Monday, 30 January 2012

Green (ish)

It turns out I am as green as a cucumber.
Maybe the inside, ok.

On my current quest to commence greatness* as of February 1st, I've been reading up on how to be greener. I'm not very good at being green; we have very little in the way of services for recycling and I rarely manage to save more than paper and bottles. I drive a petrol car to places I don't need to go to. Disposable nappies are firmly established. Etcetera.

But now it seems I have a feather in my ecological cap. For I am super green with my laundry.

I do not own a tumble dryer. As I also do not own a garden to house a washing line, this is actually very goodly of me. We previously had a washer dryer and I didn't use it as a dryer. Therefore, in the Great Washing Machine Death of 2010, the washer dryer was replaced by a washing machine. We have many clothes horses and a humidity problem.

Green brownie points: 45,000

I do all my washing at 40. Not 30 because it makes it all smell icky. This was confirmed by a washing machine engineer (who popped round regularly in the later months of the old machine). 30 isn't hot enough, even if Unilever tell you it is (15 is made up altogether). No boil washes for me though. 40 does fine.

Green brownie points: 5 (because if I really cared about being green I'd just have the smell).

Dry cleaning is something I reserve for suede or leather, or things that would break the washing machine. Everything else does fine on a cold wash.

Green brownie points: 100.

Ironing. Nuh uh. I very rarely iron. We mostly wear clothes that don't need ironed, or just look a little rumpled. Shirts get ironed, as do properly crumpled things. Most things are ok.

Green brownie points: 10. It doesn't use THAT much energy.

It's good to be green, even if it is entirely inadvertent.

* new resolutions on Feb 1st. Details to follow.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Becoming happy

So I've missed a few days again.
It's not daily. Not any more. Most is ok.

I am reading a little ebook, of the free variety, which is 52 ways to improve your life or something similar. I have so far read 1-13 and feel the need to share in a paraphrasing sort of way.

So, suggestion number 1 is the concept of treating others as you would wish to be treated. Sadly I don't have millions of pounds to rain upon other people and that's how I'd really like to be treated. Being unfacetious, I THINK I do this. Where I know I fail, I don't expect. Ooh. Idea! Do the things that I'd like other people to do.

I think that might be what they meant.

Number 2 suggests replacing "I should" with "I choose to".
I choose to make my house tidy. I don't believe me. Failed already.

Number 3 wants me to stop interrupting and listen better. I know I need to do this. Will try harder.

Number 4 reminds me I'm supposed to be appreciating people. Telling them why I like them.
I do this. Sometimes. Not necessarily to the right people.

Number 5. Don't judge people by first impressions. I do know this from experience due to being woefully bad at reading new people.

Number 6 is all about buying classic clothes and dressing for success. Hmmm. That requires funds and a non expanding body. I shall continue with the bag lady look for now until I either fit back into the majority of my clothes or money starts falling out of the sky onto me.

7 - be positive about myself. If I was able to do this I wouldn't be reading books about how to improve my life. Annoyed now. Everything can be positive. Yada yada, the lack of money makes me more inventive. There. A positive statement. I win! Woo.

Number 8 is suggesting I need to plan what I want to happen. To visualise situations as I would like them to be.

And still nobody throws money at me. I'm visualising that really well and nothing has happened.

9 and I've to be a less dictatorial leader. I am to stop telling the children what to do? Hmm.

It's losing me now by 10, which wants me to work on teamwork. I have to treat my family as a team and value all members.

The baby seriously doesn't pull her weight, we can't be expected to be a cohesive team.

Hmmm. What can 11 do to win me back? I shouldn't work so hard.

Done! Next?

At 12 I need to consider what motivates me. Money. And kudos but mostly money.

The bots will be liking the money references. Hiya bots!

And my last one to date: number 13 is clutter busting. Yes, I agree, this will probably solve all my woes in one fell swoop of mad sorting. One day.

So far so meh.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Super Luigi

More Mario, sorry, I'm not doing much else. Mariokart 7 is in my basket awaiting payday, I'll spraff on about that in time.

Special world one mission: rescue Luigi. Once completed, you can play as Luigi.

Luigi is my favourite Mario character, along with Daisy, the original princess before Pe-ach stole the title.

An aside there. For those who have played Mariokart, the SNES version, the vindictiveness of the princess is known. Known as the bitch, which also could be be-atch. Obviously the character couldn't be called Princess Bitch, so Pe-ach is a close substitute.

Likewise, playing Boo at Mario Tennis will indicate how he earned the name 'king Boo. Not King, 'king.

Back to Luigi. I'm not sure what he's doing in Special World 2, other than dying a lot. I guess he's rescuing someone. Or is it just revenge? Luigi isn't the vengeful type. Hmm.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Special Mario

Ooh. Ooh. Ooh!

So it turns out that Mario 3D isn't a waste of money after all. I finished the game today, and I only had to do, erm, most of world 8 using the invincible cheat. This took me 12 hours and 44 minutes, over the course of 2 weeks. Not a lot, I hear you say. I beat Bowser and rescued the princess and so the game was finished.

