Monday, 30 September 2013

October Challenges - my commitment

I've set myself two challenges for October, and they're both exercise challenges. I must be mad.

Challenge #1

By 31st October I want to be able to do a 3minute plank.
I'm starting on 1st October with a 1 minute plank and then increasing the plank by 4 seconds each day, by 31st October I should be at 3minutes.

Challenge #2

Every day in October I plan to do the Tracy Anderson arm workout, there's an 8min video on YouTube - it looks a bit mental and I know it will nack.  I'm going to take a "before" picture of my 'bingo wings' and an after picture, of my 'Madonna arms' :)

Sharing Progress:

I'm planning to blog weekly and tweet daily #OctoberChallenge
And I'm using the free version of to remind & support me

My new shoes: shiny red wedges (Clarks)

I spent a long weekend with my friend Kate who lives in the Cotswolds, just outside Cirencester. We did all sorts, spa, pedicure, pilates, shopping, walking, eating, drinking and catching up. The weather was spot on too (this time last year we went to Padstow).

My new shiny shoes
Anyhow, on our shopping trip to Cheltenham I picked up these shiny wedges from Clarks shoeshop, I've already got the shiny black pair and they're my staple workwear shoe. Comfy, smart, in a size 8 that fits (don't get me started on shoe size variations) and with a cheery shine that made me smile. So when I saw these "wine" coloured ones I said to Kate, "in 'avin them" and so I did.

They feel as comfy as the black ones.

When I got them home and showed Mr Lisa I started tapping the heels together "No!" He called out "You never know where you'll end up" so I stopped.

I did try again at the metro station this evening. The platform was very busy, like there'd been a delay. Then a heavily pregnant woman came and stood right next to me on the platform and rubbed her belly. I felt my eyes fill up and sting with tears. I forced myself to stay where I was, I have to get through this - crying around pregnant women. But I couldn't cope any longer, I'd have to move sooner or later so thought I'd "use the shoes"

So I wiped my eyes, stood tall, gripped my bags tightly and I tapped my heels three times repeating the immortal words..."there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home, there's no place like home..."

Of course they didn't work - fucking useless they were. The metro turned up instead so I got on and went home.

They were £49.99 and come in shiny black, matt black and shiny wine, buy yours here:

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Toilet habits

I don't like to use the toilets on moving vehicles: trains, planes, buses, boats, ferries. So I don't. Instead I'll just hang on for as long as I can.

I don't have a fear of them, I don't come out in a hot sweat or panic attack I just find the whole concept of weeing and moving quite strange.

Toilets in moving vehicles are often filthy and disgusting anyway, which is another reason to avoid using them.

If I get desperate and I'm nearly beyond control then I'll use them, but I'll hang on for as long as humanly possible.

Today I did a 4hr train journey without going.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Rikki Tikki Tavi

I always knew that Rikki Tikki Tavi was something from my childhood but I didn't quite know what it was, who it was, where it came from or why I'd remembered it.

Then my boss said the phrase "Rikki Tikki" and I instantly wanted to (& did) add the word "Tavi" to it. Normally when I say what's in my head it's often rude, doesn't make sense or is just random. But in this case he knew exactly what I meant and said it was a character from a Rudyard Kipling story.

I still don't remember the story or the character, but it puts my mind at rest knowing that this Rikki Tikki Tavi was a real (ish) thing and not just nonsense taking up space in my head.

Now I need to find out about Rikko Tikki Tavi and see if I'm any wiser...

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Still catching up - copying from the "old" blog

I had a blog at work, and a few years ago I decided to move from the private work blog to a public blog. 

I took a dump of the posts from the old blog and I'm still in the process of copying/pasting posts into here - so you might notice that my entries increase in the 2006-8 period, which is when I began blogging in the work blog - I'm adding them back with the original publishing date.

I know it's now 2013 and you might be asking why I haven't caught up yet - I have no excuse other than being lazy and distracted by other things, food, cakes, beer, pies, making and having dreams.

It's the same crazy nonsense as this, and I'm sure that it'll be my undoing - used to section me in years to come, but please take a look at the old stuff, and decide whether it's just as random than the recent stuff.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013


I was asked today (at work) if I'd ever eaten dog biscuits.  I replied "yes" - and even before the time we had a dog! It reminded me of a childhood fishing event that I still remember and need to blog about, in case I ever forget it.

Years ago I used to go coarse fishing with my brother and his mate, my brother is 4 years younger than me.  I must have been about 14 at the time, maybe a bit older, maybe a bit younger...Anyway, I was a bit of a tomboy (sometimes) and go fishing, play 'heads and volleys' in the local park and pinch veg from the local gardens to make a 'stew' on someones camping stove (but that's another story).

