Friday, June 28, 2013

Thinking About It...

Am feeling slightly confused this morning. Thought it was Tuesday then  discovered it was Friday.  B thought it was Thursday, realised it was Friday, saying "this week's gone quickly".  And so it seems to have done.

Didn't go into the garden yesterday as it was drizzling all day (didn't want to get my newly set hair wet and if I wear a scarf it flattens it, never to rise again....). It is still drizzling but the new plants are loving it.  Think rain must have a miracle ingredient for one small shower does far more good that three watering cans full of rain water saved in a butt.

Reading Betty MacD's books have also thrown me into rethinking my lifestyle.  At least it is good to know that people who live around the Puget Sound area of Washington State (think that's where it is) have a LOT of rain and wind, and not very hot summers.  Just like us.  I gain satisfaction in knowing we are not alone, others suffer too but seemingly not really moaning about it as much as we in the UK do.   Certainly in the 'Egg and I'  they seem to have extreme conditions, but somehow manage to grow marvellous crops (despite all the rain and cool summers), and lucky in that they manage to have virtually 'free' food what with the venison, salmon, oysters, numerous other fish, and all the game birds there just for the taking, shooting, and fishing.

Not sure I could cope with living 50 miles away from the nearest big town, or coping with no central heating and an outside loo, but am very glad to know that keeping chickens (hens) is not such a good idea, all that cleaning out, diseases, and very little profit (cost of keeping hens v price of eggs). Think now I'll shelve that idea (won't B be pleased, he'll think it was because HE said I couldn't).

It also seems that the older 'pioneer' type of American women are able to keep going to a remarkable age (almost as old as me), so yesterday, reading the book, feel that if they can keep a house spick and span, cook their own bread, cakes, cookies, make preserves and pickles, cook hams, feed chickens, goats, milk cows, make their own cream, cheese, and also chop logs, grow vegetables in huge kitchen gardens, knit, sew, crochet, and do just about anything a man can do, like EVERY  DAY, then I'm sadly lacking in such skills.   I mean could do most of them, just not trying hard enough.  What's the point?  Think the point could be that carrying on working hard actually makes for a longer life.  So from today I'll become more active.  I like to reach my 100th birthday.

Possibly next week I'll have changed my mind, but who knows, a new Shirley might have arisen from the ashes of the old.  We'll have to wait and see.

Have to agree with something you said Kathryn.  I too have discovered that eating toast does not seem to pile on the pounds like untoasted bread does.  Perhaps some fat-forming chemical is killed in the process.
I've had a go at making macrame (using parcel string or garden twine because these are/were much cheaper than 'proper' macrame cord). Like every craft I've tried (and I've had a go at most of them)once mastered I didn't do any more, moving on to try another craft.  However did make a couple of light pulls from macrame (for the bathroom/loo), and a holder for a hanging basket (both made from parcel string).  They looked good and they worked.

Myself have several cook books that use few ingredients.  One uses three, another five, another seven.  It seems - like many things (flower arrangements etc), odd numbers work better, or at least look more attractive when one a plate (in a vase).  The problem with using a very few ingredients is that these are usually some of the most expensive.  The more ingredients in a recipe the cheaper the dish can often be.
Usually most meals have two and sometimes three main ingredients, the remainder adding either colour, or extra flavour, and these are not usually costly. Just annoying because they can take a lot of time to find them, decant out the amount needed, then put them all back again.

Myself dislike seeing a recipe that has a lot of ingredients (for the above reason) so I quickly turn to a recipe that uses only a few, but in many cases - such as a curry - with many of the ingredients being an assortment of different spices, have learned to still use the recipe but blindfold myself to the spice selection and instead open a jar of ready-made curry sauce and then all I have to do is concentrate on the 'main' foods (meat/veg).

Presumably the cats using your plant containers Ciao are neighbours cats?  We have several of these cats using our garden as 'poo corner'.  They have been deterred by me sprinkling old spices such as curry powder, chilli, pepper etc., over the soil they favour, but it only works when the weather is dry.