But ho and lebold! A whole new world (a new fantastic point of view, oops sorry) has opened up. Special worlds, with the entire game again. Special worlds 1 to 8. Except really hard.

New Mario suit: raccoon suit with a neckerchief, which means if you pound jump, Mario turns into stone/lead/something and smashes whatever you're pounding. And that's all I've found so far. World S1-1 done, one medal found.

I shall report back with more at a later date.

Monday, 23 January 2012

The post for 23 January - finally!

Oh welcome back Blogpress! It works again. It wasn't (which was iTunes not doing the update) and I had I use Blogger: the app, which didn't have a lot of features. Blogger: the site, doesn't work well at all on the phone, and I don't have a functional PC I can stand to use.

To recap the original post, I am catching up on Sherlock, which is universally acknowledged as being Very Good. And it is. I am also looking forward to the return of Pan Am at the weekend which is mindlessly enjoyable.

As I can input photos correctly, here goes a couple of things that caught my eye.

The defence against potential lawsuits of packaging does result in some lunatic disclaimers - peanuts may contain nuts - but the illustration on my noodles does presume a certain lack of intelligence.

This "bargain" caught my eye in the supermarket

Oh Blogpress, I love you. Welcome back indeed.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Hate and Loathing in Lost Values

I have a hobby: shouting at David Cameron on the TV. It is quite a satisfying habit as they very often follow footage of the oafish Cameron and his words of misery with coverage of the unable-to-speak Ed Miliband (how did that happen?) and the permanently sheepish Nick Clegg. Much shouting all round.

Talking of Clegg, I naively believed him when he talked of influencing from within. I am a fool. He lied, he sold his soul, and that of his voters, for the sake of a seat on the cabinet. I have never been so disappointed in any human being ever. All the people who voted not-Tory and voted Liberal got Tory.

But still. We have what we have (sadly) and us* in Scotland are champing to vote for independence. Cameron has shifted us from meh to WE WANT IT NOW with regards to a referendum.

* yes I know it's not all of us. Ok.

I didn't vote for it, which makes me entitled to complain that they're there. I'm still shocked that anyone can understand what Tory policies are and still vote for them.

Ah. The key word there is understand. I think all that was understood was "not labour" and so off they trotted to vote for a party that is openly against so much that is good. They, being the general public, who are mostly ignorant fools. Apparently.

Anyway. I have digressed. Lucky nobody reads this because I shouldn't ever talk about politics. It comes across wrongly.

The point. There is one, somewhere, and it is that I have issue with pretty much every single thing that Cameron says. To be fair I'd argue black was white if he suggested it was blackish, but most of the time I genuinely disagree.

They want to scrap child benefits for "rich" families. Those earning incomes over threshold for higher tax.

Which is about £48k pa.

Last time I checked, this didn't make you rich. If you earn £48k, you could buy a property worth up to £170k. A quick check at property prices indicates the level of mansion you could get for that.

A modest 3 bed to be precise, in a cheap area of the country.

George Osborne was bleating on about how much they could save and Cameron was mewling about people on £40k not being equal to those on £80k and it how they need to look further into it and not once does it seem to have occurred to them that they need to raise the threshold, that current levels penalise middle income earners. Not the rich.


Actually it probably has occurred long since but they undoubtedly like the extra revenue and definitely don't care much about real people.

Cameron is like us you know. If we are all toffee nosed rich boys.

Done now. Normal inanity resumed tomorrow.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Blogging success and the lack thereof

Well, 21 days gone and I haven't blogged for 3 of them.

Not giving up.
Mildly chastising self and pledging keeping going.
18/21 ain't bad. It's most days, not every day. I'm sure I clarified that. We'll get there.

"We" being me, Sam, people
In my head and a number of bots. Woooo. Apologies if you're not a bot, I'm not saying you're bot-like, just that statistically, we are pretty much all bots.

Look. I didn't actually call YOU a bot. If you're reading then you're real. Get over it.

I did for a while wonder at why I had a cult following in Russia.
I don't.

Because my blog is "low volume" I attract these bots that don't even read it, they just want me to look at their site. Which is very rude, but such is the way of the bot. They wouldn't bother if I had a lot of hits, because I wouldn't notice them. Which I suppose is rude of me in turn, so we are all to blame.

Come back real people. Please. See off the attention seeking bots that nobody reading this is like at all.

Apparently I need to do things like link back to old posts, post interesting things, frequent the net generally and pimp my blog out there.

I do none of the above. No linking posts because I have no recollection of what I wrote before, nor does my blogger app have the capability of linking.

Interesting? That belies the purpose.

Getting out there and bigging the blog requires levels of social activity that is beyond me. The sites I used to frequent and pick up readers from seem to have dwindled.

So it's back to being interesting again.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

2012, the year that works

Well, due to having a birthday last week, I failed to acknowledge the need for resolutions aside from the perpetual need to shift the belly. So now it is time to contemplate what it is I want to have achieved by the end of 2012.

