Friday, 30 October 2015

Crap Friday

What a crap day.  The optician phoned, our new glasses were ready, and I needed further tests to ascertain if I had Glaucoma.  So, off we toddled.  I had my eyes scanned, and when Helen took me through to the room, she tested my eyes again, and told me that the scan showed I had thick corneas, which meant that I could feasibly have a higher 'score' than normal.  But even deducting my bonus thick-corneal '5' from my score still left my eyes at 23 and 24, which... meh.  Not looking good.  So I have to have more tests at the end of November.  I suppose the good thing is, that it's been caught early, and it's treatable with eyedrops.  Even though eyedrops make me vomit... 

Then, on the way back to the car park, where we'd had to park on the roof level, and both lifts were broken, I knocked my big toe nail on a concrete step and ripped it half way off.  It's half on, half off, about two thirds of the way down my toe...

Then, on the way home we called in Asda.  And my debit card got declined.  For the first time in my life, my card was declined.  I tried it again, and it was declined again.  Thankfully had a credit card with me to spare my blushes.  With twenty minutes before the bank closed, we dashed back into town, to my bank branch to find out that it was a problem their end and everyone's cards were being affected nationwide. 

I also ordered 10 kg of plasticine for my son for Christmas.  Yes, ten kilograms of plasticine.  What was I thinking?

Add chronic back pain to my day, and there you have it.  I am feeling very, very sorry for myself indeed.  If anyone wants me, I'll be in bed, wallowing in self pity. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Recipe - Easy Chicken Casserole

I happened upon this recipe a few months back, I just fancied Chicken Casserole but made a little differently to how I usually make it.  Everyone has their own take on basic recipes, be it chilli, casserole, spag bol, and I wanted to see how someone else's tasted.  Seeing as I cater for everyone but nobody ever invites me around for food!  I found this video recipe on A Glug of OilAs I watched the video, it looked so simple and so basic that I really thought it wasn't going to be anything special.  Nice, but not... wow.  Well, was I forced to eat my words (along with every scrap on my plate!).  Mr G wolfed it down and proclaimed it 'One of the nicest meals I've had in a long time'.  Not sure what that says about my cooking though... ha!  It's now 'my' go-to Chicken Casserole recipe.  We even made little pies with the leftovers in my bargain piemaker that I bought on holiday.

Jan makes her casserole on an induction hob.  I don't have one of those, so I usually make it on the stove.  This week, I've been doing my Autumn clean.  The last couple of days the kitchen has copped it, and I've rejigged cupboards, moved appliances up to the kitchen and food down to the pantry.  I have so many different appliances that I don't use as much as I should do.  With the exception of my trusty double slow cooker, of course!  I was having a look at my Severin Party Cook Pan, and realised that although it's one of these devices that does a multitude of things, I've only ever used when I've had company and needed to cook four or more pieces of gammon or steak.  So today, I'm going to try using it to make this casserole.  The only thing that I didn't have this time was celery, but it'll save the children having to pick it out...

Chicken breast (I used four)
Onion, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
5 large mushrooms, sliced
100g Pearl Barley, rinsed and boiled for about 15 minutes
Tin of Campbell's Condensed Soup (plus two cans of water)
3 heaped tablespoons of Bisto Best Chicken, mixed to a thick paste with hot water
Salt and ground black pepper

I heated up a little oil in the pan and added the onions and carrots.  I softened them for a few minutes and then I added the chicken.

 Once the chicken was sealed, I added the mushrooms, the pearl barley, Campbells soup and the two tins worth of water, and stirred.  Then I added the Bisto Best paste, and stirred this in to the casserole.

I left the casserole to simmer.

I came back in, and the carrots were still rock hard.  I played around with the heat control, and it became apparent, very quickly, that there were only two cook settings on the bloody thing.  Hell Fire or Tea Light.  Because the casserole contains pearl barley, the 'simmer' had to be supervised as it was sticking.  It was like waiting to die.  I'm suffering with my back this week, and I really, really didn't want to be stood there watching it cook.  Eventually, I relented and shoved everything in a large saucepan to finish off.  Severin was thrown through the kitchen window.  So, now I know.  Severin is fine for steak, but crap for everything else.  Party Cook Pan, my arse.

Five minutes before it had finished cooking (seventeen hours in total...) I added the peas.  Seasoned it with salt and black pepper.  Served with potato and swede mash, and pointed cabbage.  By the time it was ready, I was too hungry to take a photo.   

