18 June 2012

Sunday 17 June 2012 - in the sewing room

I call myself a quilter, I say I quilt, my hobbies include quilting. I just never do any sewing . However, Sunday afternoon I had a "must do" project. I had promised to 'test drive' a new pattern for a fellow quilter who runs Patchwork Promises. It was 'only' a pincushion, so I figured it wouldn't take long and it didn't. Just an hour and half.

It did; however, inspire me to get some small projects done that have been bugging me for a while. First, the minky blanket. It's lovely and soft and warm and snuggly. It's also two layers and during the night you realise that the edge is somewhere half-way down the bed and you're all twisted and tangled. My original plan was to run it through the embroiderer with a simple chain pattern, but it's too thick for the hoops. It is possible to embroidery thick fabric, but it's a hassle. So, Plan B - a single line of stitching about a hand's width from the top and bottom. And it worked!

Project number 3 was a draught excluder for the bathroom. When we renovated the bathroom the old concrete and tile floor came out and beautiful wooden floor went in. We haven't 'got around' to the door yet, which means there's a two inch gap between floor and door and there's 2 inches of cold winter air creeping around your wet toes this time of year. My draught excluder needed to be custom designed. Being a small family of three, in a small house of one bathroom (that's loo and shower and basin in one room; not common in Australia) people wander in and out all the time. Particularly in the morning. My draught excluder has a "pull tag". Too often I'm in the shower, someone comes in, leaves, the draught excluder (to date a rolled up bath mat) stays behind when they close the door; letting out all my nice heated air and letting in the cold stuff. This one has a pull tag so when the door is closed it can be pulled back in place from outside.
Draught excluder, with 'pull tag' on my lovely bathroom floor

And project number 4 - a mini draught excluder to make up for the not-so excellent fitting cat flap from Saturday.

17 June 2012

Saturday 16 June - cats and cars

I had plans for Saturday, which included getting a lot of things done. Reality and plans don't always meet, not even halfway.
Our cat is an indoor cat, with a cage on the front porch accessed via a cat flap. When something spooks her or she suspects 'an invader' in her territory (our entire yard even though she's never been out there) she barrels through the flap at a million miles an hour. She finally hit it too hard one too many times the other day, and broke the hinge. A 20cm square hole in the wall in winter is not a good idea.
The issue with replacing a cat flap is that there is no industry standard size. The hole in the wall is a particular size, but it's not exactly easy to pop the wall into your handbag to take down the local pet store. And the hole is three dimensional, adding a measure (!) of complication.
Still cat flap was purchased and installed, after some perfectionist faffing about (and not by me). However, it took much longer than anticipated and that's when my plans to be productive were effectively ditched.

I also test drove a potential new car.
The Volkswagen, 90TSI Golf. Just in case there's any blokes out there - it's 1.4-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo-charged petrol engine with a 7 speed DSG transmission. What I noticed is that it is comfortable to sit in, smooth to drive, solid on the road, takes off when you expect it too, stops when you need it to, and would be really easy to get a speeding ticket in. I also noticed that the drive away price is about half what I owe on my house and I just don't think I'm prepared to spend quite that much on a car. Still, nice to dream.

16 June 2012

The week that was

The perfectionist in me says I 'should' post a separate entry for each day this week. The woman in charge, however, isn't listening to the perfectionist.
Monday - we very briefly visited my nana. Crazy really. We drive 3 hours there and 3 hours back; spend so much time stuffing around that we barely manage to squeeze in half an hour with her before lunch. However, she turns 90 in a week, so we're going back down to see her next weekend.
Mum, me, nana and The Girl

Tuesday - was not well. Saw little silver stars while having a shower. Last time I saw those, the doctor had given me some prednisone (a steroid) to get my hives under control. Didn't ask me if I'd eaten before I ripped it out of her hand and gobbled it up (I was a bit of a mess and pretty desperate). Spent the day lying on the couch, generally feeling sorry for myself and moaning about how little the ABC had on iView that was worth watching. I'm pretty sure I remember thinking at some point "this is something positive I could blog about", but I left it too long and it's disappeared.
Wednesday - decided I was well enough to go to work. On the train on the way in I wasn't so sure I'd made the right decision. Then when I thought I was going to faint while waiting for the train to pull into my station, I decided I'd made the wrong decision. Still, I left the platform, thinking if I took some painkillers I'd be fine. After buying the tablets and some breakfast and getting half way out of the station, I had a flash of "you stupid woman", at which point I turned around and caught the next train home. When I got home I put MASH on the DVD player and promptly slept through an entire disc. I do love MASH. We've watched it so often that I don't need to "watch" it to be able to "see" it. I don't sleep during the day, but I find MASH keeps my mind occupied enough to allow it shut off (if that makes sense).
From our USA trip; we visited the MASH location