I was quite into coarse fishing, my brother got me into it - and before I knew it we were watching John Wilson's Go Fishing buying Coarse Fishing magazine

I found it relaxing, setting up the rod, the line, choosing the float and weights to attach, adding the bait, casting into the pond and waiting...watching for the nibbles, and the bites and picking the right time to strike (to hook the fish).  I was just a bit rubbish at landing the fish, that's the bit when you've got your rod in one hand, a landing net in the other and need to scoop the fish up without hurting it.  Once landed, I was alright with removing the hook (we always used barbless) and putting it into the keepnet until hometime (when we'd count them up and let them go).

I also liked experimenting with different baits: sweetcorn, luncheon meat, cheese, bread, maggots, dog biscuits (which is what triggered this memory) and making up groundbait to catapult into the water and attract the fish to my hook.

Image from: (bait we used for fishing)

But most of all I loved to organise my tackle box (that's not a euphemism) each item of fishing kit had it's own special place in the tackle box, and if it didn't fit - it had it's own storage box: hooks, lead shot, hook extractors, floats, bait containers.  I didn't have a proper fixing seat-box, so I used an old wicker basket which we picked up from a jumble sale.  I loved it. (Mine was always much tidier than this)

We'd go fishing on a Saturday morning after we'd been to the tackle shop in town for maggots (we always bought maggots) and my dad would drop us off somewhere, often a pond at Streetlam, just outside Northallerton, which was nice and quiet.

Anyway, back to this story...On one such occasion, just me my brother and Joth (that was his nickname) went fishing, had had a good day and started packing up - for when my dad came to pick us up (he moaned if he had to sit around waiting for us).  And we started getting rid of the bait that wouldn't keep (mainly the maggots).  This time, instead of tipping them into the pond my brother decided to catapult them into the water, and then decided to catapult some at me.  At the time I didn't mind, I shouted at him, but I wasn't frightened of them, I could shake them off my coat and as long as I didn't swallow them - I could put up with a shower of maggots.

What I didn't like was on the way home in the car feeling a tickling in my belly button and finding a maggot - I picked it out, chucked it out of the window and screeched at my brother, who found it highly amusing, and yes I did deck him in when we got home.

As an aside, I remember my brother's friend Andy once got a barbed fishing hook caught in his mouth or eyebrow, I wasn't there that time, but I remember my brother telling us the story and crying with laughter.


"Deck" meant to beat someone up
"Pack it in or I'll deck you" or "I'm gonna deck you"

Also the same as "brayed" or "brayed in"

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

I think I'm turning into my mother

I went to my mum and dad's house at the weekend and I was just catching up with my mum about what I'd been up to: work, cakes, allotment and home stuff.

I told her I'd been having a sort out of one of my kitchen cupboards, the one that I keep my tupperware in.  I'd got to the point where I'd just chuck things in and hope it didn't fall back out on me.  I would often tidy it up, organising the smaller containers into a bigger one, but more often than not I'd actually need the bigger container before the small ones and so all the others would get scattered on the shelf and fall out whenever the door was opened.

My tupperware, labelled with letters
I told her about an ingenious idea I'd had for organising the plastic containers I got from the chinese takeaway (I reuse these for freezing chicken stock, leftovers, surplus veg etc). I can never find the right lid for the bottom.  So I sorted them out matching the bottom with the lid and then I labelled them, taking the first contained labelling the top A and the bottom A, the next one was labelled B (for the lid) and B for the bottom, can you see where I'm going.

So now, whenever I need a container I find lid A and bottom A and I know that they're a pair.
How ingenious is that?

Mum's tupperware, labelled with numbers
My mum was impressed.  She told me she'd recently had a sort out of her tupperware.  And she'd come up with an ingenious idea too, labelling her tupperware with NUMBERS bottom number 1 needs lid number 1!!

How strange is that?????

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The truth about Syllabubs, Possets, Fools & Panna Cottas

I was convinced that a syllabub, a posset, a fool and a panna cotta are the same thing, but called something slightly different so that restaurants can put 4 different things on the menu, but it all looks the same when served.

Rhubarb Fool
My homemade rhubarb fool/posset/syllabub/panna cotta
Anyway, instead of wondering I've got my google fingers out and have taken a look at the wikipedia definition, so here are the 'official' definitions.

Syllabub "an English sweet dish....made of milk or cream, curdled by wine/cider or other acid, and often sweetened and flavoured" Wikipedia definition of Syllabub

Posset "was a British hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale" hang on, haven't I just typed that? "The word "posset" is mostly used nowadays for a cold set dessert loosely based on the drink, containing cream and lemon, similar to syllabub." Wikipedia definition of Posset

Fool "an English dessert...folding pureed stewed fruit into sweet custard.  Modern fool recipes often skip the tradidional custard and use whipped cream" Wikipedia definition of Fruit Fool

Panna Cotta "is an Italian dessert made by simmering together cream, milk and sugar, mixing this with gelatin, and letting it cool until set" Wikipedia definition of Panna Cotta

As you can see, I was essentially right(ish).

