Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Downer...

Oh.  My.  Days.  If I said that I had been in a foul mood the last three or four days, that would be something of an understatement.  You ever have one of those days weeks where you seem to get a decade's worth of PMT all in one go, completely out of the blue?  That.  You ever have one of those days weeks where everyone is an idiot, everything they say is stupid (and you have to point out in no uncertain terms why they're stupid) and everything they do grates on you to the point that your mouth opens and shoots out barbed comments at them?  That.  And there's not a thing I can do to stop it.  It's like my tact filter has broken. To further illustrate how I feel, I have found a clip from a TV show.  I need give no further explanation.  The little blue cat in bed, towards the end of the clip, is how I have been feeling (and behaving) this week.  I suspect that my face has looked a little like his too...

Taking Adam to have his dressing changed yesterday...

Me:  I don't know what's up with me the last couple of days.  I've been in an absolutely foul mood.
Mr G's head turns slowly towards me
Mr G:  I'm glad you mentioned that, I'd have never noticed.
Me:  I don't know what's wrong with me, it's like I'm wound up so tightly that I'm going to snap.  I'm just a snarling bundle of grrrrr...

And there's absolutely nothing wrong either.  Mr G has been helping me get the house into shape.  It's looking better than it has done in a long time.  And - I may be tempting fate here - it's staying tidy.  He's done some lovely planters and hanging baskets, because he's the one with the eye for detail, me - I just stick the plants in and hope for the best.  He looks at labels, see how high they grow, how wide they grow, and arranges them so when they do grow, they look lovely.  I'm out for a meal tonight with the ladies for my Auntie's 70th birthday.  I'm meeting with friends I don't see often enough this week, we're meant to be going up Snowdon on Friday, weather permitting, and then out for a meal together in the evening.  Despite Adam's nasty accident last week, there's been no complaint from him, he even started refusing medicine after the third day, saying he didn't need it as there was no pain.  I've got a big birthday coming up that I'm excited about.  I just don't know what's up with me.  Midlife crisis maybe?

Adam:  *Brings me a carrier bag and masking tape* Mum, can you make a hole in that bag, and tape it round my arm, over my cast.
Me:  Why?
Adam:  I want to help Dad with these plants and don't want anything getting down my cast.
Me:  Oh.  Okay.
Adam and Mr G potter in the garden.  Then, from the kitchen, I hear...
Adam:  Dad?  Is that cowpat open?
Me: Huh?
Adam: Dad!  Is that cowpat open?
Mr G:  What bloody cowpat?
Adam:  That new bag of cowpat that you just bought?
Mr G:  Compost, Adam.  The word you're looking for is compost?
Adam:  Ah!  I knew it started with a 'c'...

The kitchen copped it on Sunday, where it was bleached to within an inch of it's life.  I decided to scrub the deep fryer too.  Mr G walked in and as he saw it on the counter, clean, and filled with fresh vegetable oil he asked me, hopefully...

Mr G:  Man-made chips for tea, tonight?
Me:  Um... yes.  But will woman-made chips suffice?  Unless you're planning on cooking?
Mr G:  What do I mean?
Me:  Homemade chips?

And then there was this.  Which went no way towards putting me in a better mood, nor making me like anyone who lives in this house.  Watching some nature programme with whassisname, that bloke who does animals.  Steve something.  Anyway.  He comes out with this comment...

"There's a distinctive fishy smell in the air..."

Everyone looks at me, and my daughter says... Mum.  Everyone laughs.  Except me.  
I hate everyone.

