Baking Fail

Well, tomorrow it’s my birthday, so I thought I’d make a cake. I made a chocolate cake the other week and it was delicious. This one was plain vanilla, but a disaster. The top was quite a lot smaller than the bottom of each piece, so it looked as if it was collapsing.

Huh.

So I cut it into squares, froze two lots and left one lot out and will make a trifle with it tomorrow. Ho hum.

The seedlings are doing their thing. Bit skinny but I’ve moved them onto the windowsill, reduced the heat in the bedroom, and am brushing them lightly with my hand each morning and night. This apparently makes them react as if it’s windy, and they grow a bit more sturdy.

The old Dell went the very next day. Excellent.

Am considering phoning the doctor’s to see if they’ll refer me to a rheumatologist for the pain in my hands (both of them now). Had steroid injections last September but am struggling now to do any knitting or crochet. Hmph. The doctor did say they would refer me if/when the pain returned. The specialist can do X-ray guided injections, which are more effective. And, I must say, less painful than injections done “blind”.

The garden is still a joy. And today the window cleaner came. Not only the windows, but all the outside doors got a jolly good wash. Really pleased.

Woke up at 10.30 this morning, but now it’s 14.25 and I’m ready for another sleep. Really? yeah. Really.

Been watching some excellent TV. The final series of Spiral (Engrenages), The Queen’s Gambit, Bloodlands, now the new series of Line of Duty, and we’re a bit late to the Netflix party, but Da 5 Bloods was excellent. Gory, fraught, emotional, all those things, but so good.

Right. Off to bed.

Technology! pah!

Spent yesterday afternoon after my siesta and most of today failing to erase an old Dell Dimension and install Linux on it. In the end I just erased it. Formatting doesn’t do it properly, it just hides the data, and that’s not what you want when you’re Freecycling an old computer. I did have another go at installing Linux after I’d nuked the hard drive, but no luck.

Still, the people on Freecycle who come and collect old computers are very likely to have a stash of old computer parts including old hard drives, so it’ll all be fine. I certainly have boxes of bits. We have a desktop computer each, a tablet each, one Apple, one Android, two laptops (one running Windows 7 and the other Windows XP), and a variety of wires, plugs, mice (mouses?) and so on.

We’ve booked an appointment to go to the tip (recycling centre is the posh name for it) in a couple of weeks. You are allowed 15 minutes once a week, and must be a resident of the Borough. So if nobody wants this old Dell it’ll end up there.

The desperate houseplant I potted on is much happier now. Managed to get some potting compost delivered, and have bought a storage box thingamajig to store it in. It can live in the shed, but then needs schlepping up and down the garden each time it’s needed. The storage box sits just behind the house and is much more convenient. Hubby had to assemble it though. When I finally manage to get some horticultural grit (of which there seems to be a national dearth) that can live in there too.

The seeds I planted a week ago (M&S “little garden”, kindly given to me), have actually started to grow! Three radishes! They are the reason I needed the potting compost, because the time will come when they need to be potted on. It’s all very clever. The seeds are in a sort of tiny little “mat” thing – about six per mat. Then there’s a pellet of dried compost which expands magically upon addition of 50ml water, and the little pots seem to be made of coir, which I think means the roots will grow through them. So that should mean I don’t need to handle the seedlings at all. I’m not usually very good with seeds/seedlings. They usually just die on me. So I am going to be extra vigilant and see what happens.

I have added better labels – these are cardboard and a bit soggy. When a few more seeds start to show their little heads I’ll post better photos.

Mother’s Day here in the UK was Sunday 14th March. One daughter sent me beautiful flowers, the other fabulous chocolates. I’m so lucky! both are excellent. Flowers still in bloom, some chocolates still to be eaten.