Having been dieting for precisely 48 hours, it is galling not to be slim yet, but I shall persist. I know how good it feels to succeed and FINALLY my head seems to be in the right place, which isn't the fridge.

I'm going to embrace FLYlady and get the clutter out, the sink shining and the house generally ready to sell, for we need at least 2 more rooms and despite hoping and hoping, no extra rooms have sprung up here. A house move is an essential for this year.

By completing one 15,000 word dissertation that I've basically written, I can claim my MSc and use that as a fresh start to my unimpressive CV.
"and I didn't know what it was I wanted to do until I realised I was destined to be a *insert job applied for*" Hopefully this year a perfect, well paid, satisfying job with a full time crèche will fall into my lap. As they don't.

I speak of how brilliantly Dickens wrote, how much I enjoy his books and so on. It is true, except I have only read in full "A Christmas Carol" and didn't even read the other Christmas Books in the volume. I am aware of the stories involved in his other works but haven't actually read them, although I have read many bits of them. As mentioned before, I'm starting with Great Expectations, which I have had emailed to me in daily instalments and still failed to read. To read the entire works this year would seem entirely unlikely but I am pledging to read a few. Well, at least one.

There's some vague things to do which seem idiotic to have to make a note to do: watch the DVDs I've bought, play the games etc.

This I shall write each day, or try to.

And I shall endeavour to go to bed a little earlier, as well as being a better mother/wife/daughter/friend. Y'know, the stuff I should do anyway.

Oh, and for the record, it's 2013 that's the year for doing interesting things. Ha.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Daily blogging

I'm going to do it.

Today however has been dedicated to a teething baby, boisterous six year olds and the resulting sleep catch up and brain decay.

So there's not a lot to say.

Watching: Masterchef, Stargazing Live, One Born Every Minute (and being grateful Neighbours is back after the Christmas break).

Listening to: David Guetta. No, I didn't see that coming either.

Reading: Charles Dickens, Great Expectations just now. His complete works are on my Kindle, we'll see how that goes.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Home button blues

Argh. The joys of being an iPhone user. I'm not sure why exactly I am on my second iPhone, I seem to genuinely believe I would be less happy with another phone and so I had to replace my useless 3G with an iPhone 4. Excellent phone, very happy, love my apps and all is good.

When it works.

I have a deep distrust of Apple and their updates. The 3G was unusable slow once iOS 4 came out. See all these lovely features! They will break your phone! The time came to upgrade and I said "no, I don't like the fact that I have to commit to two years with a phone that will undoubtably be unusable before the two years are up" and meant to buy a Sony Ericsson. And then I got an iPhone 4 and threw myself at the mercy of Apple periodically breaking devices so you upgrade.

We were happy together until yesterday. My unresponsive home button does seem to be a software issue because a number of tricks can restore it temporarily. If it is a hardware issue, which is a possibility, then there are a couple of issues which could certainly contribute to the button developing a fault. Apple have this obsession with minimalism and definitely place style over function in some respects. One sole button is a lunatic choice. Apple previously showed this genius with their one-buttoned mouse.

The home button does everything and so it is used constantly. Also, there is no cover over the power inlet, so it is unprotected and open to fluff, damp and little bits of damaging debris. A little cover, as featured on most non-Apple devices, would protect it, but it would make the device less sleek and would interrupt the smooth lines. So, no cover.

Some googlage revealed the following tricks to restore the functionality to the home button:

1) open a native application, hold down the power button until "slide to power off appears". Release the power button and gently press the home button until the home screen returns.

2) close all apps. Some apps seem to cause this. In my case it seems to be Safari.

3) run the camera app in the background at all times.

4) admit defeat and turn on the on screen home button. Settings>general>accessibility options>accessibility button on.

1) works for me, but the problem comes back.

2) and 3) don't work for me

4) makes me despair. It does work but is annoying onscreen, and raises the question of why Apple saw the need to provide such an option rather than fixing the actual problem. I fail to see how it aids accessibility so should be listed under "Usability options for things that break".

I think I need to defect to Android finally. In 9 months when I can...

Sunday, 15 January 2012


Bleurgh. Being somewhat out of practice of the old drinking thing, I forgot how awful hangovers are.

Good night out, followed by 3am sickness. Poor sleep, punctuated by thumping head and shivers. Surprise sickness later on didn't help much either.

The cure, as every drunkard Scot knows, is Irn Bru. Having dispatched grumpypants to procure some Irn Bru, with the desperate instruction of "even if it's Iron Brew", imagine my displeasure when he returned with no juice at all. Not even Pepsi Max which is my drink of choice usually and which was half price. "you said Irn Bru" he protested, having refused to buy Iron Brew on principle.

10pm I got my Irn Bru, for that is when I was well enough to go out myself.

It was good.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

A moment of feminist ranting

Excluding those I live with, I lead an entirely female companioned existence. Most of the time I think that I miss being around men and then I remember that actually, men are pretty rubbish.

When things look good there's always a man (or two) to bring you back down to your place.


That's all. Back to normal now...

Friday, 13 January 2012

A bank by any other name


Ptooee, for one needs to spit after uttering that word in reference to the company, which that was.