Friday, 22 April 2016

In the wars

Poor Adam.  Yesterday we had a phone call from school to say he'd had a bad fall and may need to go to Casualty, so we raced up to the school.  Bit of an understatement that he 'may need to' go, seeing as he had a massive chunk of flesh missing from his knee and was complaining that his arm was hurting.  Off we went to Casualty.  When he was finally seen in Minor Injuries, the nurse looked a bit concerned, and said she hadn't expected it to be so bad.  In hindsight, perhaps he should have been seen a bit earlier after being assessed by triage.  She said he would have to be stitched up before he went for an X Ray, the wound had stones embedded in it, so she gave him the gas and air.  We had a bit of a wobble when he saw the needle for the local anaesthetic but once he got chugging the Entonox he was fine.  Completely off his tits.  Asked if we could buy him some for his birthday.  His 10th birthday.  His Mother's son.  The nurse cleaned the wound, scrubbed it clean, with a toothbrush.  I was cringing.  But fabulous real life experience towards my treatment for BIID, so my Psychologist is going to be pleased next week.   Adam was a little star, I was so proud of him.  So funny.  After he was stitched up he was sent for X Ray and when back in the Minor Injuries unit, the nurse said there was more bad news, not only had he broken his arm (his left arm after breaking his right wrist last year) but he'd need a full arm cast above his elbow.  He took it all in his stride, and when he got home he lay on the sofa, blanket on, watching Youtube videos 'to take my mind off things' and his siblings were all being very considerate and kind to him.  That won't last long.  He has to go back to have the dressing changed on Saturday, and to keep an eye on him in case there's infection after all the nasties that were embedded in his knee, and then he has to go back to the fracture clinic next week.  It was, without a doubt, the worst injury both I and Mr G have seen, and it's unbelievable how brave he was.

In other news, he managed to set equality back a few decades with this comment.

Me: That nurse said, who assessed you in triage.
Adam: Who?
Me: That nurse.
Adam: What nurse?
Me: The male nurse you saw, who cut your pants off!
Adam: Huh?  He's a nurse?  Is he allowed to be a nurse?
Me: Yes...
Adam: *pauses* So... women can be... Doctors?
Me: Yes!  We've got the vote too, Adam!

Where that came from, I don't know.  It surprised me really, coming from someone of his generation, it just shows how deeply gender stereotypes are still embedded.  

In other news, if it hasn't moved this week, I've painted it.  The downside to this being that now, I need to get the gloss out.  I love glossing, but I don't love glossing with three children in the house.  It's a bit of a 'mare trying to round them all up and herd them away from glossed surfaces.  Guaranteed there will be at least one handprint, or a pair of school trousers ruined with a glossy imprint on the butt.   I think today is the last nice day we have for a week, so I think I'm going to get out into the garden.  Stain the wooden furniture, and put some patio and decking cleaner down.   Sounds like a plan.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Man flu strikes again

Red cross repainted upon the front door, I have a poorly big boy and a poorly little boy - Man flu and (male) child flu.  I'm also under the weather but hey, I am woman and that's the common cold for you, so prevalent at this time of year.  Sigh.  I know, I know, terribly sexist of me... *eye roll*  

We went to Wrexham yesterday, and unfortunately it was another Cru defeat, but not a bad one.  Ok, I know a defeat is a defeat whether it's one point difference or you get nilled, but the scoreline was 24-31 - very respectable, and the team are still gelling together, there's a few new faces, and it does take time.  We only took the girls with us yesterday, the boys wanted to stay at home.  Had our tray of fries and sos coch, and the girls had hot chocolate to warm them up.

Cheeky group selfie

Oh, and it goes without saying that I completely managed to humiliate not just myself, but the girls too.  I'm not going to name the player.  The girls had spotted him, he is a very good looking young lad.  Who is that number x - they ask me.  That's certain player - I tell them.  They decide he is a hottie.  He then proceeds to score a cracking try.  So I turn to them, very loudly it has to be said and I say 'Certain player's not just a hottie, but he can score tries as well!'.  To which they both disintegrate into giggles, complete with tears of mirth, and Beth managed to (eventually) choke out that the player's father and was sat directly behind us.  Christ on a bloody bike.  You can't take me anywhere.  And if you do take me back for a second time, it's to apologise for the first time.

Just after the final try and before TJ's 80 min conversion, final score 24 - 31

Next home game is against Oxford two days before my birthday on May 8th, which is perfect timing really :-)  I think Mr G and I are going to have a meal at the ground before the game, which will be nice.

Tomorrow - the kitchen is being painted.  It won't take long, there's actually very little wall in there that isn't tiled or doesn't have cabinets on.  Hopefully it will all be done and everything back in its place by bedtime tomorrow.   That's how things are done in this house, decide something is being done, and do it the next day.  It works, for us anyway.  One more thing off my 3 page long, 2 column A4 word document list of 'Things to do around the house and garden in April'... I think Mr G thought I was joking, but he has seen it in it's entirety.  He sighed and walked off with a duster and glass cleaner.  My bad ;-)

Friday, 15 April 2016

C'est fini! (Again!)

