Sunday, December 14, 2014

Finding it hard to concentrate on the positive

I'm missing blogging more regularly and over the last week or so have found myself trying to figure out why, since I would like to be doing it, I'm not just actually doing it. I'm struggling a bit to fully understand it and also struggling a bit to articulate the glimmer of understanding I have at the moment.

It just feels like, although there are lots of good things happening in my life at the moment, any blog post will very quickly become negative. Because it feels a lot, at the moment, like the good stuff is pretty superficial and the slightest examination of it will expose a morass of not so good stuff. Most of the time I don't feel like anything much is wrong but just that if I allow myself to really think about it, I'll realise I'm teetering very close to the edge of a very bad phase. Kind of feel like I'm hanging on by a thread but by not thinking about the thread, I can ignore the sheer cliffs below.

Anyway, the function of the blog as a diary to look back on and remind myself of various things is one I find myself wanting more and more to get back to, so here's some of what has been happening the last couple of weeks.

One xmas cake baked. 2 batches of mincemeat made (a few weeks ago) and first batch of mince pies done. Batch of apple, pear and ginger mincemeat started this evening and fruit for second xmas cake soaking. I'm very late with the cakes but just haven't had the long baking time at home at all over the past few weeks. I also made an advocat cake for the first time last week and it went down very well in work, so I am pleased to have a new recipe to add to my repertoire.

I celebrated my birthday and in the end 25 people turned up to help me have a really wonderful evening. And I enjoyed the Viking Splash Tour the next day just as much as I'd hoped - our tour guide, Barry the Brutal, kept us laughing the whole time and I learned a couple of interesting new things about Dublin, too. The craft fair was great, too and although I had a lot of fun spending my sealed pot money, and going back on the Sunday to spend some more money I was given for my birthday, the best part was finding a guy who I realised would be able to make me something that I would love to give my brother. So I've commissioned a piece for his birthday in July and am excited beyond bits about it. And last but not least, the very sore back that I acquired a few weeks ago when babysitting for a two-year-old was all but taken care of by another lovely flotation session at the Harvest Moon Centre. So yeah, lots of positive to try and concentrate on!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sealed pot opening 2014 and challenge aims for 2015

It's that time of year again, time to open up my sealed pot (see SFT's Life After Mortgage blog for other participants in this year-long challenge) and see how much my not terribly regular donations of spare change over the past year have amounted to. I thought it'd be less than last year as I kept forgetting about it to be perfectly honest. And I had no notes in this year's pot at all. I was very surprised when I lifted the pot down from it's shelf as it was far heavier than I had expected.
Hard to judge from this angle how much there is although there are a lot of 1 and 2 euro coins to be seen
All of that made a nice little pile though...

...even better looking when it was all counted and nicely stacked up though.
I have been saving my 50c pieces separately and they have now gone back into their money box and I'll continue putting away as many of the 50c pieces I get as possible and that money will go towards hopefully moving next year. €66 isn't bad (I miscounted at first and thought I had nearly €70, which just goes to show me that making little stacks like this is a great idea, since I'm obviously not capable of just counting coins properly). Although I didn't have any notes this year, and overall had fewer coins, I had a far larger percentage of higher denomination coins so my total, even without the 50c pot, was actually slightly higher! Hooray! Here's the breakdown:

Yep, that's right, even after I take away the 50c pot money, I still have a grand total of 

I had a lot of fun spending my sealed pot money at the National Craft and Design Fair last year and I'm looking forward to seeing whether or not I find anything nice at this year's fair. I'm flying to Dublin on Thursday after work and will be at the fair on Friday morning and possibly afternoon, before meeting up with friends and family to celebrate my 40th birthday. 40 years, my goodness how time does fly. Thanks again to Sue for hosting the Sealed Pot Challenge - it made last year's birthday lots of fun and it looks like it'll do the same again this year. I'm not feeling much of an urge to look for anything in particular though - kind of feeling like I have enough stuff at the moment. So I'll go along and enjoy looking at everything and really enjoy the feeling of knowing I have the money to get something if I want to.  

My third pot from last year, by the way, was an unmitigated disaster. I don't think I managed to get more than two five euro notes into it at the same time at all, or keep anything in it for more than a few weeks. Still want to try it again next year though. And I will seal up my pot again tomorrow and off we go again. Along with my 50c pot, of course - I am really pleased with how that one went. So 50c pieces for moving and the big pot for something nice for my birthday - possibly not at the same place next year though, a lot will depend on whether or not I manage to find a new job and move next year. Watch this space.