No, to be fair, everything attached to the moniker Virgin is not awful. Virgin trains, for example, run the truly fabulous Pendolinos. Virgin Media give me TV and, while not perfect, are a million times better than they were when they were Telewest. Virgin Records weren't hateful, nor is Branson himself.

I should be more precise with my bile. My hatred in this instance lies with Virgin Money. Ptoooee. The providers of the biggest rip off credit card I have ever had the misfortune to own. MBNA were the actual perpetrators of misery but Virgin Money put their name to it and made that name synonymous with unscrupulous and exploitative.

Unlike other financial institutions of course who as a one are lovely and caring, putting their customers first and doing what they can to maximise interest and minimise... I can't finish that, even facetiously.

And there I was innocently watching Channel 4 News, when along came a quite stunning advert for Virgin and the things they've done over the last 40 years. Because they run Pendolinos they will make Northern Rock (as was) a thoroughly nice bank. They're not going to do what other banks do.

Really? Do tell me more. What, no specifics?

Then they use the magic "this is how you can tell we're lying" words: Virgin Money. Eeee eeee eeee! Alarm! Virgin Money are shiny and aesthetic, and will take every penny they can off you.

Besides, Nationwide said all that "we're not like other banks, we're not even a bank" once, then they had the change and they too stole my last penny and charged me for taking it. Sob!

It is a rather lovely advert however. Watch it. Directed by über-director Duncan Jones, aka, or previously known as rather, Zowie, son of David Bowie. His first two films, Moon and Source Code, are magnificent, and so is this advert. A shame it is for a bank, and a bank with such a name.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mario time

So I'm probably too old to play Mario. That doesn't stop me, I can discuss baddies with my six year old.

Having owned a 3DS and Super Marioland 3D for one day, I feel qualified to comment on it. I may possibly have spent rather a lot of that day playing it, of course.

The 3D aspect is a gimmick, quite cool but doesn't really add or detract anything to gameplay.

This is a standard Mario game with progression through worlds and levels, with a boss level at the end. The appearance is a lot like Mario Galaxy but playing is more Super Mario DS. One DS detail is that Mario can stow an additional power up item, but in this game he can switch back and forth between the item he is using and the one in the box.

So far Mario has mostly used his raccoon power up as he has a lot of levels that floating helps on. This also allows him to kill enemies with a swish of his tail. After a few failed attempts at a level, a box appears with a gold raccoon leaf in it, this makes Mario invincible and with all the raccoon powers. It does not make him invincible to falling off edges and I do that a lot, leading to the discovery of a goal flag, which takes you straight to the goal. I haven't tried that, seems a bit pointless.

As usual, Nintendo have included a homage to past Mario titles; one level has the classic stepped brick climb to the flag at the end, except here it is 3D and you can walk around it. Which is nifty.

The gameplay here is good, it is very much a 3D version of the old DS gam and fits well as the next title in the series.

Good points:

It's a Mario game.

Ability to save and swap power ups is a great feature.

Cheaty invincible raccoon thing means you can finish a level you're stuck on, but still collect medals and actually do the level.

It saves after every level.

The controls are pretty instinctive, except power jump.

Bad things:

I've finished world 2 after only a day. The levels are too short and not that hard.

The power jump is located on the left and right paddles. As these are easy to press by accident, Mario often plummets to his death halfway through a jump. Very, very annoying.

As to the 3DS, it's everything you'd expect. The 3D is quite cool, being able to take 3D photos is pretty exciting, although I haven't tried to take them off the 3DS yet. The included games are a bit rubbish, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with Streetpass automatically sharing stuff with anyone that also has a 3DS. I'm guessing that the average demographic of 3DS users differs somewhat from me, but I live in hope to receive a new Mii.

Yes, Mii. I love Miis. This can be created from a photo on the 3DS, so it's actually quite good.

I don't know how this compares to the DSi as I've never owned one, but it compares very well to the DS Lite. And of course if you want to play the new Mario titles, including Mariokart 7, which will be purchased very soon, then you need it. Yes, need.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

11 January 1865

Gosh I'm old.

But it is my birthday and I did receive a Nintendo 3DS with SuperMario Land 3D, so sadly I no longer have time to blog...

(this may be rectified tomorrow when my eyes have gone wonky).

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


When the BBC discover something marvellous, why do they hide it on BBC4? Why does BBC1 show and heavily advertise total atrocities yet fail to draw attention to actual brilliance?

I am thinking in particular of Spiral, or to give it its French name, Engrenages. Which actually translates as Gears, not spiral, but I guess there's a translation related explanation.

This is superb tv. It is essentially a police drama, with gripping story lines and realistic, sympathetic characters.

The lead characters consist of the police crime team, the Prosecutor (which is a position we don't seem to have called Procurer), lawyers and one of the judges. With the exception of the impossibly handsome Prosecutor and one of the police nicknamed Tin Tin, all the characters are teetering on the brink of cocking up big time at all times. Their methods are unorthodox, their private lives are a mess and they are constantly in trouble.