A welcome and group hugs to Barbara from Connecticut USA.  Do hope you continue to keep in touch as we love to hear from our 'virtual' friends across the pond.  The US way of life seems so different to ours.  Our temperatures at the moment vary a bit, from around 18C (cooler on the coast) up to 20C inland.  Apparently it could read a massive 23C in London in a day or two, but then London has it's own micro climate being such a huge city (although in truth the 'City of London' is only a mile in all directions).

Losing weight slowly HAS to be the best way when we want to avoid ending up looking like a deflated balloon.  Unfortunately I tend to go for the quick fix, losing as much as possible over a short time.  However, these past few years I have done it more slowly and feel all the better for it, although being now 'elderly' stretched skin has lost the ability to shrink back.  So any overweight ladies who are reaching middle-age, start losing weight now or you'll end up with gravity pulling the slack down and the more you pull in your tummy muscles, the worse the sag.  Be warned!

It's good to hear about your stamping ground Kerry.  When you next go to Oadby, on the London Road you will see the pub 'The White Horse'.  I used to work as barmaid there for a few years.  But not the building that is there now.  After we left Oadby the old coaching inn was pulled down and a new pub built, although - I believe - keeping the same name. 
Quite a lot of 'old Oadby' has been lost.  There used to be a 'highwayman's cottage', pulled down of course and the Co-op store built there.  Close to the church was the blacksmith's where we used to take the riding school horses to be shod, and lower down on a bend there were several thatched cottages.  Again razed to the ground and 'new build' in its place. The cinema has gone and I believe also the swimming pool.  Nowadays the older properties would be 'listed buildings' and not allowed to be removed, as I'm sure The White Horse would have been, as it was a true coaching inn with traditional features (beamed, low ceilings et ).

At the end of the London Road - this being the original A1, for travelling from close to where we live now right through to London (but a bypass built at Oadby so the village then didn't then have a lot of traffic) - as I was saying, at the end of that road there used to be a village green with a huge chestnut tree growing in the middle.  Believe that has now gone.
Both my parents are buried (in the same grave) in the churchyard in Oadby, but sadly we haven't been to 'visit' them for a long time now.  I may have my ashes interred there so we 'stay together'.
Either that or my ashes will be scatted in a bluebell wood.  I haven't yet made up my mind, and had better do so soon or it might be too late (says she pessimistically - well, it's the rain, it always makes me feel a bit gloomy).

The other day I was having another of my 'thinks' as I was watching a programme about wildlife in the Himalayas (apparently the correct pronunciation of this is 'Him-ar-lee-ers' but, flippin 'eck, do we really CARE?).
Anyway, watching various animals was struck by the way they went through life without much need to be concerned about anything other than where the next meal was coming from.  I thought how wise we would be to live such a simple life, which - I suppose we did - in Neanderthal times.

But don't you agree that today that the more 'civilised' we get, the more problems we seem to have? Perhaps 'civilised' is not the right word as many people today seem to be quite uncivilised in their behaviour.  What we have lost is the knack, skills, art (whatever you care to call it) of being self-sufficient.  Of course it made sense to move out of caves and build a home and grow things. Crops could then be exchanged for maybe milk, eggs or meat (not everyone had green fingers). 

Nature kindly has given us all different skills so that if we concentrate on these we can 'barter' our wares and each end up with much the same things.  Sadly we have gone past that 'level', and now we prefer to take 'tokens' (aka money) for our work (work that has nothing to do with our domestic life), and these exchanged for just about everything.  Because we now don't NEED to do/make anything ourselves any more, there is always someone out there willing to do/make these for us, but at a price!!!

How much more pleasant life would be if we could go back to at least SOME of the old ways and stop relying on others to do/make things we could or should be able to cope with ourselves.  Myself feel that schools should give a lot more tuition in 'managing a home', from DIY for the lads (and girls too), teaching knitting, crochet, sewing, and of course, COOKING.   Plus learning how to budget and 'shop wisely and cannily'.