I don't know about you, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get motivated and inspired and there's no stopping me.  It started on Wednesday afternoon when I emptied the (decimated) Summer house out into the garden for Mr G to seal the edges so it was ready for the flooring to go down.  This is the flooring that would be down for Christmas/New Year/my birthday.  We were dependant on two of our friends doing it for us, and it was a case of when they could co-ordinate schedules.  I won't lie, Shell was getting twitchy.  So we decided to just try and see how well it went down in there.  Just lay a few strips ourself, see how easy it was, seeing as he'd been saying for ages it would go down no problem, and if that was the case, then I should be able to do the donkey work myself, right?  I'm not (completely) incapable, right?  We did about a fifth of the floor.  Well.  That is all I am saying on that.  My next words were; 'FFS, just go and buy some bloody vinyl flooring, this could all be over and done with by this time tomorrow!'.

FFS, just buy some bloody vinyl flooring!

And - as usual, I was right.  Not wanting to blow my own trumpet or anything, but the old saying 'If at first you don't succeed, try doing it the way your wife told you to in the first place' instantly springs to mind.  And 24 hours later, Mr G and I were sat in a very cosy, very insulated, very tidy and very complete Shedpub.  Hallelujah.  The only thing I need to do to it is put the scatter cushions back on the sofa, they've been washed and freshened up. 

Bar stained and varnished, pumps in position

Plenty of seating

Mr G's 'Grumpy Corner' complete with trophies saying how ace he is

I won't lie, I couldn't walk last night and I was in bed for 9.  We were so glad that we finished it though, it made the aches and pains worthwhile.  Today, the weather has turned a little cooler and duller, despite a promising start, it looks like it might rain.  I have trailing lobelia, begonias, stocks and antirrhinum that I want to plant, make a hanging basket and couple of pots up.  Might as well keep the momentum going. 

And finally, Mr G, because I know you read my blog.  I love you more than anything and anyone in the whole wide world.  You are everything to me, and I'd die for you.  But if you even so much as suggest doing anything to this Summer House ever again, other than basic cleaning and maintenance?  I won't die for you, I will personally kill you.  Just so we're clear on that. 

Monday, 11 April 2016

29 days and counting...

... until I hit the big 4-0.  Mr G sat me down and talked to me about what he was going to be able to put on for me in the house, seeing as I am a miserable sod who doesn't want a big function room party.   The weekend after my birthday is Eurovision night, a night where traditionally my friends gravitate towards my house, clutching alcohol, score cards and we eat, drink and laugh the night away.  Sometimes I do a meal, or a buffet, and other times we grab a takeaway.  Mr G has warned me that he is in charge of the food for my birthday 'do'.  So we discussed the options.  A buffet isn't the cheapest of things to do, you always overestimate what you need, because nobody ever wants to be the first person in the history of mankind who does a buffet that hasn't got enough food.  I know how hard it is catering for a lot of people when you're used to it, and he isn't.  And you end up chucking loads the next day.  A barbecue - the garden isn't barbecue ready and even if we have glorious weather between then and now (not happening, is it?) I'm not physically well enough to get it ready solo in time for my birthday.  It means we'll end up missing Eurovision in and out of the house.  And that's if the weather is ok.  Every suggestion he made it seemed I countered it with negatives - I don't know why, but I don't like people making a fuss of me.  I love making a fuss of other people, I'll pull out all the stops for them, but for myself?  Doesn't feel comfortable.  He was starting to get a bit exasperated with me by the end of it, so I decided to shut up.

And then he hit the jackpot.  Our local meat wholesaler had massive whole pork loins on sale this week, they're a bargain anyway at their usual £13 but this week they are £10 each.  We've already bought one, cut it up into two large joints, 6 really thick loin chops and enough strips for a stir fry on fast day.  He suggested pulled pork, and as it's a loin joint, and not traditionally what you'd use for pulled pork, he'd cook it in the slow cooker.  One pulled plain, and one done in a spiced rub with a barbecue sauce.  Stuffing, apple sauce, salad, homemade coleslaw and potato salad and fresh bread rolls.  That sounded like a winning plan to me, we'll pop and get another whole loin next week and have a trial run next weekend with one of our pieces, I'll see if I can find a nice sauce recipe and give it a crack.  He can serve all that on paper plates, no dishes, no pans to wash except my two slow cooker pots. 

The children went back to school this morning after two weeks off.  A very uneventful Easter holiday for them, with Mr G being unable to do much, but they have been off and about with their friends.