Thanks to LoveFilm, we have been catching up on the existing series of Spiral. It's amazing. And it's in French, which naturally makes it better. With subtitles, thankfully, but the sort of subtitles that pretty much make you forget you're reading them, except to ponder such things as "I'm sorry" not being nearly as pleasant as "J'ai desole".

Series 3 commenced tonight in our house. Episode one, and all continues as before. Brilliantly.

Gregory Fitoussi, the Prosecutor. Possibly the fittest man in the world.
(I'm not broken! Hurrah!)

Monday, 9 January 2012


I've upgraded. One day seems hardly sufficient to contemplate the vast number of years I've been alive, so this year I'm having a week.

Yes, I am too old to care. Pfffffth to that.

Normally I strop and humph my way through the days surrounding my birthday in a fug of "nobody cares, boo, the last year has been a disaster" etc.

Not this year.

Last year I had a chronic neck injury and was abstinent from alcohol, and fun. So I did nothing for my birthday aside from a lunch, and felt very middle aged and rubbish.

This year I am celebrating nicely, with alcohol and good friends (as well as people I'm trying to be friends with who sadly seem to be resisting but I live in hope). While simply being another year older isn't all that, I do feel I need to celebrate my little girl arriving, my neck being cured, and my successful bid for an unsuitable gift.

Who's shallow and materialistic?

I did also have a relatively good shot at nearly dying so I do feel quite jubilant about still being alive.

Me me me me me me me me me me.

Wednesday is the actual anniversary of my birth. Just so you know. I'll be 852.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


One of the things I dislike most about summer is the constant stream of insects. I don't like insects at all, with the exception of bees who are clever and generally unannoying.

My pet hates are daddy long legs and moths. They get in the house and then when it's dark they run amok. Moths fly towards any light, which is particularly irksome when the only light is the nightlight you are reading by. Daddy long legs are a mystery of survival, they are ungainly and appear to have no purpose or aim in their pursuits.

Anyway. The joy of winter is the vanishing of these horrible creatures. I do not appreciate the mild weather making year round insect infestation.

I have bites on my leg. I guess insects that thrive on blood don't rely on warm weather, but I still feel wronged. Insect bites are a summer irritation, I don't expect them in January.

This afternoon I put a spider out of the window. I don't dislikes spiders, they eat insects which makes them heroes in my book. But where there is a spider there must presumably be insects, and and so the clement weather must be allowing them to survive. Not on!!

As a fan of winter and disliker of hot weather, I put forward arguments as to why winter is superior. The lack of insects is a biggie, so to have that removed is unfair and such cheatery by the sun worshippers.

The final insult from the insect world, is the beasties setting up home in my children's head, presumably picked up at a trip to a soft play centre last week. Revenge is mine however, they are being annihilated as we speak and I'm a dab hand at insect disposal of all types, so the comb and I make short work of removing any visible beasties.

Hate insects. Vile and horrible (except bees).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Meet the veggies

There won't be any meeting of any veggies, I am afraid the title is a bit misleading and a result of a rather unfathomable obsession with Mr Bloom of Mr Bloom's Nursery and a very catchy tune entitled, astonishingly, "Meet the Veggies".

I'd link if I could. Google will help you if you care, but know not who he be or what I'm on about.

Anyway. It's a new year, again, and despite my defence of my birthday month as not being one for detox and deprivation, I do feel I need to address my general slothfulness and weight gain.

My weight has never been what you'd call a source of joy to me. It caused me considerable less duress than usual in 2009 when I shed all the excess weight to become normal weighted. Not thin, just not overweight. This was nice. Complacency set in as it tends to and I gained about 10lb over the next year and a bit, so last January I decided to shift it.

I joined Weightwatchers online, mostly because they have an iPhone app and I am a sad git. But also because it was Weightwatchers that helped me shed the three stone.

The excessive amounts of Tramadol I was taking while I was dieting may have had some appetite suppressant effect. Who knows. I shall deny that as a possibility. I ate less, I lost wheens of weight. My secret was to have Saturday off if I'd lost weight that week so if I really needed a treat, I'd have it on Saturday. Something worked anyway so I thought I'd try again.

2011 started, Weightwatchers started, 4lb lost and then I discovered I was pregnant. Woohoo! Freedom to eat doughnuts! WW were very nice and refunded my membership too.

In both of my pregnancies I gloried in the ability to pretty much eat what I wanted/could manage. After both pregnancies I was slimmer than before due to not managing much. After both pregnancies I proceeded to gain weight rapidly due to continuing to eat what I wanted and could now manage in copious amounts. The hunger took over.

So here I am. I seem to be hovering at a intermediate size just now which is not quite the size of a house but not far off. Approximately the size of a chalet or so. Either my scales are broken or I'm staying the same weight. Which isn't a good weight but it's not getting worse. I was pleased to discover that it hadn't crept up after a few weeks of not-weighing-myself denial, then I ate Christmas fayre voraciously and then was very sick (unconnectedly) for a few days. Result? Same weight as before the voraciousness.