Friday, 23 October 2015

Utterly Fed Up

What a funny old week I have had.  I am, as the post title confirms, utterly fed up.  My normal optimistic, positive demeanour has vanished somewhere.  Maybe it's with Summer, wherever that went to.

We'll start off with some 'Sh*t My Kids Said' this week.   Including one exchange that knocks last week's 'Meerkat Boner' story off the number one spot.  Straight in at number one, this week, is Adam and the Sausage.  Adam is very nervous around water, and as such, the school have paid to have someone in the pool with him and the other nervous kids.

Adam: You know what I think I need in swimming?  You know that guy that's in with us?  I need him to just hold the end of my sausage...
Me: Whoa!
Caitlin: *dies* 
Ryan: *snort* 
Mr G: Um...
Adam: WHAT?  You know my sausage, well, if he was just to hold it right at the very end... STOP LAUGHING, WHAT ARE YOU LAUGHING ABOUT?
Me: What do you mean by 'sausage', sweetheart?
Adam:  You know, the float thing.  The noodle.
Ryan:  What colour sausage have you got?
Adam:  Well, you can have a pink sausage, a red sausage and a blue sausage.  I've got a blue sausage because...
Mr G:— the water is cold?
Me:  Sweetheart, you mustn't let anyone touch your sausage in swimming, ok?
Adam:  STOP IT! 

Poor boy still didn't have a clue what we were talking about.    Then we had this from Ryan...

Ryan:  Are sausage rolls made out of 'pork poison'?

Don't know.  Couldn't tell you.

Mr G, myself and Adam had our eyes tested last night (more on that later...) and because we all needed photographs taken of our eyes, and other tests, I had to accompany him for his eye examination while Mr G was being tested.  Adam is a really good boy (when in public or in company).  His manners are always commented on and complimented.  However, the last few weeks or so, the moment he comes home from school, until he goes to bed, he talks and he talks and he talks.  Without interruption.  Mr G and I wear glazed expressions until he is in bed, just being talked at.  Incessantly.

I cringed for the most of the exam.  Adam didn't shut up.  Helen (the optician) was laughing throughout.  She asked him if he was going to pick new glasses and keep his old pair as a spare, or if he wanted his new lenses in his old frames.

Adam: Can I have a monocle?
Helen:  Errrrr... no.  Oh Adam, I could have done with you the other week, my son had homework where we had to think of words beginning with 'mono' without using a dictionary or computer.  Monocle would have been a good one!
Adam:  There's a dinosaur called a 'monolophosaurus'.  Did you have that?
Helen:  No...
Adam:  And monobrow.  My big brother has one of those.  Like Ed from Ed, Edd and Eddy.  Did you have that?  Monotonous?
Me: *mutters* Monologue?
Adam:  What's a monologue?
Helen:  Kind of what you've done since you walked in here?

A bit later in the examination, Helen shone the light into his eyes.

Adam:  Is this like one of those rooms where you take people prisoner and shine lights in their eyes until they talk?
Me:  And to round off your day, Helen, being compared to the Gestapo.  You're welcome.  Would you like us to find a new Optician for next time?

So, back to the eye test.  As I'm knocking on 40, I had to have a glaucoma test.  I managed to work myself up slightly, Helen remembered that I had actually vomited over my Optician branch (literally, projectile vomited a la Exorcist) when I lived in Manchester, just because I'd had eye drops in my eyes before trying contact lenses.  She showed me the little tool, and practiced on my hand and I relented.  Apparently the reading should be between 12 and 20.  Mine was 23.  Yay.  So I have to have another test done when I pick up my new specs next week.  I tried reading up online about it, but nearly passed out, so...

Parenting Highlight of the Week - Telling my son to 'Calm your tits' a little louder than I meant to, as his Headmaster held the door open for us with a horrified smile frozen on his face.  In front of other parents and children.  To which my son responded 'I haven't got tits'.  #momgoals

My allergy is on top form this week, to the extent that I could smash things, I could scream, I could cry.  And no, I haven't made a GP appointment.  Because I bet a pound to a pinch of shite, she'll ask for blood tests.  Not on my watch.  So, with the help of Mr G, we've started a process of what I like to call 'self-diagnosis' (or Ask Google, as it's otherwise known.  Clinically dead in three clicks) and we're pretty much in agreement that it could well be dust mite allergy.  Apparently it doesn't mean that I'm a rubbish housewife (although...) and it makes sense that the two rooms that I am affected most in are my living room and my bedroom.  Mr G also thinks that our duck feather duvet might not be helping and also the plug in/auto spray air fresheners could be triggering it off.  So, it's looking like a load of hoovering, wet dusting, washing bedding at 60 degrees, washing upholstery, new duvets, pillows and protectors, and a smelly house is the way forward from here on in.  Process of elimination before I have to relent, reach for the EMLA cream, and have my first blood test since my last pregnancy. 