Knitting and crochet are occasional things now, what with the pain in my hands. I need to think about talking to the doctor and getting a referral to a consultant. Hubby has requested a special teacosy to fit his special tea infuser. Just need to discuss with him the detailed requirements. Shouldn’t take too long. It’ll need to be knitted, rather than crocheted, and that takes longer, but it’s only a small item. Just had the discussion. He wants a tube with a closed top, no hole for the handle. Excellent. Probably do it in the round, so no seams. Found some Aran West Yorkshire Spinners yarn which should do the job. Yeah.

I think that’s about it for today. Cheers for stopping by!

Better.

Well, we watched The Interview, of course. Dynamite. Oprah was so good. I was surprised that Meghan didn’t do any research, despite what happened with Harry’s mother. I do get that our “Royals” are not such a big deal abroad, but the sad story of Lady Di I would have though was of global interest. Also surprised that Harry didn’t mention she’d need to curtsey 🙄 to his gran until approximately 2 minutes before she had to! For goodness’ sake. But oh, what a toxic “institution”. The press here are just so racist and spiteful. To wit, the wildly different ways in which Kate and Meghan were portrayed eating avocado toast (Kate praised to the skies for being healthy, Meghan destroyed for causing climate change). To be honest I wasn’t much surprised by most of it, except the press “parties”. Held at the palace! how blatant is that! Poor Meghan and poor Harry (though why he is miffed they stopped paying him is a mystery to me. If you leave a job, they don’t pay you any more!). But the suffering they both went through, without any support, is absolutely appalling. And don’t get me started on Piers Morgan. And I am no royalist. I would much rather we had a republic. Not that I’m a Republican in terms of the USA. Not at all.

I’m feeling better. Since, I’d say, last Sunday really. More energy – though I’ve had to sleep all morning, having tried to stay awake after breakfast and failed. The garden is lovely. The sun is not out today, but was for the last two days, so I went for a ten minute walk on Monday and Tuesday. That might account for the fatigue this morning. Yesterday I defrosted the small freezer, made a delicious chocolate cake (dairy free of course) and repotted a desperate house plant. Oh. Also might account for the fatigue this morning.

The yoghurt maker is going. It’s possible that my niece may have it, she’s pondering at the moment. If she doesn’t, I will Freecycle it.

Have started a crochet blanket in basic granny squares. I have a selection of double knitting cotton yarn in various colours (from Hobbii.de – love their stuff, even though the postage is expensive), so am doing squares, rather than all in one big square, to make it easier and more fun to sort out the colour scheme when it’s done. No rush. A square or two a day is fine. Even though it’s the most basic of crochet techniques, I still can’t watch TV and do it, like I can with some of my knitting. The finished squares (well, not blocked yet) are actually a lovely lilac, but you can’t tell from the photo. I’ve ordered some more yarn, enough to do two more squares and a border, in dark navy. It’ll make a blanket 4 x 5 squares of 6 3/4″ each, so small but useful in the winter evenings. Or even the summer ones, here in the UK.

Loving the Freecycle system. It’s called Freegle where I live. It shut down during lockdown, but started up again yesterday. I had four boxes of books and dvds to give away, which I advertised just before lockdown. The person who wanted them agreed to wait till now, and came last night to take them away! our study looks So Much Tidier. And she brought me several little tiny pots with a sort of dried pellet of compost and some seeds in. Parsley, carrots and peppers. Am going to investigate. Exciting.

Episode!

Well, I’m in the throes of an M.E. episode. Trying really hard to be positive and “do” stuff, but failing. This week I’ve managed to stay up and out of bed till lunchtime once in the last five days. Failed this morning. No knitting or crochet mojo. Tried a bit of crochet yesterday but it didn’t go well.