Put it this way, I've got approaching two of the three stones to shed again, although it is a little over one stone to be back in the normal range again. But I did have a baby so I'll cling to that for a while. I have till her first birthday to legitimately have a paunch.

My paunch, my rules.

You would be correct to note that there has been very little mention of veggies.

For a couple of years I was vegetarian. Sort of. I didn't forsake gelatine or similar and I didn't stay off, erm, black pudding very long. Or haggis. It's flesh I have issue with, ok?

This came about by simply going off meat and fish. I remain off fish to this day partly because of ethical reasons, and stayed off red meat until I was pregnant when I really fancied burgers. Chicken and non fleshy meat things came back after a year or so.

But, due to another unfathomable obsession with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and the receipt of his veg cookbook for Chrismas, I'm thinking I'll go veggie again. It's easier to be diet friendly with vegetarian food, and it'll stop me eating snack scotch eggs.

Hugh did impress me by having a similar sort of argument to mine as to why we should eat less meat and fish (sustainability) and also because he likes to make the vegetable the star, rather than substituting with quorn or soya at every stage and having faux meat dishes.

Certain vegetables/pulses are fabulous. Cauliflower. Chick peas. Courgettes. Other ones that don't start with C. Hmm. Butternut squash. Broccoli. Edamame beans. Artichokes.

Definitely artichokes. They're hard to buy mostly. Grr.

Salad is also good. Iceberg lettuce is one of the greatest foods on earth so my salads always lack a little sophistication unless I have rocket in which case my salad resembles a pile of rocket.

And I am a big fan of mushrooms. Unsophisticated mushrooms though, I'm not that keen on ones that look like sea creatures. Mushroom risotto should be knighted for services to easy to cook and delumptious dinners.

Meat will be off the menu once I've eaten the stuff in the freezer and had a farewell Chicken and Cashew Nut. Sometime soon after my birthday. Maybe the first of February so I don't actively give anything up in January, just to make a point to nobody.

Meantime I'm going to experiment with a beetroot tart tatin and some fried polenta. And make a raspberry pavlova so that the raspberries purchased to be in a pavlova don't suffer the humiliation of being a healthy snack.

I shall also ponder at what point I stopped ogling attractive men and just moved onto "men".

Friday, 6 January 2012


So that's Christmas well and truly over again. Boo. I like Christmas. I dutifully removed all the decorations yesterday as one is meant to, and checked carefully around the house for the one I had missed, for there is always one. Sure enough, when leaving the house today there was the sort-of-wreath on the front door. Because I checked the whole of the INSIDE of the house, of course, not the outside. Missed the deadline again. Like every year.

Today is Epiphany. The day the wise men arrived in Bethlehem to pay respect to the baby Jesus. The last day of the celebration of Jesus' birth, before we start winding up to celebrate his demise.

Incidentally, I do accept the story of Jesus as a historical figure, but I do think of it as being more Life of Brian than King James' Bible. Still, it doesn't do any harm to think about the "true meaning of Christmas" and try to come up with an answer for the children that isn't "gifts" or "it's all a load of lies".

There has been a poster up for a few weeks opposite a set of traffic lights I pass through for most places I go. So I've studied it a lot. It says something along the lines of:

"God loved us so much that he sent us his only son so that those who believe could have eternal life".

I have issues with this.

Couldn't God, all powerful creator, simply:

1) mysteriously impregnate any virgin/woman (why did it have to be a virgin? Surely God would know if she was pregnant to another?) to have more sons?

2) just say "right, you have eternal life"?

Obviously you have to believe in God in the first place to believe there is an afterlife, so saying you don't get in unless you believe is pointless. I don't get in a tizzy about not being able to go to places that I don't think exist, so why should anyone else?

And I don't really get why having his son amongst us being persecuted and then executed helps the cause. It doesn't give the impression that being a fan of God is a good thing.

I don't understand it at all.

I don't mean any offence by the above, I'm just asking the questions that come to me. Which I believe is offensive, but that's another matter.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

FLYing without sanity

In October 2010, I read an article that told me about FLYlady. An incentive to declutter and clean, according to her doctrines.

Which mostly boils down to do a little, achieve a lot. FLYing come from the acronym FLY, which means to Finally Love Yourself. Love yourself, stop being a perfectionist, look after your appearance and your home, and feel that you are blessing your home and your family with every little chunk of housework that you do. Get organised, never clean again. Swish away every day and never see dirt again.

You start with a clean sink. Then you have to keep it clean, which tends to mean the area around the sink gets clean too. Each day you also get sent that days "flight plan", which focuses on a room each week and gives a specific task for that day.

Marvellous. I signed up, it's all free, and had a shiny sink and pretty clean kitchen for a while. I lapsed, as is the way, and have never really got back. But I get the emails every day. All seven million of them. Have done since October 2010.

Now you see, FLYlady is certifiably insane. Aside from the blessing thing and God blowing breezes of difficulty to help you on the path to sanctity, she is also bonkers. And very very American. I don't mean that offensively, but she constantly pushes her products which can only be shipped to the US, and she seems to think all FLYbabies (for that is what we become) have a certain not-very-British lifestyle. She also uses American-ish language.