It's the Fair tomorrow, and as much as I might sound a killjoy, I bloody hate it with a passion.  Loved it as a teen, but as an adult, if it never came back here again, it wouldn't bother me.  It's a Saturday, which means that there's going to be an increased amount of what I like to call 'idiots' around in the day, drinking.  I've warned the children that we're going down early and I want to be back in the house for 3pm, in time for Soccer Saturday, my accumulator bet, with sweets and chocolate.

Oh yes, and to round off my week, I am definitely allergic to wine.  So allergic that I gave half a box of wine away to my son (who would drink his own pee at the moment if it had a % ABV) without hesitating.  I am devastated.  Let's hope next week fares a bit better.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Raindrops and Roses, and Meerkats and Boners...

I've had to post about this while it's still fresh.  Countless exchanges like this happen in my home, madness fuelled by autism, and although I vow I'll never forget and be able to quote it word for word, I always forget.

So, today, Ryan came home from school after being on a school trip to a local butterfly farm.  They also have meerkats.  He burst through the door and after I asked if he'd had a nice time, if he'd seen the meerkats, he sat down and announced

'I know what a boner is.'

I looked at Mr G and he at me.  Looks of abject horror on our faces.

Ryan - There's this boy called 'shall remain unnamed' and when the meerkat came out, he had a boner.
Me - The meerkat?
Ryan - No, 'shall remain unnamed' did.
Me - Oh my God.  Poor boy. Something like this could haunt him his whole school life.  He'll be known as Meerkat Boner Boy or something.  Were people taking the mick out of him?
Ryan - Yep. 
Me - I hope you weren't.  Poor boy.
Ryan - I was singing Michael Jackson parodies *bursts into song* 'Cos this is Bonerrrrrr, Boner night'.  Oh and 'Do you want to have a Boner? It doesn't have to be a Boner' from Frozen.
Me - Ryan! 
Mr G - *sweating from trying not to laugh*
Caitlin - *drops to the floor*
Me - You make sure you apologise to that boy tomorrow.


Monday, 12 October 2015

My weekend with Shelly - Aka The Hangover Part 4

I have had a wonderful weekend with my friend Shelly, my feet are killing me, my head is pounding and I've been dragged out of my comfort zone (living room) kicking and screaming.  But this weekend was all about Shelly, her weekend, her trip down memory lane, for the first time since 1992. She's off abroad in December for a year and may choose to stay so it could be a once in a lifetime, never to be repeated weekend.

Dying a complete death after I totalled a box of Rose wine and she a small bottle of JD on Friday night after she arrived, by the time we both came to (and I mean that in the loosest sense of the word...) it was after 12.  Road trip!  First we went to Amlwch to try and find where her Nana was buried, we looked for about an hour but couldn't find her.  We're going to make enquiries with the church and council as to where she is and I've promised to take flowers on her behalf when we do.  Then we went on to Bull Bay, to the farm she used to live.

Windswept Selfie in Bull Bay

We then drove to Benllech and had a stroll on the beach, which was still very busy despite being firmly out of season.

Next on the list was Bangor, we were both starving, so we decided we'd get a spot of lunch and see how much it had changed since she was last there.  Which was a lot!


We saw people walking up a little alleyway between shops and followed them, and found this little place, Blue Sky Cafe. I'd heard about it, but never knew where it was. We found a table and ordered the homemade burgers.


The food was to die for, the burger was obviously good quality meat, and the salad was big and had all manner in it.  Chips were nice too, could have done with a few more, but it filled a gap.  Only quibble was that it took a long time for our food to arrive, about three quarters of an hour.  It probably felt worse because neither of us had eaten, were gravely hungover and close to collapse.  But if we wanted fast food, we had walked past Burger King.  Lovely atmosphere in there too, I plan to take Mr G one day, he loves a good burger does Mr G.