So next time you're in a restaurant pondering over the syllabub, posset, fool and panna cotta - just be aware that they're all interchangeable and amount to the same thing.

Last night I dreamt about my dad, Gateshead & the man off the Crystal Maze

Last night I dreamt about my dad, he'd been asked to go away with work for a few days (note: this has NEVER EVER happened, nor will it) and he refused to go. He told the office that he'd sent back the paperwork, but in reality he chucked it in the bin saying it was a waste of bloody time. He knew that by the time the office chased up the paperwork and sent more out he'd miss the deadline. Me and mum were tempted to get it out of the bin, but we knew he'd still refuse to go.

I dreamt there was a secret underground cinema in Gateshead, discovered during some excavating work. You could go on visits to have a look around, like the Victoria Tunnels in Newcastle.

I also dreamt that Edward Tudor-Pole (the man who took over from Richard O'Brian in The Crystal Maze) was the new Doctor Who.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

My name in...Chocolate

A few weeks ago I went to an EAT Festival event 'Handmade Chocolates at Home' run by Bev Stephenson, she shared her tips on tempering chocolate and creating some quick and easy chocolate gifts.  So I thought I'd put my tempering skills to use - the only difference being Bev used a microwave, and I used a bowl over a pan of simmering water (because I don't own a microwave).

Once melted, I decanted it into a piping bag and had a go at piping some buttons, words and 'artistic squiggles' - unfortunately I didn't get the chocolate quite in temper - because when it set, it set dull rather than shiny, and it didn't snap like it should.  It still tasted like chocolate.

So why did my baby die?

Today we got the test results from the post mortem of my 25wk fetus, my tiny baby girl. Ellie.

They told us that she didn't die as a result of something I'd done, eaten, touched or smelt (my paranoia had taken me into Daily Mail territory of ridiculous thought).

They told us that there wasn't anything wrong with my body that caused it.

They told us that everything inside her was developed normally, organs and skeleton.

They told us that, they just don't know why she died. Her heart just stopped. No reason why.

They don't know why my body kept hold of her and didn't try to expel her.

This is the best outcome. But it still feels hard to accept.  In my way of thinking, having a reason means that I can do something to stop it happening next time, a drug perhaps, change my behaviour or give up a bad habit.

I have to tell myself that we stand a good chance of a successful pregnancy next time.

I would have been 36weeks today.

Last night I dreamt I made a cake in the shape of a tractor

Last night I dreamt I built a tractor out of cake, it was a green John Deer tractor and I was making it with fellow cakebook cake maker Hannah Bayman. She sent me to the local co-op to pick up green-fizzy liquorice to cover the bonnet and black liquorice for the wheels.
Later in the dream I was queuing for the toilet and I thought I caught the pregnant-bump of the lady behind me, but it was only her massive handbag. Then because I was talking to the handbag lady a kid pushed in front of me and took my place.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Homemade fox mask & costume for The Great Gatsby/Noah's Ark Housewarming party

When my friend Claire moved into her new house she decided to have a housewarming party - cool.

She also decided to have a fancy dress housewarming party double-cool.

The theme for her fancy dress housewarming party was Noah's Ark meets The Great Gatsby - Mega-cool.

I love fancy dress - see my halloween costume from a few years ago

Mr Lisa doesn't like fancy dress.  And he politely declined the invitation.  But it didn't stop me.  I decided early on that I wanted to be a fox.  A fox dressed in a 1920s dress.  And when everyone turned up I guess the whole scene would look a little bit like a Goldfrapp video, quite surreal and dreamlike...

My costume wouldn't be a quick "buy a mask off ebay" oh no, my outfit was going to be a masterpiece.

Making the mask

I bought a small blank mask from a craftshop and used it as my template, taking inspiration from this YouTube video on 'Making a Masquerade Mask' and using tin foil and papier maché (strips of newspaper coated in flour & water paste) to enlarge the mask with a forehead and ears and a foxy snout.  It took about 2 days to dry and looked great (although it wasn't symmetrical).

Moulding the shape with foil & preparing to papier maché Papier Machéd and drying out

I bought ginger fur from First For Fabrics and picked up some offcuts of white fur/fabric from a Made Cafe crafty swap (1st Wed of the month) and glued them on with PVA glue, in fact PVA was fantastic for this project.  I also was surprised about how much fluff would be deposited during this project - I must have hoovered the entire downstairs of the house three times during the project, that fluff gets everywhere!

Giving Mr Fox a hair transplant Adding more hair And the white bits in the ears and under the chin

I folded the ears over a bit, to add character, made a nose from a piece of card which I coloured in black and blackened the eye sockets a bit too.