After a bit of a miserable sporting day here yesterday, where Wigan got nilled, Crusaders lost and Manchester United got stuffed by Spurs, we're hoping our luck changes next Sunday when we're off to Wrexham for Crusaders v London Skolars.   Really looking forward to that, I had such high hopes for this year after a promising season last year, but the team seem to have been hit hard by the recent issues off field, which is unsurprising really.  Hopefully now, with some new signings and some big names remaining faithful to the team, they can put everything behind them and start getting some decent results.  I'll be there cheering them on, screaming obscenities at the ref (*blushes*) with my fries drenched in tomato ketchup, win lose or draw anyway.   You have to support your team through good times and bad, not just when they're winning. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Recipe - Griddle me this #2 - Potato Cakes

Finally got to the meat wholesaler yesterday to get a sack of decent mashing spuds.  So without further ado... Potato Cakes! 

I won't lie to you, this was one grand scale PITA.  My kitchen was covered in flour, I was covered in flour and potato.  It made me wonder whether it was worth it, or if I should just pay the 60 odd pence to buy a pack in future.  But, it was my first attempt at making them, and they did taste really good.  Maybe with practice I'll get better and less potatoey.

Potato Cakes
1 kg potatoes, peeled, chopped and mashed
Salt to taste
Knob of butter
200g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Mash the potatoes with the knob of butter.  Sieve the flour and baking powder into the potato, and mash with a potato masher until the flour is incorporated and the mixture turns doughy.

Flour a chopping board and form parts of the dough into rough circles.  Cut each circle into four even sided pieces, about half a centimetre thick.

Heat up a griddle or a good non stick frying pan, there is no need to grease.  Cook each potato cake for a couple of minutes each side until they are well coloured. 

Delicious served with bacon and eggs (like I will be doing tomorrow hehe).  These can be frozen; freeze first on a large baking sheet then store in an airtight box in the freezer.  To reheat, defrost and pop in the toaster for a couple of minutes. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Recipe - Griddle me this... Welsh Cakes

Continuing on my freezer-filling expedition, I finally satisfied my curiosity about griddles.  I have a griddle pan, which I use to cook steaks on.  It is ridged to give those charred lines to your food.  So when I've been reading about cooking things such as Welsh Cakes on a griddle, it didn't make sense to me.  I now know what a griddle is, and it's not the same as a griddle pan (which is also known as a grill pan, and to me, it makes a bit more sense to call it that and drop the word 'griddle').  Well, I don't have one a griddle, so a heavy frying pan will have to do for my next two items.  Welsh Cakes and Potato Cakes.  My youngest made some Welsh Cakes in school on St David's Day and they were really good.  Potato cakes, I love eating with bacon and egg, but store bought ones are hit and miss.  I wondered what homemade ones tasted like.  After satisfying myself with the simplicity of the recipe, I decided to have a go myself.  Then realised that I had no potatoes until I go shopping tomorrow, d'oh!  So, for today, Welsh Cakes!

Welsh Cakes

Welsh Cakes

250g self raising flour
half a tsp mixed spice
half a tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter or margarine
75g caster sugar
50g mixed fruit (I used sultanas and raisins)
1 beaten egg
5 tsp of milk
Butter to grease the griddle or pan

Sieve the flour, spice, baking powder and salt into a bowl.  Add the butter and rub until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  Stir in the mixed fruit and sugar.  Mix in the egg and milk until a stiff dough forms.

On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat out the dough until it's about 5mm thick.  Cut out with cookie cutters, I found the smooth side easier to use than the fluted edge.  Grease a pan and heat on a low heat.  Add three welsh cakes at a time to the pan.  After a couple of minutes, turn the cakes over to cook on the other side.  Remove from the pan to the plate and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar.

Do keep an eye on them as they cook, because they can go from golden brown to cremated in a matter of seconds.  I found it easier using tongs to turn them over, than a fish slice.

Yes, they taste as good as they look

Let's see how long these last for, or indeed, if any actually make it as far as the freezer!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Recipe - Carrot Cake and Ginger Cake

Today is a fast day and very bravely I've spent it in the kitchen baking.   The carrot cake I made the day before yesterday went down so well, I decided to make another two, one for the week and one slightly richer, more adult version for the freezer.  I also tried out a ginger cake recipe too.  I've decided to start using my two freezers better than I have been and fill them up with proper home cooked food, instead of spending a fortune in the supermarket every week.  As always, forgive the photography... these are just the loaf cakes as they cool down, and will be frozen without being decorated or frosted.  Or, in the case of the ginger cake, sliced thickly and covered in lashings of custard... roll on tomorrow, is all I am saying.  Roll on tomorrow.