Later, we met my eldest son in town, and we had a few drinks.  By that, I mean, I went for drinks with a Manc and a half-Manc student.  These guys are seasoned, let me tell you.  Apparently you can't just get a drink... oh no.  They come in twos.  Therefore, I had my first Jager Bombs (spelling?) and I also had my first Sambucas?  I was completely mullered and ready for bed at half 11, but they weren't done, and so my son, and my old bff went into Bangor, clubbing.  Yes.  Yes they did.  I'm more of a Horlicks, pipe and slippers gal, obviously.  Ok, not the pipe but, you get what I mean ;-)  There are pictures of the night out, and no, you will never see them :-)

Shell leaves for sunnier climes in December and so in November, Mr G and I are going to Manchester for the day to see her and meet up with her Dad, Sam, who I haven't seen since 1995, and I am so looking forward to that too.  He was such a huge influence and help to me at a time in my life that I was really struggling, unhappy and lonely, and I owe him a great deal that I'll probably never be able to repay, nevertheless, I can't wait to see him again.  I think I'm going to put this on my 40 before 40 list (click here if you want to see my progress), reconnect with some people that I've lost touch with or just gone a bit quiet with.  Sometimes we don't try hard enough with our friendships, and I'm guilty of that at times.

It all feels a bit flat today, I love having people to stay but I'm normally happy to see the back of them after a couple of nights (no offence) and get my house straight and back to a routine, but I really feel that I could have done with a few more days with Shelly, especially knowing that she's not going to be around for the foreseeable?  Still, it was one wild weekend, I don't think I could make a regular habit of it, and we had lots of laughs and created lots of nice new memories :-)  So, by tomorrow, when the tiredness and melancholy has (hopefully!) lifted, I'm coming out fighting again.  Working on things on my 40/40 list, doing some more prep on my NaNoWriMo... basically anything that doesn't resemble housework...

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Shameless Plug!

Please take a gander at my new blog Frazzled Shell's 40 Before 40 (ish) Adventures!  I still need twelve items to put on my list - I'm a boring sod, I don't do exhilaration - and after countless internet searches, I'm coming up with nothing!  Any suggestions gratefully received! 

Friday, 2 October 2015

Recipe - Lentil and Bacon Soup (and other shenanigans)

Well, October crept up on us all, didn't it?  Another lovely week of weather, blue skies, sunshine.  I still think it's cold though.

Mr G and I are on another health kick.  He has a GP referral to the gym, as the physio at the Pain Clinic felt that it could be beneficial in strenghtening the muscles in his back and his stomach, so he has been going there twice a week.  I have taken the world's most expensive coat hanger (the treadmill) out of retirement, in the back porch and have been attempting to walk an hour a day on it.  It means we have to duck and walk through it to get to the loo, the fridge (a good thing?), my saucepans etc.  Junk food is out.  Soup is firmly back in, for the the health benefits and to fill us up - as, before and in between meals.  Yesterday I made a big pan of one of my recent new favourites, Lentil and Bacon soup.  But before that, let me just give you this little nugget...

Mr G: (Coming home after gym session, looking a tad sheepish) Sam weighed me and I've put on 3 kilo in a fortnight...
Me: Oh dear.  That's not very good.
Mr G: I told her you were a feeder...
Me: You said what???

A feeder?  Honestly, this man, I don't know whether to laugh or cry with him.  That's not even taking into account his thoughts on my periods.  Or, where he's allowed to poo.  Which I'll give you after the recipe, just in case you really don't want to know. 

Soup - this recipe is taken from the BBC Good Food website,  but I adapted it slightly to use what I had in.

Olive oil
4 rashers lean back bacon, fat trimmed and snipped into pieces
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced
250g red lentils, rinsed
1300ml chicken stock
1 tsp garlic paste
1/2 tsp lazy chilli
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric

Heat the oil in the pan and add the onion, bacon and carrot, and cook for about 10 minutes on a low to medium heat until the onions are soft.

Add the spices, garlic and chilli and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the stock, and add the lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the lentils don't stick.

You can eat this as is, but I did give it a slight blast with the stick blender for a few seconds.  I only had to season this with ground black pepper as - holy shitballs - Tesco chicken stock cubes are salty.  Sheesh.  I served mine with a toasted wholemeal pitta bread cut into fingers.  And a gallon of water, because of the saltiness.  Lush.

