Monday, October 24, 2011

What Next?

Think the gods are ganging up on me. Not been the best few days, although it was lovely to see my grandson (and partner) again. Beloved wanted him to update 'his' side of the computer, and when I went back onto my side (I have two), Yahoo came up instead of Google, and I could find out how to read emails or even (horrors!) get onto my blog and sign in.
Luckily, Steve was still here and sorted it out for me - it's still not like it used to be (having been 'updated') and it is a bit of a nuisance - somewhat like trying to speed-shop in the supermarket when - over the weekend - they changed the products to different shelves (as they do). But so far so good.

Add to that our washing machine seems to be breaking down (it is over 20 years old, so shouldn't grumble). Put it on the washing at the end of last week, switched on, and 2 hours later went to get the washing out to put on the airer and it was still on the first 'cycle'. Fortunately discovered that I can manually switch to other cycles (mainly rinse, drain, spin etc) and it does what it should, but the 'clock' part which moves the switch round seems to have stopped working. So - for the moment - it's 'manual-working' the machine.
Will inform the insurance this week and they will send a man round. If it can't be repaired - because it's been insured all the time I've had it, they'll either give me a reconditioned one or even a new one for no charge.

When I came into this room this morning was so pleased to find it was warmish. Then realised I'd left the gas fire on all night!! Had thought I'd turned it off, but think I should have pushed the switch in to do that and as I hadn't, it must have turned it to Low. Very low, cor couldn't even see a flame, just felt the warmth when I put my hand in front, and then a flame flickered (probably dust in the air burning as i walked past). So at least am comfortable whilst writing this.

Then - because I've been eating more to keep warm (and therefore not put the central heating on) found this morning I've gained back nearly a stone in weight!!! My fault for partly comfort eating as well, and NOT weighing myself every day as I used to formerly, so this week will now have to go back to eating very little, and what I do eat must be protein and no more carbs (have been eating a lot of carbs recently).

Was sitting in front of the TV last night and had (fortunately) nodded off but still able to listen to the programme. Went to switch off the TV set and it wouldn't. I even removed the plugs from the wall sockets, but still it wouldn't switch off. Pressed the central button on the set and it just pushed in and collapsed so would switch off. Thankfully, this was a dream and WAS able to turn it off when I woke up almost immediately. So what disasters await me today. With B being away, will have to deal with them on my own. So fingers crossed the gods will start smiling again.

Decided to make a beef casserole for our guests main meal (apple and blackberry pie with cream for dessert), then - when I went in the freezer to thaw out the already slow-cooked shin beef, found only one box, although was sure I had more (but couldn't find them). As this was really only enough meat for B (he eats enough for two), decided the only thing to do was thaw out a dozen D.R. meatballs and add these to the casserole - which I have to say worked a treat. They really absorbed the lovely gravy and will certainly do this again.

Decided yesterday to sort out my frozen meat (as need freezer space for puddings and other product, remember Christmas needs preparing for). So removed three packs of diced beef steak, and one brisket. Once thawed, unwrapped and put the brisket in the middle of the pot of my slow-cooker, and surrounded it by the diced beef, pouring over enough water to just cover (which filled the pot to the top). Set it on Low and cooked overnight. This morning the meat is perfect, removed from the gravy and cooling as I write. LOADS of lovely stock/gravy, which will also be frozen (some with the meat, some separately). The meat will then be boxed up to use for later casseroles, curries, chilli con carne etc.
Will be interesting to see how the brisket turns out. Normally I cook this slowing in a conventional oven, where - once cold - it is easy to slice thinly (for sarnies and Cold Meat Platter), but if not as good for this purpose when cooked in liquid, it can always be used for more casseroles or even served in thick slices with gravy as 'roast beef'.
Still have one frozen brisket in the freezer that can be cooked in the normal way.

Loads of comments to reply to, and begin with Urbanfarmgirl who also had washing machine problems (which she managed to sort out herself). The knitted blanket sounds a good idea.

We too love N.Norfolk Susan G. Lucky girl to have visited there recently. As a child (pre-war) my parents always took me to Hemsby (near Great Yarmouth - although it is not the lovely place it used to be), and years later my parents rented a house in Sheringham for three weeks holday during the summer - for several years - where we all (including B, myself and our four children), and we visited Blakeney, Cley, Wells-next-the-Sea many times.
Made me smile a bit when you said it was so far from Dorset Susan, and suppose it is to us Brits, but people from America, Australia, think that anything less than 500 miles away from home is almost 'on our doorstep'.
B drove from Morecambe/Lancaster to Bristol on Saturday, stopping for refreshments half way and think arrived at the destination about 6 hours after leaving here. Obviously distances such as this require an over-night stay if the surrounding area needs to be 'looked at'. Think the other countries (such as the US) are more likely to drive away from the larger cities for 'long-weekends' than us. Problem today is the cost of the fuel it takes to drive from A to B.