I do not possess the following which FLYlady seems to assume I do:

A basement
Spare rooms for sleeping/playing/doing mad things in
A tumble drier

Periodically she suggests you clear things to the basement or into another bedroom that you don't use. Righto.

Laundry in FLYworld consists of wash, dry, put away. No ironing. Ever. I'm not sure what she does with shirts.

To be a successful FLYbaby you must arise each morning and dress fully, with hair and make up done, before any of the rest of your family are up. And it is imperative that you put on shoes, lace up shoes at that, or you won't feel motivated to clean and clear. Ok.

FLYlady is big on her control journal. Here you write down your daily tasks and all your important data so that you know what you're doing, and so does anyone else that has to step in. A family calendar is essential for organisation.

Um. I have an iPhone and Google. Thanks but I'm sorted.

I also have two apps on my phone - Home Routine and Errands. Errands alerts me periodically to remind me that I meant to clean the kitchen floor or similar. And I dismiss them, so they alert me again. And again ad infinitum.

The emails arrive in endless trickles of madness. A daily flight plan, and then many sales emails, testimonials from sometime ever, and motivational tips on just about everything. Get fit! Wear better clothes! Woah. I just want to get tidy.

So. Her premise is that you can do anything for 15 minutes. Each of the daily tasks should take less than 15 minutes, and to declutter you do 15 minutes at a time. She advocates a timer for the 15 minutes so you know when to stop/change. She has a strategy for crisis cleaning to get out of CHAOS (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome) which involves timing 15 minutes in one room, then moving to another room and doing another 15 mins. And so on. Makes sense, does work. You don't finish a room, when the 15 minutes are up you move on. You'll be back and really, 15 minutes is no time. Before you know it you've done each room twice and the house looks like other people's houses look when they need gutted. Which is progress for me.

But doing hair and makeup before breakfast? Wearing lace up shoes ever? Writing everything down in a non electronic format? She's lost me.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

How not to get money

I'm feeling extremely ripped off. I have been selling items on eBay, firstly I sold some maternity items which were very cheap but got them a new home, out of mine and made me a tiny profit.

Then I sold some of my 1980s toys. First up were some Sindy dolls which generated a LOT of interest. I managed to get a small but countable amount of money for these. Grand.

Then I encountered the joy that is PayPal. They take a proportion of the sold fee, but the money paid is held by them until receipt is confirmed by the buyer. According to a patronising response from PayPal to a rant from me, this "protects me" if the buyer raised a dispute, I would have money in my account to refund them.

I do feel immensely protected. Should an unscrupulous buyer rip me off, PayPal would cheerfully reimburse them from my money. Excellent!

This is because I am a new seller apparently and will continue to happen until I have been a seller for 90 days.

How is receipt confirmed? Not, as claimed by PayPal, by sending it recorded delivery. The only way to get the money is by the buyer leaving positive feedback. So if they don't bother or aren't satisfied, I don't get my money until PayPal feels like it, which can be 21 days or more.

That protection again. I'd hate my money to be all unprotected in my bank account where I could spend it and other unsafe things. Shudder. Thank you PayPal.

They also take a full week to credit funds to my bank account. I am told that it is NOT a week, it is 5 working days, not including weekends, which would be clearly idiotic to think of as constituting a week. Transfer on Monday, credited the following Monday. Not a week.

This is to the verified bank account that all payments go into. Complicated. But PayPal remind me it is not a wire transfer and that is why it can't be faster. Right you are.

I have had two people unsatisfied. One who bought a Sindy doll and complained it didn't have a stand. The description stated that the stand wasn't included, but her English isn't good. Or she's over fussy or just horrid. Another was surprised that the 30 year old Ken doll she paid £2 for was a bit worn. As stated.

Today I have the best. I sold two items belonging to my Gabrielle Designs Paddington Bear. Good money raised. The pyjamas and dressing gown were received and acknowledged and all was fine. For the suitcase, I received a message requesting that I post it immediately as it was a christmas present for a niece. I did, full of christmas spirit and all (posting the pyjama package at the same time).

Nothing. Nada. No acknowledgement yet I discovered this morning that they did in fact receive it. They are selling it, for more than twice what they paid me

No response so far to a polite request for feedback, or a question as to why they are selling their nieces Christmas present. I guess a user with nearly 2000 transactions and username of paddybearfan isn't likely to be making a one off purchase for a niece.

So I shall *patiently* wait for PayPal to make up their mind and see what denials can be made by my buyer.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Blowin' in the Wind

'twas a little blowy out today.

95mph at the Forth Road Bridge, resulting in closure of said bridge. Normally not particularly a tragedy - if annoying on principle - people getting stuck this side of the bridge is fine for those of us stuck at home, it was bad today on account of it being my twins' sixth birthday and their grandparents selfishly living on the other side of the bridge.

Incidentally the principle in question regarding the Forth Bridge is due to the non closure of the bridge for 40 years, then last winter during the endless snow they had to close it. Precedent set, it's been closed to all vehicles on at least two occasions this year for wind speeds not unheard of before. I don't believe they would have shut it fully had they not got that first time hurdle out of the way.