Was supposed to go to the osteopath today but re-arranged. It feels a bit sad-making but at the same time empowering because I have a measure of control over my stupid health. Plenty of sleeping, and reading when I’m awake. Also ordering stuff I do actually need, as well as want, online. Handcream, for example, is a constant thing for me as my hands are terribly dry all the time. So I’ve ordered some. And earrings are a new problem. Now I have various pairs of glasses, wearing at least two at once, the reading glasses dangling and the distance glasses on my nose (or vice versa), dangly earrings are just not going to work. Particularly with masks as well. So stud earrings it is. Ordered two lovely pairs from John Lewis, then of course needed a jewellery box to hold them, to replace the ice cube tray I’ve been using for the last twenty years or so. I can justify almost any purchase if I try hard enough . . . 🛒😉. And of course retail therapy is always, always good for the morale.

The garden is even better for the soul of course but it’s been cold and wet the past couple of days. I can look at it out of the window of course, and do. The bird feeder table is very popular at the moment, which is great. The cat seems to have an arrangement with all the birds. She looks at them, they fly away, and all is well. The pigeons – well, they just waddle off because they’re as big as she is.

The cat. Mm. She is much more chatty and approachable now she’s getting older. Not exactly affectionate, but keeps trying to herd me into the lounge, when I’m busy in the study. So I’ve set up another cat bed in the study, and she will occasionally sit in it!

Been Vaccinated!

Hooray! it didn’t hurt at all, didn’t even feel the needle. Next day my arm was very sore, so took painkillers, and the day after that felt completely washed out and had to take myself off to bed.

But today (Sunday) am feeling fine.

I have potted up two primulas – one little yellow traditional one, and one which will look like a purple pompom on a stick when it’s grown. It felt so good to be outside in the sunshine, although my back is protesting now and so are my hands. Hey ho. That will pass, but the primulas will bloom for ages, I hope.

And guess what. My new glasses are actually ok. It’s taken three months and six visits to the optician’s. I’m fetching the matching sunglasses tomorrow. Phew. What a relief. They’re not varifocals though, so I have a cord attached to them and am organising a pendant glasses holder for my reading glasses. Just getting used to changing my glasses every few minutes!

Hubby’s 17 year old BMW has gone to its new home today with youngest son in Malvern. All concerned are very pleased. We now have two electric cars, one with a longer range. It’s the newer version of the one we already had, with a couple more bells and whistles. Feels odd not to have to buy petrol, or pay car tax. Not sure what the government will do about that, because they will need at some point to start charging car tax when more people have electric cars. Mm.

That’s it really!

Love/Hate Technology

Oh. My. Days.

I have just spent a very fraught hour or so trying to access my local doctor’s surgery on line. They’ve recently changed their website service, so you have to go through a whole heap of trouble to get there. You have to wait for text messages with special codes, special url addresses, special documents with yet more special codes in, and then put everything in the right place in the right order. It’s just like an obstacle course for the Very Advanced. Not meant for 65 year olds like me, even though I’m a techie.

Anyway, finally managed it. The whole point was to order repeat prescriptions. With this new system you have to put a message in too. I put “I need repeat prescriptions of these”. What would they like me to say??

At the same time, probably not terribly wisely, I was setting up our Netflix account and trying to talk to the water supply people about why they are sending letters to our address with the wrong name on it.

But it’s all sorted now. Netflix – subscription sorted. Water supply people – sorted. Surgery on-line access – sorted.

I now need a lie down with a cold compress on my forehead. But the cat needs feeding, and her day has been even more fraught because we had the guys in, aka The Noisy Boys, trimming the leylandii and various thuggish shrubs in the garden. She was terrified, so needs a nice calm evening. Yeah. Me too, kiddo.

The Noisy Boys did a great job though. The next thing, when the weather has sprung into spring, is the front lawn. Exciting.

Trying

Yes, it has been. I had another go at making yogurt, with oat milk (barista style) and it was a total failure. Down the loo it went.

However, I have done some research. Back in the day I used to make yogurt with evaporated milk. So I checked it out and you can still get it, and it’s much easier to use (no boiling required), and so I’m going to have a go. I won’t be able to have any of course because it’s dairy, but hubby will. We shall see.

The knitting and crochet are going ok as long as I don’t beat myself up for doing it slowly and for a short time. I’m pleased with how it looks (no pics because the crochet is for a present).