Mr G has had his (my) Maneki Neko tattoo done.  He was meant to be having it done on his arm, but he had the portrait of The Pierces done there instead.  Paul was really eager to do this cat after designing it, so he managed to slot Mr G in despite being really busy.  I think it's a work of art myself, the photo doesn't do it justice.  I never thought I would be a fan of tattoos, but I'm as addicted to seeing them on him as he is getting inked himself.  To think he was nearly 40 when he had his first one!  This is a cheaper midlife crisis than an open top sportscar and a messy divorce citing a 20 year old beautiful, skinny blonde, I guess?  Although he is making noises about buying a campervan *facepalm*.  Mr G also thinks I should get a tattoo as part of my 40/40 list, but I don't want to.  Just my personal opinion, I don't like tattoos on women.  I have female friends who are covered in them, or in the process of getting sleeves done, those who have hidden ones, or little ones on display - and even though they're nice, each to their own.  I just don't like them on women. 

Another Maneki Neko for my collection

Lying in bed...
Mr G:  You know when I get older...
Me: Yes...
Mr G:  And if I die before you...
Me: (*thinks* Where is this going?  Please don't grieve me forever? Don't spend the rest of your life alone?  It's ok to love again?  Er... no...)
Mr G: Make sure you bury me in shorts and a vest, because I'm getting my money's worth out of these tattoos...

My friend Shelly from Manchester messaged me last week to ask if she could come down and stay this weekend.  We were school friends, and when she moved back to Manchester, and I moved there too a few months later we remained friends but lost touch when I moved back to Wales.  I'm so looking forward to seeing her again, but on the Saturday night we're going out around Bangor.  Ye Gods.  I don't know if after 24 years she thinks that it's going to be a trip down memory lane.  Half the pubs we used to frequent are closed down.  The ones that aren't, and the new ones that have sprung up in the meantime are rammed with students and pretty young skinny things, which I certainly am not, and even though she is stunning and can pass for a good ten years younger than what she is, the fact remains we are both knocking on 40.  There's still only one bloody nightclub here, after nearly quarter of a century has elapsed, and you know what?  It's still crap and your feet still stick to the carpet.  The only thing that has changed is its name.  She lives in Manchester, host to a multitude of clubs.  She likes dancing, whereas I can barely co-ordinate my hands and feet to work simultaneously in order to walk.  I.  Don't.  Dance.  I'm kind of hoping she'll say 'Ah Shell, you know what?  Let's just get a Chinese and a box of wine and watch X Factor'.  But it's not going to happen.  Is it?

I've been busying myself making some new tree decorations.  Made the mistake of posting my first little bear on Facebook, now I have to make loads for friends and family.  The little blue bear in the Wigan Warriors kit is for my great nephew.  They're so easy to knit, the time consuming part is the assembly and making up.  I love the little stockings too, some people use them as advent calendars, hang them up with little pegs, and put a little gift or chocolate in each day?  I guess that's fine if you only have one child I guess, but not practical for me with four.  Awwwww, three now :-( 

 In bed.  Don't ask where this came from. Drifting off to sleep...

Mr G:  I'm not allowed ANYTHING...
Me: *jumps out of skin* WHAT????
Mr G:  I'm not allowed a campervan.  I'm not allowed to poo downstairs...
Me:  *bewildered*  No, you're not!  You take 30 minutes per crap, there's no window or extractor fan in there, it's next to the kitchen and there's gaps in the doors.  You're only allowed to poo in there when you've been operated on and can't walk far.  But where the hell did that come from?  Do you want to poo downstairs or something?
Mr G:  Even if I wanted to, I can't now because of the treadmill.  I can't luigi under it.
Me:  What????
Mr G:  I can't luigi under it.
Me:  I still don't know what you mean, just go to sleep...
Mr G: That thing with the stick and you go under it.
Me:  Limbo?

I couldn't sleep for about twenty minutes for laughing.  And then there was his take on my periods, of course...

Me:  (Looking for pity) I'm bleeding heavy...
Mr G: *sniggers*  I know.  You might want to stick a comma or full stop in that sentence.
Me:  It's not funny, it hurts.
Mr G:  No, I'm not having that.  Look at that woman in that advert earlier.  Clubbing til 5 am in the morning in white jeans.  WHITE jeans?  She didn't look in pain.  And then the other one on the horse.
Me:  Bollocks.  I bet a man wrote that advert.  There's no woman in their right mind would wear white jeans while on their period.  And no sanitary towel on this planet worthy of that level of trust.
Five minutes elapse...
Mr G:  If I buy you a pair of white jeans and a pony, will you stop moaning about your period every month?

Ladies and gentlemen, my husband.  The one I have nursed back to health, or - just nursed let's say, because there's no health there - for seven years now.  THAT is the height of his sympathy for me.  He's neither use nor ornament, really... :-)