It's even crossed my mind that the Government would be wise to introduce something similar to National Service, but instead of war-games, the lads and lasses would learn various skills such as carpentry, electricity, plumbing, car maintenance, gardening, decorating, keeping chickens... and cooking, knitting, sewing, baby-care, general nursing, budgeting and any domestic skills that would help to save money during their life-time).  Am sure the more that can be learnt when young the easier it will be to manage on a lower than average income when married with children.
It may seem that National Service of this type would be too expensive for the Government to run, but once people have gained skills, they should need less money to managed their domestic affairs, and so far fewer people would be claiming benefits.  In an ideal world anyway.

We do have 'summer camps' where youngsters can go for (say) six weeks to help them lose weight. So am sure the above suggestion re 'domestic skills' would work out even better.  All that activity would both help to lose weight while they put their new skills into action.

This morning watched another couple of episodes of 'Unwrapped' (Food Network). The first dealing with just about everything fried: potato chips (US 'French fried), and potato crisps (US 'potato chips'), and lots of other things too.  Even ready-fried bacon can be bought - vacuum packed - in the US to be 'crisped up' in the microwave.
Always something new to learn.  Apparently 'Doritos' (tortilla chips) are so named because they are golden in colour, this name being a version of 'dorado' (Spanish name for gold).

Second prog was about all things creamy.  Several minutes on the making of ice-cream by Haagen Daz.  Apparently they make/sell many different flavours, I thought they said 60, B thought it was 20.  Not that it matters, here in the UK usually only around 4 different flavours of that brand ever seem to be on sale, same with Tom and Jerry's. 
Only a few miles outside Lancaster is Wallin's Farm where they have an ice-cream parlour/restaurant They make their own ice-cream in at least 20 different flavours, and very yummy it is too.  So far I've stuck with eating my favourites:  strawberry or blackcurrant, but think it would be a good idea to sample every flavour during this summer in case I'm missing something good. Purely for research purposes you understand.

With the huge cloud of guilt still hanging over me (not working hard enough), am now going into the kitchen to make a big pan of chicken soup, grate up the end of the white cabbage with some red onions and carrots to make a coleslaw, and see what other bits and bobs need using up.  Might even do some baking.
The sailing club are having a 'Tea by the Sea' weekend after this, so I've been asked to make quiches, scones and chocolate (beetroot) brownies.  Pleased about that as I've been missing cooking for others.  Some of the club members will be making cakes and biscuits.  I've also been asked to make marmalade to sell.  So perhaps this will send my guilt feelings packing and allow some sense of achievement to ease itself back. 

Can't believe it is midsummer, it's so dark in the kitchen I'm going to have to put on the main lights. We have under-cupboard unit lights on all day, but with no window in the kitchen have to rely on the light filtering through from the conservatory at the long and narrow end of our 'L' shaped kitchen.
Fine when the sun shines, and not so bad even when the sky is slightly overcast, but for some reason it seems particularly dark today. 
Yesterday Norma said "there's a touch of autumn in the air", which horrified me as I've yet to sow some seeds.  What with the squirrel furiously burying peanuts in all my containers am wondering if winter is closer than we think. 

Myself, being a 'Mother Earth' sort of person (or so I've been told) and usually sensitive to nature's call to action (the urge to spring-clean is amazing, the fact I don't do any is another matter) have to say that I don't feel that autumn is anywhere near YET.  I could be wrong.  But then am I ever?

No recipe today because I'm not in that sort of mood.  All I want to do is go and 'do something' to prove I still can and while - in my mind - I feel as though I am still 35.  As long as I can sit down while I do it, then am able to believe it.  Once I get up I feel 100!  That's life. Mine anyway.

Hope you will be able to join me again tomorrow and grateful thanks to those 'new commenteers' for letting me know you are 'with me' in spirit.   Tomorrow, being Saturday will be 'baking day'. 
This afternoon hope to be able to sit and watch our two British tennis players in action.  First match played by the girl, then later in the afternoon, Andy Murray.  Both on Centre Court but as it now has a roof, play will happen even if it is raining.
Apparently in all the years of the annual Wimbledon fortnight (decades of them) there have been only seven that have been rain-free.  Says a lot for the British weather.  TTFN.