L-R:  Carrot Cakes and Ginger Cake

Carrot Cake (the lighter coloured one)
2 eggs
150 ml vegetable oil
200g soft light brown sugar
300g carrots, grated
175g self raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 150C/Gas Mark 2.  Grease and line a loaf tin with baking paper, leaving the sides above the tin for easy removal.

Whisk the eggs in a bowl to break them up.  Whisk in the oil, the sugar, grated carrots.  Sift in the remaining ingredients and stir using a large spoon.  

Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, smooth the top with a knife.  Bake in the oven for between 60 - 75 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool for 5 minutes on a rack before removing the cake from the tin by lifting up the baking paper.  When cool, decorate with frosting (if you want) or just slice and eat.  Ours rarely reaches the frosting stage.

Carrot Cake (the darker coloured one) 
Follow the same recipe and steps as above, but I used Molasses sugar that I had left over after Christmas to give a richer, more grown up cake.

Ginger Cake
60g butter
125g golden syrup
100g plain flour
25g self raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
100g Molasses sugar
pinch of salt
125 ml milk
1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas Mark 3.  Grease and line a loaf tin.

Put the butter and sugar into a small pan and melt over a low heat, stirring.  Set aside once butter has melted.

Sift flours, bicarbonate of soda, and the spices into a large bowl.  Add the sugar and the salt.  Add the egg and the milk, mixing until smooth.  Gradually add the melted butter and syrup, stirring until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake for 50 - 55 minutes until the cake is risen and firm to the touch.  Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack. 

So, now the cakes are all sliced up, triple wrapped and frozen, the question is - what to make next?  I might make some pancakes for the minions to have for their breakfasts and I have a feeling that Mr G will be requesting Sultana Scones, his favourite... anything for the love of my life ;-)

Friday, 1 April 2016

Got no soul...

A huge source of amusement for the last few weeks has been some app or other called Face Swap?  You'd have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of it.  Some of the pictures have been funny, some creepy, some downright disturbing... and then there was the one where Caitlin swapped her face with her older brother.  After she showed Ryan, he had this to say about it.

Ryan:  Huh.  Even with Caitlin's face, Daniel still looks soul-less...

Lately, that boy has a comment or opinion about everything, and every one.  Considering at one point, he couldn't speak, the only thing he could say was 'Aba!' and he had to have Speech Therapy... he's certainly making up for it now!  Such as this, for example.  My new nickname.  He takes great pleasure in announcing it randomly and loudly.

Me: Mr G, my new boots don't fit me.  My calves are too big.
Mr G:  What new boots?
Me: I didn't mention the words new.  They've been in the wardrobe for years.  What am I going to do?  *Mental note - hide second pair of new boots bought in sale that also don't zip up around mahoosive calves*
Mr G: Send them back?
Me: No!  What am I going to do about my calves to make the boots fit?
Mr G: Google it.
Me: *Googles it*  Oh bugger.  Running is good... as is walking, but not on an incline!  Bloody hell, I've been walking on the treadmill on an incline!  I have to keep it flat from now on.  No wonder my calves are massive, I've been toning the sodding huge things, I've been making them muscular!
Ryan: Muscular Mummy!

So I am now, at various points during the day, when he remembers, 'Muscular Mummy!'.  Shoot me now.

My weight loss is going well, losing 1 stone and 3.4 lbs in 28 days, woop woop!  Hands down the best eating plan I have been on for the results.  It's also simultaneously the hardest eating plan, and the easiest one.  The 500 calorie days are hell on earth at times.  I'm not the best person to be around when I'm hungry.  The days are long and the nights even longer.  The feast days, where you can eat anything you want, so, so easy.  The thought of feast day keeps me going through the fast days.  Pizza, crisps, chocolate, pastry, literally anything you want.  Unfortunately, today is not one of those days.  I'm determined to lose 2 stone by my 40th birthday.  Which is drawing ever closer - exciting :-)

**Edit - By this afternoon, I was being called 'Mom Cena!  The Muscular Mummy!'.  Not funny.