If you'd like to join in with the Sealed Pot Challenge for 2015, head on over of SFT's blog to put your name down. See you there!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sunday cooking

Still struggling a bit to get things under control but today has so far been a pretty good day. The first day this week that I was able to just sleep until I woke up (so that typically, even after waking and going back to sleep twice, when I was finally awake it was still only half-nine). I'm fighting a bad cough though, so really wanted to take it easy and sleep as long as possible.

I stayed in bed for a couple of hours and read a few chapters. I've done this a few times now and I think I'm going to make it my new Sunday morning routine. Wake when I'm finished sleeping and then read one chapter of each of two books. At the moment I'm reading "Das Gro├če Los" by Meike Winnemuth - a German journalist who won half a million on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and spent a year travelling the world, living for a month  at a time in a different city. It's a lovely read and lends itself well to reading a chapter at a time. This morning I read July, which she spent in London. And when I was finished that, I picked up "Tackling Depression" by Ian Birthistle and finished reading the chapter I must have started months ago. So for the next five weeks or so, I'm going to aim to read one chapter each of those two - I'm taking the fact that I have exactly five chapters left in each of them as a sign.

After reading, I lay for a while, wondering if I might doze off again but that didn't seem to be happening and despite wanting to take it very easy, in the hopes of knocking this cough on the head before it turns into a full-on cold, I had a lot of things to do and felt more of an urge to get up and do some of them. First up, the ironing. A fried came around yesterday and very kindly put up curtain rails in my sitting room. It took hours, the rails I bought and attempted to hang years ago were not going to work, in his opinion so I just took the advice of someone far more experienced in DIY than I am and we headed off to the local DIY centre to see what we could find. Got rails, a decent ladder and some LED bulbs - my seven bulb light in the sitting room has had one bulb after another die in the last couple of months and I was just waiting for the last one to go before getting new ones. Since we were there, I went ahead and got a few - they're pricey enough (although nearly the same price as the older style energy saving ones at this stage) so I just go four and will get the rest at the end of the month. My friend, T. being far more particular about things than I am, insisted on finding some way to tighten the shades on the light as well. It hasn't particularly bothered me that they hung a bit loose but I have to admit that it does look nicer now. Anyway, after a lot of work I finally have curtains rails hanging in my sitting room. But the curtains I got a while back from another friend who was leaving town need to be ironed - I hung one, just to see what it was like and although I could put them all up, telling myself I'd iron them soon, at this stage I've waited so long than I know it's better to do the thing properly once and for all. I have a mountain of other stuff to iron as well.

Since I had so much ironing to do I got up and immediately got stuck in to it. Or not. Nope, instead I headed into the kitchen and started doing one thing, then another and ended up spending the best part of two hours there. But, finally, I am sort of caught up on my vegetables. I have thrown out a shameful amount of food since I started getting the box delivered every week but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. So, today I used up the turnip, most of the Chinese cabbage and a couple of the carrots that were delivered this week, along with all of the potatoes I had on hand and half an onion. I've made cabbage rolls and they're just waiting now to be put into the oven when I want dinner.
I've also chopped up and sauteed two leeks that were just about on their last legs, along with the other half of the onion and some lardons. I'll use that tomorrow in a big quiche. I have a LOT of eggs to use up, too. I have a small amount of Chinese cabbage left, as well, and I'll either add that to the quiche, or keep it and make colcannon when I get my veggie box delivered on Thursday. I'd adjusted my order so that I'll just get eggs every second week now and every other week, I'll get potatoes. At the moment my fridge is looking in pretty good shape. I still have a Chinese cabbage from a couple of weeks ago, celeriac, plenty of carrots and two leeks from this week. So I'll have to have a think about all of that. I really want to do carrot and kidney bean burgers again soon. Realistically I'm not going to use the celeriac in anything other than soup, so I might make a big pot and freeze some of it perhaps. But for now, I'm happy to feel like things are coming under control, dinner's ready to go, the washing up has all been done (except the dish that the cabbage rolls are in) and I've been sat down for about an hour at this stage. That means it must be time to do the ironing!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Xmas baking

Got mincemeat made, now for the cake. Cakes actually, I'm going to try and do two this year. And I briefly toyed with the idea of using the half packet of suet I have leftover to make a very small pudding but then I read the recipe - seven hours total cooking time, on top of 40 minutes prep? You must be joking. Maybe next year. For now I'm happy to have gotten the mincemeat done. By dint of using tin foil instead of the proper lids I got a double batch done so I really hope everyone will be in the mood for lots of mince pies this year. And until December, I get to enjoy having a couple of very pretty jars to look at.

posted from Bloggeroid

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Here's the actual photo

As I may have mentioned, still trying to figure out this whole smartphone thing!