We stripped back some of the material so that we could put the elastic fastening on, Mr Lisa helped with this bit, he drilled through the mask and made 2 holes on the left & right to thread some elastic through, tied the elastic and then we stuck the material back down.  So when it was attached it was held by 2 pieces of elastic on under my hair (below my ear) and the other over my hair and above my ear.
I did consider stitching in some whiskers - a bought some fine leather strips, but decided it didn't need it.

My tail was a strip of the ginger fabric folded in half, with a pointy bit of white fabric at the tip, and I added another ribbon too - to make me look a bit more girly-fox.

The hat was just a piece of card covered in Washi tape and the mesh was from the packaging of a Badminton set from the £1 shop (I bought it just for the mesh), and a piece of ribbon tied in a bow.  It was attached to the mask with a safety pin.

 "Smile" - I was actually smiling under the mask

 The Outfit

The dress cost £4.99 from a charity shop and some extra sequins were glued to the front to give it a bit of an extra flapper-esque look, the thick white stockings worked well, as did the driving gloves.  I wondered about trying to make my skin the colour of  the fox (without going furry) so I tried out wearing a pair of American Tan tights - my head through the gusset and arms in the leg-holes (they were brand new and clean btw) but we decided that this might look a bit too black & white minstrel, so they came off.

The Party

At the party there were some really impressive outfits: badgers, pandas, flamingos, pandas, cats, rabbits - it was so much fun.  I had such a bad hangover!

I loved making my mask and building my outfit - can't wait for the next fancy dress party!

Friday, 6 September 2013

Hot drinks sometimes give me hiccups

Hot tea and coffee can give me hiccups.
Not sure why, but it happens.

Ears nose & throat

If i clean inside my ears with a cotton bud i can feel a tickle in the back of my throat, and i think its because your ears, nose and throat are all joined up (somehow).

The random Russian woman at Haymarket metro

On my way home, at Haymarket metro, I was stopped by a Russian sounding woman who asked if I had 5 minutes. She had a toddler in a pushchair and a kid with her, I thought she was after directions, the time or something like that. So I said okay.  I'd never met her before in my life.

She asked me to read through a text message she wanted to send to a bloke (her boyfriend I assumed) and tell her if the phrases she'd used were okay, and if it sounded strong enough and if she should send it.

She told me how she felt about the relationship, she seemed tired of him taking advantage of her, swanning in and out of her life as it suited him, paid her little or no attention, left her with the kids, used the house and left, often leaving his phone off and not paying her any attention when she came back from a family visit.

Now I'm no relationship expert but I could tell she was pissed off with him and just wanted to know where she stood.

I was stood there for about 10minutes talking to her, listening to her Russian-geordie accent, she'd add the word "like" to a couple of phrases, to be honest I just think she just wanted to have a rant about him and for someone to listen to her.

I told her to send the message.  I hope she gets the answer she wants from him, but I know I'll probably never see her again.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

My name in....Lexicon cards

On holiday I stayed in this cottage at they had Lexicon cards, I've never played the game I just did words and took pics...

Of course I also wrote sweary words and took pictures of them too, but I'll keep them and use them for greetings cards/greetings messages on Facebook or Twitter

Turnip Dauphinoise

I've invented a kind of turnip dauphinoise.

Before we start let's get one thing straight here, when i say turnip I'm talking about these little pink-skinned fellas, with white flesh. They are eaten small. The seeds i sowed were called turnip. In my Yorkshire world they would be called swede, but that's another blogpost.

To make turnip dauphinoise to serve 2-3 people:
  • 2 or 3 good sized turnips, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Butter
  • Garlic granules (or fresh garlic crushed, I'd run out, so I used granules)
  • 150ml double cream
  • 50ml milk
  • 1teaspoon mixed herbs
  • Salt & pepper
You'll need a small ovenproof dish, and the oven on about 200°C

  1. Boil the sliced turnips in water for 2mins. Whilst this is happening butter a small ovenproof dish (we've got one that's about the size of A5 paper and 1 1/2 inches deep), then sprinkle it with garlic granules (as few or many as you like).
  2. After 2mins drain the turnip & put the pan back on the ring, add the turnip back to the empty pan, pour over the cream, milk, herbs, salt & pepper and give it a good mix.
  3. Heat it all up until it simmers gently. Let it simmer for about 5mins.
  4. Get your buttered/garlicked dish and pour the turnipy-cream mixture in.
  5. Whack it in the oven for 20mins
  6. Serve as a side dish.

Last night I dreamt about buying fish from a fishing boat

Last night I dreamt that I spent over £60 on fresh fish from a fishing boat, this included a whole (massive) salmon and a Cornish Hake, plus some other smaller fish.

I also dreamt that a bloke  at work died whilst he was out on a boat, and then he came back to life.  Note - the bloke at work isn't called Jesus