The garden is looking absolutely lovely. Daffodils have suddenly appeared without my noticing, snowdrops all over the place, and a few crocus too.

My younger daughter is 37 today. She’s going to tell everybody she’s 36! so not quite sure what will happen when she gets to 40 . . Spoke last night via WhatsApp as she lives in New Zealand. Glowing with health and having a lovely time.

A bit of a roller coaster

Today I got up early (ish) so that I could set up the yogurt to do its thing. Then I went back to bed as today is not a good day M.E. wise.

When I got up again, I had forgotten to press the Go button. That meant that the temperature didn’t remain constant, so this is the second failed yogurt batch. But all that is wasted is one litre of oat milk, to be honest, so not so bad. Dumped it all down the loo. The texture looked ok, though.

Went to the opticians for my new glasses yesterday. Fifth visit. Didn’t go well. Eye test was last November. My double vision is pretty bad, so I need a thick prism. That means varifocals won’t work very well with the (expensive) fancy lenses, nor will Reactolites. So they’ve made three attempts at getting them right, and I still can’t see through them properly. My current specs, which were made up in June 2018, are better. Harrumph. So they’re going to have another go, in non-fancy lenses (i.e. thick ones). Hey ho. It would be nice to think that I can have Reactolites and varifocals, but I’m waiting for a call back from the opticians, so I guess probably not.

The soup I made was lovely, by the way, and there are plans to make more, with carrots and coriander this time. I meant to get a portion out of the freezer this morning but forgot. Of course.

On the upside, I have an appointment for my Covid vaccination next week – hooray! Hubby had his a few weeks ago.

Also on the upside, two guys came yesterday and tidied up the garden, so it looks excellent, even this time of year. They turned over all the soil, trimmed the edges of the lawn, swept up leaves and debris, and left it looking great.

So all in all, everything is more or less ok. Small things.

Progress of a sort

The first batch of non-dairy yogurt was not a success. Some things worked. It set. It smelled vaguely like yogurt. But tasted of absolutely nothing. I used sugar free soya milk, agar agar powder, and a probiotic from Holland and Barrett. Dumped the lot (apart from the bit I tried.) Next batch will try oat milk (barista style) and see what happens.

Currently making dairy free soup in the Bimbi/Thermomix. It’s a first for me. I do make cakes and stuff in it though. Now I’m not eating any cheese I think I need to increase my protein intake. Two potatoes, one large carrot, one large onion, fresh parsley, tin of chopped tomatoes, water, salt and pepper, and away we go. Just cooking now, when it’s done I’ll whizz it up with some dairy free spread and see what happens.

Finally heard from the tree trimming guy after I made it fairly clear we want the work done, and if not by him, by someone else. Original quote was last June. Work supposed to be done September. Now they’re coming, weather permitting, on 22nd February.

Knitting – enjoying knitting this scarf and although it’s slow going because I can’t knit for as long as I once could, it’s enjoyable.

Small Decisions Made

Started knitting a different project. A scarf. It’s not the fancy schmancy pattern I had in mind, that’s too difficult at the moment, but I am enjoying it. It’s a “mistake rib” scarf, where you K2 P1 on every row. I’ve cast on 92 stitches, so it’s wider than these photos. In this yarn (colourway – coffees).

Also made sure that the 4 ply t-shirt (a mix of Elfe and Vasa) is going to work. It is. Elfe is knitted in the round and shaped, Vasa is knitted straight. I’m going to do it straight, and seamed, but using the stripe pattern from Elfe. Did another sample to make sure. Not sure if you can see but the colours are a sage green and a fairly dark grey.

And have decided to undo the Jumper of Shame and knit something else with it. A jumper I’ve done before which hubby likes. The other one is in a denim blue. Here he is modelling it.

I’m going to do the next one in this yarn. The colour is called “Mallard”. It doesn’t look too different on the screen, but it is in real life.

Yeah. Feeling ok about it all.