, so I’ll work up to that. Got the old heart pumping. Feeling quite good about it. If not actually smug.
Dreamed that our garden was horrible. Very glad to wake up and find out it is lovely. Here are some photos.
When I was at my lowest point in July and August, I was trying to think of what would help to cheer me up. The first thought was being by the sea. Not going to happen, I couldn’t have managed the journey. Next thought – being in the countryside. Same. So. I sat in our garden, in my pyjamas, with a cup of tea or a glass of water, just sitting. It was lovely. When it had rained, I could smell the herbs – rosemary, thyme, sage, mint. Just being outside helped so much!
Finally finished the tension sample for the cardi I have planned. It came up a bit big, so I’m doing another sample on a size smaller needles and will see how that turns out. I have a plan A and a plan B (of course!)
Today I did some baking. They’re called Empire biscuits (I don’t like even the word “empire) but they look lovely. Yet to be tasted . . . .
Hubby put up three wicker nest “boxes” at various points around the garden. The other day we were absolutely delighted to spot a little wren going in and out of one of them! excellent! however, as the photos show, I have a wildlife camera situated immediately above it. Now I dare not touch that particular camera because I don’t want to frighten the wrens. And that camera has the best view of both the bird feeding stations. Humph. I’ll just have to wait until any baby birds have fledged and then see where I could move it to.
Slowly starting to knit again. I’m doing a sample tension square, and normally I do one of those in an hour or so. It’s taking me ages and ages. Must be two weeks since I started it, but I can only knit two or three rows at a time – and there are only 28 stitches! ho hum. It still feels nice to be knitting again though.
I have a yellow rose, much beloved, that my sister gave me for my 60th birthday. It struggled with black spot this year but after some treatment came back fighting, and now there are buds trying to bloom despite the frost. Love it.
When I bought this years ago it was a twig. A tiny little twig. It’s in a pot so I can keep the soil ericaceous as that’s what it likes. It’s just outside the patio door so it’s protected by the house on one side and the fence behind it. I just love it. It needs very little maintenance. Every other year I scrape off the grit and top compost and put new ericaceous compost on top.
Still not started knitting yet – I have settled on a pattern and some yarn (Bergere de France Ecoton in this colour). I’ve gone off the original pattern I bought the yarn for, and found another pattern. (I prefer the shawl collar in this one). Then realised I needed more yarn. Luckily you can order from Bergere de France by dye lot number! which is excellent. However, what has happened now is that the extra yarn has arrived, but the original yarn has not. Apparently their system removes my house number from the label, so it’s probably gone back to the factory. In France. Yeah. Still, I’m enjoying the anticipation. And the colour of the yarn is even better in real life than I’d hoped. Mm.
Youngest granddaughter has lost her first tooth! Her mum has made a special pouch for the tooth so that the tooth fairy can find it easily. Her cousin (who lives in Southampton) is a year older than she is, and he decided to keep all his baby teeth in a box, so he can throw them at people should he want to. Love it.
Yesterday I made a cake. Different from my usual – a recipe from Nadiya Hussain. It’s apple and almond, dairy free. It was really good. My last efforts (muffins) eventually went mouldy, they were so dreadful. But this is nice. May well make it again. In fact, just thinking about it I want to eat some! but will wait till I’ve had my lunch.
A long time ago, about 20 years, I would guess, I went to our local supermarket to pick up some bits. I was feeling like five kinds of sh*t, and probably looked it too, although I was past caring.
Well. The product I wanted to get to (bacon, I think), was behind a trolley parked sideways with a small girl – I’d say about 3 years old? – sitting in it, dancing about and generally making sure everybody could see how cute she was. I was not in the mood, really not, so I ignored her.
She did not like that. She did not. So she leant towards me, and said, “You’re UGLY”. Her parents were absolutely mortified, as well they should be. They apologised profusely, and I accepted the apology with “oh it’s ok”. But it wasn’t ok. I was hurt, and still feel it now. How did that child learn that “ugly” was an insult? why did she choose to use it then? she was very small, I know, but neither of mine would ever have deliberately insulted a total stranger. Each other, yes, but total strangers? nope! They were not perfect, what child or what adult is, but really.
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I’ve been very low lately, and sleeping way too much. I had a telephone appointment with a doctor, who arranged a face-to-face appointment at my local surgery, and that doctor (she’s the one I used to see before lockdown) has increased my anti-depressants. I have to go back in a month to see how that is going.
I feel slightly better straight away, knowing something constructive is happening. It felt like a long tunnel with no light at the end, but that feeling is fading.
Still sleeping too much, but apparently it can take about seven days for an increase in jolly drops to work. So that’s ok then.
Managed to go to the local shop today and get some bits and bobs. Yesterday I made carrot cake, and I was halfway through when I discovered that my self raising flour was three months out of date. So that went straight in the bin, and I used plain flour with extra baking powder. It seems to have worked ok, but both the cakes are in the freezer as they are for my daughter’s 40th birthday barbecue in July. She loves my carrot cake. So we won’t actually know until we cut into them whether they’re ok or not! love a bit of baking suspense . . . might need ice cream or glace icing, will see how we go.
Have ordered some full face visors. There is of course a bewildering array, and because I wear glasses I need ones with a head strap. I find the masks stifling and my glasses steam up.
Ironing is awaiting my attention, but having been to the shop today, and baking yesterday, it will need to wait until tomorrow.
And I’m wearing a brand new top today, from Fat Face. Sage green with little leaves embroidered on it. And the New Zealand quartz pendant from YD. Yeah. Little things.