Thursday - thought I'd give the work thing another go. Survived the day, albeit exhausted by the end. Went to my singing lesson. Almost didn't, but decided it is a bright moment in any week and I needed a bright moment. My singing teacher has given me a lovely piece to prepare for Christmas. Yes, I know, it's only June. But unlike Glee, and a few other groups I've been involved with, she recognises that new material takes some time to prepare. You can't just have a dress rehearsal and then put on the show. I'm really looking forward to learning this piece.
Friday - another day at work. Today I got to send the email to the 'powers that be' on my current project, saying I would be handing over my role to someone else.

Which brings me up to date. Today I'm off to buy new winter sheets, a new cat flap (she broke it going like a bat outta hell through it), a water tank, and possibly a car. Variety is the spice of life.

11 June 2012

Sunday 10 June 2012 - Assignment & Echidna

My assignment isn't actually something I wanted to do. In fact, I'm pretty sure this entire Masters' programme is not something I want to do. However, as of Sunday morning I had one assignment and three units/subjects left until graduation; seems like such a waste to give up now.
So, Sunday, the fam went off to church and I ploughed in. Like most procrastinated tasks I found it took a lot less time and energy to actually finish than it did to ignore it.
Sunday afternoon we headed down the coast to see my nan. My nan is one of my favourite people in the world and I don't see her anywhere near enough. She turns 90 in two weeks. On the way down we stopped to visit my uncle, who wasn't home. But while there I spied an echidna trundling along his fence line. When the Girl ran over to investigate, he started digging in.

10 June 2012

Saturday 9 June 2012

I spent most of today avoiding my assignment. Why? I'm really not sure; it would be interesting to know. The only productive thing I did all day was cook. Seems to be a trend in my posts.
Several weeks ago I bought myself a new thermos. It's a single cup size; has a wide mouth; a tea leaf basket. The best bit is, you push a button in the top and can drink from anywhere around the edge. I hate normal 'make and carry' cups; I always seem to end up with the handle facing the wrong way when I'm driving. I've also realised that keeping my cuppa in a thermos on my desk saves me wasting half cups all day. I think I'm going to give up coffee cups completely.

Friday 8 June 2012

Not sure I did much today that I wanted to do. The Girl hit her head at school and ended up with three stitches in her forehead. Not on my bucket list.
After the excitement, spent the day driving out to Dalby and back, stopping to identify various trees and culverts along the way. Again, not on my bucket list.
Avoided my assignment, watched some TV, and went to bed early.
I did cook chicken soup for dinner. The Man had planned chicken and chips but that just didn't appeal. I took his BBQ chicken, pulled it apart. Sautéed some onion, added some veggies from the fridge, the chicken and a litre of chicken soup. Wah-lah, chicken soup.
(not my photo)

Thursday 7 June 2012

On Thursday afternoons I have my singing lesson. I've been going to see Angela since 2010 and she is wonderful. Like so many people I grew up with those around me giving me a hard time about my voice. As a particularly vulnerable teenager I took their comments to heart. I have always longed to be able to sing, but a life time of listening to the voices convinced me I couldn't.
Angela has helped turn that around. I am still working to overcome 20 years of negative voices, but slowly I'm winning. There have been some set back; insensitive people with natural talent who seem to think that if you can't sing naturally and easily you shouldn't bother trying.
The latest 'attack' set me back quite a bit and shook my confidence. However, as part of this new decision to enjoy life I decided (frankly) bugger 'em. Who am I going to listen to? My singing teacher - a conservatory trained professional singer? or someone with an inflated opinion of their own talent and importance? or 20 year old voices from insensitive teenagers?
I have decided to listen to my singing teacher. And for the first time in a long time I truly enjoyed my singing lesson and I've been enjoying singing at home a lot more to.

The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best. Henry van Dyke

07 June 2012

Wednesday 6 June 2012

Rebekah & I went to a bat seminar tonight. The Brisbane City Council was offering a free talk about bats. It was on the north side, which is a bit of a hike, but we'd made a commitment to go, so go we did.
I'm glad we did. The talk, by Bat Conservation and Rescue Qld, was mainly about flying foxes and very interesting. I was horrified to hear a couple of days (weeks?) ago that the new state government plans to reintroduce culling of flying foxes. Yes, sometimes they're smelly; sometimes they're noisy; but they're also really quite very cute. And apparently, very intelligent (which doesn't surprise me).
Also learnt that our cocos palm is bad news for flying foxes. Bats can get tangled in their leaves, caught on the spikes and flower cases, get ulcers from eating the green fruit, get the seed pods stuck in their jaws, and ruin their teeth on the seed pods. And here we were thinking we doing them a favour having them in our yard. Seems we'll be getting rid of the palms (as soon as I can convince the Man).