Oh dear. There was me thinking Missouri was 'just' a river Lisa. Didn't know it was a US state. Probably got the name mixed up with the Mississipi river (or is that a state also?). Just shows how much I know about America. Not sure that the Brits do know much about American states. Recently learned more after watching Stephen Fry's series where he visited American states, and more recently Billy Connelly - who drive the length of Route 66. But there seems an awful lot of 'country', between the small townships, not to mention the big cities.
We do have a very large AA roadmap of America which shows all the main highways over the whole of the US - many seem to be very straight as they run across the plains. At least this map does show the small townships and many farms and individual settlements. Should have looked more closely and then maybe would have realised Missouri was a state (somewhere down south on the left?).
But then expect the Americans don't know very much about our English 'counties', which - perhaps like the US states) are as different from one another as they can be - each with a different style of architecture, traditional dishes, and dialects. Each country having its own 'county town' which governs the region. Usually this is one of the oldest towns, not necessarily the largest.
Any town with ending with 'caster', 'cester' etc., always have Roman origins and probably some Roman remains unearthed and now on display (mosaic 'carpets' etc). Other towns - such as York, and Bath - are also 'Roman' but were given a different name at that time. Looking at a road map of England it's fairly easy to find the old Roman roads as these normally were built in straight lines, from one Roman town to another. We still have 'The Fosse Way', 'Ermine Street', Watling Street', to name but a few, and although many are still used, some parts are not, but always easily discovered as the tree-lined old roads are visible across (now) ploughed fields.
Villages (esp in the Midlands where I used to live) that ended with '', were of Viking origin.
We don't have that many new towns, can only recall 'Welwyn Garden City' and - more recently - Milton Keynes (there must be a few others). Generally though, our country is steeped in history, and many of the old buildings still remain, and will continue to do so as our heritage is very important to us.

Loved hearing about your children's friends being entranced by your crafts Lisa. What seems 'normal' to us (such as knitting, sewing and cooking) seems alien to youngsters who probably have never seen anyone use these skills before. But the memories of seeing these 'in action' will remain with them far more vividly than if just reading about them in a book. Might even get them having a go themselves. The younger they start, the more likely they are to continue.

Polly hit the nail on the head when she explained she was retired, needed to be thrifty, but has no expensive needs. Expect most of us who are - let's say 'mature' - have already bought most things we REALLY wanted. Trouble is - with continually rising prices of almost everything - can we still afford to pay for the things we NEED now? Thankfully, the older we are the more experience we have with the frugal side of life (which - in the past- was how everyone lived. Even the wealthy knew they had to count every penny. It's the 'nouveau riche' that began the 'spend, spend, spend' way of life, that everyone younger now seems to think is the normal way to live.

Sairy, you too have 'got it right'. Teaching your children necessary skills, and let us hope they will continue passing these on generation after generation.

The one thing that came across in your comment Stephanie was the pleasure you got from the bargains you found at Tesco and Waitrose. As much pleasure (and possibly even more) than someone else who had managed to buy a 'designer' handbag from a charity shop. Which I think proves that being thrifty and hunting for bargains is almost as much fun as any other 'game'. All to do with attitude. If there are any readers that feel it shameful to 'have to make do' (after a life of luxury), is not the way - look on 'cutting down' as a change of style, becoming more aware of what we can do for ourselves rather than rely on someone else (which to me is a bit 'shameful' in the first place). Hold our heads up high and be proud of our achievements.

Minimiser Deb asks if we can freeze carrot cake, and yes it can be. Lisa has sent a comment to say the same (good to know this from more than one source as I'm not always right).

Think Alison's comment to Julie re classes (in other words 'go for it'), think relates to her wishing to learn knitting. Whatever new skill we wish to know more about, then always worth getting some tuition. If classes are too expensive, if a card was put in the local post-office/newsagent window asking for tuition, am pretty sure there are older folk around who would be happy to teach in return for just the company, or maybe a home-made cake. There is nothing we older folk enjoy more than feeling 'useful' again.

Your comment saddened me Cumbrian. How true it is that children today are continually being given new things almost every week. Don't suppose they even think of these as 'gifts', just something they now expect - all the time. For them 'gifts' will be those very expensive ones given at Christmas or for birthdays. And by expensive - I mean EXPENSIVE.
The worst thing about all this is the way children have been deprived of looking forward to be given a 'gift' ONLY on those special days. Goodness me, this expectation of not knowing what we would be given was as much fun as receiving it. And it didn't need to cost a lot.

Children that have too much given too often never seem to appreciate what they have. More often than not they don't look after their 'gifts', doesn't matter if it gets broken, for they then demand a replacement (and usually get it). The only way we can get children to respect their belongings is to get them to save their pocket money and spend this on buying many of the items that they want. Believe me - once their own money has bought an item, they will look after it very carefully indeed.

With the recession, it's a good time now to have a 'family conference' where everyone sits round a table and the situation is put in front of them. No more will 'gifts' be bought throughout the year, but only given on anniversaries, and a ceiling price put on those. Anything else wanted has to be saved for using pocket money. If necessary, extra pocket money can be earned by taking on a few (more?) domestic chores.
Surprisingly, this approach often works, as children then begin to feel more 'grown-up' when they learn they can 'earn' more money by 'working', and also have the freedom to buy what they want with their 'wage'. Learning from any mistakes made as they happen.

This blog has been a reasonable length already, so have decided to pass on the 'trade secrets' tomorrow instead of (as planned) today or this posting will continue for hours.

Any 'enjoyment' you are finding re the cost-cutting/thrift approach to life you are experiencing we would love to hear about, for it will encourage others, believe me. So keep those comments coming.
Hope you can join me tomorrow, if so - see you then.