I shudder to think what mayhem will unfold should any snow appear this winter. We're primed for last year, because weather is predictable and repetitive in that manner. Major panic and immediate shutdown will undoubtably occur as the total snowfall reaches 4mm. Just. In. Case. Virtually every shop in my town sells snow shovels and the likes. "Be prepared" they tell us, while urging us to fit snow chains to our tyres. No, sorry, we can't repair any roads because we spent the budget on salt.

The last gusty panic mongering winds were nicknamed Hurricane Bawbag, the humour of which escapes me other than the initial mirth at foreigners talking about Bawbag. But the ensuing jokes circulating afterwards just eluded my sense of humour. This did appear to be just me, everyone else got it.

So today, "return of hurricane Bawbag" comments were rife. Today was much worse as well, the damage is quite horrifying and people I know* came seriously close to injury. But the return? No. Hurricanes don't work like that. They move on a letter. The next letter after B is C.

If ONLY there was an amusing word that started with C.

* yes, it's worse if I know them.

Monday, 2 January 2012

12 days of iTunes

I am not loving iTunes. I don't usually love iTunes much on account of it being the guffest piece of software ever to exist, but the non-love is expanding.

Each Christmas they do their "12 days of Christmas" giveaway; every day for 12 days, starting boxing day, they give away a free something. Lovely, but it is highly possible that it is not done out of altruism. No, really.

I have a 16Gb iPhone 4. This is plenty for my normal use, for the number of photos and songs etc I choose to carry. I don't have any videos. That's me, personally, not getting any. I bought a tv episode once, watched it, deleted it. I am very wary of iCloud so I have that backing up my photos only. Distrust distrust.

And so I see that iTunes are offering me a free episode or seven of a tv show or nine. In HD! Brilliant! 1.5Gb a pop. The songs that they give away all come with videos and look, I seem to have run out of space. Hmm. How can I overcome this? What could I do to give myself more room? Maybe a new product? An iPad maybe, or a nice big iPod? Maybe a Mac too?

To accommodate all the things I don't want. That iTunes give me and dupe me into downloading them by making them free for one day only - but what if I wanted it later? I would surely die if I hadn't got it for free! On one day they gave me a song I'd actually already bought at great personal angst (I don't often buy new stuff). On another day they gave me sonic racing which is marvellous (and very mario kart-y). I like that. Ssshh. I dutifully downloaded the Top Gear episodes I won't watch. I have now deleted these. I resisted today's, it was a song I dislike. Sense reigned briefly.

I have had it pointed out to me by Grumpypants that I could download to my computer. I shall not be doing this on account of the following:

My computer is a piece of junk and probably has less free space than my phone.

My computer is a piece of junk and I only use it under duress. Indeed, I will use my kindle to access Internet sites that insist of loading the mobile version on the phone. The Kindle is better than the computer, not least because it can't run iTunes.

If I did want to move anything to my phone, I would have to connect the phone to the computer, and I don't do that for fear of the Bad Things that happen when the phone syncs with iTunes. And a reluctance to spend 16 hours doing the sync.

So. Thanks for Sonic Racing. I won't be buying any Apple products to run it on. Unless I come into some money. In which case I probably would buy a lot of Apple products. Which renders this...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

First day of the year

So, it's January 1st.

I'm resurrecting this. We'll see how it goes, a lot depends on Blogpress and how it works - which is an iTunes issue according to the nice developers.

New Year. A non event, as it has been for considerably more years than I've not actively done nothing on purpose. And the 4th year in a row my boys failed to wake for midnight. I got the "why didn't you wake us?" this morning. Because one of you wouldn't wake for love nor money and the other stated categorically that "you were NOT getting up" with a full duvet over head flounce onto the pillow.

I got antsy last night about not saying happy new year till it was the new year. Y'know, like you say "have a good Christmas" until it is actually Christmas Day. Or I do. Maybe you're not that pedantic. You should be.

I sent one "hope it's good" with good intentions, then had a funny turn and sent another after midnight. And I got snippy about group texts and sent individual ones making sure to personalise them, and sent one to the wrong person. So that was stupid. Group texts again next year. I've forgotten some people anyway, I'm sure.

2011 for me consisted of:

Having a baby.

And that's all. Getting pregnant in January meant I seriously did little else. I now have a gorgeous giggling 4 month old girlie and really struggle to think of anything else I truly wish for. The pregnancy cured my neck pain so life for now is relatively normal (if a bit full of children).

But it is new year and a time for making promises I probably won't keep, so my plans for 2012 are this:

* Finish my dissertation and finally get the MSc I've been doing since 2007.
* Lose the baby belly.
* Move to a house that's big enough for 5 of us.

There's other things like being über organised and a super friend and the likes, but I'll stick with the necessary and see if other habits form that I can look back on.

A meh start to a year of blogging. Which probably won't be anything like daily. We'll see. Rants may be forthcoming...

Happy new year!