06 June 2012

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Today at work I forecast projects I know I'm involved in over the next couple of months. If I could find a clone or two, I'd still be too busy, but strange enough, that just makes me extraordinarily happy. All the work I have forecast is editing work. Yippee! Not quite sure how I juggle 70 hour weeks for a couple of months, but I'm actually sure it won't actually amount to quite that much (I hope!).
To top off my day, as I pulled into the driveway, my phone rang. My past supervisor, who has moved north, rang to see if I could take on another editing role.

Monday 4 June 2012

Today I cooked lemon pudding. For someone who has decided they don't like cooking, I seem to do it a lot for relaxation. Thing is, I love food. The pudding was a Green's packet mix. I like Green's (I also like the Green's family, who I met many years ago). However, like most packet lemon things, it is a little sweeter than I like.
I decided to fix that and fix it I did! The box calls for one egg and 1 tablespoon of water to be mixed into the sponge mix. I used a tablespoon of lemon juice instead. I think the sponge is actually vanilla or fairly plain, so the lemon juice pepped it up a bit. Secondly, I zested in some orange peel.

In the sauce - sprinkle on top, boiling water deal - I added another splash of lemon juice. Not much, only about 1/3 of a cup ;-) and some more orange peel. I used orange peel because we didn't have any fresh lemons.

The sponge didn't rise well. Maybe the acid of the juice was a factor. Maybe the overly small egg (I debated using two) was a factor. I'm not sure. But it was sure nice and lemony.

04 June 2012

Sunday 3 June

You might be wondering why blog about this latest new beginning, particularly given my track record at regular blogging is not so wonderful. I have a lot to be thankful for, but it's easy to forget that and get bogged down in everything that's not right. I'm hoping that if I make the effort to blog it'll spark that appreciation for all that is right in the world, instead of focusing on all that is wrong.

Sunday 2 June - read for about 5 hours. Curled up in bed with the blankets, couple of cups of tea, a heat pack and a not-so-bad book, The Hunger Games. I found the premise of the book interesting. There are too many examples from history for us to be able to say we wouldn't stoop so low. The writing was a little disjointed. The main character is variously a fighter, a survivor, sullen, giggly ... images that didn't mesh together easily. I often wonder if authors write a plan before they start writing their novels - do they sketch up their characters; set out the timeline; draft out a story line. You can definitely tell those that do.

Cooked a roast beef for dinner (not my picture below; we ate it all before I thought of a photo).  I love a rare roast beef. On Saturday I bought a lump of topside; haven't a clue how much it weighed. Slathered it in garlic and Dijon mustard; put it on a rack; filled the bottom of the pan with beef stock and red wine. I've always called it French roasting; but one site says that's where you put the meat on top of the vegetables to cook. Whichever, roasting over a pan of liquid makes for a very moist roast.

It's a wee bit difficult to make gravy the traditional way (flour in the pan juices with liquid added), but I learnt a trick that works well. Mix butter and flour together into little balls, bring the liquids to boil on the stove top and mix in the balls one at a time.

New Beginnings - Saturday 2 June

Long story short - letting things get me down that really need to be shrugged off. Lost my motivation; not eating right, not exercising, not enjoying life. Being a great believer in starting over from where a body happens to be, I decided on Saturday afternoon to do just that. My basic plan is - give up coffee (sigh) and do at least one thing a day that I truly enjoy. Although I started on Saturday afternoon, it is easier to track using full days, so I'm counting '1' from Sunday. However, as a 'catch up':

Saturday 2 June - bought some "Detox & Cleanse" tea from  The Tea Centre. It's a pleasant enough drink; not sure what it's supposed to do.
I also fixed a lamp. It's bugged me for, quite literally, years. It's got a long flexible 'neck' with two prongs going into the base. One prong always comes out of the base and causes the light to droop. I finally decided I was going to replace it, but first, I'd pull it apart and see what was what. Inside the base the prong is supposed to screw into a nut; it was unscrewed. I screwed the nut back on; tightened up the nut on the second prong, and the lamp is as good as new. So simple, so rewarding, so annoying that I left it for so long.