Visual journal - 16th October 2014

Second attempt to post this. Have installed a different app since it seems blogspot won't let me switch between accounts. Or at least I can't figure out how to. Still getting used to having a smartphone.
Anyway, l have a week off now to study for my exam, which is next Wednesday. I spent yesterday mostly in bed, trying to shake the cold that started last Thursday as well as recover from a very late night after the football on Tuesday.
This morning I was up early for a therapy appointment and then went straight into town to get a few things done. So, not much studying done yet but I did get to snap this nice picture of the Rathaus (the town hall) along with the statue of good old Jan Wellem.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Veggie update

Just a quick one to make a note of how I'm getting on so far with the organic vegetable delivery. The timing was really not great and I might have been a bit to ambitious to get my first one just before financial year-end at work, not to mention two weekends full of choir activity.

I'll start with the bad. The giant head of lettuce languished in the fridge and I had to admit defeat and throw it out on Thursday evening - knowing that I was going away for the long weekend (Friday was Reunification Day and a holiday here).  The sprouts are still in the fridge and still within their best before date but I really amn't sure I'll use them. And the corn is also still just lying in the fridge - I haven't actually checked it and it might be alright, even if corn really is one of those things that tastes best eaten as fresh as possible.

Otherwise, although I'm starting to build up a bit of a surplus of vegetables, I was at least able to use up a couple of things. I decided to make the spiced cauliflower and potatoes on Tuesday evening and took some duck out of the freezer to go with it. What I hadn't planned on was working until just after ten o'clock. Still, because I had left the duck out to defrost I set to when I got home just after half-ten. I turned on the oven as soon as I got in the door and then I prepped the cauliflower and peeled potatoes in double-quick time. Finished the last potato just as the thermostat on the oven clicked off so I threw everything into a dish and put it in to roast while sat down to check a few emails. I was up early on Wednesday to help out at an event at work so did leave at my normal seven o'clock time that evening, came home and then cobbled up all the leftover cauliflower and potato. I could have easily made that much into a second meal but there was no other time I was going to be at home to eat it so it was finish it or throw it out. I grated cheese over the top of it, heated it up and it was delicious. Then I grated the rest of the block of cheese and put that into the freezer. There'll be no more cheese wasting in my house!

The pumpkin is still fine and I haven't yet used the fennel but overall I'm glad that even during what turned out to be an incredibly busy week, I managed to use some stuff.

Due to the bank holiday on Friday the delivery last week came a day early, on Wednesday. This weeks delivery had: 1 head of lettuce (a different type), 5 tiny small pears, 2 cox apples, 6 eggs, 2 kohlrabi (1 medium, 1 large), 1 head of red cabbage, 2 fennel bulbs, 7 small tomatoes and a huge bunch of parsley.

Knowing I'd be away for the weekend I forced myself to put everything away properly so instead of just sitting down after getting home from work, I spent the fifteen minutes checking and clearing out the previous week's veg and putting the new stuff into Tupperware and into the fridge. The lettuce was not in great shape, to be honest and I stripped off the outer leaves immediately. I think it's a butterhead lettuce, which I don't really like very much so I might struggle to finish it but I'm going to get up when I've posted this and wash it at least, so that it's ready to use for lunches during the week.

I gave a friend the new fennel immediately, since I'm not a huge fan and still had the previous week's one sitting in the fridge. And also gave her and another friend who happened to be there one pear each. I brought the pears away with me and ate two for breakfast on Saturday so just have one of those left. They're really delicious, even if they're not the most attractive looking pears I've ever seen. The delivery note lists them as Clapps Liebling.

Once I got home today, quite tired after the weekend away, lots of activity, late nights and a long drive home I had basically decided that I was going to go out to eat but all of that stuff was calling to me so when I spied the eggs I decided I could just do something with those. When I actually went in to the kitchen to cook something I had a brainwave and decided to do a pastryless quiche, I'd gotten mozzarella on Thursday, thinking I'd make a tomato tart but just didn't have the energy to be making pastry, easy though that may be. Only problem is that I forgot that the last times I've made pastryless quiche, I've used my small ceramic dish, and not the larger two-part metal one. And the two-part one, it turns out, isn't water-tight or liquid-proof in any way at all. All of a sudden, wondering how to use up the 15 eggs I now had on hand seemed like less of an issue and I spent more than half-an-hour trying to sop up egg from the cooker, all over the oven, the floor and just what felt like everywhere. What a mess.

I ended up managing to tip everything into a different dish and once the oven was halfway clean, I did get to make and eat what turned up to be a pretty good dish. I used up the tomatoes, the smaller kohlrabi, two leeks that have been in the fridge for well over a month at this stage and a small onion, as well as the mozzarella and all but two of the eggs (I reckon at least five or six eggs worth got sopped up and thrown down the drain). Oh well, just another reminder that trying to do new things while tired probably isn't a very good idea.